The City of Bristol Brass Band were sad to learn that M.D. Ian Holmes, a popular conductor from the west country, was taken ill last week and will be unable to conduct them at the Area contest in Torquay. The band has kept in close contact with Ian and send him very best wishes for a speedy recovery.
Bryn James came to the rescue taking the band to the Oxfordshire and District Brass Band Association contest on 23rd February, at just 48 hours notice, achieving a creditable 3rd place on only one rehearsal.
City of Bristol headed for the hills last weekend, for the annual Whit Friday march contests. Every year since 1884 the sound of brass music has echoed through the foothills of the West Pennines on Whit Friday, and this year was no exception. The contests saw 133 brass bands and over 3,500 musicians gather from all over the world on the Lancashire/Yorkshire border for an evening of entertainment and music making.
The Band played at five Saddleworth villages to large crowds on a beautiful summer’s evening. Widely regarded as the "greatest free show on earth", thousands of locals and visitors poured onto the sun-filled streets to watch the bands march. The organisers of Greenfield contest, estimated a vast crowd of 4000 people - quite possibly the largest audience the band has ever played to.
Whist on the march, the Band performed the theme tune to Wallace & Gromit, in homage to their home city. The bass drum even featured a Gromit mascot, alongside Shaun the sheep, and Feather’s McGraw – who all came along as support.
The band played consistently well, and even won a prize at Greenfield for their performance of the march ‘Knight Templar’ by composer George Allan (1864 – 1930) written as a tribute to the fearless knights of the Crusades.
Bands from all over the world attend the Whit Friday contests, as there is £60,000 in prize money up for grabs. 2014’s event saw bands attend from Germany, Switzerland, Holland, and amazingly, Neo Brass, a band that had travelled from Japan to take part.
Principal Cornet Steve Ellis said: “Whit Friday is a not-to-be-missed event for any brass band musician, and is one of the biggest events in the brass band calendar. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and it was an honour to represent Bristol in front of such large crowds”.
2nd Horn Player, Emma Metcalfe who organised the trip said: “It was fantastic to take City of Bristol Brass Band to the Whit Friday contests. It is a unique event, and it was the band’s first time. To have come away with a prize shows the band can compete with some of the best brass bands in the country.”
The popular Weston-Super-Mare Own Choice Contest took place at the Winter Gardens, Weston-Super-Mare on Sunday 18th May. The City of Bristol Brass Band were once again there to try for the Second Section title. Also competing in the same section were Avonbank Brass, A.W. Parker (Drybrook), Blaenavon Town, Ebbw Valley Brass and Swindon Pegasus. The adjudicators across all sections were Paul Cosh and Stan Lippeatt, with, for the first time in the contest's history, both in the box at the same time. The contest began at 10.30am with the Fourth Section (4 bands) and moved straight onto the Third Section (8 bands), after which they were presented with their results.
While that was happening, the Band had a rehearsal and final run through under Bryn James, our chosen testpiece being Royal Parks, by George Lloyd.
The Second Section started a little late and was followed by the joint First/Championship Section (5 bands) with our results at the end of the day.
National Brass Band Championships
The weekend of the 8th and 9th of March saw the annual contest commonly known as the Areas. This year as in the past (and for years to come) it was held in Torquay. Over 70 bands from around the region descended upon the English Riviera all hoping for a place in the National Brass Band Championship Finals later on this year. Saturday saw the 4th, 3rd and 1st Section bands compete, with wins for Corsham, Bratton and Filton, respectively. Sunday was our day, in the Second Section, followed by the Championship section bands eventually won by Flowers).
On Saturday evening the Band assembled to have a final practice before enjoying the spring-time evening. An early bed for most and an early breakfast the following morning gave time for an 8.30 warm-up and run through. During the session we were told that we had drawn the dreaded number one spot, so a quick rendition of the National Anthem ensued before getting changed and ready to go on stage.
Changing room - Registration (no problems there, thank goodness, after bands have been disqualified for late registrations!) - and then onto the stage. With a welcome speech by the MC we were into the National Anthem and then after welcoming the Adjudicators, Mike Kilroy and Steve Pritchard-Jones and making sure they were ready, we started our test-piece, Chaucer's Tunes by Michael Ball.
After an uncertain start, things improved a little in the middle, but went a little awry towards the end, with intonation and clarity getting lost in the excitement. With our performance over, we then had a long wait (in the bar!) before the results were announced:
1. Forest of Dean Brass
2. St. Keverne
3. Ocean Brass
4. Poole Borough
5. Wotton-under-Edge & District
6. A W Parker (Drybrook)
We finished a disappointing 14th out of 16. Not the result we had hoped for and certainly much worse than the Band is capable of achieving; but we will return next year to carry on the fight!
It's just as keen a battle in the sartorial elegance stakes here in Torquay this morning as it is with the music making. First we had Kevin Robbins looking dapper at the helm with City of Bristol in a tasty whistle and flute. (4BarsRest; live comments)
A trio of solid, musically intersecting and well led performances to kick off proceedings here in Torquay.
2nd November, 2013
The South West Brass Band Association Annual Contest is held in the first weekend of November and this year the Band chose to attempt to regain the title of Second Section Champions. The rehearsal was booked for 11am in a local hotel and, for once, everyone was there on time ready to play! A few hymn tunes, topping and tailing of the testpiece (Three Part Invention, by Kenneth Downie), scales and a lesson in semantics later and it was time for the draw.
