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NEWS

Category: NEWS
Published on Saturday, 02 September 2017

 

Area Contest – Bedworth 2018.

 

The band had mixed feeling over this years test piece,  Ex Terra Lucem composed by Johnathon Bates.   Ex Terra Lucem is the Latin motto of St Helens & the music portrays that part of the country through the ages. The first movement ‘The Brigantes’ is about the Celtic tribe that inhabited the area in Pre-Roman times and is very dance like. The second movement, ‘St Elyns Chapel’ represents an ancient chapel & its bells. The music is very slow and spiritual in it’s make up. The final Movement is ‘From the Ground Light’ and this represents the St Helens industrial heritage, it is very mechanical is methodical in form ending in some huge chords, some discords!

 

As mentioned the band had mixed feelings over the piece, certainly it had very few technical challenges, but the actual challenge was putting the complex piece together & portraying the scenes that composer wrote the piece about.

 

Due to work commitments and holidays the first time the band assembled all together was on the contest stage, so preparations were not exactly ideal.

 

On the day Val had arranged a rehearsal venue which was great & soon we were on stage. We perhaps left our best performance in the band-room but we were reasonably happy coming off stage. The usual post-contest autopsy was carried out in the Bedworth Witherspoons but then it was results time.

 

I must admit that the two adjudicators, Ian Brownbill & Chris King gave the most depressing and demoralising summary for all the bands. They didn’t think anyone played well and basically both from the stage and in the individual band remarks gave no hint of encouragement to anyone. I’m sure all bands that had worked so hard for months really appreciated their negative words.   Thanks guys, and sorry we all spoilt your day!

 

 

If the winning band didn’t please the pair, we certainly didn’t as they placed us 8th out of 10. Congratulations go to Hucknall & Linby and Rolls Royce Derby bands.

 

The one bright spot for us was that the composer, who was in the hall tweeted that he liked our performance especially the “Jazz” cornet solo played by Nick Swarbrick, he was the only player to play it in the required style. (Not noted by the adjudicators)

 

We were a little shocked and disappointed to be placed as low as 8th, but to quote a few clichés…  “That’s Contesting”, “Onwards and upwards” and “There’s always next year”

 

NEW Musical Director

Avonbank have been a bit of a ‘rudderless’ ship for a few weeks with no permanent conductor.

Huge thanks for the people who have headed the band during this period. Gary Smallwood & Richard Dickins.

The band have auditioned a number of prospective Musical Directors in the last weeks but the outstanding candidate was clearly Colin Hogg. & Avonbank (Evesham) Brass Band are proud to announce that Colin has accepted the position of Musical Director.

 

Colin was born in the north east of England in 1955. He enlisted into the Army in 1971 as a boy soldier at the Junior Leaders Regiment, RAC. He then went to The Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall to study the Cornet. After that he served in the 15th/19th Hussars, initially as a Cornet player but later changed to the Oboe, returning to Kneller Hall to study his new instrument. He returned to The 15th/19th Hussars and progressed through the ranks to Sergeant. In 1983 he was selected to train as a Bandmaster and returned to Kneller Hall. In 1985 he completed his training, winning "The Directors prize for Conducting" and "The Loder Prize for Elocution and Concert Presentation " and was appointed Bandmaster of "The Falklands Band of the Parachute Regiment" in 1986. He travelled throughout the world with this Band, making numerous recordings and performing before Royalty and dignitaries from many countries. He left the service in 1992.

Since leaving the Army he has worked with many Wind and Brass Bands throughout Southern England, until he moved to Wales in 1997. He now lives in Swansea, where his wife originally came from. He was appointed Musical Director of the Corsham Band in 2012 and Colin will carry on conducting both Corsham & Avonbank.

 

 

Busy… Busy… Busy!

 Christmas is normally the busiest of times for bands & for Avonbank Christmas 2017 was no exception.

The busiest day of the year was 17/12/17 when the band provided the music for The Staff Christmas Party for a company in Redditch called Antolin Ltd. Now this was far from an ordinary Christmas party… Oh no. There was a huge heated marquee, a fairground that included an ice-rink, ferris wheel, real reindeer, bars & food outlets the lot. It was a pleasure to play for the staff & we had some very nice comments. It was quite a long day playing from 1pm to 4pm, but our day was only half over!

 17/12/17 was also the date of our now annual Christmas Concert at Badsey Church, so once we finished in Redditch it was a ‘Le Mans’ start in the cars & head for Badsey.


As usual the church was packed & our new MD really impressed with his wit & sense of humour as he kept the audience informed & laughing. Our lips started to tire after a long days playing but Colin & the audience enthusiasm got us through. As normal there were plenty of laughs & silly hats as this most enjoyable concert progressed.


One notable part of the concert was the young BRASS players from FAME BRASS ENSAMBLE. Were these really the same youngsters that had just started to learn their instruments last year? They played, under their MD, Peter Johnson with real skill & musicality & the audience really showed their appreciation. What will they be like next year? (Perhaps a few Avonbank players will be looking over their shoulders?)

