Band News

Read the latest news and press releases from the band.

West of England Regional Success! / Apr 22

Over two years since the last Regionals, the A W Parker (Drybrook) band took to the stage in Cheltenham on 2nd April 2022 to perform Gilbert Vinter's "Spectrum" in front of adjudicators Dr Robert Childs & Alan Morrison. Drawn to play 2nd from 15 bands, there was a long wait for the results, which came later in the evening. The band were delighted to be placed 3rd, by far the highest position since returning to the First Section in 2016. Full results can be found on the WEBBA website. This result brings the band security in the First Section for the next few years and comes on the heals of another great test piece contest result in the preceding November. The band will now turn their contesting sights to the West of England Bandsmen's Festival, held in Bugle (Cornwall) in June, as well as a range of spring and summer concerts starting with Fownhope Hearts of Oak March in May.

Welsh Open Performance / Feb 22

In mid-February, the band returned to the Welsh Open for the first time since 2019. On a wet and windy day in Newport's Riverfront venue, we performed an entertainment programme based on the theme of heroes. The programme opened with "Walking with Heroes" by Paul Lovatt-Cooper, followed by Arlen & Harburg's "Over the Rainbow", arranged by Goff Richards and performed by Solo Horn player, Andrew Jones. The exciting "Batman the Movie - Main Theme" by Danny Elfman, arranged by Alan Catherall came next before the contemplative "Evening Hymn & Sunset", arranged by Rob Wiffin and featuring Principal Cornet player, Trystan Jones. The programme concluded with "Olympic Truce", the final movement from Philip Harper's 'Olympus'.

Though there were some quality moments, there were also enough issues to ensure we would not be in the prizes. When the results came in, we managed an 11th place finish from 13. As noted by our Musical Director after the result, "we came, we saw.... and we had some fun. A wild performance to reflect the wild weather!"

Our minds now return to the build-up for the rescheduled West of England Regional Finals, which will be held in Cheltenham on Saturday 2nd April.

Victory in Poole / Nov 21

Our first contest performance since March 2020 was one to remember as the band travelled down to Poole to take part in the WBBA's Winter Own Choice Contest on Saturday 27th November. Following a strong performance, we were awarded first prize in the first section for our performance of ‘A London Overture’. Furthermore, we placed second overall across the entire field of 16 bands! Playing our own choice march ‘Army of the Nile’, we placed first overall in the open section! To top it off, our superstar solo euphonium player, Mandy Hamer, took home the prize for best euphonium of the day. It’s great to be back doing what we love, and we’ve had a thoroughly enjoyable time preparing for this event.

Band Restarts...again! / May 21

Following Christmas 2020 and the subsequent lockdown, banding at Drybrook turned digital in early 2021, with Zoom rehearsals taking place for several months. On 23rd May 2021 however, following enactment of the Government's 'Step 3', two small groups met at the Band Room to restart rehearsals in a COVID-secure way. While some finished with lips a bit worse for wear, it was thoroughly enjoyable to be back making music once more.

Assuming Step 4 of the Government's plan takes place on 21st June as expected, the band aim to resume full rehearsals in late June for the first time since March 2020! This will be quickly followed by our first engagement of 2021 at the Rising Sun in Moseley Green on 4th July. Performing outdoors at this regular Forest of Dean banding hotspot will allow any remaining distancing concerns to be addressed and provide a great entry back into public performing. The band will then have opportunities to perform further in August - at Scarr Bandstand - and in September - at Ross on Wye Bandstand. And who knows, if the COVID situation continues to improve, perhaps a contest might be in sight during the Autumn?!?

Virtual Pershore Midsummer Brass / Jul 20

Our five video entries can be found on the Media page »

The PMB website can be found at

The press release from Pershore Midsummer Brass is shared below...

This brass band festival went online this year due to the Corona virus restrictions and the event was a great success. On Saturday 4th July 2020 Pershore Midsummer Brass festival should have been held in Pershore as it has been annually, bringing together bands from across the Midlands and beyond, in a unique non-competitive festival of brass with as many as 4 venues around the town. This year bands provided virtual performances and footage to the organisers instead.

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak and the Government advice on Social Distancing, these band have had to cancel rehearsals, but many are holding ‘virtual’ rehearsals, where they all play their own individual parts and then ‘mix’ them together. Others provided pre-recorded footage, even recordings made by their supporters at previous performances and open rehearsals.

