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2014 drew to a close with a busy festive season that included an abundance of carols and, for the first time, two Christmas concerts in the Manor Pavilion.  Following several years of sell-out concerts, we thought we would try and prevent disappointment by putting on an additional Saturday afternoon concert, as well as the usual one on a Friday evening.  Both concerts featured a varied programme of both new and old festive music, with the Friday audience also being lucky enough to hear the Training Band play a short set before the interval.

Christmas time - at the end of an inevitably busy year for the band - provides a good opportunity to reflect back over the previous 12 months.  Over the course of two Christmas concerts, three awards were presented to band members who deserved special recognition.  The first award - the President’s Cup - was presented to Chairman Martin Cordy for all of his hard work behind the scenes during the year.  The second award - the Michael Parker Memorial Trophy for the Most Improved Player - was presented to Jasper Dommett, whose talent, enthusiasm and versatility all keep on increasing.  The third award, which was being presented for the first time, was for the Players’ Player of the Year which, as the title suggests, was voted for by members of the band.  The first recipient of this trophy was the band’s principal euphonium player, Nick Alderton.  In addition to Nick’s loveliness, his great dedication and his unfaltering positive attitude, Nick has shone as a player since moving to the principal euphonium seat in early 2014.  The move has very much strengthened the middle of the band and he has excelled as a soloist on both the concert and the contest stage. Well done to Martin, Jasper and Nick on their achievements!

The band is currently having a short but well-earned break and will return to the bandroom on 6th January with the year ahead in mind.  The first performance in 2015 will be a concert in the Manor Pavilion on Saturday 21st February.  The concert, organised by the Lions Club of Sidmouth, will also feature the popular Rivertones Barbershop Chorus.  More details of the concert and of other scheduled performances during 2015 can be found on our engagements page.

Happy New Year

The new year has seen a few changes in the band, mainly involving the bass section.  Unfortunately just before Christmas we said goodbye to Steve Belli, who has decided to leave the band due to work and other life commitments.  Steve was a great asset to the band on Eb Bass for a number of years and would regularly take to the front of the stage to perform solos and show off his talents.  We will miss Steve greatly, but we wish him and his lovely wife Debs all the very best and we hope to see them around Sidmouth in the future.  

With Steve’s departure creating a small space at the back of the band, a new (yet very familiar) face has joined the bass section.  Third cornet player Lee Harris jumped at the opportunity to be reunited with a tuba and has joined Graham Pollard on BBb bass.  Colin Dance, who was previously on BBb bass, has moved a couple of seats to his left and has joined Adrian Harris and Harold Curtis on Eb bass.

Elsewhere in the band, it’s great to have Lowell Pinn back with us on second horn after a few months away.  Jasper Dommett (a.k.a Mr. Versatility) has left his temporary spot in the horn section and has taken up the challenge of playing first baritone for the West of England Regional Championships, which are being held in Torquay in March.  Baritone player Marie-Claire Gibbs is currently taking a short break from the band, but we will be seeing her back in the section very soon.

As well as getting used to a few personnel changes, the band has been busy getting back into the swing of rehearsals after spending much of December out and about carolling and after a short break over New Year.  We’re currently gearing ourselves up for the concert in the Manor Pavilion on Saturday 21st February (see our engagements page for more details), as well as looking ahead to the Regional Championships and the summer season which, scarily, will be here before we know it!

Musical Chairs

The Sidmouth Town Band will be holding its Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 27th January 2015 at 7.30pm.  The meeting will be held at the Band Headquarters at Woolcombe House, Woolcombe Lane, Sidmouth.  Please come along and support the band, hear about our involvement throughout the town and further afield during 2014, and contribute to key discussions on the future of the band.

Annual General Meeting

With less than two weeks to go until the all-important ‘Areas’ contest, the band is busy rehearsing this year’s set test piece - Variations on Maccabeus by Kevin Norbury.  Along with 14 other Second Section bands from the West of England, we will be heading to Torquay on 14th March to perform this enjoyable but challenging piece to adjudicators David Hirst and Prof. Roger Webster.  

