On Tugwell Field
We are super excited to release 'On Tugwell Field', our brand new piece by Jonathan Bates Music. It's been a huge task putting this together to create a virtual performance for you all to enjoy with members of all seven of our bands taking part!
'On Tugwell Field: A Wantage Celebration' was composed for the Oxfordshire-based Wantage Silver Band organisation during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic as a special piece to bring all the ensembles under the organisation's "umbrella" together to record and perform virtually. The title of the work takes its name from the locaion of the bandroom in which the vast majority of the musical activites take place.
On Tugwell Field: A Wantage Celebration from Wantage Silver Band on Vimeo.
Wantage Youth Brass
After many years, Wantage Youth Brass relaunches this coming Monday at our COVID secure band hall on Tugwell Field, Wantage. Rehearsals will take place every Monday, 6-7:30pm with the talented Sara Wallbridge as their Musical Director. Rehearsals will house up to 20 players, all socially distanced, with many adjustments in place to keep everyone as safe as possible.
The band is suited to young brass players and percussionists of intermediate standard (roughly grade 2 to 5) who would like to further develop their musical skills by making music with other like minded children.
The band is FREE to attend until Christmas (£10 monthly subs from January). If you'd like your child to attend, please contact us and we'll email you our risk assessment and rehearsal guidelines.
Our band hall is now alive with music once again and we can't wait for Wantage Youth Brass to feature in our weekly programme of activities!
The outstanding work of our very own Sam Wyne has been recognised with Brass Band England Awards. The 2020 Brass Bands England Conference saw the presentation of its annual awards to people who have made an exceptional contribution to the banding community.
In introducing the awards from "so many fantastic nominations this year", BBE Chairman Mike Kilroy said it was "an honour and a privilege" to be able to recognize the outstanding contributions that encompassed Innovation, Social Impact, Services to Youth, Lifetime Achievement and BBE Special Award.
The Social Impact Award was made to what Mike called "a remarkable young person".
The work of Sam Wyne, targeted specifically at the very youngest of music lovers will enable both his band at Wantage and his local community to benefit from future generations of youngsters with a love of brass music.
Virtual Youth Solo Contest
We hope you enjoyed our special results show this evening for our Virtual Youth Solo Contest! Again, we can't reiterate how much we appreciate all the support you, our followers, have given us over the past few months! A big thank you to our adjudicators Russell Gray and Jonathan Bates and a huge congratulations to everyone who took part! Here are the results for each category:
11 Years Old and Under
1st Michael MacDonald
2nd Annie Stuart
3rd Nayan Shah
4th Lucie Hall
5th Margerite Troup
6th Isabelle Owen
12 to 15 Years Old
1st Lewis Barton
2nd Amelie Benthan
3rd James Hindson
4th Harry Porthouse
5th Christopher Oddy
6th Lucy Heeley
16 to 19 Years Old
1st Sasha Canter
2nd Will Leslie
3rd Daniel Sharpe
4th Emma Close
5th Rose Hancock
6th Abi Ornadel
Brass on the Grass Live!
At WSB, Brass on the Grass is one our biggest events of the year with every band performing throughout an afternoon/evening in June.
This year will be slightly different but we will still be bringing you performances from our bands! Tune in to our livestream on Facebook at 2pm on Sunday 21st June as we showcase virtual banding videos from all of our bands, interviews with the MDs and players and much more!
Queensbury Low Brass
This week we had the pleasure of welcoming Gavin Wyn Saynor, Principal Eb Bass with the Black Dyke Band, joining our Trainer Band session on Zoom this morning! It was fantastic for everyone to hear him play and I'm sure there will be lots of practice going on now following the session! We really appreciate your time!.
Many thanks everyone. Really enjoyed it. Keep up the great work you all do at Wantage.
A huge thank you to Glenn Van Looy, all the way over in Switzerland, for inspiring our players from all over WSB this morning! This has lifted everyone's spirits and gives them some practice focus for the week!.
Around 30 members from across the organisation took part in an online session which included breathing and lip flexibility exercises.
Lovely initiative and great to keep connected during this period! Thanks for having me!
A huge thank you to Richard Marshall, Principal Cornet of the Black Dyke Band for joining us this morning for our Zoom Trainer Band session! What a privilege for all that were involved!.
It's so important that in these difficult times, people still have something that will excite, motivate and inspire them!.
They may not have been together in person but were definitely together in spirit, making music together! In light of the current Coronavirus situation Sam Wyne and Sara-Jane Wallbridge took it upon themselves to assume 'business as usual' for the willing players and hosted a special virtual rehearsal using the latest social media technology.
The session saw 16 players put through their paces with breathing exercises, mouthpiece buzzing, long note tones, scales, tonguing, lip slurs and even a piece to play together to round off the session.
This technology is a great way to try and create a sense of normality for the players still wanting to enjoy making music together. We would urge people to give it a go.
Same time next week...!
