On Saturday 15th June, the band loaded themselves onto a coach and made the trek to Bugle in Cornwall to compete at the 95th 'West of England Bandsmen's Festival'. (You start to question the sanity of banding when meeting at 8.30am in a cold car park!). In an amusing turn of events, our only competition in the First Section was fellow Gloucestershire band, Forest of Dean Brass, meaning that all trophies would return to the Forest regardless of the result!
The excellent set test piece, "Ad Undas" by Gareth Churcher, had provided the band with hours of enjoyable rehearsals in the build up to the event. Following Forest of Dean Brass, who performed first on the open air stage in Molinnis Park, we came off stage pleased with the performance and confident we could get the win. However, when the results were phoned in later that day as we made the journey back up the M5, we heard that Forest of Dean Brass had pipped us to First place (see remarks »).
Despite this news, the players had thoroughly enjoyed the day and the chance to socialise as a group. A successful trip all round! Participation in the contest also seemed to help our World Ranking score as a few days later the revised listings had us back up to 108!
In banding we often find that our focus is on the 'next big event', be it a concert or contest. Once a year it is good to look back over what has been achieved and remind ourselves of the difference we make to our members and audiences. Our AGM in April gave the Trustees the opportunity to do just that, with the publication of the Annual Trustees' Report.
The report is split into five sections, based on the five areas our Trustees agreed to focus on back in 2016...
Saturday 9th March saw the band take to the stage at the Riviera Centre in Torquay, where we were competing in the First Section of the West of England Regional Championships.
Our performance of "Symphony of Marches" by Gilbert Vinter did not find favour with adjudicators Major David Barringer MBE & Dr Nick Grace OBE, who placed us 11th from 16. (Full remarks are avilable to read). However, on hearing a recording of our performance, we were very pleased with our efforts.
While lower than last year's result, 11th place ensures continued survival in the First Section for another year and we will return to Torquay in 2020 to improve our placing.
The band opened their 2019 contesting season with a trip to the Welsh Open, held in Porthcawl on Saturday 16th February. Competing in a strong field of 14 bands, we were drawn second, hitting the stage inbetween Tongwnlais and Abergavenny Borough to perform for adjudicator, Philip Harper, and the growing audience.
The band opened their bird-themed programme with "Blackbird Special", an upbeat, entertaining piece originally by Dirty Dozen Brass Band (arranged by Reid Gilje). The piece was a real opener, as each section arrived on stage at different points, culminating in a standing finish. Without waiting for the applause to end, the band swiftly moved into "Phoenix", the thrilling fifth movement from Peter Graham's 'War of the Worlds'. This was followed by John Golland's "Peace", a beautiful Euphonium solo performed by our Solo Euphonium player, Mandy Hamer. Xylophonists Nabil El Bark and David Crowe then took centre-stage for "Liszteria" (Liszt & Brahms, arranger - Sandy Smith), a wonderful, engaging story piece in which David, the interloper, did his best to distract Nabil from his serious solo performance. The programme was completed with Matthew Hall's "Nightingale Dances", with its slow measured opening making way for a furious and frenzied conclusion.
The leadup to the contest had been a very positive experience for the band, which translated into the buildup on the day and the performance itself. Players left the stage very pleased with their work and even when the results came in, placing the band 12th, the positivity remained. Full results are available on the Welsh Open Facebook page and recordings and photos are now available in the Media section, having been the subject of band discussion all week. The band remain pleased with their effort, especially the outstanding soloist performances, well done all!
The day following the contest, band members were back in rehearsal to refocus on Torquay, which follows swiftly on Saturday 9th March. Not long to go!
Following on from a successful 2018, the band is now back into full flow for the upcoming contest season. Following excellent results last year, the band were delighted to enter 2019 with their highest ever World Ranking, placing 107th (in the 4barsrest Rankings). Not only is this the highest position the band has ever achieved but it is also the highest position achieved by a band from the Forest of Dean in this ranking system for many years*.
In looking to further build upon this, the band are currently hard at work preparing for both the Welsh Open, to be held in Porthcawl on Saturday 16th February, and the West of England Regional Championships, to be held in Torquay on Saturday 9th March.
