National Concert Band Festival in Birmingham

Following our success in winning a gold award at the Midlands Regional Festival, Aylesbury Concert Band was invited to take part in the National Concert Band Festival at the Birmingham Conservatoire on 14th April. The Band was scheduled to be the last band in the Community Bands class, which was the last class of the two day event, so it fell to us to play the very last notes of the Festival.

The Band members met at Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School for a brief rehearsal at midday, before boarding a bus and setting off for Birmingham. After a brief warm-up and rehearsal it was our turn to walk on stage before an audience comprising mainly the other bands who had been taking part. We played three pieces, St Clement’s Prelude by Rob Wiffin, and two movements from East Coast Pictures by Nigel Hess, The Catskills and New York.

The adjudicators had some nice things to say about the band, such as “Well paced, lovely sense of phrasing from everyone”, “Very beautiful control, growth of sound, shape of crescendo is very well paced in all parts” and “Really tremendous life in the spirit of the way you play. Very interesting the way you swap sounds across the stage. You listen to each other very well. You’re creating a good sense of sonority and playing a lively programme of very good music which comes across very well. I particularly enjoyed the beautiful playing in the 2nd piece, The Catskills which I thought you did with tremendous sensitivity in both solo playing and in the ensemble”. For all that, it was a little hard to reconcile such praise with their decision to award us Silver. However considering that the only rehearsal we’d had with everyone there who played on the day was the one before we left at 12 o’clock, we can be proud of doing as well as we did.

It was an honour to be invited to the National Final, and we still have something to aim for in another year. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard in the weeks beforehand to prepare for the event, and special thanks to our guests and past members who came to play on the day, in one case travelling from Wiltshire just to support us.