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Platinum for the Big Band – again!

NCBF platinum

Many congratulations to the RSA Big Band who achieved a Platinum Award at the Midlands regional round of National Concert Band Festival held at Nottingham High School on Sunday 15th November.  This is an outstanding achievement especially considering that more than half of the players are new to the band this term and this was therefore their first public performance with the Big Band.  In their 15-minute programme the band performed three pieces which featuring no less than 7 different soloists, all marked with * in the list below.


The two adjudicators, who are both professional jazz musicians themselves, were very impressed with the band – see comments below; for a full adjudication report you can also click on the uploaded files below.


As the band achieved the top award they have been invited to the National Festival which takes place at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th April.  Well done to all the players for their fantastic achievement:


  • Andrew Martin* – flute
  • Alex McCarthy* & Jane Earland – alto saxes
  • Esme Butler Davies* & Emily Moore – tenor saxes
  • Holly Barnett – baritone sax
  • Molly Sykes*, Maddie Oakland & Josh Watson – trumpets
  • Joe Horspool* & Tom Jenkins – trombones
  • Taylor Burton* – piano
  • Jake Cartwright* – guitar
  • Jake Bentley – bass guitar
  • Jonny Nicholson – drum kit
  • Lyle Burton – auxiliary percussion



To listen to the performance, please visit our Academy website for the time being  here.


  • ‘What Were You Thinking’ by Chris Sharp, featuring Esme Butler Davies (tenor sax) and Joe Horspool (trombone)


  • ‘My Funny Valentine’ by Richard Rodgers arr. Mike Smukal, featuring Molly Sykes (trumpet) and Alex McCarthy (alto sax)


  • ‘Back to the Basement’ by Erik Morales, featuring Taylor Burton (piano), Andrew Martin (flute) and Jake Cartwright (guitar)



Adjudicators’ Feedback:


“What Were You Thinking”


Confident opening. Nice balance and good sound in each section. Good dynamics and intonation.

Nice tenor solo. Great sound. Just be careful backings don’t slightly overpower solo. Good trombone. Nice sound and solo comes across well.

Nice to hear a baritone sax!

Good feel to the rhythm section. Nice feel all the way through. Well played. Good sounding band.


“My Funny Valentine”


Be careful with intonation in the introduction. Lovely sound from the trumpet. Very nice. Band could maybe play a touch quieter so the solo doesn’t get overpowered. Nice sax solo. I would suggest taking the band (ensemble) dynamics down one notch to play with soloist. Nice feel to bossa nova. Again watch dynamics. Lovely playing all the way through from soloist. Very nice.


“Back to the Basement”

Nice start with a good sound. Sax section plays well. Nicely in tune. Good section playing from trumpets of the melody too.

Nice piano solo. Some lovely touches.

Great to have a flute solo!! Good sound, well played.

Nice guitar. Well played all solos. Good build to bring solo section to an end. Great sounds from every section. An exciting and well played performance. Well done everyone.

NCBF Adjudication Comments