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Around the world in an evening

It's been a good experience hearing all the other musicians," said 13-year-old Sarah Cowey. Sarah sings with Signature, from Marden Bridge Middle School, Tynemouth, who provided one of the highlights of the Juniors day when they sang four popular songs with professional standards.

More than 20 groups joined Signature in what was, in effect, a celebration of childrens' musical abilities. Others which excelled included the Woodthorpe Singers and Dance Group, Birmingham, with their delightful "Adiemus", and SS Aidan Oswald's RC Primary School Brass Band, Lancashire, who played some stylish ragtime.

Highly commended were Longley Primary School, Sheffield, Crown Hills Steel Band, Leicester, and the Hummingbirds Choir, London. Outstanding performance awards went to Kirklees Junior Wind Orchestra and Charnock Hall Primary School, Sheffield.

Eight groups participated in the New Music category. And Femme, Wrexham, proved exceptionally able. These four young women compose haunting songs, some of which, such as "Distaw" (Silent), stem directly from their awareness of the Welsh folk traditions.

Also from Groves High School, Wrexham, The Blues Band played an excellent set despite initial balance problems. Vicki Dempsey, vocalist with Bron-y-Aur, Liverpool, is skilful both as performer and composer.

Wakefield College Pop Band's well played set consisted largely of cover versions which seemed misplaced in a new music event. But the concert was brought to a riveting conclusion by first-rate performances of interesting material from 3 + 1, Bishop Auckland.

Highly commended were 3 + 1. Outstanding performance awards went to Wakefield College Pop Band and The Blues Band.

New this year, Composing in the Classroom attracted nine groups. Augmented Fifths, Kirklees, excelled in "Dream Catching" with its dissonances and unconventional vocals. Promising, too, was Kenilworth School Composers' Ensemble, Warwickshire, whose atmospheric "Indian Morning" employed imaginative instrumental timbres.

Swansmere School Percussion Group, Surrey, were the youngest participants. Indeed, their delightful piece, "Weather", was conducted by two six-year-olds. Groves High School Composition and Performance Group, Wrexham, provided another highlight, with Steffan Owens' "Funkit" coming over particularly well.

New composition awards went to Swansmere School Percussion Group, Groves High School Composition and Performance Group, and Augmented Fifths.

The National Festival of Music for Youth is sponsored by British Aerospace, Commercial Union, GlaxoWellcome and W H Smith in association with The TES, and supported by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, Department for Education and Science, Department of Education for Northern Ireland, Marks Spencer, Music Industries Association, National Union of Teachers, Trinity College London and The Welsh Office.

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