Following the loss of three major brass band competitions this year, the nationally renowned Cory Band, in partnership with Kapitol Promotions, have created an online Battle of the Regions. The competition is taking place over three weekends from March 12 – 28. The Queen’s Award for Volunteers winning Shanklin Town Brass Band took part last Saturday (March 13), with their entry live-streamed on You Tube.
Participating bands are given 10 minutes to present an entertaining programme, in the ‘spirit of banding’, reflecting the culture, character and customs of the area they play in, with a panel of judges assessing the performances.
Members of the award-winning Shanklin Town Brass Band worked hard to make their Rylstone Gardens home Covid safe, but subsequent guidance prevented them from making a live recording of their entry. Instead, they have put together a special compilation mix with band members filmed playing at home. The programme was designed to reflect the challenges they have encountered from the Covid pandemic and display some of the skills which have given the band the high regard it enjoys in the band world.
The music chosen to illustrate the band’s Covid story is:
• Stal Hummel (Steel Skies), arranged by Alan Fernie, explaining how the world was normal with pictures of the band playing on the bandstand and winning various awards.
• Song for the Frontline, arranged by John Barber. This piece was commissioned for the NHS and shows how Covid affected the band, with social distancing and masks introduced. Also during this piece they displayed pictures from St Mary’s Hospital and other health settings.
• I See the Light, arranged by Darrol Barry, featuring soloist Charlotte Lewis on the cornet. This piece shows the light at the end of the tunnel with vaccination news.
• The Great Escape. This rousing piece shows everyone going back to some sort of normal, and illustrates the band’s hope of having a chance to play on their bandstand again soon.
The judges were clearly impressed by the band’s performance, with Charlotte described as the star of the show for her ‘heartfelt performance’ which was ‘well-supported’ by the rest of the band. The overall programme was described as ‘well-balanced’ and ‘a brilliant tribute to the wonderful men and women of the NHS’. The sections showing how the band had made their band room Covid-safe were praised as an example for others to follow.
The show’s host Philip Harper, musical director of the Cory Band, also paid a personal tribute to Shanklin’s conductor Malcolm Lewis, who was his first ever brass band conductor.
Soloist Charlotte said: “Although we would have preferred to play live, it is really good to be able to take part and for the band to be heard nationally, and further afield. We hope the story we are telling captures the experiences we have all had.”
The live broadcast of Shanklin Town Brass Band’s entry to the competition took place on the same day that the Band would have been going to Torquay to play at the regional finals of the West of England Brass Band Championship.
Charlotte concluded: “We hope to be able to start practising again when the guidance allows, and then start planning for safe Summer Concerts, at Rylstone and at other Island locations.”
The results of the competition will be announced on the evening of March 28. You can watch last Saturday’s competition at youtube.com/watch?v=SVV3m4eaqtA, with the Shanklin entry 3 hours and 21 minutes in.