Great result at Butlins.
We made our way to Skegness for the weekend to take part in The Butlins Mineworkers National Open Brass Band Festival on 13th January. The second section test piece was Variations for Brass Band by Ralph Vaughan Williams, a significant challenge for bands in this section. With limited preparation time after the Christmas break, the band work hard, putting in a lot of extra work to be ready for the contest. A short rehearsal on Friday evening at the Skegness Silver Band’s rehearsal room helped us to experience the piece in a very different acoustic.
Saturday morning and time for the draw. Being drawn second meant a quick rehearsal and then off to register. The band played well, starting the piece particularly well and continuing with some great playing from all sections of the band. Nicely played solos from Matt Ball and George Bruce and a good solid foundation from the basses.
Now for the long wait for the results. Having worked very hard on this piece we were hoping for a good result and were extremely pleased when we were awarded second place, beating a number of bands that that had beaten us in recent contests. There were some good comments from the adjudicators praising many aspects of our performance:
‘You captured the varying moods well. Bravo!’ (Alan Morrison). ‘This was a very fine performance with some very fine players.’ (Paul Andrews).
A great start to our year of contesting.
Just outside the prizes at Leicester Brass Band Association Contest
MK Brass was just ‘pipped at the post’ at the recent Leicester Contest, finishing in 4th place – just outside the prizes. The band was pleased with a vigorous and dynamic rendering of “Fire in the Blood” by Paul Lovett-Cooper, (the composer dedicated the work to the International Staff Band of the Salvation Army) but despite some warm appreciation of the band’s efforts the adjudicator wasn’t disposed to place it in the prizes. MD Jonathan Mott also declared himself content with the contest performance but was also quick to point out that the band’s recent adjudications have provided useful pointers for future contest success.
Remembrance Day Parade, Newport Pagnell
Sunday, 12th November, 2017
The High Street at Newport Pagnell was jam-packed again, as it is each year, for the Remembrance Day Parade with MK Brass providing the musical background on the march. The band’s Principal Cornet, Matt Ball, provided a faultless and poignant rendering of the Last Post to mark the observation of the Two Minute Silence.
Contest Success at Wychavon
One of the most prestigious entertainment contests in the Brass Band calendar is held in the Autumn each year at Wychavon. The contest always attracts a high quality entry in all sections, so competition is always tough. Each band gets a strict 20 minutes to present a programme of music and is judged on musicality and entertainment value. MK Brass entered the contest this Autumn.
MK Brass’ programme started with a lively arrangement of “When the Saints go Marching in” demonstrating the band’s soloists [Gareth Diggle and Matt Ball (on cornet), Martyn Potts and Martin Wakley (on Trombone), Sarah Potts (Flugel Horn), Rob Dodds (Tuba) and Kit Bancroft (Drums)] ability to pull off a traditional New Orleans marching band style and for the band to “swing’ in the finale. This was followed by a delicate rendering of Goedicke’s Concert Etude for Trumpet with Matt Ball taking the solo part. As a complete contrast the band next tackled Spanish Dance – a lively arrangement of a traditional Spanish folk tune, also known as “Gaudete” in the UK. To demonstrate the quieter lyrical side of the band’s playing, MD Johnathan Mott selected the beautiful English folk song from Tyneside, “The Waters of Tyne” – solo performances from George Bruce (Euphonium) and Matt Ball added a touch of class here. The band’s roof-lifting finale was Paul Lovat-Cooper’s “Vitae Aeternam” .
MK Brass played last – so had little time to wait before the adjudicator’s results were announced to the expectant audience. With some very complementary remarks on conductor Jonathan Mott’s choice of programme and control of the band’s performance, MK Brass was awarded 2nd Place overall, and was awarded the top prize for entertainment to boot. The band’s Baritone section, Duncan Bruce and Sue Blunt were also awarded a special prize for the best Baritone section in the competition.