In preparing for these contests, the band are pleased to welcome two new members to the cornet section. Father and son duo Tony and William Jones join the band on the Solo Cornet bench with Kevin Warren (a previous principal cornet player for the band) making the move to 2nd Cornet to strengthen the back row. Tony brings with him a wealth of playing experience, having been a member with the Flowers Band whilst William is keen to follow in his father's footsteps and currently takes lessons from Chris Turner (formerly of the Cory Band). The band are delighted to have them both on board.
Look out for our next news update which will be posted following the Welsh Open, where we are hoping that our programme will find favour with the audience (and adjudicator!)
* 22/02/19 Clarification: Following some diligent research (thanks Mark L!), we can confirm Lydbrook Band last bested this achievement in 2012 - placing 94th, and then before that in 2002 - placing 92nd, with an 82nd placing all the way back in 1998.
November saw the band compete at two competitions in which we concluded a successful year of contesting in style. At both contests, we chose to play the work 'Trittico' by James Curnow, a piece of music that places large technical and solo demands on the band.
On Sunday 18th November, the band headed to Loughborough to compete for the first time at the Leicestershire Open. Competing in the first section against nine other bands, we were delighted to secure a podium third place finish against some strong competition.
The following weekend, we made our regular trip to Wales to compete at the SEWBBA Contest, this year held at Willows High School. Following another good show, the band secured victory for the fourth consecutive time at this event. The band also secured its fourth consecutive solo prize at this contest, with the award for the Best Instrumentalist going to our Solo Horn player, Andrew Jones.
We now turn our attention to a busy Christmas period which includes our annual concert at the Drybrook Social Club on Saturday 15th December.
Listen to our performance of 'Trittico' in the media section »
Review written by Neil Crowe...
On Saturday 27th October, the A.W. Parker (Drybrook) band performed at Pershore Abbey, and raised over five-hundred pounds for the Midsummer Brass Festival, which will be held on the 6th July next year.
The band, under the musical direction of Joshua Ruck, opened with Sandy Smith's uptempo and exciting arrangement of Valero, which was met with great applause from the large and enthusiastic audience. Next was the band's first soloist, principal cornet Trystan Jones, with a superb and virtuosic rendition of Tico Tico. Once the applause had died away, Josh introduced the piece receiving its debut performance by the band, Poppy Fields. The band's resident composer, David Crowe, penned the work while visiting Belgium's Tyne Cot Memorial, aiming to encapsulate the feeling of both peaceful serenity and great loss that one experiences when visiting such a place. Throughout the work, images of the 'Last Post' are heard in the distance, over a calm and reflective hymn-like melody. With the 100th anniversary of the first world war fast approaching, this was a timely and fitting piece to debut in such a wonderful venue.
The next piece, Sparke's Jubilee Overture, was a great contrast, with it's driving rhythms and technical intricacies; juxtaposed against the sonorous and rich harmonies of O Magnum Mysterium which followed it. This was originally written for A Cappella choir by Morten Laurisden, but had been masterfully arranged by Phillip Littlemore.
Philip Harper's fun and engaging arrangement of the 60's classic Under the Boardwalk was performed by Rebecca Aston with great style and spirit. The first half of the concert was concluded with the 'Interlude' from Year of the Dragon, which featured some superb soloistic passages from solo trombone Chris License, and the exciting 'Cossack Wedding Dance' from Call of the Cossacks.
After the interval the band returned with two pieces featuring their young percussion section, Strauss' tone poem Also Sprach Zarathustra (known famously from the 1968 film, '2001: A Space Odyssey') and Lovatt-Cooper's Enter the Galaxies which, combined, opened the second half's space theme with flair and brilliance. The audience was then treated to an outstanding contemporary solo, performed by solo euphonium Mandy Hamer. Composed by Jonathan Bates, 'Sleeping Earth' from Stratos featured phenomenal virtuosic technique from the soloist, and vocal accompaniment from the band. Cantina Band (from Star Wars) and Holst's Mars followed this, maintaining the pace and excitement of the concert while showcasing the percussion section again.
