Storm clouds threatened but a largely fine day saw Stour Concert Brass out on the streets of Stratford-upon-Avon as members of the local churches came together to celebrate Good Friday with their annual Witness Event.
The event which sees a gathering of local folk meet on Waterside close to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre to start their celebration to mark the day when hymns and prayers are sung and said at three destination: The Swan Fountain and opposite the Town Hall, prior to the cross, which heads up the procession through the streets, being placed at the head of Bridge Street.
This has now become an annual event for Stour and has proved to be a rather enjoyable first outing for available members of the band in their performing year. A smart turnout of instrumentalists of all ages once again arrived to accompany the hymn singing at this event including a delighted junior member Tallulah Matthews on her first band engagement.
Witness Event First For Tallulah . .
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.
Stour In The Swim At Droitwich
DROITWICH LIDO PARK - SUNDAY, 2ND JULY, 2017
Lido Park in Droitwich is a magnificent venue and the band were blessed with lovely weather and a large and appreciative audience.
The varied programme of popular easy listening music proved very popular and so many people came to express their opinions that we almost missed the chance of an ice cream.
Luke Barker introduced a new solo 'Glorious Ventures' and both of the band’s arrangers Bass players Keith Davies and Ken Smith were pleased to hear the applause to their arrangements. Marches were in plentiful supply with 'The Crescent', 'The Medallion' and 'The Waltonian' all finding a place alongside favourites such as 'Memory', 'I Dreamed A Dream' and 'Hallelujah' by Leonard Cohen.
The nearby Lido was not to be missed and some of the younger members enjoyed a swim. whilst the more mature members of the band frequented the ice cream vendor to slake there thirst.
Fabulous Friday Evening
At High Sherrif's Event
WARWICKSHIRE HIGH SHERRIF'S EVENT - ADMINGTON HALL - FRIDAY, 7TH JULY, 2017
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.
Stour Rev Up For Local Motorshow and Bertie's 'Do' at Burmington!
May saw the band enjoy playing for a new event The Lions Vintage Car Show held at the Wellesbourne.
Organised by Robin Hammond this proved an enjoyable day with the band receiving many compliments for their choice of music and the quality of their performance.
The band visits Burmington some three miles from Shipston-on-Stour for their annual show. Twenty-nine members of the band were available and gave a good performance with soloists including Eugene Gratwohl on euphonium, Alec Banner on cornet, Mike Butler on flugel and the horn section section with ‘Hey Jude’.
Yes it's that time of year to get Shipston summer on the way as local folk gather for a jolly good day out, kicked of by Stour Concert Brass.
This annual event brings together all the wooly folk of Shipston as the Square fills up with sheep and all things wolly. Stour Concert Brass as usual opened up the proceedings with that well known Charlie Cox fanfare and after a brief minutes silence to remember those lost in a recent national incident the proceedings got underway. Stour gave a short opening programme before joining the throng of locals to enjoy a highlight of Shipston's calendar of events.
It was a 'Red Letter Day' for new membeer Alex Banner who impressed and entertained the band and folk who gathered to hear the band as he presented his new solo 'Hot On The Line' which he played so very well for one so young, Alec has only recently joined Stour Concert from the Junior/Training Band where he has impressed us all with his cornet and xylophone skills.
Some Glorious Hot On The Line
Puffing at Abbey Fields
EVESHAM BANDSTAND CONCERT - SUNDAY, 16TH JULY, 2017
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 ANNUAL SHOW - SATURDAY, 12TH AUGUST, 2017
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
TYSOE SHOW - SATURDAY, 19th AUGUST, 2017T
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
WELLESBOURNE CHRISTMAS LIGHT SWITCH-ON - SATURDAY, 25TH NOVEMBER, 2017
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.