Over the last few months, we have been busy preparing our entry for the Cory Online Brass Band Championships. Our ten minute performance includes 3 'lockdown' videos - Essence of Brass by Gavin Somerset, which provides an introduction to the band and its players; Calon Lan arranged by Philip Harper takes us across the bridge to Wales, and our finale is our recording of Highland Cathedral in celebration of the Wotton Hill tradition. (There is also a brief teapot solo from our talented Flugel Horn player, Ken Stout).
The band took part in the Second Section competition which was aired on YouTube on Friday 18th and we eagerly await the result which will be announced at the end of the competition on Saturday 26th. We received some very positive comments from the three adjudicators - Glyn Williams, Nigel Seaman and Rob Nicholson. Our Online Competition Entry
On Wednesday 7th the band took part in a special celebration for Brian Chappell who celebrated his 90th birthday. Brian is a much loved member of the band who has been actively involved in the organisation for over 50 years, during which time he has been a player, a committee member and a teacher. Many players have Brian to thank for helping them to learn to play brass instruments.
In preparation for a lockdown celebration, the band prepared a special video message for Brian which can be viewed here, but as COVID regulations had lifted slightly at this time, the band was able to meet and perform a short, outdoor, socially-distanced concert for Brian which took place at the Dursley Rugby Club.
It was fantastic to be able to join together to play as a band again, and we can't think of a better reason for the band to resume its live performances (if only for a moment!)
We have been overwhelmed by the reaction to our recording of Highland Cathedral. With more than 4,600 views, it has reached more people than we would normally reach on Band Sunday on the Hill! The project has also been a great way for the band to continue playing together and with this in mind, we are about to embark on our second lockdown project.
Players are also keeping in touch with a weekly 'virtual' pub quiz and we are setting up small groups to meet up and play together under the direction of Deputy Musical Director, David Lawrence. So, whilst it's not banding as we know it, we are doing our best to ensure we are ready to perform together again as soon as we are able to.
If you haven't yet seen our Highland Cathedral project, click here
During these very strange times, we are busy keeping the band ticking over with a few projects which have been based on our annual trip to Wotton Hill on the first Sunday in May
The tradition that started in 1910 for the band to play a free concert to the public on ‘Wotton Hill’ will continue in this unusual year, albeit in a modern way. The event is a highlight of the calendar for us and traditionally heralds the start ofour summer outdoor concert season, when we hike up the hill on the edge of the town, with its fantastic views of the countryside, to play a selection of marches and hymns.
This year, due to the global pandemic, the band is not permitted to meet or perform together but the performance will go on, in not just one but two forms.
A competition was launched on the town’s Facebook page for locals who wish to open their windows to play their hi-fi’s at full volume tracks from the band’s CD, Legacy. Within minutes of posting on “Wotton Noticeboard” the band had received dozens of requests for CDs, which the band is posting out to the local residents free of charge.
Meanwhile, band members have been busy practising at home and have individually recorded performances of The Highland Cathedral, recorded on individuals’ smart phones in their bedrooms,which will be digitally stitched together into a full band video performance by friend of the band, Gareth Hamer.
As it happens the last place Gareth went for a walk before ‘lockdown’ was onWotton Hill, and now with a bit of spare time he is able to help with this project. But the WottonHill connection doesn’t stop there. To show off the splendour of Wotton Hill on the planned video,Deputy Musical Director David Lawrence searched the internet for aerial views of the scenery and found some drone footage taken by Dale Curtis – Dale’s grandfather Maurice Brown was a long standing member of the band, being the conductor from 1919-1939 and being one of only two members of the band in the 1960s, who were determined to keep the band alive for generations today. The band owes a great debt indeed to Maurice.
David Lawrence said, “the fact that the band members have gone to these lengths to keep the connection with Band Sunday on Wotton Hill alive in this unusual year shows not just their commitment to music making but also their sense of pride in their home town and its community. I’m sure that Maurice would have been very proud.”
The video performance of Highland Cathedral will be released at 11:00am on the traditional day of ‘Band Sunday’ which this year would be 3rd May.
The band has another Wotton Hill related project in the pipeline, commissioning the internationally recognised brass composer Christopher Bond to write a concert piece to tell the story of the Band Sunday tradition. Christopher is working on this piece now and the band are planning to premier the piece in September when they are hoping to be back making live performances.