The final soloist of the day was Andrew Jones, who expertly delivered a fine performance of The Hollies' He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother, which was followed by a piece that showcased the fine acoustics of this wonderful venue, Arthur Sullivan's The Lost Chord. As a finale the band had selected Ray Farr's arrangement of Toccata in D Minor, which was performed at an exhilarating pace, leaving the audience on their feet in a standing ovation.
This thrilling and diverse concert was greatly enjoyed by the keen and spirited audience, particularly the poignant performance of Poppy Fields, which was perfectly suited to being debuted in the glorious surroundings of Pershore Abbey. The band is greatly looking forward to performing in Pershore again at Midsummer Brass 2019.
This week the band heard that former member, Steve Morley, had sadly passed away. Steve joined the band in September 2001 on Second Trombone during a period of rebuilding for the band. The following year he moved to Bass Trombone, a position he held until his departure in 2011. During that time he helped the band to earn promotion to the Third Section and was part of the memorable trip to Dresden in 2016.
Steve is shown in the photo leading the band at the annual Fownhope March in 2005.
In addition to his decade of service as a player, Steve also acted as a Committee Member, Band Treasurer and Band Sergeant for several periods, putting in many extra hours of service. A great bandsman!
Our condolences to George and the rest of Steve's family at this time.
2018 saw a new venue for the SEWBBA Spring Festival, with the band travelling to Willows High School in Cardiff to compete against Burry Port and Forest of Dean Brass in the Own Choice First Section contest.
The band had won both the Spring and Winter Festival titles in 2017 and were keen to retain their title. Despite the suprisingly direct acoustic of the new venue and a much clippier than desired performance of Edward Gregson's "Connotations", adjudicator Dr Robert Childs put us first, with Kristyann Symonds winning the "Best Soprano" prize.
Full results are available on 4barsrest »
Two weeks on from success at Oxford, the band took to the stage at Torquay for the 2018 West of England Regional Finals where. Following an energetic and enjoyable performance, the players left the stage pleased with their efforts. After a nerve-wracking afternoon of waiting, they were happy to receive a 7th place finish from sixteen bands, their best position since returning to the First Section in 2016 and a placing which kept the band safe from relegation for another year.
With Christmas and New Year behind them, the band's focus turned to retaining their First Section status with a good performance at the Regionals in Torquay. With that in mind, the band returned to the ODBBA Own Choice Contest in Marlborough on 25th February for an early run out of the Regionals Piece, "Brass Metamorphosis".
The contest is well run and well attended and the band were pleased to be able to return for a second year, having made their debut in 2017. This year, there was a larger field of seven first section bands from across the Midlands and West of England regions, with all but one performing the Regionals piece.
Following a good performance, the band were delighted to hear that Prof. Steven Mead had given them a 6 point winning margin over their competitors, as well as the 'Best Cornet' prize for Trystan Jones and 'Best Horn' prize for Andrew Jones.
With a good result at Torquay essential to avoid relegation, this result gave the band a boost but one of the main benefits of the ODBBA contest is that it highlights areas for improvement, which the recording of the performance provided. With under two weeks between Oxford and Torquay, the band only have a few rehearsals left to improve further.
Full results are available on the ODBBA Website »
The band had an excellent Christmas period, raising over £1000 for band funds!The festivities began on 1st December at Penyard House, playing Carols at the Christmas Fayre, followed on the 2nd with Carols at the Drybrook Lights Switch-On and 3rd at Ross Labels. On 15th, members of the band turned out for the Mitcheldean Church Christmas Fayre followed by impromptu carols at the White Horse in Mitcheldean and Drybrook Memorial Club.
Our main concert for Christmas took place on 16th at the Memorial Club, with another record turnout. The band performed music from "Brassed Off" in the first half before bringing out classic Christmas numbers after the break. Once the concert finished, band members stayed for the annual Awards Evening where our Percussionist - Nabil El Bark - won Most Improved Player. Section of the Year went to the Horns and our Solo Horn Player - Andrew Jones - won Musician of the Year. George Motterham won the Bandsman of the Year Award, as voted for by players.
