The annual highlight for any local brass band player is the Pershore Midsummer Brass Festival. Every year , around 30 brass bands descend on the charming Pershore to entertain at venues around the town, from the outdoor area of the Angel Inn to the beautiful, imposing setting of Pershore Abbey. Players involved would argue that this is brass band’s answer to Glastonbury and I for one always enjoy becoming a “rockstar” for the day!
The 2015 festival yet again proved to be a fantastic day for all involved at Stourport on Severn Brass Band. We were lucky enough to get the pick of the venues this year: a morning session at the Angel Inn and a mid-afternoon set in the Abbey. In the weeks leading up to the festival, we had prepared two different programmes that would showcase the band’s versatility. Our MD, Oli had yet again chosen some fantastic pieces for us to play, some of which were a welcome challenge for the band.
Our first set at the Angel Inn was a fun, light-hearted affair, mixing music from animated Hollywood blockbusters with pop classics from the likes of Queen. The audience seemed to really enjoy songs such as “I wish I knew how it would feel to be free” and The Lion King’s “Circle of Life” but the real highlights of the morning came from our two fantastic soloists, Dave and Chris.
Dave Deakin is one of the most gifted musicians I have had the pleasure of playing with and his rendition of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” was a brilliant showcase for an amazing trombonist. You only had to look out to the audience which was filled with fellow brass players to know that you were listening to someone special. After we had finished our set, Dave then revealed that he had been stung by an insect halfway through the solo and thought his performance suffered slightly! I can only imagine how much more perfect it would have sounded without his unwanted visitor!
Our other soloist, Eb Bass player Chris Lane gave us something completely different, entertaining the masses with The Jungle Book’s “The Bare Necessities”. As well as being a powerhouse in the bass department, Chris has shown himself to be quite the comedic entertainer! Fully committed to his role, Chris sloped off halfway through his solo and re-emerged in a full bear costume! I don’t think you would have found another soloist that day who was so dedicated to entertaining their audience! Chris played brilliantly and the piece summed up perfectly how much fun it is to be in Stourport on Severn Brass Band!
Our set in the Abbey was a more serious affair, but we still had a great time playing some stunning music. We had another wonderful solo from our principal cornet, Andy Lane. Pershore Abbey was the perfect setting to hear Dvorak’s ”Rusalka’s Song to the Moon” and Andy played it beautifully. It was a real pleasure to accompany him.
Another highlight of the set was Joseph Turrin’s “Hymn for Diana”. Written as a tribute to Princess Diana after her untimely death, “Hymn for Diana” is full of intensity and emotion and an extremely demanding piece to play for any band. But we really rose to the challenge and as the final chord rang out around the abbey, we knew we’d done the music justice.
Our set at the abbey once again reminded us all how far we’d come as band over the past couple of years. Two years ago, we wouldn’t have even thought of attempting to play any of the pieces in our set, let alone play it to a large audience in an imposing venue at such a prestigious event.
After a successful day’s playing, we got to settle down and enjoy the rest of the afternoon. As well as being a great event to play in, Pershore Midsummer Brass allows you to enjoy performances from some of the top bands in the country, as well as catch up with old friends without the added pressure of a contest environment! Highlights from the day included sets from Championship bands like Jaguar Land Rover and Sovereign, and also from the fantastic Langley Band who were as always the life of the party!
As well as playing for the mighty Stourport on Severn Brass Band, some of our players line up for other bands and it was great to get to cheer them on throughout the day. A special mention goes to the brilliant West Mercia Youth Band. Conducted by our MD Oli Wilson, they played a brilliantly entertaining set which included the main theme to “Game of Thrones” as well as a beautiful solo from our very own horn player, Becky Kerridge. Great job Becky!
If you enjoy great music played in fantastic venues, accompanied by great food and drink and (mostly!) glorious weather, then Pershore Midsummer Brass Festival is the event for you! A great day was had by all and I can’t wait to see all of you next year!
We have some vacancies in the band at the moment, so if there are any cornet or baritone players out there who fancy playing with an awesome band, get in touch!
Thank you to the Kidderminster Shuttle for publicising our concert at The Stourport Manor Hotel on 10th May. The concert is in support of Cancer Research UK, tickets can be purchased from John Beard in Kidderminster, Worleys Strings and Things in Stourport or by calling the phone numbers shown. Please click on the article for more details.
What a summer it’s been for us at Stourport on Severn Brass Band. Since our last update, we have a new home in the shape of Stourport Sports Club. It was very emotional leaving the Old School at Areley Kings, as it has been a lovely home for the band over the years. But luckily we managed to find a very fit replacement! The Sports Club have been extremely accommodating to us since we moved in May and we look forward to many happy years here. There is even talk of hosting a few concerts in the rehearsal room so watch this space!
The gigs we have taken part in this summer have been a lot of fun, and for the most part we have actually enjoyed very good weather! Our appearance at Pershore Midsummer Brass has to stand out as a highlight for the band. After our popular performance at last year’s event, we were rewarded with the ’headline slot’ at the Baptist Church. It is a lovely venue to play in, and although we were all quite nervous, we ended up giving a great show to the audience. We even made it into the Bandsman, with event organiser, Val Trim stating “Stourport on Severn gave a fantastic performance in the Baptist Church, particularly the horn solo The Depths of His Love, played so beautifully by young Jo Foskett”. It was a very proud moment for everyone and as Val said, a special moment for our Solo Horn player Jo. She really is a joy to listen to and it was great to see her talent celebrated in such a prestigious publication in the Brass Band world.