Brett Baker thrilled a capacity audience at the Beacon in Wantage at the weekend, with some top quality playing on display from this Michael Rath ambassador. Wantage Band were in fine form to support this talented guest soloist who featured many showcase items throughout the evening's entertainment. 'Highland Cathedral' (Roever/Korb arr. Ian Jones) was a highlight of the first half, which saw Brett lead a 19 strong trombone choir from within the ranks of Wantage Silver Band.
Brett had a busy weekend, as well as leading a masterclass he was also adjudicator for the annual WSB inner band competition, where he judged a wide variety of around 70 performances from across the organisation.
After the interval the Black Dyke principal trombonist returned to perform 'Rhapsody in Blue', where he was able to show a different side to his playing, a popular piece which was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience. Next up, Brett joined forces wth the Wantage Band trombone section - Mike Wallbridge, Glyn Kennett and Ivan Hunger, for a light hearted rendition of Alan Fernie's 'Attack of the Killer Trombones'.
A rousing 'Fugue in D Minor' was the finale of the evening - featuring the bands talented percussionist George Groves, a big finish which sent the audience home with a smile.
Wantage pushed themselves to get the full dynamic contrast and really did show a softer side, a full and magical sound and the perfect end to a great evening.
Butlins Mineworkers Festival
With Wantage MD Paul Holland engaged with Flowers, the band turned to the composer of the test piece, Songs of Ascent - Jonathan Bates, as their architect with the baton at the Skyline Resort, Skegness.
Mr Bates certainly gave it his best shot with his band — and there was a moment when the use of the brushes on the tam-tam wasn't marked in the score. Crafty... What will the judges make of his take then? Solid stuff from an up and coming band.
The entertainment program entitled 'Bach to the Future' included some Bach inspired works, many of which had been specially arranged for the contest by Bates.
A lovely contrast with the prayer — led by tender euph and evocative voice-over, before we hopped over to the left bank of the Seine for a pack of Gitanes fags, sophisticated jazz and a chapter of an Albert Camus philosophy text to ponder.
Toccata in D Minor into Back to the Future (arr. J. Bates)
Prayer to St Michael (arr. Bates) - Featuring: Sam Wyne (euphonium)
Cafe 1719 (Jacques Lossieu arr. Bates)
Badinerie (Bach arr. Bates)
Peel Park from Lowry Sketchbook (Wilby)
Toccata in D Minor (arr. Bates)
As we approach the end of what is a very busy season for the band we would like to wish all our friends a very happy Christmas and best wishes for the new year.
It has been another successful year for the band and we thank everyone for their continued support and look forward to seeing you all in 2020.
There were awards and congratulations to be claimed at Wantage Silver Band's recent annual concert and celebration evening. The presentations were made at the end of a busy day of activity for the seven bands involved in the organisation.
The awards recognised the commitment, dedication and achievements of those involved in the running of the Wantage organisation in the past year.
These award winners are a truly deserving group of players.
Bandsman of the Year: Nikki Jones
Joe Payne Cup for Personality: Pauline Davies
Youth Player of the Year: Jamie Cockburn
Lesley Widdicombe Promising Young Horn Player: Amy Jones
Glover Percussion Trophy: George Groves
Pollard Trophy: Owen Hopkins
Enterprise Award: Sam Wyne
Ken Robey Cup for Meritorious Service: Brian Thomas
The President's Cup: Anne Anderson
Market Place Brass
The sun shone brightly on this September afternoon in Wantage Market place for what was the first in a series of planned outdoor events. It was a busy day for the band as they had already taken part in a parade around the town to commemorate the Battle of Britain.
The concert, led by conductor Kevin Smith, featured solo items from Helen Wright (Flugel) and Jemma Johnstone (Solo Horn) and a total of £335.84 was raised for the bandhall extension. The band hope that this venture will become a regular feature in their summer calendar.
Ovation at Garston
Wantage Academy entertained a capacity audience at All Saints Church on a summer's evening in the picture postcard village of East Garston.
Under the baton of Nikki Jones the first half opened with a rousing march 'The Middy' (Kenneth J Alford), other items included a beautiful rendition of 'Over the Rainbow' (Arlen & Harburg, arr. Goff Richards) Eb Horn soloist—Amy Jones.
Principal Cornet Jamie Cockburn led the band in Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' (arr. Frank Bernaerts) before a moving rendition of 'Hymn To The Fallen' (John Williams, arr. Klaas van der Woude) where Jamie was joined by fellow cornetist Sam Hutchins. The first half came to a close in (intentionally) raucous fashion with Paul Lovatt-Cooper's 'The Big Top'.
After the interval came a roof-raising performance of 'Napoli' (Herman Bellstedt, arr. Geoffrey Brand) by Euphonium soloist Eddie Hindson, which amazed the audience and brought them to their feet.
Soprano Cornet Eileen Sykes gave a flawless rendition of 'Let Me Try Again' (Carvelli, arr. Simon Kerwin), before the assembled gathering had their chance to participate in sing-a-long 'Queen Rules' (Freddie Mercury, Brian May & John Deacon, arr. Steve Sykes) and the timeless Proms flag-waving favourite 'Fantasia on British Sea Songs' (Henry J Wood, arr. Denis Wright).