Christopher has been described as “one of his generation’s most exciting compositional voices for brass”, having written for an array of soloists in addition to many leading brass bands. Since 2015,he has been Composer in Residence to the world-famous Cory Band, working with the band on new music, arrangements and outreach projects, with further commissions having included Brighouse & Rastrick, Grimethorpe, and Leyland Bands, and solo commissions from Owen Farr, Tom Hutchinson, Steve Stewart, Brett Baker, Stephen Sykes & Lode Violet. His work has been broadcast both locally and nationally on BBC Radio 2, 3 & 4, and ClassicFM.
A first-class graduate of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Christopher’s work has been performed extensively throughout the United Kingdom, including at Wales Millennium Centre, Durham International Festival of Brass, RNCM Festival of Brass, Regent Hall London, St John’s Smith Square, as well as at the BBC Welsh Proms at St David’s Hall, Cardiff. Internationally, performances have included Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Japan, Canada, the USA and extensively across Europe.
In 2012, The Royal Diamond Jubilee Fanfare was commissioned and performed in the presence of HM Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh as part of the Diamond Jubilee Tour. This was followed in 2014, with the orchestral sound track for Magic in the Skies; the summer season of firework displays at iconic British landmark, Land’s End in Cornwall, for which Christopher worked with BAFTA-winning actress, Miriam Margolyes in the recording of his work.
At ‘Brass in Concert’ at The Sage, Gateshead, in 2015, Christopher won the Composition Prize for his Aristotle’s Air. In 2017, the work was chosen as part of the own-choice programme for both Brassband Willebroek and the National Band of New Zealand at the World Music Contest in Kerkrade, The Netherlands, with both bands taking the 1st and 2nd placings consecutively. Further performances of the work included Cory Band’s winning televised 2018 Band Cymru performance, and in 2019; the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain.
As an arranger and transcriber, Christopher has worked for international harpist, Catrin Finch, transcribed for Cory Band & Only Men Aloud, as well as having several published arrangements with Hal Leonard: Moon River, Game of Thrones, Second Star to the Right, Hallelujah, and perhaps most notably, his transcription of Selections from The Greatest Showman.
As a conductor and educator, Christopher was Resident Conductor of Tongwynlais Temperance Band between 2014-2017, having worked with the band on four successive top-3 placings at theWelsh Open and four consecutive qualifications to the National Finals at the Royal Albert Hall. In 2019, he was appointed Resident Conductor with City ofCardiff (Melingriffith) Band. Christopher co-directs an education company, Create! Music Education, and is Head of Brass & Orchestral Performance at St John’s on-the-Hill preparatory school in Chepstow.
Christopher is increasingly in demand as an adjudicator and judge, having adjudicated at the National Youth Brass Band Championships of Great Britain, Wychavon Festival of Brass, West of England Bandsman’s Festival, and Cory Band’s Annual Composition Prize.
Christopher owns his own publishing company, selling his music worldwide at christopherbondmusic.co.uk.
Unfortunately, we have been forced to take a break from our normal banding activites for the moment. We are however making efforts to keep the band ticking along in the background, recording some music and making plans for when we can get back to normal.
After weeks of preparation, we took part in the annual West of England Brass Band Championships at the Riviera Centre in Torquay on Saturday 14th. We were slightly disappointed by our perforance, which meant that we were deligted with our result of third prize - a great result for our final performance with our phenomenal conductor Ian Dickinson!
We have since received confirmation that this result puts us firmly back into the First Section when contesting resumes in 2021.
The band is sad to announce the retirement of our Musical Director, Ian Dickinson, who will be leaving us after the Regional Brass Band Championships in Torquay on 14th March.
The band will be forever grateful to Ian for his immensely positive contribution. Since joining us in 2012, Ian’s dedication, insistence upon attention to detail and determination to extract the very best out of us has led to the band reaching the highest standards of performance ever seen in its long history. Some highlights include:
2013 – Third Section Champions at the Regional Finals in Torquay, gaining us a place at the National Finals and promotion to the Second Section.
2015 – Second Place in the Second Section at the Regional Finals in Torquay, gaining us a place at the National Finals where we were placed 5th, and promotion to the First Section for the first time in the band’s 120 year history.
2016 – The band’s first ever CD Recording – ‘Legacy’
2017 – Sixth Place in the First Section at the Regional Finals in Torquay
2019 – Our fantastic 125th Anniversary year, winning first Place at Oxford, Bugle and GBBA Contests, Fourth Place at the Regional finals, and our amazing anniversary celebration concert with the Cory Band.
On behalf of all of us at Wotton Silver Band, we sincerely thank Ian for everything he has done for us and wish him well for the future.
