• Alan Ferguson

Victorious and exhausted at the Bolsover Festival of Brass

Sunday 3 October 2021, and as early as 4am alarms were waking our members for the long drive to Bolsover. By 7:45am the band had all arrived safely for the 8am warm up rehearsal at a fabulous little hall in Pleasley.

We would be competing in both the Championship and First Section, and being drawn Band Number 1 in the Championship meant we had to immediately make our way to Shirebrook Academy and be seated ready to play at 10am sharp.

The hall was cold and boomy with only a few spectators, but the band performed well. The “Tsar Sultan” by Rimsky-Korsakov, with it’s opening fanfare by the Solo Cornets was delicate and musical, the adjudicator John Doyle being particularly complimentary about Martin Groves’ Soprano playing. Then it was Martyn Potts’ turn to shine in the Bass Trombone solo, “Friend Like Me” before another shift in gear to the “Lament from Macbeth” by Peter Meechan; slow, exposed delicate and beautiful, featuring Dave Lewis on Flugel. Then another change of pace to the fiery “Tale of The Dragon” by Paul Lovatt-Cooper which would round off our programme with energy and flair.

All round, we felt good about the performance but had no time for reflection as we only had a short time before being called for the First Section where we would be the final band to play. A much smaller theatre this time, with a moderately dead acoustic but, thankfully, a bigger audience. Same programme, and this time we felt we really settled into it and the audience responded well to the band (and to Jonathan’s excellent interactions and anecdotes).

Again, no time to rest because no sooner were we off-stage and it was time for the First Section adjudication. In short – VICTORIOUS! “Clear winner”, was the phrase used by Ian Brownbill who awarded us a score of 93, 3 points clear of the runner-up.

Not only that, but Dave Lewis won the prize for Best Soloist and the Band also won Most Entertaining Programme. We had a bit of a wait until the Championship Section adjudication at 4:30pm where, despite punching a section above our weight, we came a very credible 7th with a score of 89.

What a great result after such a long and difficult couple of years.

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