David Birch - Is a familiar face in brass banding circles, being an extremely experienced euphonium player, Having spent many years encouraging and mentoring many future players, he launched the fledgling community-based concert band to complement Shipston Band's Town and Training Band.
Stour Concert Brass is the 'new kid on the block' founded by conductor David Birch, the brass band has proved highly succesful with players and audiences alike. The band welcomes players of all abilities and proves the next stop for players after their early training, as well as experienced players as an alternative to contesting. The band meet every Friday evening and fulfill a full engagements calender throughout the year.
PRINCIPAL Eb HORN:
1st Eb HORN:
2nd Eb HORN:
1st BARITONE HORN:
2nd BARITONE HORN:
Bethan Bown, Louise Turner, Kieran Bown, Alec Banner
Caroline Banks, Anne Witts,
Roger Rippen, Chris Bown
Mary Cox, Karen Pitts
Alan Birch, Tim Wilson
Keith Davies, Vacancy
Mark Davies, Vacancy
a truly dynamic duo
Young Luke Barker adds further achievements to his already successful musical career when he completed the Easter Course of the National Youth Brass Band Of Great Britain with concerts in Harrogate and Morley Town Hall in Leeds.
The course which lasted for a week was held at Harrogate Ladies College after the customary audition for seating places Luke was told that he had progressed to third Solo Cornet out of a total of around thirty cornets.
The second success belongs to our young cornet and percussionist Alec Banner who had a very enjoyable day at the annual CBSO Young Musician Day at Symphony Hall.
Playing alongside many other youngsters who were both older and much bigger he had a thoroughly enjoyable day which included playing the timpani in Mars from the 'Planet Suite'.
a wonderfully wooly day
SHIPSTON WOOL FAYRE - MONDAY 27th MAY, 2019
The threat of the odd shower did not deter Shipston folk and one of it’s town bands as a large crowd assembled in the town square to view the official opening of this annual event, which was preceeded by a short performance by Stour Concert Brass.
A full band turned out to entertain fayre-goers prior to the opening by Shipston Town Mayor, in fact he too was joined by a gathering of mayors and officials from surrounding towns. The band struck-up up with a regular opener 'Aces High' and this stirring piece set the stage for the bands performance, which much to the pleasure of members was regularly greeted by cheers from the large audience.
Cornet player Kieran Bown took to his feet and featured in a Frank Bernaerts arrangement of the Lenard Cohen number ‘Hallelujah’ and Alex Banner 'rattled those bones' as he gave a delightful rendition on the xylophone of the traditional Scottish melody 'Charlie is My Darlin'.
Being on home turf this event always proves a meeting point for former players and this year was no different as Charlie Cox, retired former Shipston Town Band conductor, who came along to have a listen and former Baritone player Jimmy Kench, his wive and family joined the audience to give the band a listen and were delighted to see a strong turn-out, including the bands new front row cornet rank of keen young players, one of whom a school chum of a member, has been with the band for two weeks and will, were sure, look forward to a brilliant Summer with Stour Concert Brass.
a little poetry on a grey day
EVESHAM BANDSTAND, ABBEY PARK, EVESHAM - SUNDAY, 2nd JUNE, 2019
Stour’s first bandstand of 2019 didn’t bode well, it was bright, the sun was there and although showers threatened the day remained rain free, yet grey - there was a good audience turnout to welcome the band to Abbey Park on this June afternoon, although it has to be said it was a little smaller as the risk of rain deterred the usually larger turnout.
Three soloists were featured with Eugene Gratwohl and Mike Butler airing solos for the first time with ‘La Novia’ and ‘Alfie'. Solo Cornet Kieran Bown was also featured with Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ and gave an excellent performance in the Principal Cornet seat for the first time. The programme was varied and included both ‘Singing In The Rain’ and ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ to hedge the band’s bets. ‘Clog Dance’ and ‘Londonderry Air’ were also featured before the band finished with the ever popular 'Breezin' Down Broadway’.
Amongst the gathering was former Euphonium player Paul Wareing who commented that he had just penned a little verse dedicated to the band, so we thought you might like to read what Paul composed.
a sunny sunday in sanders
SANDERS PARK, BROMSGROVE - SUNDAY, 16TH JUNE, 2019
Stour Concert made their way to Bromsgrove, in Worcestershire for their annual visit and as the band set up on the bandstand, the sun came out and so did a good audience, which made for a brilliant Sunday afternoon for band and audience alike.
Two of our young soloists were featured in the first half with Alec Banner playing a xylophone solo ‘Charlie Is My Darlin’ and Principal Cornet Kieran Bown playing an arrangement of ‘Hallelujah’ by Leonard Cohen and were followed later during the concert by Principal Euphonium Eugene Gratwohl who played a lovely arrangement ‘La Novia’ by Alan Fernie.
The band played a varied programme including the March ‘Victors Acclaimed ‘, ‘Singing In The Rain’ and ‘Clog Dance’ from the film Brassed Off before concluding with ‘Breezin’ Down Broadway’. There were a number of ex-bandsmen in the audience and we were very impressed to be told that we were by far the most entertaining band they had had so far this year.
Brass Band stand
I heard it on the wind,
The distant Brass Band sound,
I followed down to the River,
With the park there all around,
They were playing with deportment,
Together and in tune,
These dedicated amateurs,
On a dull day, early June,
Tuba heavy artillery, trombones by the three,
Euphonium and Baritones, all in B or E,
The Cornets sometimes muted,
Flugel Horn quite loud,
All were playing up their parts,
Appreciated by the crowd,
A grey day looking Evesham,
Though one I have enjoyed,
And I hope the rain just keeps off,
With my umbrella not employed.