Academy & OYB Concert
Wantage Academy and guests Oxfordshire Youth Brass enjoyed a warm and sunny evening concert in Abingdon in aid of two charities, Abingdon Bridge and Tariro. The concert opened with Academy, under the baton of Nikki Jones, in fine form and included solo items 'Only You' (Vincent Clark, arr. Andrew Keegan) a cornet/horn duet which featured Charlotte Worth and Amy Jones.
The whole band were involved in a percussive 'Under The Boardwalk' (Artie Resnick & Kenny Young, arr. Philip Harper) featuring Flugel Horn soloist Andrew Pollard. The penultimate item in the first half heard Eileen Sykes beautiful Soprano Cornet in Caravelli's 'Let Me Try Again', arr. Simon Kerwin. The band ended the first half in rousing style with Paul Lovatt-Cooper's 'The Big Top'.
Oxfordshire Youth Brass, directed by Judith Atkins, featured Flugel soloist George Cummins with a moving rendition of 'Alfie' (Bacharach & David, arr Mick Bolt). Grace Hancock delighted the audience and demonstrated the full range of her Bass Trombone in 'I Wanna Be Like You' (RM & RB Sherman, arr Alan Fernie).
The two bands joined forces for the grand finale and gave an incredible performance of 'Les Miserables' (Claude-Michel Schönberg & Alain Boublil, arr Gavin Somerset).
The audience were amazed at the high standard of playing from the youngsters and are already looking forward to next year.
A total of £1000 was raised for the two charities.
Wantage Band were in top form for this special concert held in the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Wantage, for friends and patrons of Wantage Silver Band.
The programme included many items chosen by the audience inlcuding 'A Quiet Moment' (Philip Sparke) requested and conducted by Jon Kowszun and 'Morte Christe' (Emrys Jones) requested and arranged by Alan Sykes.
Prior to the concert guests enjoyed a reception at the Vale & Downland Museum where they were entertained by the Wantage Quartet.
British Open Spring Festival
Wantage were the penultimate band to take to the stage in the famous Empress Ballroom at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool at the weekend, performing in the Senior Cup following the bands success in the Senior Trophy in 2018.
An incredible rendition of Paul Huber's 'Symphonic Music for Brass Band' impressed adjudicators Mark Wilkinson and Thomas Wyss which saw the band finish in 2nd place - achieving back to back promotions into the Grand Shield in 2020.
With his usual forensic approach, Paul Holland left no stone unturned and nothing to chance as he coerced a finely persuasive musical account from his troops.
Concert Brass Triumph at Lutterworth
Wantage Concert Brass took part in the 7th annual Midlands entertainment contest, held at Victoria Farm Lutterworth, and were placed 1st in both the music and entertainment categories.
Conductor Ben Halstead, fresh from a perfomance at the National Memorial Arboretum, steered the band on a cyber adventure which featured special effects such as fast forward and rewind, all skillfully compered by our own cutting edge Cyborg Brian Stovold.
The 20 minute own choice program included the solo item 'Song' (from Milestone), composed by Peter Meechan, performed by the bands Principal Cornet Jordan Mason.
Oxford Brass Festival
Members of Academy Brass, Concert Brass and Wantage Band put in strong performances at the brass festival in Woodstock and were rewarded with many podium positions. Full results are available on the ODBBA website.
12-14 Slow Melody - 2nd place
15-18 Slow Melody - 2nd place
U19 Solo - 2nd & 3rd place
Open Duet - 2nd place
U14 Quartet - 2nd place
U19 Quartet - 1st place
U19 Quintet - 1st place
U19 Ensemble - 1st place
Owen Farr Concert
Owen Farr delighted a full house at the Beacon with inspirational performances, which included some of his own arrangements of items performed by the great violin virtuoso Paganini.
Wantage Band under the baton of David Hirst took the audience on a musical journey from Paganini to Queen and back, Owen's artistry was mesmerising and the sight and sound of the Besson ambassador at the top of his game, certainly didn't disappoint.
Earlier in the day Owen had given some invaluable tuition to a few of our younger members, who enjoyed an opportunity to perform under Farr's guidance.
Sunday saw the annual Inner Band competition where Owen adjudicated around 80 performances of solos, duets, quartets and ensemble from across the organisation.
It was a real pleasure to listen to you all!! Congratulations!!
BBC Radio Oxford
A sprinkling of members from the Wantage band donned Christmas jumpers and headed to Summertown over the festive period, to perform some carols live in the studio on the Dave Prever Breakfast show.
Bands across the Wantage organisation put on no fewer that 8 Christmas concerts raising much needed funds for the extension appeal.
An impressive performance from the Wantage Band saw them placed third from a strong lineup at the Scottish Open Championships in Perth at the weekend.
Their perfomance of Edward Gregson's 'Rococo Variations' drew much praise from the audience and judges alike. This is a great finale to what has been a very successful year for the band.
Cracking reading from the MD of a very testing work and a performance that had much to admire.
RBL Poppy Appeal
Concert Brass were in the Westgate shopping centre in Oxford on Sunday afternoon for a performance in aid of the Royal British Legion poppy appeal. Conducted by Pauline Davis the crowds were entertained with some rousing music.