Pieces played, carols sung, mince pies eaten the evening ended but the band had hardly got home (via the pub!) when emails thanking us for the performance started to come in. In fact, we are already booked for next year! A date for your 2018 diaries, 1/12/18.

 

Tracy Sollis Trust Charity Concert

Friday 15th September saw Avonbank participate is the annual Tracy Sollis Trust Charity Concert at the Evesham Arts Centre. The evening was as usual looked forward to in again joining our friends in the Stour Concert Brass Band and for the first time The Alcester Male Voice Choir were with us. The audience (not a huge one it must be said) were treated to a first half of the choir performance separating the two bands. Special mention here goes to Luke Barker & Martyn Musto for their excellent solo playing.

The choir stated off the second half followed by Avonbank & Stour Concert massed together. What a sound!

Huge thanks goes to the choir for joining us & helping raise money for such a worthy cause. Massive thanks goes to Prince Henry’s School who let us use their facilities ‘FREE OF CHARGE’. Plus of course Sue Sollis & her helpers who works tirelessly for the charity that is so close to her heart. We don’t have a final figure as to the sum raised on the evening, but every penny will be used to fight Leukaemia, such a terrible disease. If you would like to know more about the Tracy Sollis Trust, or just to see where the money raised in events like these actually goes, please look at the Trust’s website www.tracysollistrust.org

 

 Bromsgrove Park – 3/9/17

What a difference 7 days can make.

Last week the band was bathed in sunshine and heat at The Springs, this week the band arrived at a desolate, cold and wet Bromsgrove Park. The audience was made up of 2 people sheltering under a tree & Hilary’s other half. It was so cold I thought there was a penguin by the pool, but Sue Musto reliably informed me that it was a heron!

Was the band put off by the lack of audience and the low ambient temperature………. too right we were! But we battled on being the troopers we are. I can honestly say I have been warmer playing Christmas carols in December!!

Towards the end of the first half we played the Christine Aguilera hit ‘Candyman’, a bit of a band favourite to be honest. However, it seemed that the local home for the deluded had closed for the day as a couple of local youths climbed a tree to scream “CANDYMAN” at us for the rest of the half and all through the interval. The Park Attendant had a word with them and they disappeared. (I suggest dragging the pool)

After the break where hot chocolate was the order of the day rather than the traditional ice-cream the audience had increased a little, but the band still outnumbered them. We really did our best to warm them up by playing pieces like Sing, Sing Sing and Birdland, just to get their feet tapping at least. Then the National Anthem brought the music to an end, we must have done well as a number of the audience, well all of them actually came up to us to say how much they enjoyed the music, if not the weather! One Gentleman in particular was very complimentary and asked when and where we were playing next. We mentioned the Tracy Sollis Concert and he said he’ll be there.

Huge thanks must go to our dep’s, Nigel Hall who was our MD for the day and did a great job keeping the audience informed and entertained. Tom King for hitting the high notes on soprano & Neil Kelsall for his excellent euphonium playing.

 

The Springs – August Bank Holiday

 

August 27th 2017, something really strange happened!!!!!!!!

England had a sunny Bank Holiday Monday!

The band played at our now annual ‘Proms in the Park Concert’ at The Springs Holiday Home Park near Pershore. What a magnificent place to be on a beautiful hot sunny day, the site with its lakes & lawns was a picture. People who have a holiday home there can count themselves very lucky to be in such picturesque surrounding.

With Jacob at the helm the band treated the sun drenched audience to a first half of light concert music. The audience seemed to enjoy our playing and sat appreciating the music whilst looking for shade. (It really was that hot & sunny!)

The band were looking forward to the interval as it was rather hot playing & the staff at The Springs  did us proud with cold drinks, tea, coffee & cakes!!

It was the second half that really mattered & people came for as this was the patriotic bit of flag waving & audience singing. The band warmed up with an exciting modern piece called ‘Starburst’ by Dan Price, a local lad. Then we warmed up the audiences vocal chords with some ‘Good Old Songs’. 

Then it was Proms music proper starting with ‘Jerusalem’. The words of the hymn “England’s green & pleasant land” seemed so appropriate considering the surroundings. 

‘British Sea Songs’ came next. This piece contains the ‘Sailors Hornpipe’ where it’s traditional for the audience to clap along.  It’s also traditional for the band to play it faster & faster to try & beat the audience to the end!! The bands Assistant Principal Cornet, Nick Swarbrick did a great job as did the whole cornet front row, you could hardly see their fingers moving!!! An encore of the Hornpipe was insisted by the audience & Nick, Tom, Bob & Roy duly obliged by playing it even faster! Of course Sea Songs ends with the rousing ‘Rule Britannia’ with the audience in full voice.

The bands last piece was of course Edward Elgar’s ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ with its famous “Land of Hope & Glory” finale. There were lots of singing and lots of flag waving in the sunshine, again an encore was called for & Jacob responded by taking the band through “Land of Hope & Glory” again. 

To round off a lovely hot sunny afternoons music the band played the National Anthem to which the audience respectfully rose to their feet.

What a lovely afternoon in lovely surroundings playing to a great appreciative audience. (The cold lager in the club went down rather well after the concert as well!)