A Sunny Day At Brailes Show


     Brailes Show in our neighbouring village is one of the biggest of its type and Concert Brass were pleased to be offered a chance to be a part of the entertainment.

     With two arenas and upwards of 50 stalls and displays plus the marquee for produce displays there was a massive crowd and the band drew a steady crowd of admirers. The band provided its usual varied programme including contributions from its soloists and it was great for Principal Cornet Luke Barker and young cornet player Alec Banner who were both almost on home ground.

     The band was grateful for the help of solo horn Des Stimpson from Brackley and included his arrangement of the Japanese melody ‘Song Of The Seashore’ much to his surprise. The programme concluded with the ‘Waltonian’ and the band hopes to be invited back next year.

Lumberjacks and Stour see out last of summer jobs


     Concert Brass concluded their summer engagements with the annual visit to Tysoe for the Tysoe Show. Numbering twenty-nine players this was one of the biggest turnouts of the summer. The show was full of things to see and do as always with everything from Canadian Lumberjacks to black-faced Morris Dancers and the usual variety of vintage cars  and tractors plus the marquee full of produce.

     The band was in fine form and featured Grace Coates, Paul Herbert and Eugene Gratwohl in solo spots. Despite some problems with the wind they all produced excellent performances. Ten-year-old Kieran Bown moved from second cornet to the solo cornet seat and gave an excellent performeance of 'Hallelujah' by Leonard Cohen.

Luke takes top chair in the National Children’s Band

     The annual course of the NCBBGB took place between Sunday 23rd July and Friday 28th July at Repton School in Derbyshire. This was Luke’s third course. He had prepared his audition piece thoroughly and auditioned with cornet tutors Tom Hutchinson and Richard Marshall.

     It was a successful audition and at the first rehearsal it was announced that Luke was to be the Principal Cornet. After a week’s rehearsal and some very enjoyable fun activities the final concert came and Luke was able to lead the band through a very entertaining programme. The standard of playing was of the highest order and included Olympus by Philip Harper and Paul Lovatt Cooper’s The Finale Voyage charting the demise of HMS Hampshire and the Death Of Lord Kitchener after hitting a mine in 1916. The story was told by Matt Routley the bass tutor  with archive film. The music presented Luke with some demanding solo opportunities to show off his abilities.

The following week Luke remained at Repton to play with the National Youth Brass Band for their Summer Course. The age range is up to 19 years old and Luke auditioned for his position and was placed 6th Solo Cornet out of a total of 29 cornets. Conducted by Bramwell Tovey the week long course contained some very testing pieces in the programme and was a wonderful experience for Luke. The course concluded with a concert at the Albert Hall in Nottingham

Mark goes for a second bite of the apple

     Mark Davies returned for his second course on Bb Bass and sat second in the section. The look on his face when we all met up after the concert was testament enough as to how much Mark had enjoyed himself.

     Normally an Eb Bass player at band Mark switched to Bb Bass for the course and this meant a change at band for a few weeks to get him fully accustomed to the pitch.

     Neither Mark nor Luke are renowned vocalists so it was great to see them enjoying the choir particularly as the music was from the animated Disney classic ‘Frozen’. Congratulations to both of you, the band is extremely proud of you both.

Stour Start Seasonal Offering at Wellesbourne Lights Event


    The Christmas Season began with the band's annual visit to Wellesbourne for the switching on of their Christmas Lights.

    The band played an assortment of carols and Christmas melodies for an hour before the lights were switched. Despite the cold weather there were crowds of people there enjoying the occasion and taking advantage of the vast array of charity stalls.

Fine Good Friday

For Stour Brass


     Each year Concert Brass opens its outside public events by leading the Procession of Witness on Good Friday in Stratford-upon-Avon, providing the music for the hymns as The Cross moves to various locations in the town.

    Commencing at The Swan fountain adjacent to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, then on to the old Corn Market site opposite the Stratford Town Hall where this years event concluded

     Once again a fine Good Friday day made for an enjoyable event for members of Stour to attend, the event itself has now become an annual booking for the band and has proved to be popular with both the organisers and members of Stour Concert Brass.

