After weeks of preparation, on Saturday 18th May the band once again took to the contesting arena, this time over the Pennines in Blackpool to compete in the 99th Spring Festival held at the Winter Gardens. This year the band was taking part in the Senior Trophy division with the knowledge that a bottom six finish would mean elimination from the Spring Festival.
Our test piece for the Senior Trophy was Gilbert Vinters’ “Triumphant Rhapsody”, now over 50 years old but still acknowledged as a stern test of any bands’ abilities. We had been working hard under the baton of John Davis and were now ready to take to the stage in Blackpool.
Friday night and Saturday mornings’ rehearsals were relaxed affairs but still with an air of seriousness and expectation. By the time we were sat on the stage to perform early Saturday afternoon, there was a calm and yet focussed energy around the band, despite the heat in the aptly named Spanish Hall.
Our performance was solid from start to finish and featured excellent playing from all corners of the band that was well received and commented on by our adjudicators:
“Good opening. Great sound! Allegro very nice – solid feel to it”
“Gorgeous bass sound (160). Great euph before (180). Super cantabile – genuine sentiment here”
“(230) Very solid and a great sound – good build towards end. Amazing sound from the band! Very good and well crafted performance”.
The descriptive nature and musicality of our performance secured the band a creditable 10th place out of 20, meaning we had secured our place for the 100th Spring Festival contest in 2020. The band had hoped that our highly musical performance would have merited a higher place, but we were happy with our result overall which gives us a good platform from which to develop. Our aim for next year is to win!
The band made the decision to change Musical Director shortly after the Area contest in March. Whilst we are now in the process of looking for a permanent conductor, John Davis of Foresters Brass Band (and a great friend to us), stepped into the breach to lead the band to a fine performance at this contest. We want to say a huge thank you to John for all his work, time and effort that went into delivering a great performance of Triumphant Rhapsody. As a band, we have thoroughly enjoyed John’s descriptive and fun approach to the music in rehearsals, and it is safe to say that very few players have ever sat on a contest stage thinking of psychotic clown cars, Darth Vader or wide mouthed frogs.
Whilst we were happy with our performance, the weekend was tinged with sadness too, as for two of our players it would be their last performance as members of Unite Band.
First, our lovely Freya on back row cornet has now completed her university degree and will be moving back to her home city of Nottingham to begin the next stage of her career development. Freya has been a real positive force within the band over the last 3 years whether in rehearsals, on jobs, or on socials – even joining the committee in her last year – and we will miss her energy and enthusiasm for everything in life. Whichever band you choose to play for next Freya, they will be lucky to have you!
Secondly, our solo euphonium player Lynden has decided to move on to pastures new after 3 years with the band. Lynden has been enduring an 80 mile round trip to rehearsals during his time with us as well as juggling his conducting commitments with Shirland Band, and while we are sorry to see him go, we understand why. We have been very fortunate to have a player of Lynden’s experience on a key seat within the band, and we would like to thank him for his commitment during his time with us. We wish you all the best Lynden for your future playing with Blidworth Band, and continued success with Shirland Band.
Thank you to both Freya and Lynden for being part of Team Unite – you’re welcome back anytime!
The band are now looking forward to our future starting with the appointment of a new Musical Director to further develop the band and build upon the performances and results achieved this year. We are excited for the future possibilities and are eager to start working hard to achieve our goals. The work both in the band room and behind the scenes is excellent, and the band is in a very positive place going into the summer. Our goal is to keep building on our performances, and to carry on pushing together as team Unite. Onwards and upwards!