At this time of year, the band are usually out and about in the community playing carols and organising our annual Christmas Concert. Sadly, as is the case for so many other organisations, this year is very different for us.
The band is entirely self-funding and raises its money through members' subscriptions but also through our summer concert programme and most of all, through our extremely busy Christmas Carolling programme which the band relies on to cover its costs for the 12 months to come.
We will be doing our best over the next two weeks to bring some Christmas cheer by playing in the community in small, socially distanced groups. If you hear us and we make you smile, please make a donation here in our 'virtual bucket'.
Link to our JustGiving page...www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/wottonsilverband
On Saturday 26th, the results of the Cory Online Brass Band Championships were announced. The band was awarded 4th place overall in the Second Section of this international competition, and won prizes for the Best Welsh Piece (Calon Lan), Best Cornet Section and Best Baritone and Euphonium Section.
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!)
Although all may have seemed quiet, the band continues to work away. We are in the process of recording two further 'lockdown' video projects under the direction of Deputy Musical Director, David Lawrence and with the technical expertise of Gareth Hamer.
In addition to this, we are meeting up in small, socially distanced groups of six for the occasional outdoor rehearsal, holding Thursday night social/quiz nights and Tuesday night tutorials to keep us going and to make sure we are all fit and ready to resume banding just as soon as we can.
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.