Soloists and Band Shine in Bearley


After a gap of three years the band revisited Bearley Village Hall for a concert, where the band were delighted to be greeted by a packed hall and the concert gave all the bands soloists a chance to shine.

     Enabling the band to air a number of pieces specially programmed for the centenary of the Great War. This included a Cornet Solo by Principal Cornet Luke Barker, ‘Arizona Belle’ played originally by Edwin Firth of the famous Fodens Motor Works Band who was tragically killed while on active service and a new composition ‘In Flanders Fields’ inspired by the poem of the same name by John McCrae which also involved a reading of the poem.

Stour Soars At Chippy With Canadian Complement


     2018 being the centenary of the Royal Air Force gave the band an opportunity to give the Celebration Concert at St. James’ Church, Chipping Campden, an aeronautical theme to a packed audience in this fine Cotswold Church.

     The programme included music to reflect the Great War and also World War II, with the ‘Royal Air Force March Past’, ‘633 Squadron’ and ‘The Great Escape’ being  included in addition to a programme to commemorate The Great War. A packed church enabled the programme which was in aid of Royal Air Force Association to raise over £900 for their funds.

     As if the band weren’t just delighted with the packed audience and the reception they received, a few days later the following arrived by social media:

     We want to sincerely thank ALL the members of the Shipston Town Band for giving us, on our holiday to England, the best evening of our trip. We had rented a cottage in Chipping Campden and saw that the RAF Memorial Concert would on that Friday. Since both of our fathers  were in the Royal Canadian Air Force during WWII we decided this was a must-do. Not knowing what to expect, you can imagine that we, as they say, “had our socks blown off” by your amazing band. We can’t thank you enough for such a great evening of music (and, but the way, you played all of our favourites, especially Jerusalem!). The next time we come to England, we are going to check your schedule so that we can come to hear you again. Luke and Grace you are young shining stars backed by a myriad of talent around you. Never give up this incredible gift with which you have been blessed, and thank you all for such a great evening.

Most sincerely,

Linda and Paul Neville, Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada.

Tenth Woolly a’Fayre For Shipston


     Spring Bank Holiday Monday saw the centre of Shipston-on-Stour given over to sheep and wool related items to celebrate its heritage as a wool town.

     This was the tenth year and the band opened the Wool Fair with a ‘fanfare’ composed by Charlie Cox to herald the arrival of many Mayors, Assistant Mayors and dignitaries with much jingling and glinting of gold chain as the event got of to start, Stour Concert then got the event off to a musical start playing a short programme before members joined in the fun of the fayre.

Stour Treated To A Perfect Summer Sunday Afternoon


     Droitwich Lido Park was the bands first bandstand of the season and drew a massive crowd. The band’s varied programme proved extremely popular with the audience and a number made the point of visiting us and saying so.

     One was a music professor from the Birmingham Conservatoire who praised the band for their choice of music and the quality of their playing especially the tightness of the ensemble and their sound and tuning. We were he said the best band he had heard in the last four years - praise indeed. ‘The Great Escape’ was included in the programme and proved an appropriate choice as percussionist Roy Flitcroft and his car were locked in due to a fault with the code on the exit padlock and it took some ingenuity from the band’s Escape committee to set him free.

He’s Was Big, He’s Was Pink and . . .

‘He Was There!’


     Yes 'Burmington Bertie' once again welcomed fete-goers and Stour Concert Brass at the village’s Annual Fete and Dog Show. Bertie, the big pink 'whatever' waved and got into the swing of things on this fantastic Summers afternoon.

     Stour commenced their first garden fete in grand style with their 2018 Bandstand programme, featuring young Alec Banner on Xylophone playing an arrangement by Ken Smith of the old Scottish melody ‘Charlie Is My Darling’, which came through remarkably well considering it was being played outside. It was a first too for talented young Bethan Bown who took the principle cornet chair for the first time and charmed the audience with her solo - so it’s congratulations to Bethan and well done Alec.

     Once again a full band, which included no less than three euphoniums entertained folk as they wandered around the recreation ground enjoying the various stalls and attractions. The waft of delicious hot dogs and the sight of locally crafted cream scones and cups of tea proved an immediate draw to the band at half time, many of whom retired to the tea tent.