Many of our bands will be out once again across the region on Remembrance Sunday to commemorate the Centenary of the end of WW1.
A spectacular event at Ardington Bonfire on Saturday 3rd November.
Community Brass conducted by Simon Handley, with considerable help from other WSB members, having first entertained the crowds during the build up the band performed Handel’s ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks‘ during the whooshes and bangs of the actual firework display. Certainly a night to remember, perfect weather for the fireworks and the music.
Many thanks to the organisers for a splendid show and for taking such good care of the band.
New lead at Concert Brass
Wantage Concert Brass are pleased to announce the appointment of Calum Macdonald as their new musical director, Calum is a professional musician based near Cardiff. In his early banding career he played with the Beaumaris band (Anglesey - North Wales), for which highlights included performances at the British Open and the European Youth brass band Championships.
As a soloist he regularly competes in the Fodens Solo Competition and at the age of 18 reached the RIBI Young Musician of the Year National Final, representing the North
West and North Wales.
Calum is heavily involved in the Brass for Africa charity both as a travelling tutor and visiting musical director. This work has seen him teach and conduct several bands in Uganda on four
Calum's first outing with the band will be at the GBBA March & Test Piece Contest, Cheltenham on 18th November.
We are very much looking forward to the future under Calum's direction.
A capacity audience at The Beacon enjoyed performances of seven Bands: Junior (Judith Atkins), Trainer (Brian Thomas), Our Lady’s Abingdon (Sara-Jane Wallbridge), Community Brass (Simon Handley), Academy Brass (Nikki Jones), Concert Brass (Pauline Davies), and the Wantage Band (Paul Holland).
Just before the interval, a fanfare from Wantage Band heralded the Launch of our Appeal Fund to provide an extension to the existing Band Hall to provide a second larger hall – you can find out more about our extension appeal here.
A highlight of the evening was the Massed Band finale, where all the musicians combined to play ‘Into the Future’ by Max Stannard, conducted by Paul.
The Annual Concert features awards to players or supporters, this year presented by the Mayor of Wantage, Chris McCarthy.
Bandsman of the Year: Megan Giles & Rose Hancock,
Joe Payne Cup for Personality of the Year: Gary Wilkinson,
Enterprise Award: Simon Handley,
Ken Robey Award for Meritorious Service: Pete Osman,
President’s Award: Colin Moss,
Youth Player: Eddie Hindson,
Jill Pollard Cup: Henry Keen,
Percussion: William Leach
The Wantage Silver Band wish to thank the Mayor for the gift of the use of the Beacon Hall.
A Clean Sweep for Academy
Wantage Academy took part in the ODBBA entertainment contest in Woodstock at the weekend under the direction of Nikki Jones and came away with all the prizes. They were placed first in both the music and entertainment categories and Eddie Hindson (Euphonium) was awarded the best soloist trophy for his rendition of 'Andante and Scherzo'.
The adjudicators Russell and Marieka Gray were very impressed with the high standard of playing, particularly from the younger element who were used to great effect. The performance was greatly enhanced by Brian Stovold (Eb Bass) who did a sterling job doubling as compere for the occasion.
A great programme MD - well directed; great use of the talent you have in the band.... Well done to all!
Whilst Concert brass were at Blenheim, Community Brass made a welcome return to the Northbourne Centre, Didcot for an afternoon concert.
A very hot day, welcome shade, dappled sunshine a perfect day to play to a full and enthusiastic audience at Didcot Arts & Community Association, conducted by Simon Handley.
BBC Countryfile Live
Wantage Concert Brass performed on the village green bandstand at the 3rd annual Countryfile Live show held in the grounds of Blenheim Palace.
Conducted by Gareth Coulson the crowds were entertained on a hot day with some rousing music, look out for the band in the forthcoming BBC show.
Academy Brass & OLA in Concert
Wantage Academy and guests OLA band enjoyed performing to a very receptive audience at St Michael's and All Angels Church Abingdon on Saturday evening June 17th. The programme included original brass band works, film, pop and musical hits.
Both conductors dressed well for the occasion, Nikki Jones, Academy Brass, donning an outfit of musical notes and clefs and Sara-Jane Wallbridge, OLA band, wearing some impressive Mickey Mouse shoes as her band played 'A Whole New World' from the Disney film Aladdin.
Academy band featured soloists Amy Jones on the tenor horn playing a heartfelt rendition of 'Bring Him Home', Eileen Sykes on Soprano jazzing 'Summertime' and Rachel Penrose, on her last performance with the band as she is being promoted to Concert Brass, playing the cornet solo version of 'Carrickfergus' beautifully.
The bands joined together at the end of the concert to play 'The Lion King' and 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love' which got members of the audience clapping and some were even dancing.
They have already been booked again for next year.......
Blackpool Spring Festival
An impressive performance from Wantage Band saw the top flight outfit come away with first place in the Senior Trophy at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool this weekend.
Jemma Johnstone (Solo Horn) is pictured with the silverware which sees the band promoted to the Senior Cup.
