Young trombone ace’s bid for glory

Trombonist Gemma Riley
Trombonist Gemma Riley

One of the borough’s brightest young musical talents will showcase her skills on national TV competing in a prestigious competition.

Trombonist Gemma Riley is to perform on screens across the country when the brass final of the BBC Young Musician of the Year contest is broadcast tomorrow evening.

Viewers will see Gemma, who goes to the world-famous Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, battle it out with four other top young talents for a place in the competition’s grand final in May.

The 17-year-old travelled to Cardiff to perform in the brass final last month and will gather around the TV set with her family to watch the contest on BBC Four.

Film crews also went to Chet’s to film footage for the programme and visited Ashton to interview her family, while Gemma was asked questions for the TV episode by celebrated trumpeter Alison Balsom.

She said: “I’m excited about seeing the programme.

“I’m not at school on Friday night so I will probably watch it at home with my family.

“It was a really good experience and I was pleased with how it went.

“It’s probably the most high-profile thing I’ve done and It was a great opportunity.

“I also got interviewed by Alison Balsom which was really good; it was nice to meet her.

“The crews also came to Chet’s and went to some of my lessons and my quartet.”

Gemma’s proud mum Jill said: “We’re all getting together to watch the programme.

“We all went down to Cardiff when she did her performance but we haven’t seen any of the interview footage they did with Gemma or with us at home.

“I think on the day I was more nervous than Gemma was but she played really well and she was happy with how she did, which is the main thing.

“It was a fantastic atmosphere. They had all the cameras and spotlights and she had make-up and hair done before she went on stage.

“You could tell it was a really big competition.

“All the finalists were fantastic and I think they’re all winners to get so far.

“It’s a great thing for Gemma to put on her CV.”

Gemma is no stranger to the limelight as she is the principal trombonist in the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain and also performs at the top Championship level with Wingates Brass Band, which is based in Westhoughton.

She is also a member of the Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra and Wigan Youth Brass Band and performs in a huge range of groups at Chet’s, including the music school’s symphony orchestra, big band and wind band.

Gemma Riley is in the brass final of the BBC Young Musician of the Year contest which will be screened on BBC Four tomorrow at 7.30pm.