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.
Concert Brass, conducted by Steve Sizeland, opened the proceedings; followed by a fine performance by ‘B’ band 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 ‘A’ 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.