Top prizes at the National Festival for Youth Music in Birmingham have been won by the jubilant Devon Youth Jazz Orchestra (DYJO). The orchestra, who were competing against some of the best youth bands from all over the country, were praised by judges fo

Top prizes at the National Festival for Youth Music in Birmingham have been won by the jubilant Devon Youth Jazz Orchestra (DYJO).The orchestra, who were competing against some of the best youth bands from all over the country, were praised by judges for their interpretation of jazz classics including John Coltrane's 'Moment's Notice' and Oliver Nelson's 'Stolen Moments'.The quality of the band's soloists Ben Lowman (tenor sax) and Tim Carter (guitar) were also singled out. The orchestra received the 'Highly Commended Performance' award, being pipped to the 'Outstanding Performance' award by the stunning Northamptonshire County Big Band. The orchestra's conductor, Graham Hutton, who himself took part in the National Festival as a DYJO player nearly twenty years ago, said: "We went into it telling the band to enjoy themselves and just make the best music that they could. I have to say that I think they played absolutely to the best of their ability and it was a total joy to be involved in helping them realise their potential."The massive event took place in Birmingham over six days and is a showcase of the UK's most talented young musicians, celebrating every style of music from all corners of the country. DYJO had the honour of playing at the festival's finale on Saturday 12 July.Guitarist Tim Carter was also one of only four young jazz musicians at the festival to be selected to receive scholarships for the 2009 Guildhall Jazz Summer School. Band manager Brian Moore said: "Tim is one of several outstanding DYJO members who are going on to college or university to further their study of jazz. These national awards are recognition of the very high standard these players have achieved and the dedication that they have shown in reaching this level of attainment. It is a real privilege to work with such talented youngsters."The orchestra has this year performed at events including the Teignmouth Jazz Festival, Dartmouth Music Festival, Devon County Show and Exeter Festival.Executive Member for Children and Young People's Services, Councillor John Smith, said: "We are so proud of the performance that our young people put on. They put their hearts into it and it is wonderful that they have been recognised in this way."DYJO is run by Devon County Council's Music Service, alongside six other youth ensembles spanning a range of musical styles. All seven groups will be recruiting for new members in September. For more information, please see the website www.devon.gov.uk/musicservice or email devonmusicservice@devon.gov.uk