Wantage then took to the stage, and produced a cultured account courtesy of the MDs intuitive reading to claim the honours. This was an MD firmly in control of every aspect of this piece, he or she had had a great empathy with Eric Ball's music.
Wantage Concert Brass and the Wantage Band played exceptionally well and were much fancied by both the 4BarsRest and British Bandsman pundits at the Stevenage contest.
Concert Brass came 4th in the 2nd section, winning the award for best trombone section.
A quality show from Wantage Concert Brass led by David Hayward, it was so well shaped and structured, with excellent dynamics and character.
Wantage Band were placed 3rd in the Championship section winning shield and £100, and best euphonium cup (again!) for Sam Wyne.
Now then, Paul Holland's reading was a joy to behold — and oh boy, how Wantage played it.
Welsh Open Contest
The London & Southern Counties top flight outfit certainly left for home delighted after their podium finish also secured the invitation to compete at the British Open Spring Festival Senior Trophy event in Blackpool in May.
Paul Holland and Wantage will head to Stevenage boosted in confidence after their Senior Trophy qualification success was aided by the excellent contribution of 'Best Cornet' Sara-Jane Wallbridge's to an inventive set that encompassed physical, metaphorical and religious endeavours that saw the band pick up the Eifion Rogers Trophy and £300.
Inner Band Contest
A packed band hall yesterday enjoyed a wide variety of performances from across the whole of the WSB organisation. With ages ranging from 7 to 70 adjudicator Paul Hirst was treated to over 60 performances during the course of the day. From family quartets to mixed age duets there was something for everyone to enjoy, and for some beginners it was their first time in a competition.
Bandmaster Eileen Sykes said "It was a surperb and entertaining day, I am always impressed by the breadth of talent this band has on offer".
A big thank you once again to Susan Holmes for her expert piano accompaniment. Organiser Sam Wyne said
It was a fantastic event and I am already looking forward to next year
Concert with Gary Curtin
The Wantage Silver Band recently hosted euphonium virtuoso Gary Curtin for what turned out to be a memorable weekend of exceptional music making.
The Sterling artist provided a masterclass for seven lucky young players as well as being a featured soloist with the senior Wantage Band, with his brilliant playing and engaging personality making a huge impression.
The concert at Reading Central Salvation Army featured Gary in 'Dance of the Goblins', 'Evelin', his signature tour-de-force, 'Eire Time', and 'Efriede' which won him the 'Best Soloist' award at the 2017 Brass in Concert Championship.
The band also gave the audience a varied programme, including Eric Ball's 'Resurgam' and Lorne Barry's 'Credo'. A particular highlight of the evening was the euphonium duet 'Canto Della Terra' arranged by MD Paul Holland where Gary joined forces with Wantage solo euphonium Sam Wyne.
MD Paul Holland was delighted at the success of Gary's visit and told 4BR:
It was a great thrill for everyone to hear Gary perform with his jaw-dropping technique and artistry.
The organisation will continue to invite the very best players and motivators to help all members step closer to realising their own potential — but this will be a hard act to follow!"
Uffington - St Mary's
Concert Brass produced a most entertaining concert. Walking up to the floodlit church along a path lined with candles, gave an indication that this was going to be something special. The Medieval church was built in 1250 with a central octagonal tower, and the band was located in the very centre which gave both a wonderful acoustic and a full view of the players.
Danny had arranged a most entertaining and varied programme, including 4 poems and 4 solo spots – with examples of the various instruments thrown in.
First soloist was Emma Dullforce, who gave a lovely rendition of a cornet solo dedicated to the late Allan Williams; the other solos featured impressive performances by the euphonium players Ian Davies and Alan Jones, and a hugely entertaining performance of ‘Frosty the Snowman’ on bass trombone by Pauline Davies.
It was especially heartening to see the obvious delight of the Vicar of St Mary’s Church in welcoming the Band, and inviting them to visit again; and the Church Ladies provided tea and coffee and warm mince pies for everyone.
A special encore was a surprise to the audience – the vicar took the baton and lead the band to a reprise of ‘Jingle Bells’.
A most successful concert, and repeat visits to this wonderful church are a must!
Faringdon Corn Exchange
Apparently, the first concert in this fine venue for years – due to previous noise complaints. But we had special dispensation to go ahead!
The concert was given by Wantage Band, in conjunction with The Cotswold Community Choir. This group has an inspirational conductor and their singing was excellent. Joint items were some well known carols. The main problem was fitting all the choir, band and guests in – as can be seen from Matt’s photos, the hall was packed!
The band programme followed the Wantage one of the previous night – with an additional soloist, Charles Grove who played ‘Little Drummer Boy’ to great effect.
Many thanks to the usual support team of Eleanor and Ann Chadwick, and to helpers Genevieve and Frank Povey who ran the refreshments (superior squash and mince pie for a donation) and tidied up; and to John Hancock who ran the raffle.
It was a real cracker of a concert to kick off the festive season featuring two of our bands at The Beacon. The Wantage Band, conducted by Paul Holland and Academy Brass, conducted by Nikki Jones, were the opening event in a series of 5 concerts across the organisation in the month of December.