The piece is a real test for all players and the rehearsals are ensuring everyone is being put through their paces.  As in previous years, we welcomed world renowned and friend of the band Steve Sykes to a couple of rehearsals to draw upon his knowledge and expertise.  There is still plenty of work to be done, but with another 13 days to go we are hoping that it will all come together and we will be able to give a good performance on stage.  If you don’t already follow us on Twiter, click on the link on the right of this page and keep up-to-date with contest news.

Torquay Beckons

Time always flies when we are preparing for the summer season and this year was certainly no exception.  After competing at the Areas contest in March (at which we achieved a slightly disappointing but credible 9th place), it was back to the bandroom to prepare for our busiest time of year.

First up was Sidmouth’s annual hot cross bun giveaway, which takes place every Good Friday morning.  Although it was warmer than the same event in 2014 (to be fair, it would probably have been warmer in the Arctic than it was in 2014), this year we had to contend with relentless drizzle. Nevertheless, it’s always a great tradition to be involved in and turns our focus back to “normal” music after spending a solid few weeks rehearsing just one contest piece.  At the end of April an ensemble from the band performed at a ‘Bold As Brass’ concert held in Sidholme Hotel’s music room, and in early May the band took part in Sidmouth’s 70th anniversary of VE Day celebrations. This left just a few weeks to get ready for our summer season of Connaught Garden concerts, which started on Sunday 31st May.

Amazingly we are already a third of the way

through the season, with five concerts down and

ten more to go.  Last Sunday (28th June) the

Training Band took their well-deserved spot in the

limelight as they performed a short concert before

the senior band (see photo).  The band, led by

Fiona Harvey, really did themselves proud and

hopefully they will be back on the bandstand at least

once more during the summer.  You’ll also be able to

hear the Training Band at the Sid Valley Rotary fete in

Blackmore Gardens on Saturday 25th July for about half

an hour from 12:20pm.  The Training Band will be followed by an ensemble from the senior band.

Looking ahead to August, you will be inundated with opportunities to hear us in and around the town. This all kicks off with the start of Folk Week on 1st August, when we will be first on stage at the official Opening Concert in The Ham marquee.  Don’t forget to keep an eye on our engagements page for more details of where and when you can hear us.

Summer Starts

Tickets for the band’s annual Last Night of the Proms concert are now on sale. The event, which will be the band’s 10th Proms concert, is being held on Saturday 15th August in the beautiful Connaught Gardens.  As always, the evening will feature a packed programme with music you won’t hear from us during the rest of our summer season.  Whilst the majority of the programme will remain a secret until the night, you can be sure that the second half of the concert will feature all of the patriotic classics to which you can wave your flags and sing along.

Tickets cost just £5 and can be purchased at any of our concerts.  They will also be made available in Sidmouth’s Information Centre, which can be contacted on 01395 516441.

Proms Tickets On Sale

We are currently looking for a committed and reliable second trombone player and an Eb bass player to complete our playing line up. The band is respected as being one of the most entertaining bands in Devon, drawing audiences from across the county for our regular concerts. We are a second section band who is seeking continual improvement under Adrian Harvey and a place in the first section. We are also exploring exciting opportunities to relocate and expand in new premises. Rehearsals are every Tuesday and Friday in Sidmouth from 8-10pm. Any applications should be made to the Band’s Chairman, Martin Cordy, at

Players Needed!

Last weekend saw the close to a very busy and very enjoyable summer season for the band.  On Saturday 5th September we made the short journey along the coast to take part in the SWBBA’s Exmouth Brass Band Festival.  After playing in the sunny Pavilion gardens at lunchtime, we took to the indoor stage at 4.35pm to perform our 25 minute entertainment programme to adjudicator Alan Fernie.  With a couple of our cornet players unable to make the day, our MD Adrian Harvey put down his baton and dusted off his cornet to join the back row for the afternoon.  Without a conductor, we worked together to perform a programme that consisted of Show Me The Way To Go Home, Valero, Myfanwy, Pencil Full Of Lead, A Time For Us and The Kingdom of Asturias.