A fanfare opened the day, played by Jaguar Land Rover Band alongside a welcome from John West, chairman of Pershore Midsummer Brass and Pershore Town mayor, Councillor Chris Parsons MBE. This was followed by full performances from Arrow Valley Brass, AW Parker (Drybrook) Band From the Forest of Dean, the Band of Gloucestershire Constabulary, Bretforton Silver Band, City of Coventry Brass, Jaguar Land Rover Band based in Coventry, Malvern Hills Brass Band, A reunited Perscoran Brass, Shipston Town Band and Stour Concert Brass from Shipston in South Warwickshire, Shirley Band from Solihull, SPAL Sovereign Brass from the Black Country, Stourport on Severn Brass Band, Tewkesbury Town and Training Bands, The Langley Band from Oldbury in the West Midlands, Worcester City Brass and Worcester Concert Brass.

All the bands had worked hard to gather what was required by the organisers within a tight deadline. Some fun videos from bands were recorded under lockdown conditions, where we could spot the matching wallpaper of brass-banding families, We loved the music of Worcester City Brass and spotting the silly hat's and goggles, post it notes(?) and teddies, even a dog in their videos recorded at home. Langley Band even arranged their lockdown videos on the screen in the same way they would have appeared onstage as a band as if they were facing the conductor, wearing rainbow colours to play Over The Rainbow in tribute to the NHS.

Some bands sent pre-recorded performances on existing CDs of music. AW Parker (Drybrook) Band even supplied music recorded in Pershore Abbey itself, where they would have hoped to play at Pershore Midsummer Brass. There was a further taste of Pershore Midsummer Brass with a proms concert from Stourport on Severn Band playing in a marquee similar to the one at the Angel Hotel or the Star Inn.

Tewkesbury band sent archive videos of their training band through many years, while the training band for Worcester City Band appeared in their own lockdown videos and we reminisced with the archive photographs of Perscoran Band and Bretforton Silver Band through the years. Perscoran had hoped to reunite at Pershore Midsummer Brass to perform in celebration of their founder Gordon Hartley Bennett who also began the first incarnation of the Pershore Midsummer Brass festival. Gordon Hartley-Bennett responded to their recording and photographs with the message: "Thank you for the kind tribute and wonderful memories. It would have been brilliant to see you all. Roll on PMB 2021!"

Some of the bands had managed to add an extra touch to their perfomances. Arrow Valley Brass provided a tour of Ireland recorded from a drone to accompany a celtic tune, while Jaguar Land Rover Band performed with friends on electric guitars, as an exciting addition to the normal brass band line-up.

The festival ended with a performance from Lockdown Brass, comprised of players from Worcester Concert Brass, Malvern Hills Brass Band and Malvern Chase Band who have supported each other through lockdown with quizzes and chats online. They recorded a piece by Fodens Band Principal Trombone player, John Barber, known as Song for the Frontline, in support of the NHS. Fodens Brass have more ‘lock down’ performances and links to their NHS charities campaign on facebook:

As hoped, this method of sharing Pershore Midsummer Brass reached many of those who would normally come to Pershore as well as being shared with new listeners. We had an incredible total of 5287 views over the whole weekend and many positive comments from bands and spectators alike. Despite the difficult conditions the event was a great success, and to quote Gordon Hartley Bennett commented, “Roll on 2021”. It will be on 3rd July if you want to add it to your diary now.

Oxford & Torquay Contests / Mar 20

The spring contest season started early with the band competing at the February Oxford Brass Band Association contest in Woodstock, Oxford. This contest always provides an opportunity for bands to play the Regionals test piece at a contest before the West of England Area contest in March, receiving adjudication feedback that can be used to influence final preparations. This year the regional test piece for the first section was "Legacy" by Tom Davoren, a celebration of the work and achievements of the Welsh politician Aneurin Bevan in the formation of the NHS 70 years ago. The band was pleased with the performance but were placed 6th with the top 3 positions going to City of Bristol Brass, Cawston and Hyde. (Full remarks are available to read).

The band regrouped for a further 3 weeks of intense rehearsals before the West of England Regional Championships at the Riviera Centre in Torquay. The event took place with special measures to protect players from the COVID-19 virus outbreak, with the contest being held on the final days when public gatherings were allowed. The first section was the largest section in the contest with 18 bands entered. The band gave their all on stage and returned a 12th place result. (Full remarks are available to read). The impact of this was that the band remained in the 1st section for another year. Sadly, this contest was the final outing for the band with John Butson on Soprano Cornet. John, who is one of the most popular and revered players in the band, has decided to have a break from the brass band world. He will be sorely missed for his playing and warm personality. The Torquay weekend remains an important social occasion within the banding year. The players were able to spend time together away from rehearsals with some enjoying the late night 80s disco at the hotel, the last social outing for many of us as we are now in lockdown.