Busy Summer for MK Brass
It’s been a really hectic Summer for the members of MK Brass, but fun too with a wide variety of out-of-doors engagements. Highlights were probably the chance to play at the picturesque Wrest Park in Bedfordshire and at Northampton’s Abington Park to some large and appreciative audiences. Sunny day, ice-cream for the kids, cup of tea for the adults (or white wine if you are not driving) and relaxing with live music – what could be better?
There has been variety too – the band has provided the music for OU Graduation ceremonies, and for a jazz-themed wedding for a Bedfordshire couple’s event.
Joint Concert with Fjell Brass (Norway) – Hanslope, June 2017
Fjell Brass is a brass band from Bergen, Norway, and this June were in the UK to participate in the famous “Whit Friday Marches” in Saddleworth and Tameside, Manchester. The band achieved three prizes in these contests – a great result for the players. To round off their short tour Fjell Brass performed an upbeat concert in the splendid parish church at Hanslope in aid of the church bells restoration fund. MK Brass joined the Norwegian musicians for part of the concert, which was under the able direction of Paul Fensom, who happens to be Fjell Brass’ visiting conductor, as well as former M.D. of MK Brass. Band member Jayne Scott, and husband Dave Scott, hosted a party after the concert, where few beers were consumed afterwards by the members of both bands to cement a new-found international friendship.
Bands by the River – St. Neots, June 2017
St Neots is one of the few local authorities to still support the traditional British custom of band concerts in public parks; and the Riverside venue is a particularly nice one. MK Brass provided a mixed programme of popular music which clearly was well received by a large crowd enjoying the early summer sun.
Midlands Brass and Beer on the Grass Contest – Claybrooke Magna, May 2017
As brass band contests go this was a very different event! Held in a tent in a field in rural Leicestershire with a local barn serving as a bar, the contest was plagued by intermittent rain – making the transport and set up of the required mountain of percussion equipment a particular joy. However – on the positive side – M.D. Jonathan Mott crafted an excellent, entertaining programme which won the band a very welcome (and, of course, deserved!) 2nd place. Particular credit must go to the band’s Soprano Cornet player, Martin Groves, for a sparkling rendition of the James Bond number, “Live and let Die”. This contest had a very welcoming atmosphere and provides varied and entertaining music programmes through the day – on a sunny day it’s a great day out.
Loughton Manor First School May Fayre – Milton Keynes
It’s always a pleasure to play at the Loughton Manor May Fayre – the school is very welcoming and children and parents enjoy live music at the popular outdoor event. It was also the band’s first outing with Jonathan Mott at the helm.
Podium Finish at Stevenage – March 2017
MK Brass enjoyed a successful day contesting at the recent Area Contest at Stevenage. Playing off a dreaded early draw, and competing against a large field of 16 bands, the band won a creditable third place finish. This result puts the band in a good position in the promotion stakes to the First Section if another good result can be obtained next year.
Much of the credit for the good placing must go to former band MD, Paul Fensom, who stepped in to prepare the band at very short notice.
Our Next MK Brass Appearances…
Saturday 24th February 2018. 7:30pm. United Reformed Church, Newport Pagnell.
The High Street, Newport Pagnell. MK16 0FH
Sunday 18th March 2018. National Brass Band Championships – London and Southern Counties Area Contest.
Sunday 22nd April 2018. 2:00 – 5:00pm. Abington Park, Northampton.
Saturday 12th May 2018. 12:00 – 2:30pm. Loughton Manor First School.
Paynes Drive, Loughton, Milton Keynes. MK5 8FA
Sunday 3rd June 2018. 12:00 – 2:00pm. Cosgrove Park.
Main Street, Cosgrove, Milton Keynes MK19 7JP
Saturday 9th June 2018. 7:00pm. Trinity Methodist Church, Leighton Buzzard.
North Street, Leighton Buzzard LU7 1ES
Saturday 7th July 2018. 12:00 – 1:30pm Medbourne Pavilion
Pascal Drive, Melbourne, Milton Keynes. MK5 6LS