With the concert over, it was back to carolling the following day at Ross Labels, followed by the Drybrook Methodist Carol Concert in the evening. The final evening of carolling took place on 22nd, first at Parade House in Monmouth followed by two groups splitting up to play around Drybrook - which was very well received by local residents.
All in all, a very entertaining and enjoyable Christmas period for those players involved!
On 25th November, the band returned to Merthyr for the second time in 2017 to compete at the Winter Festival, performing the set test piece "Spectrum". In a repeat of our earlier result in May, the band won the First Section and came away with the 'Best Instrumentalist' prize, thanks to the performance of Mandy Hamer on Solo Euphonium.
You can listen to our performance on the media page »
Full Results from the First Section :
On 4th November, the band journeyed down to Torquay for their first performance at the SWBBA Annual Championships. Entering the Open (Championship & First) Section with their rendition of "Spectrum" by Gilbert Vinter, the band came 11th from 12. Despite the disappointing result, more time on the tricky Torquay stage (where the Regional Finals are also held) was a big bonus and the band were pleased with areas of their performance, which will now be revised further before a repeat in Merthyr on 25th November.
You can listen to our performance on the media page »
Full Results from the SWBBA Open Section :
On Saturday 17th June, the A. W. Parker (Drybrook) Band once again organised and hosted the Bailey Lane End Music Festival at Lakers School in Coleford. This was the 48th year that the contest had been run and with 49 competitors across 9 classes performing to an appreciative audience and our adjudicator, Simon Jones, the event proved to be a memorable and successful affair.
Kicking off the day, 'Class 1 - Junior Brass Solo 11 years and under' saw the last competitor of the class, Euan Uzzell from Parkend Band take home the honours with a sensitive performance of 'One Morning'. This was followed by 'Class 2 - Junior Brass Solo 11-12 years' where a beautifully toned performance from Emily Oakley of Lydney Training Band took first prize with her chosen piece, 'Castle on a Cloud'. The final junior class of the day - 'Class 3 - Junior Brass Solo 13 - 16 years' - was then held and a classy and stylish performance of 'Misty' from Lily Mountford saw her comfortably finish the junior classes at the top of a very impressive morning of playing.
The next two classes were focussed on duet and ensemble playing. 'Class 4 - Brass Duet 16 years and under' saw a strong entry with Simon Jones stating that he was looking for the good basics of playing together to be met. In the end, the winners were Luna Kelly and Eartha Tissington who gave a tight and musical rendition of 'Willy Wonka'. 'Class 5 - Junior Brass Quartet 16 years and under' only saw one entry this year but nonetheless, an excellent performance of 'Shenandoah' from a quartet made up of members from Lydney Training Band (Lily Mountford; Lysander Waring; Kieran Maass and Idris McKie) showed just how much progress these young players are making year on year.
With temperatures soaring, the day moved towards a conclusion with the last four classes. 'Class 6 - Brass Solo Open 11 years and under 21' saw an increased entry this year with the eventual first prize going to Jack Lythaby of Lydbrook Band following a considered performance of 'A Time for Peace'. 'Class 7 - Adult and Child Duet under 16 years' saw a number of great performances with Idris McKie and Kerry Ford from Lydney Town Band delivering quirky and fun performance of 'Wizzard Wheezes' which topped the field. This was followed by 'Class 8 - Open Brass Solo' which saw some excellent playing from all the competitors and gave inspiration to a lot of the younger members of the audience. Following a performance of the highly technical 'Capriccio Brilliante', Jack Lythaby held onto his title for another successive year. The final class of the day was 'Class 9 - Open Quartet/Quintet' where a quintet made up of members of Drybrook Band took home the final trophy of the day with their performance of 'All in an April Evening'.
Adjudicator Simon Jones certainly enjoyed his experience remarking that he had been impressed with the overall standards and attitudes of all the competitors. He also noted how good it was to see people at the very beginning of their musical journey performing alongside more mature and experienced musicians. The organising committee would like to pass on their thanks to Simon for the professional and thorough job he did, whilst engaging with the audience throughout the day.