Currently the band is not rehearsing, to support the government advice on social distancing. To keep our momentum going the members are looking forward to an online Sunday Quiz Night and the parts have been distributed for our Autumn test piece. We are looking forward to returning to the normal rehearsal regime of 2 rehearsals a week and we are hoping that as many of our Summer programme concerts as possible can take place.

Another Year Begins... / Jan 20

The band are now back in rehearsal working hard preparing the Area test-piece "Legacy" which they will be playing at 2 upcoming contests, the first on February 23rd is the Oxford Brass Band Association contest and then at the West of England Regional Championships in Torquay on the 14th of March.

We are pleased to welcome Wayne Williams, who has joined us on the Flugel Horn and the percussion section has been further strengthened by Han Morgan. Heather License, who has depped for us for some time has also signed for the band permanently. As talented musicians, Wayne, Han & Heather bring a wealth of banding experience with them.

At the end of December the band held a Christmas concert and award evening at Westbury Village Hall. Thank you to our supporters who spent the evening with us! Our award winners were as follows: the Musician of the Year award went to John Butson, our much loved soprano player whose dedication to the success of the band has seen him go above and beyond. The Most Improved Player of Year was awarded to Sarah Milosevic, our First Horn player, whose determination and hard work to develop her playing has paid dividends. Each year, the band members themselves vote for the 'Bandsman of the Year'. This award is given to the player who demonstrates the highest level of commitment to the success of the band and this year the players voted for Mandy Hamer, our excellent Solo Euphonium player.

If you would like an opportunity to see the band play, there are plenty of opportunities between now and September, the first being our performance at Ross-on-Wye Band Stand on Sunday 31st May between 2:30pm and 4:30pm. Looking further ahead (it's never too early to talk Christmas!) we have arranged our Christmas Concert and Awards evening for Saturday 19th December at Drybrook Memorial Hall.

Summer Concert Season 2019 / 28 Sep 19

The band have enjoyed another successful summer concert season that saw us undertake seven varied and enjoyable events. The season kicked off with our annual visit to Fownhope to lead the march through the village and accompany the hymns at a church service. This was followed by concert appearances at Ross on Wye Bandstand, Pershore Midsummer Brass and The Rising Sun in Moseley Green. Before taking a short summer break, we led the carnival procession once again in Ross on Wye, all performed on the back of a lorry!

Following the break, we presented a further concert at the restored Scarr Bandstand and concluded the season with the undoubted highlight, a Last Night of the Proms concert held at the Angel Inn, Pershore.

We now look forward to the Autumn Contesting Season that will see the band compete at both the Leicestershire Brass Band Association Contest and the Wessex Open Contest. Rehearsals are well underway on our chosen test piece and prior to this we will also be performing a "Music from Movies and Musicals Concert" with proceeds from the event to be split between ourselves and Cancer Research UK Relay for Life.

Bugle Contest / 15 Jun 19

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!

Looking back on the Year - Our Annual Trustees' Report / 22 Apr 19

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...

"WE ARE OPEN & FRIENDLY": We are an organisation that players want to be a part of and would be pleased to invite their friends to join. We are supportive and sociable both internally and with neighbouring bands.

  • Throughout the year many of our players supported other local brass bands by playing at their engagements. At the same time we have welcomed and been supported by players from local bands at our engagements and contests. Such networking has allowed us to support the banding community and sustain the local brass band tradition.
  • We maintained our Social Media presence on Facebook and the website was kept up to date with news, recordings and a diary of future events to keep friends informed.
  • Social events were regularly organised after contest performances and the 2018 Christmas Awards Evening, held after the Christmas Concert, was a success.
  • The band also maintained its membership of the Gloucestershire Brass Band Association, which organises events in the region and represents local bands on the West of England Council of Brass Band Associations.

"WE ARE VALUED BY OUR COMMUNITY": We are well known in our local communities, support local causes and engage with neighbouring musical organisations to sustain our musical heritage.