After a couple of years out of the prizes at Exmouth, we were delighted that Alan Fernie enjoyed our performance and awarded us with first place in the Second Section and second place overall.  In his remarks, Alan said:

Show Me The Way To Go Home - A wee bit tentative, but we grow nicely – keep vib to a minimum! Are we swinging the quavers? Agree one way or t’other (I’m not sure both styles work) – small point – this is so well worked! (more together than most bands with a conductor I’ve heard).

Valero - Here too! Keep listening to the drummer. Playing has quality and such a good band sound! Can the flugel solo identify his / herself for solo? So much to like here though. Well played.

Myfanwy - The level of ensemble awareness in this band is just great – what a musical band! Lovely sounds, balance is good – blend excellent. Heartfelt playing from Euph solo. Bravo all.

Pencil Full of Lead - Thank you for playing this! Let the drummer count in! Bravo euph – definitely written by a trombone player! Well done trombone too, and indeed the band have a terrific groove for this – excellent sounds all the way.

A Time For Us - This moves along very nicely, with secure lines – quintet keep listening (and watching each other) into 27. Lovely bass trombone sound heard in 32 and splendidly passionate playing from soloists at 40. Again, ensemble is superb!

The Kingdom of Asturias (new to me) – haven’t written anything – mesmerising! The tempo changes were so well handled – your belief in each other is superb and added to that, the quality of the playing is so good too! You should all be very proud; astonishing!’

A special well done must go to euphonium soloist Nick Alderton and the quintet that led A Time For Us so beautifully.  We would also like to say a big thanks to Mike Boother who helped us out on cornet for the day.

The following day the band performed the 15th and final concert of the summer season at Connaught Gardens.  It’s been a mixed summer weather-wise, but even on the greyest of summer evenings, we have never been short of great, enthusiastic audiences.  Thank you to everyone who has played for us, collected for us and come and supported us throughout the summer months.  We couldn’t, and wouldn’t, do it without you.

Unfortunately last Sunday was not only the end of the summer season, but it also marked the end of an era for the band as we said goodbye to our flugelhorn player Esther Harbour.  Esther and husband Ian are moving to Vietnam to teach English and, whilst we will miss Esther hugely, we wish them all the very, very best in their new ventures.

Tickets are now on sale for our next engagement, which is our Autumn Concert in Sidmouth’s Manor Pavilion.  After a slight mix up with dates, the concert is now being held on Sunday 18th October at 2.30pm (changed from 23rd October).  Tickets costing £5 are available from the Manor Pavilion Box Office, which can be contacted on 01395 514413.

Exmouth Entertainment Success!

Autumn always flies past for the band.  It only seems five minutes ago we were finishing off our summer season, and we are now busy in the bandroom rehearsing for Christmas.  We have squeezed a lot into these last few months though.  After our success at the Exmouth entertainment contest in September, we starting preparing for both our Autumn Concert and the SWBBA’s Annual Championships.  

The Annual Championships, which are held in Torquay each November, provides an opportunity to compete against other bands in a slightly more relaxed atmosphere than the highly competitive ‘Areas’ contest in March.  This year we were the only band to enter the Second Section and, as such, we were offered the opportunity to enter the ‘open’ section, which is traditionally made up of just Championship and First Section bands.  Not a band to shy away from a challenge, we accepted this offer and got to work rehearsing our own choice test piece ‘The Saga of Haakon the Good’.  Although rehearsal time was limited, we enjoyed getting to grips with the challenge of a First Section standard test piece and we felt we gave a decent performance on stage.  As well as winning the cup for the best Second Section band (inevitable, but still rewarding), we were really pleased to be placed 7th out of the 9 bands who entered the open section, beating both a First Section band and a Championship Section band in the process.  It was a really motivational day and one that will no doubt boost our confidence heading into 2016.

As well as preparing for our many carolling engagements throughout December, we are currently very busy putting together the programmes for our two Christmas concerts.  The concerts, which are being held in the Manor Pavilion, are on Friday 11th December at 7.30pm and Saturday 12th December at 3.00pm.  Tickets cost just £5 and are available from the Pavilion’s Box Office, which can be contacted on 01395 514413.  Tickets sell quickly, so be sure to get yours as soon as you can to avoid disappointment!

More Contest Success





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