In preparation for the West of England Championships in March, the band travelled to Oxford to compete in the ODBBA Annual Contest, where we gave our first public performance of this year's test piece, 'The Golden Sabre' by Kit Turnbull. The band was awarded third prize in what was a very tight contest for the first 3 places. We will now be spending the next few weeks fine-tuning our performance, ready for our trip to Torquay on 14th March.
Happy New Year to all our friends and supporters!
We start the new year looking back on what has been a spectacular year. Whilst celebrating 125 years of musical performance and tuition, the ban won three open competitions (in Oxfordshire, Cornwall and Gloucestershire), and is poised for promotion to the 1st Section following a top 4 placing in the South West Area Champtionships at Torquay - (the picture shows our collection of trophies from 2019).
We are currently beginning rehearsals for the South West Area Championships in March when we will be performing 'The Golden Sabre' by Kit Turnbull.
Our annual Christmas Concert took place on Saturday 7th at Kingswood Village Hall. Our festive programme included Philip Harpers 'Yule Dance' and Paul Lovatt Cooper's 'Christmas Finale', along with a selection of lighter pieces and solo item, Away in a Manger beautifully played on Flugel Horn by Ken Stout.
The concert also included a performance from our fantastic Training Band, led by Mark Jones.
On Sunday 17th, the band took part in the Gloucestershire Brass Band Association competition at All Saints Academy in Cheltenham. We were delighted to be awarded first place, after a pleasing performance of Images for Brass by Stephen Bulla.
This has been a remarkably successful contesting year for the band, having been placed fourth at the Regional Brass Band Championships in Torquay in March, first in the West of England Bandsmen's Festival in Cornwall and first in the ODBBA Championships in Oxford. We are looking forward to more of the same for 2020!
On Sunday 10th, the band once again led the parades at Wotton-under-Edge and Dursley. At this time, we always like to take the opportunity to remember our two players lost during the First World War ...
Private Charles Smith of the Gloucestershire Regiment - died 19th October 1915 aged 21. Son of Mr and Mrs James Smith.
Lance Corporal James Davis of the Royal Army Medical Corps - died 26th August 1916 aged 34. Son Mr and Mrs J Davis and husband of Ethel B Davis.
On Saturday 19th the band once again played a part in this popular annual concert of celebration and commemoration, with its 'Last Night of the Proms' finale. This was Dursley & Cam British Legion's 10th and final Anniversary for the Poppy Proms, and it certainly didn't disappoint. Along with the Band, the audience were treated to performances from the Dursley Male Voice Choir and the fabulous Mary-Jess Leverland. Mary-Jess has recently been on tour, she is the winner of the Chinese version of ‘The X Factor’ and The Voice of Downton Abbey.
Our picture shows flugel horn soloist, Ken Stout, during his lovely performance of Philip Harper's haunting melody, 'A Little Star went Out'.
On Saturday 5th we had the great privilege of playing for the Family Centre to help them raise money for the amazing work they do, supporting families with deaf children.
The concert was held in St Andrew's Methodist Church in Filton, which proved to be s superb venue. The concert included a light programme of popular music from the band, including favourites 'A Disney Fantasy' and 'The Greatest Showman', and also featured performances from the children.
Everyone joined in with a lively performance of 'La Bamba' and we are told that the concert helped provide much needed funds for this fantastic charity.
Our thanks to the organisers for inviting us to this super event!
On Saturday 14th we were delighted to welcome Paul Richards to The Baptist Church in Wotton to join us in concert.
Paul is the Soprano player for West of England Champions - The Flowers Band, a seat he has occupied since 2014. Paul is well known throughout the banding world having previously been the principal cornet for The Sun Life Band. Since moving on to Soprano Cornet Paul has won many accolades; including Best Soloist at the 2015 NationalFinals, twice Best Soloist awards at both the French Open and Butlin’s Mineworkers and was last Year awarded the Best Soloist Award at Brass in Concert.
The audience and the band were treated to some fabulous solo playing from Paul, performing solos - 'Feed the Birds' arranged by Jonny Bates, 'Greensleeves' arranged by Collis Smith, 'Let Freedom Ring' by Jonny Bates, 'Live and Let Die' arranged by Ray Farr and "Demelza' by Goff Richards. Paul also joined the band in a permance of 'Penny Lane' at the end of the concert.
Our thanks go to Paul for a wonderful evening of music.
On Sunday 18th we managed to dodge the showers for our performance in the bandstand in the beautiful John Coles Park, Chippenham.
Our concert included 3 great solo items from Marcus Dunstan on Soprano, Bruce Davies on Cornet and guest Tenor Horn player, Simon Jones.
As always at Chippenham, it was lovely to see so many people stopping to watch our concert whilst enjoying the park.