  • This year the Drybrook Memorial Hall and Social Club hosted 'Yud-Candy', a day long music festival. The band were pleased to be invited to open the event with a thirty-minute concert set.
  • The band continued their longstanding relationship with Fownhope Village at the Hearts of Oak March and with Ross-on-Wye, performing at the Bandstand and at Ross Carnival in August, providing music for the Carnival Procession to march around the town.
  • We performed two Sunday evening concerts at the Rising Sun at Mosley Green, playing to large local audiences.
  • During October we were pleased to be given the opportunity to perform a full concert at Pershore Abbey in support of the Pershore Midsummer Brass Festival.
  • In November the band took part in the Forest Church Remembrance Service. Several band members also played the 'Last Post' for other communities in the area.
  • At the start of the Christmas season this year we provided carol players to accompany Christmas Light switch-on events in Drybrook and Mitcheldean.
  • The Christmas period also saw the band hold their fourth "annual" concert at the Drybrook Memorial Hall, which continues to grow year on year. The band retained their regular engagements at Mitcheldean Church Fayre, Drybrook Methodist Carol Service and at Ross Labels.
  • Throughout the year, our Band Room facilities continued to be made available to our fellow local music group, the Drybrook and District Ladies Choir, for their rehearsals and regular fundraising and social events. The Band Room is also made available as an election polling station.

"WE ARE FOCUSED ON SUCCESS": We engage in regular competition and work hard to win prizes through high-quality rehearsals and commitment from our players and Musical Director, supported by good facilities and equipment.

  • Throughout 2018, a consistent twice-weekly programme of rehearsals was maintained in most weeks. The band continued to fund the provision of expert Musical Direction for the enjoyment and improvement of players in the band. Additionally, regular 'sectional rehearsals', focusing on smaller groups, were regularly held prior to contest performances. Attendance and focus in rehearsals remained high.
  • Band-owned instruments continued to be utilised by a proportion of band members and the Band Room, which the organisation is fortunate to own, remained a key enabler for high quality provision. Other venues were also hired as required, to support contest preparations.
  • The Band competed at five contests in 2018:
  • February 2018 - ODBBA Own Choice Contest, Oxford (1st from 7 in the First section)
  • March 2018 - West of England Regional Finals (First Section), Torquay (7th from 16 in the First Section)
  • April 2018 - Welsh League Own Choice, Cardiff (1st from 3 in the First Section, Best Instrumentalist)
  • November 2018 - LBBA Open Contest, Loughborough (3rd from 10 in the First Section)
  • November 2018 - Welsh League Winter Festival, Cardiff (1st from 3 in the First Section, Best Instrumentalist)
  • Improvement of our band room facilities continued in 2018, with the carpeting of the main hall space.

"WE ARE ACTIVE IN FOSTERING TALENT": We support efforts to bring new players into brass banding and ensure safety and security in our own settings. We actively promote young players within our organisation.

  • In June, the band organised the 49th Bailey Lane End Music Festival, held once more at Five Acres High School. A large number of competitors took part across 9 classes, performing to an appreciative audience and our adjudicator, David Hayward.
  • While the band are currently unable to offer tuition to those wishing to learn brass playing, we are keen to offer younger players opportunities. This year we have had two younger players join the cornet section.

"WE ARE FINANCIALLY SUSTAINABLE": We are financially secure due to prudent spending and the support of our players and local sponsors, who support our aims. We are legally compliant and transparent in our management.

  • The band were once again fortunate to receive sponsorship from A. W. Parker Coal Merchants. Our longstanding relationship with this local company has been a key enabler for the achievement of many recent successes.
  • As a charity, the Trustees are capitalising on the Gift Aid process to reclaim additional funds against Member subscriptions and donations received.
  • Following the increase of members subscriptions in 2016 and a focus on increasing the number of paid performances, the organisation has returned to a stable financial position, which the Trustees are keen to maintain.

Regional Championships in Torquay / 22 Apr 19

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 available 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.

Welsh Open Performance in Porthcawl / 22 Feb 19

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!

New Members & Highest World Ranking / 31 Jan 19

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.

Contesting Success in November / 30 Nov 18

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 »

In Concert at Pershore Abbey / 15 Nov 18

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.

Steve Morley / 05 May 18

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.

Three from Three in Wales / 30 April 18

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.

You can listen to a recording of our performance and read the adjudicators' remarks.

Full results are available on 4barsrest »

Staying in the First Section! / 18 March 18

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.

You can listen to a recording of our performance and read the adjudicators' remarks. Full results are available on the WEBBA Website »

Victory at Oxford / 02 March 18

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 »

Banding at Christmas / 03 January 18

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!