Wantage Band were first to take the stage and featured solo items from Helen Wright (Flugel) and Sam Wyne (Euphonium). Academy Brass performed after the interval before both bands joined forces for a massed finale of 'Jingle Bells', Ríu Ríu (arranged by Brian Thomas) and 'Christmas Crackers'.
Two bands from Wantage Silver made the trip up to Loughborough at the weekend for the annual Leicestershire Brass Band Association Open Contest. Wantage Band, competing in the Championship section, took first place and are pictured with adjudicator Brett Baker.
Academy Brass, competing in the 4th section, were placed ninth. A special mention to James Hindson who performed for both bands.
Members of Wantage Silver Band were out in force on a particularly cold November morning for the commemoration of Rememberance. Three of our bands were proud to play a prominent part in events around the region, Wantage Band in Wantage, Concert Brass in Hanney and Academy Brass in East Garston.
Many of our members were in demand performing the Last Post around the county.
Steve Chapman - Wantage Square,
Rachel Penrose and James Hindson - East Garston,
Brian Thomas - Charlton Church & Hendred,
Rachel Penrose - Grove Airfield,
Sara Wallbridge - Wantage Parish Church,
Harry Kent - St Mary’s Church Uffington,
Steve Chapman - Sparshalt,
Jordan Mason - West Haney & Charney Basset,
Adam Johnstone - Lambourn,
Katy Hudson - Grove Church,
Nikki Jones - Minster Lovell.
Steve Chapman played the Last Post and Reveille for the Wantage Town service outside the Bear on the 11th, and cornet players of the Band featured in 11 other such occasions over the weekend.
Academy Brass (Nikki Jones) performed at the Church Service on Saturday 11th in East Garston, and led the parade on a very damp day.
On Sunday 12th, Concert Brass, led by Danny Dullforce, had the longest parade, from East Hanney British Legion to St James Church, West Hanney, and back.
The Wantage Band led the Town Parade and service and were conducted by Sam Wyne.
Holland Takes lead at Wantage
After a short period of guest conducting with Wantage Band this summer, the organisation are very happy to announce that Paul Holland has accepted their invitation to become the full time professional conductor of the Championship Section Band with immediate effect. This is an exciting time for the band and they are looking forward to working with Paul to build on the success they have already had since gaining championship section status in 2007, and appearing at the National Finals in 2014 and 2016.
Wantage Band are at the top of the Wantage Silver Band umbrella which boasts an incredible eight bands. This includes a fully functioning big band as well as over 40 new starters (both children and adults) who progress through the small beginner groups, junior band and trainer band led by players within the organisation. The Wantage organisation is remarkable in its diversification with opportunities for all standards of players and once again will take three bands to the regional contest in March. This year Wantage Band (championship), Wantage B Band (second section) and Wantage Academy Brass (fourth section) will all be making the trip to Stevenage in hope of qualification or at least some silverware to display at their own purpose built band hall.
Deputy Bandmaster at Wantage Silver Band, Sam Wyne, said:
I’ve admired Paul’s work with Flowers Band for many years now and I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for the band, as well as the whole WSB organisation, to gain from his vast experience and knowledge.
It was a family affair as Academy Brass plus guests, conducted by Nikki Jones, performed in Victoria Park Newbury, with no less than five family groups making up more than 50% of the band. The Stamps, Southeys, Hindsons, Masons and the Jones's contributed to an upbeat performance which featured solo items from Pete McGowan (bass trombone) and a quartet of cornets - Dom Stamp, Rachel Penrose, James Hindson and Jordan Mason.
The rain held off until late into the second half where a hardy group of supporters donned umbrellas to enjoy the remainder of the program.
BBC Countryfile Live
Wantage Silver Band provided two days of entertainment for the Countryfile Live event at Blenheim Palace over the weekend. Nikki Jones conducted the first band at the Village Green on the opening day, before handing over the baton to Danny Dullforce who led the final band of the show on Sunday afternoon.
The crowd were treated to an upbeat selection of popular favourites as they enjoyed the sunshine. Watch out for us on the forthcoming special edition programme to be broadcast by the BBC.
October Club Family Fun Day
The Band are supporting the October Club, and were pleased to donate their services at this event. Based on Community Brass, and conducted by Eileen, the Band played favourite tunes from the Fete pads – including ‘Hello Mary Lou’, Annie's Song, Abba’s ‘Ring Ring’ and many others.
A very enjoyable day in the sunshine and with an appreciative audience...
Training Band Breakfast Concert
To mark the end of the summer term, the Beginners groups combined with the Training Band to present a short Concert for friends and family, on the morning of Saturday 15th July.
The concert began with pieces by Brian Thomas’ Training Band including At the Cinema. A set of film related pieces including Supercalafragilisticexpialidocious and Harry Potter. They performed to an impressed audience of beginners and their parents.
The groups then changed over – and the beginners showed what they could do, led by Judith Adkins:
They played Raise the Bridge, Together and Alone and Let’s Rock Doc with included wonderful solo playing. The horns and trombones played duets. Judith has done a great job with these children in one term and we look forward hearing their next performance.
Players and audience were refreshed by hot and cold drinks, and by bacon and/or sausage sandwiches from the band BBQ.