On Saturday 3rd we played at the village fayre in the beatiful Cotswold village, Cold Aston.
This lovely event has become one of our regular annual engagements, and as always the band were welcomed enthusiastically.
The picture shows one of our soloists from the day, Marcus Dunstan our Soprano Cornet player, performing 'Bilitis' by Frances Lai.
On Saturday 6th, the band played a concert at Tetbury Goods Shed - a new venue for us.
Tetbury Goods Shed is a part volunteer-run arts centre, converted from a former Great Western Railway building in 2017. Its first season of events kicked off last year, and their ultimate vision is for the Shed to become a regional centre of excellence for the arts in The Cotswolds, while at the same time fulfilling the local need for arts and entertainment.
We were delighted to be invited along to this lovely venue where we played to a new and very appreciative audience. Hopefully this will be the first of many performances here!
On 14th June, the band headed off to Cornwall for the weekend to compete in the West of England Bandsmen's Festival in Bugle.
The contest took place on Saturday 15th and involved a march to the contest ground where the deportment prize was awarded to the band judged as presenting the highest standard of marching and the best overall appearance.
During the second part of the contest, the band performed two set test pieces - Corineus by Christopher Bond and March, Victors Acclaimed by Bramwell Coles.
We are delighted to report that the band were awarded first prize for our performances of both the test piece - Corineus and the March - Victors Acclaimed. Principal Cornetist, Bruce Davies was also awarded the Best Soloist prize.
Congratulations everyone and thank you to the really hard-working organising committee of the West of England Bandsmen's Festival for running such a wonderful event!
On Sunday 9th the band played at a Charity Concert at Stinchcombe Rugby Club. Organised by the Dursley Rotary Club,
this well-supported, annual event raises funds for a wide range of local charities.
The band performed a variety of music, closing the evening as always with the traditional favourites from the Last Night of the Proms - Jerusalem, Pomp & Circumstance and Fantasia on British Sea Songs.
Our thanks go to our guest conductor for the night, Mr Simon Jones.
This event is a first for the band, performing an afternoon concert on Sunday 19th at the Kingshill Arts and Meeting Centre in Dursley.
The weather probably put off some who might have come along for an afternoon in the great outdoors, but we were lucky enough to avoid the rain and the audience that did come along were extremely appreciative (as were the neighbours - thank you!)
We hope we will be able to play at this lovely venue again in the future, and will do our best to arrange better weather next time!
On Monday 13th, the band performed alongside our newly-formed Wotton Learner Band and the Cam Learner Band. This event is a great opportunity for the learners to play to an audience and get a feel for the experience of playing in a large group with other musicians.
A big thank you to Nigel Galliot who stepped in as our conductor for the evening!
Click on the link for more information about how to learn to play a brass insturment with our Learner Band.
The sun shone (for a while) on us for this year's trip to Wotton Hill where we welcomed in the Summer on the first Sunday in May.
The band first began this ritual in 1910 and in recent years it has attracted quite a large crowd which is very much appreciated.
Our thanks as always go to our good friend, Gordon Phillips from the Wotton Arts Festival, who was our Musical Director for the morning.
What an amazing night! The band's anniversary concert took place on 13th April at The Renisahaw Innovation Centre at New Mills, Kingswood, where we were joined by the world class Cory Band. The concert began with a short introduction from Wotton Silver Band, telling the story of our first 125 years with music and accompanying slide show. The audience were then treated to a wonderful concert from the Cory Band which included their Brass in Concert winning performance - retelling the story of Romeo and Juliet.
The concert was also an opportunity to say farewell and thank you to Eb Bass player, Derek Horsfall who is retiring and who will be greatly missed!
The band played in the West of England Championships in Torquay on Saturday 10th, playing Darrol Barry's 'The Rise of the Phoenix'. After a strong performance the band was awarded 4th place, which now leaves us at the top of the West of England 2nd Section.
Well done to everyone and thanks to Julie for organising the weekend for us again!
Unfortunately there are no further tickets available for our concert with The Cory Band.
We are delighted to release the details of our exciting concert which takes place on 13th April:
At the very location of the textiles mill that the band originated from in 1894, Wotton Silver Band will perform a joint concert with the World’s No. 1 Brass Band, The Cory Band from South Wales.
Now the global headquarters of engineering technologies company Renishaw, the concert venue is The Innovation Centre at New Mills, Kingswood, a conference facility with comfortable, tiered seating and state-of-the-art acoustic - a fitting venue for a spectacular, multimedia presentation in celebration of brass band music.