Victory in Merthyr...again! / 25 November 17

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 :

  1. A.W. Parker (Drybrook)
  2. Lewis Merthyr
  3. Briton Ferry
  • Best Intrumentalist: Mandy Hamer - Solo Euphonium - A.W. Parker (Drybrook)

Return to Torquay / 13 November 17

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 :

  1. Camborne Town - Paganini Variations (Philip Wilby)
  2. Aldbourne - Music of the Spheres (Philip Sparke)
  3. Sidmouth Town - The Saga of Haakon the Good (Philip Sparke)
  4. Lydbrook - Variations on a Ninth (Gilbert Vinter)
  5. Chalford - Chivalry (Martin Ellerby)
  6. Roche Brass - Journey into Freedom (Eric Ball)
  7. SW Comms - Un Vie de Matelot (Robert Farnon)
  8. Michelmersh Silver - Brass Metamorphosis (James Curnow)
  9. Verwood Concert Brass - Isaiah 40 (Robert Redhead)
  10. Mid Rhondda (Thomas Coaches) - Renaissance (Peter Graham)
  11. A.W. Parker (Drybrook) - Spectrum (Gilbert Vinter)
  12. St Austell Town - Trittico (James Curnow)
  • Best Cornet Player: SW Comms
  • Highest Placed First Section Band: Sidmouth Town

Visit the SWBBA website for more details of the contest »

Bailey Lane End Music Festival 2017 - Retrospective / 21 June 17

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.

With entries up on previous years, we are keen to further expand this contest next year, which will be held on Saturday 23rd June 2018.

Bailey Lane End Music Festival 2017 / 30 April 17

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.


Victory at Merthyr / 10 May 17

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 :

  1. A. W. Parker (Drybrook) (187pts)
  2. Ammanford (185pts)
  3. Abergavenny Borough (183pts)
  4. Lewis Merthyr (182pts)
  • Best Instrumentalist: Grant Jameson (Euphonium), A. W. Parker (Drybrook)
  • Best Soprano: Tim Hughes, Ammanford

Mandy Hamer receives Life Membership / 03 April 17

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!

Spring Contests / 13 March 17

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 :

  1. Kidlington Concert Brass (191pts)
  2. Oddfellows Brass (189pts)
  3. A. W. Parker (Drybrook) (188pts)
  4. Hyde (187pts)
  5. Epsom & Ewell Silver (186pts)
  • Best Instrumentalist: Euphonium (Kidlington Concert Brass)
  • Best Percussion: Kidlington Concert Brass
  • Best Bass Section: Oddfellows Brass
  • Best Cornet: Soprano (Kidlington Concert Brass)

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 :

  1. SW Comms (Chris Spreadbury)
  2. Bournemouth Concert Brass (Matthew Brown)
  3. Hyde (Jonathan Lush-Camps)
  4. Chalford (Steve Tubb)
  5. Sherborne Town (Ian Lowes)
  6. Wotton-under-Edge & District (Ian Dickinson)
  7. St Keverne (Gareth Churcher)
  8. A. W. Parker (Drybrook) (Josh Ruck)
  9. Michelmersh Silver (Wayne Landon)
  10. Sidmouth Town (Adrian Harvey)
  11. Forest of Dean Brass (Chris Howley)

Drybrook Return to GBBA Own Choice / 25 November 16

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):

  1. Forest of Dean Brass (90pts)
  2. A. W. Parker (Drybrook) (89pts)
  3. Wantage B (88pts)
  4. Chalford (87pts)

Full Results from the First Section (Test Piece):

  1. Forest of Dean Brass (92pts)
  2. Wantage B (90pts)
  3. A. W. Parker (Drybrook) (89pts)
  4. Chalford (88pts)

Strong performance at Wychavon Festival of Brass / 31 October 16

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:

  1. Eccles Borough (also won Championship Section)
  2. City of Cardiff (won Soloist Trophy)
  3. B.T.M
  4. Johnstone (won Entertainment Trophy)
  5. Langley
  6. A.W. Parker (Drybrook)
  7. Aveley & Newham (won Percussion Trophy)
  8. Bedworth Town
  9. Foresters Brass
  10. Lewis Merthyr
  11. Ocean Brass

Roger Harris / 30 July 16

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.

Bailey Lane End Music Festival 2016 - Retrospective / 19 June 16

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.

We hope to see as many competitors at next year's event which will take place on Saturday 17th June 2017.

The Drybrook & District Silver Band is a Registered Charity (No. 1154033) and performs under the name of the 'A. W. Parker (Drybrook) Band' in recognition of our long-standing sponsorship deal.

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