The event that has been occupying most of our time this summer is preparations for Saturday’s National Brass Band Championships in Cheltenham. For many of us, this will be our first appearance at the Nationals with the band (our last appearance was back in 2004). Like with the Regionals, all bands will play the same piece, and in this case, it is Geoffrey Burgon’s Narnia Suite. It is a wonderful piece to play, taking you on an exciting musical journey that depicts C.S. Lewis’ beloved Chronicles of Narnia. Always exciting, at times dark and other times exhilarating, it has been a challenging, yet very rewarding experience rehearsing this piece.
In between our summer engagements, we have been rehearsing non-stop for Nationals. This may sound like quite a tedious affair but I can honestly say the band has enjoyed (mostly!) every minute of the Narnia journey. This is largely down to our brilliant M.D, Mr Oli Wilson. His meticulous preparation for every rehearsal and attention to detail has been incredible. I really don’t know how he fits it all in, with his other musical, family and work commitments. He is Stourport’s answer to Superman!
During the build-up to Nationals, we have enjoyed the company of a number of guest conductors. Their input has allowed us to gain a fresh perspective on the music and help fine tune any rough edges we may have had. On Sunday 7th September, we had a workshop with David Hirst. David is a legend of the brass band world, playing for and conducting some of the top bands in the country during his prestigious career. We were extremely honoured to have him with us and the 3 hours spent rehearsing under his baton went much too quickly. We’d like to thank all the people that helped us during rehearsals this summer: David, Craig Stevens, Saphran Ali and even our own flugel player, Kim – we are so grateful for all your hard work and time.
Regardless of the result on Saturday, we can hold our heads up high and be enormously proud of our achievements. Looking back at where we were just 2 years ago, to be ranked in the top 24 bands in the country for our section is incredible. I don’t think there are many bands that will be present on Saturday that have had as much fun as we have had these past few months. And we’re going to carry that fun-loving attitude through with us when we take to the stage and (attempt to) enjoy every minute of Narnia Suite.
We will be sure to let you know how we get on and stay tuned for some more exciting news from us at Stourport Brass Band.
We have been very busy since our last update, preparing for the 2014 Regional Contest. Last Sunday saw us take to the stage in Bedworth in the Fourth Section. For those of you who don’t know much about the world of contesting, the areas involve all bands playing the same test piece and being anonymously judged by two adjudicators (who have to sit all day in a small tent-like construction!). With a draw taking place for order of play, it is a brass bander’s version of the F.A. cup, only much more competitive. The top three bands, as decided by the adjudicators, qualify to play at the National Finals in Cheltenham.
The test piece we had to get our teeth into this year was Alan Fernie’s Three Spanish Impressions. It is a lovely work with a lot of mood and atmosphere. We had a lot of fun rehearsing this piece, thanks to our amazing M.D. Oli. He did so much hard work preparing for each rehearsal and organised for other conductors to take us for a few sessions. This really helped us gain a fresh perspective on the piece and massive thanks goes to Saphran Ali, Craig Stevens, David Hirst and our principal trombonist, Dave Deakin, who all helped out with rehearsals and performance feedback. A huge thank you also goes out to all the helpers who played with us in the contest (deps in banding terms!). In our eyes, they’re not really deps, they’re proper members of the band.
We had a couple of setbacks leading up to contest day, the most notable being a last minute illness to our 1st Horn player, Rob. Unfortunately for him and us, he had to have his appendix removed 2 weeks ago which meant he was unable to play with us at Bedworth. Most bands’ M.D.s would have had a near-breakdown with such an issue, but Oli took it in his stride and had rewritten parts dished out the next day!
So, we made it to the contest on Sunday and we are delighted to tell you we came third and are set to play at the National Finals!! It was a fantastic result for everyone involved and capped off what was an extremely enjoyable day. As nerve-wracking as playing in a contest was, the band still had lots of fun and a smiles were permanently on our faces as we took to the stage.
After the hysteria has died down of our great result, it will be time to begin preparations for all our jobs in the summer. We’re all looking forward to putting together a really varied, enjoyable programme for our audiences around the Midlands. We hope to see you all at some of our gigs across the summer and you can find out where we’re playing on our website.
Keep checking our Facebook and Twitter pages for the latest goings on at Stourport Brass Band. If you play a brass instrument and fancy joining in, please come along on a Tuesday night for a blow. The more the merrier!
Stourport on Severn Band is pleased to announce that thanks to the generosity of local people we raised £1495.86 towards Band funds for 2014. We look forward to playing Christmas music to you all again next year.
|Severn Valley Railway||Sunday 1st December 2013||£227.04|
|Tesco – Kidderminster||Wednesday 11th December 2013||£132.25|
|Tesco – Kidderminster||Tuesday 17th December 2013||£114.76|
|Sainsburys – Kidderminster||Sunday 18th December 2013||£161.77|
|Morrisons – Kidderminster||Thursday 19th December 2013||£75.10|
|Severn Valley Railway||Sunday 22nd December 2013||£761.79|