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With only two days to go until the most important date in the band’s competitive calendar, finishing touches are being made to the band’s performance of Michael Ball’s Chaucer’s Tunes. Along with the 15 other West of England Second Section bands, we will be heading to Torquay bright and (very) early on Sunday morning to take part in this year’s Regional Championships at the Riviera Centre.
Chaucer’s Tunes has been a challenging yet enjoyable piece of music to rehearse, combining the liveliness and prosperity of the Intrada, Intermezzo and Finale sections, the calmness of the melodious Fantasia and Carol sections and the excitement of the Chase.
We had the opportunity to perform an excerpt of the piece at a recent concert in the Manor Pavilion, organised by the Lions Club of Sidmouth. The concert, which also featured Sidmouth’s Gospel Choir, was the band’s first official engagement of 2014 and playing to such an appreciative audience was a lovely way to start the year.
2013 was rounded off with a full and festive December, which kicked off in style with the band’s increasingly popular Christmas concert in the Manor Pavilion. Although known to attract a queue at the Box Office each year, 2013’s concert broke the Theatre’s record for the highest number of tickets being sold on the first day of being on sale. The concert is always one of the band’s favourites and we hope that the audience enjoyed the evening as much as we did.
Not only does the Christmas concert always end the year on a high, but it also provides the opportunity for individual members of the band, or those connected with the band, to be recognised for a particular achievement. Winner of the Michael Parker Memorial Trophy, which is presented by the Musical Director to the band’s most improved player, was Karen Alderton. Karen has gone from strength to strength since stepping up to the Solo Horn seat and thoroughly deserved the award. The President’s Cup, awarded as a recognition of achievement or contribution, was won by the band’s trombonist Chris Holland. Chris is one of the band’s longest serving members and has played a key role over many years, something that was very rightly recognised by the band’s President, Tony Reed.
Unfortunately Tony has decided to stand down as the band’s President. We are hugely grateful for Tony’s support over the past few years and we hope he and Valerie will continue to be regular faces at our concerts. Watch this space for news of the band’s new President soon.
Following a fortnight’s break over Christmas and New Year, rehearsals are very much back in full swing as we look towards the Areas contest in March. This year’s Second Section test piece is Michael Ball’s Chaucer’s Tunes. The piece was originally written for wind band, but a version for brass band was commissioned for the 1999 National Youth Brass Band Championships. Chaucer’s Tunes consists of six interconnected sections that are all inspired by Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. Although it’s very early days, we are enjoying the piece and its challenges so far. Hopefully we will still be enjoying it in several weeks time!
Spring always flies past for the band as we move away from contest season towards an inevitably busy summer. Talking of contests, the West of England Regional Championships back in March was a disappointing day for the band. The hard work put in to rehearsing Michael Ball’s Chaucer’s Tales initially seemed to pay off, as we came off stage reasonably happy with the way we had played. Unfortunately neither of the adjudicators were very keen on our performance and we were awarded 10th place (later changed to 9th due to a disqualification). Although a disappointing result, we came away proud of our performance on stage and very appreciative of the positive and complimentary comments from many people who heard us play.
Since the contest we have been busy both in and out of the bandroom. Good Friday saw the band take part in Sidmouth’s annual hot cross bun giveaway (which, luckily, was infinitely warmer than the same event last year!) and five days later the band joined forces with the Budleigh Salterton Male Voice Choir for a special St. George’s Day concert in Sidmouth’s Parish Church. Since then it’s been all systems go getting ready for our summer season of Sunday evening concerts in Connaught Gardens. The first concert took place last Sunday and, although a little chilly, it was nice to start the season on a dry, sunny note. Long may that continue!
The start of our Sunday evening concerts signals the start of summer for us and, as always, we will be busy in and around the town during the next few months. One date to definitely put in your diary is Saturday 16th August, which is the band’s Last Night of the Proms concert. More details on that will follow, but in the meantime keep an eye on our engagements page to find out when and where you can hear us.
This summer marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War and, like many people up and down the country, the band will be helping to commemorate the occasion. On Tuesday 1st July the band is joining forces with Colyton Grammar School for a special Centenary concert. The evening will feature Benedictus from ‘The Armed Man’, Hymn To The Fallen and a medley of WW1 songs, poetry readings and drama performances.
The concert starts at 8pm and is being held at Colyton Grammar School. Tickets cost just £3.00 and are available by phoning the school on 01297 552327 or, alternatively, come and ask for Fiona after any of our Sunday evening concerts in Connaught Gardens between now and then. Don’t miss out on what promises to be a very memorable evening.
Tickets are now on sale for this year’s Last Night of the Proms concert, which is being held on Saturday 16th August. This year we are being joined by two opera soloists who will not only be wowing the audience individually, but will be joining forces to perform a special piece together. The concert will feature a varied programme of music, including several pieces you won’t have heard the band play before. A Last Night of the Proms concert would not be the same without the patriotic classics, so make sure you pack your flag so you can join in with the likes of Jerusalem, Rule Britannia, Land of Hope and Glory and the ever popular Dambusters.
Tickets are just £5 and are available at any of our concerts or from Sidmouth’s Information Centre (01395 516441). Get yours early to avoid disappointment!
Last Sunday’s concert signalled the end of another busy summer season for the band as we took to the bandstand in Connaught Gardens for the 16th and final time this year. With the weather on our side for a change and consistently large and enthusiastic audiences, 2014 will go down as one of the best seasons yet.
As well as the 16 Sunday evening concerts, the summer has seen the band busy performing at a variety of occasions and venues throughout the town and local area. Yet again, one of the highlights has to be the band’s Last Night of the the Proms concert, held in Connaught Gardens on 16th August. This year our guest soloists were mezzo soprano Marie Elliott and tenor James Edwards. Marie and James performed individually, joined forces for a duet and both did a fantastic job in leading the audience during the customary patriotic classics. The concert also saw one of the band’s percussionists, Jerome Blackburn, take to the front of the stage to perform the ever popular ‘Helter Skelter’ on xylophone. Jerome has been awarded a place at Wells Cathedral School and, whilst its a a fantastic and well deserved opportunity, unfortunately we’ve had to say a temporary goodbye to him. We wish Jerome all the very best in his musical studies and look forward to having him back whenever he returns to Sidmouth!
Last Saturday we travelled the short distance along the coast to take part in the SWBBA’s Exmouth Brass Band Festival. The day sees bands from all sections competing in an indoor entertainment contest, as well as performing a 30 minute concert in the Exmouth Pavilion gardens. After last year’s washout, the sunny weather returned and the sea front was bustling with hundreds of bandsmen, supporters and passers by. We were really happy with our performance and came a very credible fifth place overall. A special well done must go to Nick Alderton, who played the solo ‘Myfanwy’ beautifully.
With the summer season behind us, the band is looking ahead to what autumn has in store. On Friday 17th October, we return to Sidmouth’s Manor Pavilion for a concert. Tickets cost £5 and have just gone on sale at the Pavilion’s Box Office. A week later, on the 24th October, an ensemble from the band are taking part in a special remembrance concert being organised by the Sidbury & Sidford Branch of the Royal British Legion. The concert is being held in the Parish Church and will also feature the Lympstone Military Wives Choir. Keep an eye on our engagements page for more information about when and where you can see us over the next few months.