GWENT Music Support Service proved it is back with a bang at its annual summer showcase concert, after last year’s show was abandoned because of funding difficulties.

Despite Newport council withdrawing funding for the service last year, Monday’s concert at St David’s Hall, Cardiff, saw 600 performers on stage throughout the course of the evening.

The concert was also a special moment for head of the Gwent Music Support Service, Alun Williams after he announced he would be retiring after 46 years of involvement with the organisation.

Mr Williams, who started with the brass band, said: “The showcase really proved a point that the service still has a strong quality of groups and pupils, and so much variety. It is good to show that events like last night can continue in different formats”.

Emma Archer, of Gwent Music Support Service, said: “I wouldn’t say we’re out of the woods, but we are definitely looking forward and feeling more positive.

“We are still looking at funding cuts from Monmouthshire and Torfaen councils but we are continuing our journey towards operating in a more self-funded capacity.”

The concert, which sold 800 tickets even before doors opened on the night, saw pupils from Blaenau Gwent, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen perform a variety of pieces.

Writing in the concert programme, Mr Williams urged people to come forward to support the service.

He said: “We are very privileged to live in this particular part of the United Kingdom where the standard of music making and the level of opportunity afforded to our children are second to none.

“However, the current financial climate puts the maintenance of our existing provision under some pressure and we are, therefore, very keen to hear from community or commercial organisations who may be able to support our work”.

Despite the departure of head Alun Williams, Ms Archer said there will be no dramatic change in the structure of the service.

She said: “It is a great loss, he’s been in the service for many years and it’s been a lifetime commitment”.

Groups from Gwent Music Support Service are now playing at the National Festival of Music in Birmingham until this Saturday.