Of the four bands in the programme, one had to withdraw, leaving Weston, Sidmouth and us competing for the title. Weston drew the dreaded number one, Sidmouth number two and we were to play last.
After a spot of lunch and a quick warm up we were ready to show the world (well, Torquay) what wonders we could perform!
On stage we performed well, though not as well as we had done in rehearsals (an untidy first movement) and we all came off stage a little disheartened. The results for our section were to be announced after the Open section (First and Championship section bands) had competed, a total of ten bands, so a good time in the bar was had by all!
Eventually it was time for the results to be announced, and as the adjudicator, Jim Davies, was summing up his afternoon it became evident that we had not impressed as much as we had hoped. As usual, the results were announced in reverse order:
Best Intrumentlist: Flugel, Sidmouth Town,
3rd place Weston,
2nd place, City of Bristol,
1st place, Sidmouth Town.
A celebratory curry was definitely in order!!
Friday 1st November, 2013
The City of Bristol Brass Band are holding an open rehearsal ahead of the South West Brass Band Association's Annual Championships. The Rehearsal is on Friday, 1st November at 7.45pm and is being held upstairs at the St. Bonaventure's Parish Club, Friary Road, Bishopston, Bristol. The set testpiece is Kenneth Downie's Three-Part Invention.
More information about the contest can be found on their website: www.Southwestbrassbandassociation.co.uk
Kevin Robbins to lead the Band
Kevin Robbins (MD of Yeovil Town Band) has agreed to take the City of Bristol Brass Band in the short term, primarily for the South West Brass Band Association's Annual Contest and the Gloucestershire Brass Band Association's Own Choice Contest.
Kevin began playing at the age of 9 and after only a year won his first solo award at the Cheltenham Music Festival. This was the first of many awards, including the title ‘Junior Champion of Great Britain under 14 yrs', the Gloucestershire Brass Band Association Champion at Junior and Senior levels, also the Bath, Peterborough and London and Home Counties Festivals by the time he was 16. It was at this time Kevin was invited to play Assistant Principal Cornet for the famous Stanshawe (Bristol) Band under the direction of Prof. Walter Hargreaves. On leaving college Kevin moved to Yorkshire and became Principal Cornet of the Brodsworth Colliery Band under the direction of the late John Childs. In 1980 he received an invitation to come back to Bristol to lead the Sun Life Band as Principal Cornet. It was this period that proved to be the best playing time of his career with numerous recordings for the BBC and appearances on the BBC2 series 'Best of Brass' and the 'Granada TV Band of the Year' to mention but a few. If this wasn’t enough in 2000 Kevin became Principal Cornet of the Flowers Band, a position he held for five years.
Over the years Kevin has lead bands to National Brass Band Championships at the Royal Albert Hall and British Open Championships at Belle Vue and Free Trade Halls in Manchester and the Symphony Hall in Birmingham.
Kevin still appears as guest soloist from time to time especially with the Dursley Male Voice Choir with whom he has toured Canada in 1998 and 2003, and recently a tour of Austria. It was in Vienna at the St Stephens Cathedral that Kevin made history by becoming the first brass soloist invited to play at midday mass.
The City of Bristol Brass Band are looking forward to working with Kevin and hope he can bring the Band's potential to fruition in next month's contests.
Weston-super-Mare 45th Annual Brass Band Contest
A beautiful sunny morning promised a lovely day of brass bands competing against each other. A final run-through at 11.30am for the City of Bristol Brass Band was marred only by an accident on the M5 delaying one player and another player conducting his band in the contest at the same time as the warm-up. Spirits were good; the band was very well prepared, having chosen a particularly difficult testpiece - James Curnow's Brass Metamorphosis.
After a little confusion with the draw, it was established that we were to play last. In an original line-up of eight bands, only six were now competing.
The wait is always the worst part, but eventually we were called in to register. With all final adjustments made, we walked onto the stage, settled into our seats and played the piece. The inevitable few slips were made, but overall it was not a bad performance from anybody. The results were not to be announced until after the joint First / Championship section had played (another eight bands), so most of the band filed off to the pub for food and refreshments.
At the results, our adjudicator, David Thornton, talked about the balance and, in particular, tailoring the performance to the venue to let the detail come through.
The Best Euphonium Tophy was awarded to St. Keverne
Third Prize: Pendennis
Second Prize: AW Parker (Drybrook)
First Prize: St. Keverne
We came fifth, so a very disappointing result.
Opening: Bold opening. Let the semiquavers come through in the balance, please. (25) nice dynamic gestures. Keep the solo lines as smooth as possible when called for. Var. I - This is a little frantic in tempo and ensemble. Control and clarity - especially in a hall like this. Var. II - Bass a beat late? Some good playing in this exposed music - well done flug and horn. (163) slight mis-pitches from soloist. (179) - well done euph on a really tricky solo - not quite 100% - but very near. Var. III - Snare drum much too loud - need to hear the melody. Again - we lose the semi work in the balance. Keep the tempo held, if it races we lose the virtuoso nature of the playing. Some good technique shown here. Var. IV - Nice horn playing - good legato line. (359) - Well done BBb! Careful of tuning in the cornet accomp here. (371) - some nerves showing here in the exposed writing. Var. V - S.D. a little loud again. Watch balance. (425) - tenuto in euph?
The National Brass Band Championships