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Young musicians take to the stage in Birmingham!

What a fantastic weekend we’ve just had in Birmingham, celebrating over 4000 young musicians, and showcasing their talent!

The annual Music for Youth National Festival was held at three world-class stages in Birmingham: Symphony Hall, Town Hall and CBSO Centre, and tickets were free this year in recognition of a challenging few years for the arts sector.

This year’s theme was ‘A Festival For All’, highlighting Music for Youth’s inclusivity. The programming of this year’s event differed to previous years, creating varied sessions with a range of performers in each one, including jazz, brass and folk bands, choirs, ensembles and quartets. 

Music for Youth invited two tv/radio presenters to host the weekend, Summaya Mughal and Robyn Richford, who worked alongside three young presenters who are all hoping to make a career out of their passion. Grace Harman joined us on Friday at Symphony Hall, Michael Wood joined Summaya at Town Hall on Saturday and LDEAA co-presented both days at all three venues.

Musicians travelled to Birmingham from all corners of the UK, and we were delighted to see performances from groups in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland too.

"Presenting at the Music for Youth National Festival was an amazing experience! Music is a huge part of me and being surrounded by so much young talent was very inspiring! Further seeing everyone in the team, giving their all to making the festival a success was lovely to see and I was honoured to be a part of it! I met such great people over the weekend and really developed as a person and was grateful to present in such beautiful venues and work with the presenting mentors." - LDEAA, Young Presenter

One highlight of the festival was the showcase evening concert on Friday, July 8 at Town Hall, which promoted the level and breadth of music education across the UK. The concert was live streamed on Music for Youth’s Facebook page so anyone who couldn’t make it in person is still able to enjoy the music. You can watch part 1 here, and part 2 here.

“I had an amazing time over the weekend playing at the National Music For Youth Festival with The Mountbatten Concert Wind Band… It was an amazing experience and I’m so glad I got the chance to play there!” - Megan Prince, Performer

Baaba performed at the festival and said “I performed with Christopher my best friend which was a fantastic experience as we rarely get to perform together. Growing up in the church music quickly became a part of mine and Chris’s love and we feel in love with it and exploring our various journeys is very exciting. I’m looking forward to the many more opportunities for growth we have ahead and massive thank you to Music for Youth for the platform and expertise.”

Prior to the Showcase Concert, Music for Youth’s CEO Phil Castang held a guest reception to meet all of the charity’s supporters.

Phil said “Music for Youth is a charity that believes strongly in young people as musicians, composers, songwriters and producers. And that this talent should be nurtured and celebrated on the most important stages. The National Festival is a gathering of talented young musicians from around the UK of all styles and genres. It is totally inclusive.”

On Saturday, July 9, Music for Youth ran an Industry Day for young and upcoming musicians to speak to sector professionals.

Three panels were run:

  • How to produce music digitally using Ableton with ICMP
  • Sustaining your career as an independent artist with Punch Records, PPL and The Musicians' Union
  • In conversation with Sheema Siddiqi, the Artist Community Manager at Tiktok

The lunch break allowed guests to network with staff from PPL, ICMP, MU, NEU, Punch Records, Trinity, The Ivors Academy and Amazon Music.

Find out more about The Musicians' Union here.

“The Music for Youth National Festival was such an incredible opportunity to bring young people back onto world class stages again post pandemic. Seeing the excitement and nervous chatter as groups are preparing to go onstage and the sheer elation when they come offstage is an experience next to none and I feel very lucky to work at an organisation that can provide such experiences. The inclusion of workshops as part of each concert was a wonderful opportunity to bring the MFY musical community together as one. And our young presenters and young people in non-performance roles meant that youth engagement was at the heart of everything we produced.” - Kate Gardner, Programmes Director at Music for Youth

Our non-performance staff, including backstage coordinators, production assistants and communication assistants played an invaluable part in the staging of the National Festival.

Bethany Blissett (Comms Assistant) said “Thank you! I had a great couple of days, it was a really fun experience. Thank you so much for showing me other aspects of Digital Marketing too, not just the social media side of things!”

One young man, Rohan Harron, performed in multiple pieces at the National Festival and also assisted behind-the-scenes in a non-performance role. He said “As a performer, I’ve taken part in the festival every year since 2010, playing in a range of different ensembles in a number of venues, including two performances at the MFY Proms in the Royal Albert Hall. It’s been such a special organisation to my musical education so it’s been amazing to be able to give something back by helping to run the National Festival, and to meet such great people through it. I can’t wait to hopefully be a part of MFY for many years to come!”

We would also like to thank all of our sponsors, as our National Festival wouldn’t have been this amazing without them: Arts Council England, Backstage Trust, Department of Education, Department of Education Northern Ireland, Ev-Ents, Hal Leonard Europe, Musicians’ Union, National Education Union, PPL, Trinity College London, Unity Trust Bank and Vivendi.

"Young people make great music."

Phil Castang, CEO at Music for Youth

About the author

Abbie Strowbridge-Knight

Abbie works as part of the MFY communications team, managing content for the website and for MFY's social media. She has a background in performing arts and many years' experience in marketing and communications. She also recently completed her CIM Level 4 qualification.

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