The beginners are now on holiday until Saturday 9th September. To date, most have had lessons in groups, but a new Junior Band will be formed in September, conducted by Judith.
(any instrument problems please contact Alan Sykes 01235 767541).
Ron Hill, resplendent as always, introduced guest conductor Paul Holland – pointing out his impressive pedigree both as a player and conductor.
The concert opened in fine style, with trumpet calls from Sara-Jane at the rear of the Beacon. There followed an entertaining mix of features from euphoniums, cornet, trombones, including two arrangements by Paul himself.
Paul demonstrated his relaxed style of compering; of special interest to brass enthusiasts was a fine rendition of Eric Ball’s classic piece, ‘Resurgam’ (I shall rise again), and Paul gave an interesting and moving description of the piece.
The concert concluded with ‘David of the White Rock’ displaying Paul’s Welsh origins; and finally a most interesting and rousing ‘Jubilate’, a new piece that in its full version includes a Christmas hymn: we will have to wait for Christmas to hear that.
Witney Carnival was hot and sunny – a hardy band of Wantage faithful turned out. Big crowds, as always, and a full parade with dancers, Oxford Pipe Band (with drum section of our friends Karen Osman and Ron Patterson from the Reading Pipers), a nice steam traction engine...
A small Band – but we did however have a full and helpful marshalling team of Ann, Lynn and Andrew who supplied drinks, direction, and encouragement.
The refreshments at the end of the parade were very welcome!
Brass on the Grass
A fun day featuring all the WSB bands – The weather was kind (apart from a gusty wind which forced us to take the marquee down) and a good profit of over £1100 was made from BBQ, bar, cream teas, bric-a-brac, book stall, tombola etc.
Community Brass, conducted by Steve Sizeland, opened the proceedings; followed by a fine performance by Concert Brass under Danny Dullforce. Featured was principal cornet Jordan Mason, who appreciated some help from Skye to steady his music stand in the stiff breeze…
Next to appear were Our Lady’s Abingdon band, featuring a mix of pupils and teachers, and conducted by Sara-Jane Humphrey.
The Training Band, conducted by Brian Thomas, gave as always a fine performance with a good mixture of young and some more experienced helpers.
Academy Band, conductor Nikki Jones, featured Dom Stamp on solo cornet, and also the duo of Rachel Penrose and Euan Stamp.
To close proceedings the Wantage Band, conducted by Paul Holland, featured Helen Wright as flugel soloist. Helen (then Helen Pollard) was the Band’s first principal cornet way back when the Band was formed in 1972……
A large gathering came along to join in the day – including staunch supporters the Town Mayor, Steve Trinder, and Town Crier. Overall, a most enjoyable afternoon, and one we intend to repeat!.
Wantage Impress at the Masters
The influential Brass Band on-line journal 4BarsRest said of the Wantage performance:
Perhaps the most coherent and persuasive piece of Eric Ball homage we have heard so far today – shaped, phrased and moulded with care and intuitive understanding by the MD.
Lots to commend with the playing too – although it does have its moments when it wavered with tuning and precision. The lyrical interludes were so well presented though – led tastefully by cornet and backed by the ensemble.
This was eminently sensible stuff – with plenty of reserve for a fine finish – all controlled Ball glory to the highest. Praise be.
The testpiece ‘The Torchbearers’ is a recent composition by Peter Graham (well known to our bands for his concert pieces) featuring variations on the famous works by Salvationist Eric Ball, the greatest composer of brass band works in the 20th century – e.g. Starlight and Indian Summer (4th section works) and Tournament for Brass, Journey into Freedom, Resurgam (higher sections).
Wantage had the honour of being conducted at the Kettering based Contest by David Hirst: one of the greats. David began playing cornet at the age of 10 in his village band: joined Black Dyke on soprano cornet at the age of 16; and has conducted most of the top bands, including Dyke, Yorkshire Imps, Brighouse...
The Community Brass Supper Concerts retain their popularity! Now conducted by Steve Sizeland, they welcomed guests ‘Pandemonium’ and a good time was had by all. A great concert, featuring lots of new music, and a profit of £754.38.
With many thanks to the Bar, Raffle and front-of-house helpers – and Lucy’s team who provided the excellent supper.
And special thanks to the players from Academy and ‘B’ bands who helped out.
Wantage Youth Brass
Almost two years ago, Wantage Youth Brass performed at Birmingham Symphony Hall and the Music for Youth National Festival. Soon after, the band stopped for a while and it is now that we hope to relaunch it back to good health!
If you or your child is 19 or under and plays a brass instrument Grade 3/4 plus then please complete this short survey:
Music for a Spring Evening
The Wantage band, conducted by David Johnson, presented a short concert in the nearby Charlton Church on Sunday 7th May. The church was full, and all enjoyed the programme which ranged from folk tunes to ‘The Torchbearers’ (Peter Graham’s variations based the march by Eric Ball, which is the test piece for the Masters Contest).