Our thanks also to all of the tutors, parents and bands who give up time to allow this event to be run so successfully. This year, we had representation from Lydbrook Band; Lydney Training Band; Parkend Band; Bream Band as well as some members from Drybrook Band.
The A. W. Parker (Drybrook) Band will be running the Bailey Lane End Music Festival again this year, which will take place on Saturday 17th June 2017. We are delighted to have secured the use of Lakers School in Coleford once more, after last year's successful move to the venue.
The band are looking forward to a strong entry and are hopeful of once again increasing numbers as the competition grows. We are once again running the percussion section after a successful introduction last year.
We are delighted to announce this year's adjudicator is Simon Jones.
The emphasis will be on encouraging young players, (often playing their first public solo) to take part and experience performing, although prizes are awarded in all ten solo, duet, quartet and percussion sections.
Following their Regional Finals performance in March, the band set to work rehearsing for the SEWBBA Spring Festival in Merthyr, which took place on Saturday 6th May. The band performed Philip Harper's "Kingdom of Dragons", winning the first prize! Grant Jameson, our depping Solo Euphonium, also took Best Instrumentalist prize (thanks Grant!).
You can listen to our performance on the media page »
Full Results from the SEWBBA First Section :
The A.W. Parker (Drybrook) Band were pleased to award Life Membership to our Solo Euphonium player, Mandy Hamer at the recent Annual General Meeting.
Having given 20 years of service to the band as a player, committee member and a tutor to junior members during her tenure, the Trustees of the band were delighted to be able to mark this significant milestone.
Congratulations Mandy - here's to the next 20 years!
In February 2017, the band made their way to Burford for the ODBBA Own Choice Contest, where they ran out the Regional Finals test piece, "Land of the Long White Cloud" in front of adjudicator Paul Norley, who would also be in Torquay two weeks later. Their rendition earned a third place finish and an excellent set of adjudicator remarks which could be taken back to work on in the run-up to Torquay.
Full Results from the ODBBA First Section :
Two weeks on and the band took to the Torquay stage for their second performance of Philip Sparke's piece. Playing 9th from 11 at about 6pm in the evening, the band came off stage feeling they could have done better and knowing that a poor result could see them relegated. However, as the results came in, the band were placed 8th ensuring safety in the First Section for another year. The adjudicators' comments are available to read and an audio recording will be available shortly.
Full Results from the Regional Finals First Section :
Following a few years away from the contest, the band made a welcome return to the local GBBA Own Choice contest, held at All Saints Academy in Cheltenham on Sunday 20th November.
Competing against three other first section bands, Drybrook opened their performance with Kenneth Alford's "Army of the Nile", followed by "Vivat!" composed by Tom Davoren.
Adjudicator David Thornton (read his comments here) placed us second for our march performance and third in the test piece contest although the higlight of the day was winning the prize for Best Percussion in All Sections - well done David, Jenny, Heather and Nabil! Our thanks go once more to John Butson, Heather License and Beth Millar for their continued support and also to Iestyn Davies for performing with us.
Full Results from the First Section (March):
Full Results from the First Section (Test Piece):
On Saturday 29th October, the band travelled to De Montfort School in Evesham to compete at the 2016 Wychavon Festival of Brass. The first section had a strong field of 11 competitors in total, with the band playing 5th.
Our programme began with "Madrigalum", followed by "An Untold Story" featuring our soloist of the day - Solo Horn player Andrew Jones. "Liszteria", an entertaining xylophone duet performed by David Crowe and Heather License preceded "A Gaelic Blessing" before we finished with "Nightingale Dances".
The band and Musical Director were pleased with the performance and were delighted with our 6th place finish, with some positive comments from adjudicator Duncan Beckley. Our thanks go to John Butson, Ross Salvage, Heather License and Beth Millar for their time spent rehearsing and performing with us. Congratulations also go to Ross for his highly successful conducting debut with Nailsworth Silver, who took 3rd Prize in the Fourth Section.
Audio recordings of our performance will be able shortly in the Media section of the website.