Stour ‘Breeze In’ To Abbey Park


     As the hot, dry spell continued, Stour Concert turned out in force to entertain the large audience who turned out to enjoy the sunshine in Abbey Park and spent a splendid afternoon entertained in the July sunshine.

     The band started their performance in traditional style with the march ‘Round Tower’ by H. H. Hutchings that sparkled all the way through. After a glittering start Bethan Bown (15) and her younger brother Kieran (10) stepped up to produce a very capable offering with the brass band arrangement of the Manfred Mann No. 1 hit from 1966 of ‘Pretty Flamingo’, which incidentally saw World Cup success for the England team, this was aptly followed by a 1980’s hit for Mike Berry ‘The Sunshine Of Your Smile’ which was first published in 1913. The Band’s principle cornet, Luke Barker, was next up as he gave an excellent rendition of the William Rimmer composition ‘Arizona Belle’ which was followed by ‘Hallelujah’ which although written by Canadian Singer Leonard Cohen on his 1984 album was performed recently by Alexandra Burke.

     This being the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Royal Air Force it was not surprising that one or two suitably chosen pieces found their way into this summer’s programme and the theme from a war time blockbuster made its appearance in ‘The Great Escape’, followed by ‘Lady Stewart’s Air’ a Peter Graham composition commissioned by David King on behalf of the Federation of Australasian Brass Bands as a tribute to Lady Adrienne Stewart. Lady Stewart has been a long-standing supporter, fund-raiser and patron of most arts organizations in New Zealand.

     Stour then swept along with a lively medley of well known tunes from the shows in the form of ‘Breezin’ Down Broadway’ which includes ‘Another Opening, Another Show’, ‘There's No Business-Like Show Business’, ‘Get Me To the Church on Time’, ‘Oklahoma’, ‘That's Entertainment’ and ‘76 Trombones’. After this glittering show-stopper, flugel horn player Mike Butler  stepped up to play ‘Send In The Clowns’ and the first half closed with Eb Bass player Ken Smith’s arrangement of ‘Everything Stops For Tea’, originally composed composed by the New York born Maurice Sigler in 1935, It was firstly featured in the musical Come Out Of The Pantry, which was set in New York and performed then by Jack Buchanan, who in spite of his impeccable English accent was actually a Scotsman. ‘Everything Stops For Tea" was also featured in the 1940 exhibition by the Ministry of Food, at which time tea was rationed, and it was also recorded decades later by Long John Baldry - having concluded their first half the band literally did just that.

     Suitably refreshed the Stour commenced their second half and got off to a ‘flying start’ with a piece originally written in 1969 for the film The Battle of Britain by Ron Goodwin with the stirring march ‘Aces High’. Next came something rather unusual and yet quite enjoyable as young cornet player Alec Banner gave us a delightful and competent xylophone solo in the form of ‘Charlie Is My Darlin’. Next came a lively number featured in the film ‘Brassed Off’ released in 1996 which came oddly from rock group Violinsky, written by John Marcangelo, simply entitled ‘Clog Dance’. After this lively and enthusiastic piece Stour’s principle euphonium player Eugene Gratwohl stepped up and gave a fine rendition of the late Nat King Cole 1950’s hit ‘When I Fall In Love’. One fine melody was followed by another from the pen of Andrew Lloyd Webber from his musical Cats as the band played ‘Memory’. Back in RAF mode the band now opened the throttle with ‘633 Squadron’ by Ron Goodwin and the wartime theme continued with memories of Dame Vera Lynn who celebrated her 101st birthday this March, with the piece she’s best remembered for ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’.

     ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ was the band’s next offering with all its memories and associations with the comedians Morcame and Wise. This light-hearted piece was followed by something from the pen of Claude-Michel Schöneberg, Fantine brings us this sad and powerful song in the first act in Les Misérables and Stour did it with true reverence and made this their penultimate piece which concluded their performance with ‘The Waltonian’ by J. J. Richards, a rousing quick march reminiscent of all those spirited American Circus Marches, to round-off a thoroughly enjoyable day for the band and audience which was today conducted by Mr. Nick Smith who is standing in as the band’s conductor whilst David Birch is convalescing.