The audience is invited to witness the amazing, virtuosi talents of The Cory Band who are multiple National, European, British Open and Brass in Concert champions. Prepare to be astonished! They are as good as it gets! Musical Director, Philip Harper is a prolific composer and resides in Gloucester.
For 125 years Wotton Silver Band (formerly the Abbey Band – named after the historic abbey in Kingwood) has played a significant role in the life of Wotton-under-Edge and the surrounding district, performing concerts, leading community parades and testing themselves regularly in both regional and national competitions. In 2017, under the leadership of MD Ian Dickinson, they achieved the highest ever placing in their long history of 5th in the First Section of the West of England Championships.
One family will be represented in both bands. Cory percussionist Ali Woodman will be joined on stage by his father Stuart, sister-in-law Jo and teenage nephew George as both bands come together for the finale.
Wotton Silver Band has consistently developed young brass players and has a Training Band. Since 2016, they have worked in partnership with the Cotswold Edge Brass Festival towards the vision of flourishing brass tuition across the wider district. The ticket price for this concert is therefore subsidised for young people to make attendance affordable for families and to inspire the district’s learners.
Tickets: £15 adult, £5 under 18s, available here from Monday 28th January or at Robinson’s Florist, Long Street, Wotton-under-Edge 01453 887774.
On Sunday 24th the band took part in the ODBBA contest in Oxford, performing the 2019 area test piece 'The Rise of the Phoenix' by Darrol Barry. After a fine performance, the band was awarded first place. Special congratulations go to our horn section who won the best section of the day, and principal cornet player, Bruce Davies, who not only won the best cornet player of the day, he was also awarded best instrumentalist!
On Tuesday 19th the band gave its first public performance of this year's area test piece, 'The Rise of the Phoenix' by Darrol Barry.
The open rehearsal took place at the Innovation Centre at Renishaw, New Mills site, where in April the band will be performing a concert alongside the Cory Band in celebration of our 125th anniversary.
In a break from our contest preparations, the band played a programme of varied music for the Downend 41 Club's evening function on Saturday 9th. A huge thank you to our hosts who, as always, made us feel extremely welcome and appreciated.
The band spent the weekend of 19th & 20th January at a brass workshop with John Miller - the fantastically accomplished professional trumpet & music educator.
We spent a really entertaining and informative 2 days going back to basics on brass technique including posture, breathing, sound in a musical context, listening skills, sense of team, concentration and communication - and we even managed to squeeze in a curry night!
Meanwhile, our percussionists benefited from a great percussion tutorial day with Jon Helm from the Welsh Opera.
Thank you John & Jon for a wonderful, educational weekend & thanks to Bruce Davies for another superbly arranged event!
Our annual concert took place on Saturday 15th in a packed Kingswood Village Hall. We were joined by the amazing Training Band for a night of Christmassy music including, as is becoming band tradition, the training band's very own version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (thanks to Training Band MD Diane Ansel).
During the concert the band presented honary lifetime membership awards to Brian Chappell and Stan Rodman who both played a huge part in the progress of the band over many years.
On Wednesday 5th the band played at a charity concert in aid of Chipping Sodbury Lions, alongside the Yate Choral Society. The concert, as always, was a great start to the busy Christmas season for the band.
To mark the 100 year anniversary of the end of World War 1, the band takes this opportunity to remember its two players lost during the conflict ...
Private Charles Smith of the Gloucestershire Regiment - died 19th October 1915 aged 21. Son of Mr and Mrs James Smith.
Lance Corporal James Davis of the Royal Army Medical Corps - died 26th August 1916 aged 34. Son Mr and Mrs J Davis and husband of Ethel B Davis.
On Tuesday 6th the band took part in a fantastic evening of music, joined by musicians of all ages from different brass groups in the local area. The bands included Wotton Training Band, Cam Learners' Band and The British School (Wotton) Band.
All groups performed on their own and then joined the Wotton Silver Band in a mass band performance of two pieces from Modest Mussorgsky's from Pictures at an Exhibition - 'The Hut on Hen's Legs (Baba Yaga)' and 'The Great Gate of Kiev'.
This was a great opportunity for the band to get to know the fantastic music groups in the area and for everyone to experience making music as part of a large team!
Legacy - price £10.00 is now available to buy from ...
The Heritage Centre in Wotton
Coventry / Bennett Jones in Wotton High Street
or you can contact us here to order one.
'Legacy' reflects the band's journey through its 122-year history and is dedicated to all members past and present who, together with our many supporters, have worked hard to maintain a brass band to serve Wotton and its surrounding area.
Click here for more details about Legacy.