‘best of british’ at blockley
ST GEORGE’S HALL, BLOCKLEY - SATURDAY, 22ND JUNE, 2019
Stour Concert Brass and Blockley Ladies Choir came together to present a concert at St George’s Hall, Blockley, to celebrate the best of British music.
Both groups played alternate sets and the band programme included music by Holst, Elgar and Vaughan Williams alongside Ron Goodwin and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Both the music from Holst’s ‘Suite in Eb’ and the first movement of Vaughan Williams ‘English Folk Song Suite’ - Seventeen Come Sunday proved popular and the two final items, ‘Memory’ and 'Love Changes Everything’ drew particular applause.
The choir’s programme was equally varied with Vaughan Williams ‘Linden Lea‘, alongside music by The Beatles, Elton John and Queen. The concert closed with a Proms Finale with the capacity audience in fine voice for ‘Jerusalem’, 'Rule Britannia’ and 'Land of Hope and Glory’ and enjoying the challenge of keeping up with band in the traditional ‘Hornpipe’.
The interval of the concert saw everyone provided with a splendid spread of food provided for band and audience alike. Altogether it was a most memorable and enjoyable evening.
delightful droitwich spa
DROITWICH LIDO BANDSTAND - SUNDAY, 7TH JULY
Stour Concert made their annual visit to Lido Park in Droitwich to perform their third and final bandstand concert of the summer.
The varied programme brought a lot of positive comment from an audience who liked the choice of music and commented favourably on how well the band played. Young soloists Kieran Bown and Alec Banner both drew appreciative applause as did Mike Butler our flugel horn soloist who performed the theme music from ‘Alfie'. ‘Breezin’ Down Broadway’ with its selection of show tunes brought the concert to an entertaining close.
BADSEY SHOW - SATURDAY, 10TH AUGUST, 2019
Concert Brass visited Badsey Show for the first time. They were positioned near the tea room and their varied programme drew a large crowd.
Eugene Gratwohl and Mike Butler were featured soloists and Luke Barker gave a terrific first performance of the cornet solo 'Honeysuckle Polka' by J. O. Casey specially arranged for him by ODBBA’s Nigel Hall.
The organisers provided us with a gazebo but not everyone was fully covered and Luke Barker and Paul Lay were jointly adjudged to have won first prize in the getting soaked category. The show was treated to a fly past by a hurricane and the band duly downed tools to watch especially the famous victory roll.
With some members on holiday the band was grateful for help from Nick Smith of Alcester Victoria and Alan Robbins of Avonbank.
TYSOE SHOW - SATURDAY, 17TH AUGUST, 2019
Concert Brass visited Tysoe Show on Saturday, August 17th for their last summer engagement and enjoyed excellent weather.
The band was at full strength and played a full a varied programme giving a first outing to William Himes march 'Gods Children' and the film music from 'Dances With Wolves'. They were grateful to help from Nick Smith of Alcester Victoria and Andrew Scarborough and Alan Robbins of Avonbank and Bob James to cover for holiday absences
hotel california . . .
You may recall, if you are a certain age, a popular number from the charts many years ago by The Eagles, the final lyrics of which say: You can check out any time you like, But you can never leave!'
Well you can if you want, but we're delighted to say that some of our former players still maintain a link even when they move on to pastures new. Young Luke Barker is one such individual, so that after leaving Stour for the Town Band and recently joining The Flowers Band on the front row, after a period at Jaguar Land Rover, he still pops in for a blow on a Friday night with his friends at Stour when he is free.
That's the great thing about Stour Concert old and new friends are always welcome to arrive on a Friday evening and join in the fun. So often, when out and about members bump into former colleagues over the years all of whom are always welcome to pay us a visit. So if that sound's like you and you're in the area, call by and say hi.
At the present, we have father and son Keith and Mark Davies on Eb and Bb Bass respectively who could really do with some bass playing chums, so if you do play or fancy joining this pair, come down one of these Fridays and take a look, you will be more than welcome.
much gardening and the like . . .
Shipston Town Bands other band may not have been quite as adventurous as Howard and their quite impressive virtual recordings, but they're still around.
Secretary and conductor of Stour Concert has endeavoured to keep contact with his weekly quizes and Who Am I? quiz, which have proved a bit of a challenge, but all the answers were discoverable courtesy of the internet.
And my word we've all needed a little distraction throughout this difficult time, so now as we adjust to the 'new normal' only to have any hope of rehearsal just yet, Dave's little quizes have been perfect. No doubt members with bikes will have polished and oiled them and a been out and about, dog owners treating their pets to lots of lovely walks and I'm sure box-set owners have caught up with the latest episodes of their favourite series.
The son of our Webmaster treated non-Sky Mummy and Daddy to the complete series of Game of Thrones. Many of you may recall the Town Band played the theme at Evesham contest as part of their contribution a few years ago - well it was a bit of a culture shock for the pair as they watched the body count rise throughout the season and the last episode of Season Six saw 'em piled 6ft high! Oh my word!
Bit of a sting in the tail to this last paragraph I'm afraid as the Webmaster had given his eldest son permission to site his two behives at the bottom of the garden the no-haircut aspect of lockdown meant no hairdresser obviously and his silver locks were considerable. Whilst bringing in the washing one afternoon one of the little chaps became entangled in his hair, the ensuing result was a sting on the forehead and him spending three days looking like one of the aliens in Star Trek - Ouch!
Naturally in common with the rest of the brass band world, Stour will be glad to get back to Friday night band rehearsals and all their chums in the band - it can't come soon enough.