A special attraction were solo items by Louis Pavy (euphonium) and Joseph Willis (trombone) who performed their winning items from the recent solos contest, to band accompaniment. Also featured were the ‘Youths on Euphs’ quartet of Louis, Eddie Hindson, Daniel Myers and Rose Hancock.
The band wishes to thank the Church officers for welcoming the Band and in particular Ann and Andrew Gregory, who also provided the refreshments. The Concert raised £416 for Band funds.
This wasn't the first time that the band had visited Charlton, in fact back in March 1973 a photograph was taken at the same location.
The band assembled in the Old School House, opposite the Church, to recreate this moment – over 40 years since this early photo of the Wantage Band was taken...
Inner Band Contest
What an awesome day at the WSB Inner band contest! With ages ranging from 7 to 70 adjudicator Paul Holland was treated to 52 performances across the whole of the organisation. From family quartets to mixed age duets there was something for everyone to enjoy.
Bandmaster Eileen Sykes said "I am always impressed by the breadth of talent this band has on offer".
A big thank you to Susan Holmes for her expert piano accompaniment during the morning session. Organiser Sam Wyne said "It was a fantastic day and I am already looking forward to next year".
Rich pickings at the Brass Festival
Competing at the brass festival in Woodstock at the weekend members of the Wantage band came away with an impressive haul of silverware, including four 1st placings and three 2nds. Adjudicators Alan Duguid and Melvin White enjoyed a wide variety of perfomances at the 70th annual Oxford based competition.
A special mention to the gold medalists Joseph Willis (15-18 Slow Melody), Sam Wyne (Senior Slow Melody), Sara-Jane, Sam, Nikki, and Harry (Senior Quartet) and Lottie, Amy, Eddie and Josh (U14 Quartet).
Three Bands at the Regional Finals
Competing against the regions top brass at the weekend The Wantage Band, Concert Brass and Academy Brass were hoping to bring home some silverware, and a chance to perform at the National finals held later in the year. The regional finals, held in Stevenage, are a chance to show off all the hard work that goes into rehearsing a test piece for a national competition.
First to play were Concert Brass on the Saturday, conducted by Danny Dullforce – coming 7th out of 14 in the 2nd section, a good result. Next were Academy Brass on Sunday in the 4th section; they came 10th out of 18, their highest position and a big improvement on last year – with the added satisfaction of beating all the other Oxfordshire 4th section bands (Abbey Brass, Witney and Bletchington)!
Finally, Wantage band, playing in the Championship section and hoping for a repeat trip to the Albert Hall, were disappointed to be placed 9th/12 – however audience and indeed adjudicators were pleased with the performance; and highlight of the weekend was that the solo euphonium, Sam Wyne, won the award for outstanding euphonium player of the Championship section.
Starter Group Blow Parents Away
Most of them had never performed in public before. Many of them had only been playing their instruments for a few weeks.
But on Friday, this ragtag mob of silver band starters joined an all-day workshop which ended with them performing their first ever concert – and it blew the audience away.
The session was held by Wantage Silver Band at its band hall in Tugwell Field.
For the past month, the band has been going into schools and running trial sessions to see if children might be interested in joining up full-time.
Deputy band master Sam Wyne, who led the session, said: "It was so successful.
"We couldn't believe how much progress they made in one day".
The children played cornets, tenor horns, baritones, euphoniums, tubas and trombones.
Karen England, whose seven-year-old daughter Lucy-Jane conquered the cornet, posted on Facebook afterwards: "Wow! Well done kids, you were amazing.
"Thank you so much to Sam and Sara and everyone at Wantage Silver Band, Lucy-Jane had such a great time.
"I was worried we'd need earplugs for the performance but that couldn't have been further from the truth."
Ten-year-old Lily Yates, who goes to Stockham School, played the baritone and said: "I had the best day ever - I didn't realise it was going to be so much fun."
Our Lady's Abingdon pupil Ronit Chakraborty, nine, played the cornet and added: "I was very good, I really enjoyed it".
Roger Exceeds All Expectations
St Bartholomew's School, Newbury was the location for Roger Webster's amazing performance. Not surprising there was a full hall. It resounded to the audience's applause, having sat spellbound listening to Roger and then to the Wantage Band, conducted by Craig Patterson. Roger played items such as "Carnival of Venice" and "Ave Maria". The Band in turn echoed Roger's dexterity playing "West Side Story" and "When Thunder Calls" among others.
A joint item of Mexican Holiday was brilliant, an evening of excellence without any doubt. Roger was absolutely breathtaking, In fact earlier in the day Roger had held a Masterclass in the WSB Band Hall, which, of course, proved really popular. Many band members were given the oppurturnity to perform a piece of their choice and receive an expert critique from the master himself.
Thanks to everyone who helped make it such a perfect evening, and, of course to Roger.
Competing against the country's top bands including Cory, Black Dyke, Brighouse and Rastrick, The Wantage Band and Craig travelled to London to the Royal Albert Hall for the Finals, for the second time in as many years. On the day of the contest many of the band's supporters travelled by coach to watch them perform.
The standard of all the bands was, as expected, extremely high and The Wantage Band came a very creditable 18th. Many congratulations to Rose Hancock who won the Youngest Player Award.