Got To Ten and the T-Shirt Too!

     Alec Banner Concert Brass's young solo cornet player celebrated his tenth birthday and showed off the date to the band in fine fashion.

     Apart his cornet and percussion Alec really enjoys Maths and the picture of his T-shirt shows this in his novel way of showing his 10th birthday.

     Alec's first solo piece is called 'Hot Of The Line' and he's certainly that, as even at this young age he plays with a level of confidnece and assurance not always seen until a few more years have passed - so we can probably expect great things for this young man, whose already making quite a name for himself in Stour Concert Brass.

Fabulous Friday Evening

At High Sherrif's Event


    On a warm evening on Friday, 7th July, Stour Concert Brass visited Admington Hall to play for a garden party hosted by Mark Davies who is the current High Sherriff of Warwickshire.

     The event was a team effort with Sherry Barker and Sandra Butt making a dash to the band hall to pick up extra chairs and Luke Barker who sorted out some special requests from the music library.

     The band performed without a break for two and a quarter hours. 'Hallelujah' by Leonard Cohen proved so popular we had two requests to play it again and we duly obliged. Amongst the guests was the conductor of Coleshill Band who complimented the band on its performance.

     We had a visit from a couple of friendly dogs one of whom took a liking to Principal Cornet Luke.

Some Glorious Hot On The Line

Puffing at Abbey Fields


     Concert Brass made their annual visit to Evesham’s Abbey Park and received a warm response from many regular visitors.

     The varied programme included marches, songs from the shows,  hits from the sixties and a number of the band’s excellent soloists. 10 year old cornet player Alec Banner drew sustained applause for his solo ‘Hot On The Line’ while Principal Cornet  Luke Barker’s performance of ‘Glorious Ventures’ by Peter Graham showed why he has been invited to join both National Children’s Band and the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain.

     Other featured soloists were Paul Herbert on Soprano Cornet, Mike Butler on Flugel and the entire Horn and Flugel Section. We have played an arrangement of ‘Puffing Billy’ by Edward White on each engagement this year and we were pleased that an enthusiastic member of the audience was able to confirm that this was the theme music to the BBC Radio programme Children’s Favourites.

     The organisers were very complimentary about the band’s performance and we look forward to a return visit next year.

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.