Full Results from the First Section:
Early this month the band heard the sad news of the passing of local bandsman, Roger Harris, who with his wife Mary played for the band for many years (shown to the right together in band uniform at the National Finals).
Roger joined Drybrook in 2003 on Bb Bass during a period of transition for the band and for the next six years remained a welcome and ever-present figure on the Bass line. In his time the band started contesting seriously once more and, due to the hard work of people like Roger, gained promotion to the third section in 2006.
Roger was also part of the group who visited Dresden in 2006 for the wedding of former player Hermann Wenger. This was a very memorable trip for all involved and several people have reminded us of Roger's part in recent weeks.
His funeral was held on the 15th July and all donations are going toward the planting of cider apple trees in a local orchard - typical Roger! He was a great character and valued player and will be missed.
On Saturday 18th June 2016, the A.W.Parker (Drybrook) Band once again hosted the annual Bailey Lane End Music Festival. The contest was held at Lakers School and this year, our adjudicator for the day was David Hayward who inspired both competitors and audience alike with his vast experience and expertise.
This year, 47 competitors representing Bream Silver; Lydney Town; Lydbrook Silver; Pillowell Silver; private instrumental teachers from the area and of course some of our own members competed in a day of enjoyable music making.
In Class 1, 'Junior Brass Solo under 11 years' Sophie Danks from Lydbrook Training Band took first prize after kicking the competition off with a spirited performance of Philip Sparke's 'Rondino'. In Class 2, 'Junior Brass Solo 11 to 12 Years', first prize went to Rupert Morris, a student of our musical director, Joshua Ruck and a member of Pillowell Band, who gave a vibrant and dynamic performance of Clarke's 'Prince of Denmark's March'. In the final class of junior solos, Class 3, 'Junior Brass Solo 13 to 16 years', a commanding and musical performance of 'An Untold Story' by Paul Lovatt-Cooper gave Jack Lythaby of Lydbrook Silver Band who took home his first of three 1st prizes.
The afternoon classes were for duets, quartets and open solos. Starting with Class 4, 'Brass Duet 16 years and under' an energetic performance of 'Rock School' by brother and sister, Zach and Lily Mountford of Lydney gave them the victory. This was followed by Class 5, 'Junior Brass Quartet 16 years and under' where Pillowell Training Band under the direction of Rhiannon Symonds gave a lively rendition of 'I Would Walk 500 Miles' to take home 1st prize. Class 6, 'Brass Solo Open 11 years and under 21' saw a keenly fought contest between Jack Lythaby and Hayley Myhan both playing ' Variations on a Welsh Theme'. In the end, 1st prize went to Jack Lythaby who once again showed maturity in style, allied to commanding technique. Class 7, 'Duet - Adult and child under 16 years' only saw one entry this year but none the less, the quality of playing by Zara Fewtrell and Tracey Gwynne in their rendition of 'Amazing Grace' gave them a very well deserved award. Class 8, 'Open Brass Solo' saw another victory for Jack Lythaby who chose in this class to play the traditional 'Grandfathers' Clock'.
The penultimate class of the day, Class 9 - 'Open Brass Quarter/Quintet' saw three great performances from representatives of Crypt School, Pillowell Band and the Crowe Family (who are all members of Drybrook Band). In the end, a terrific performance of 'That's Crowe Business!' by David Crowe gave the honours to the Crowe Family (Neil; Sarah; David; Matthew and Daniel). The final class of the day was new for this year. Class 10, 'Open Percussion' saw Daniel Crowe of Drybrook Band swap cornet for timpani as he closed an excellent day of music making with his performance of 'Rondo Vivace'. Congratulations also to Rebecca Griffiths of Bream Band who took part in this class.
David Hayward was very impressed with the standard of playing on show. He said, "It has been a great joy to adjudicate today and I am pleased to report that brass playing is very much alive in the Forest of Dean. I thank the teachers, parents and staff for their time and congratulate the A.W.Parker (Drybrook) Band for hosting such a wonderful event".
Our thanks must go to Lakers School for providing us with a venue that will allow us to develop the festival over the coming years and thank you also to Forest of Dean Wind Band for sharing the site with us today.