House band Sovereign Brass has been on winning form so far in 2023 and we haven’t kept up with progress, so we’ve rounded up Facebook posts from March and April which detail the band’s competition standing as it prepares for next performance - Last Night of the Proms on 20th April.
Monday 3rd March
Last night the band held our AGM at the Wednesbury bandroom. We don’t normally celebrate such an event, exciting as it is, with banners, cakes and champagne but, seeing as we’d just won our first contest in 15 years, we thought - why the hell not!
During our Chairman’s monologue (it was definitely too long to be called a report) several of the band were woken by being mentioned in dispatches for going above and beyond for the band in the pursuit of excellence: Bass Trombonist Ian Smith, Principal Cornet Karl Slater and Tenor Horn playing Librarian Diane Kenwrick. Their award was an extra cake (all baked by Diane), a refill of champagne (brought to the meeting by Karl) and a photo with the banners (sourced by Ian)!! We’re sure they’ll get their real rewards in heaven.
There was no resting on our laurels though. The band also ran through two epic test-pieces in order to confirm our choice to perform at the forthcoming ConStest, the new brass band contest at Birmingham ConServatoire on April 1st (see what they did?). Thankfully, these run-throughs were before the champagne was consumed.
Friday 31st March
Another busy month - another competition.
By the time you read this post the band will be gathering at the band room for our final rehearsal prior to attending the ConStest 2023 tomorrow (1st April) - a new competition at Birmingham Conservatoire where 14 bands will be fighting it out for the inaugural title.
The piece we've chosen to play, Diversions on a Bass Theme, by English composer George Lloyd, is (much) harder than the last piece we performed at Corby so there's been lots of personal home practice to get the individual parts "under the fingers" as we say. It's a really clever piece of music, with variations developed from the theme that the basses play in the very first bar, culminating in a tune that is as magnificent as it is whistleable. The last couple of run-throughs have been really enjoyable and it looks like we'll put on a really good show on stage. And that's really all we can do - the rest is up to the adjudicators.
The piece itself was commissioned for another competition, the 1986 Mineworkers Brass Band Contest, with funds provided by a brewery, Bass North Limited (a subsidiary of Bass Charrington who made the beer for Britvic's Shandy Bass and the first company to ever trademark their logo) - so the title is as clever as the piece is itself.
Saturday April 1st
We won! 2023 is proving a great year so far. Well done to the other prize winners, local band Jackfield from Telford and Enderby Band.
Once again the band transferred our band room performances to the stage - and our MD Alan was coolness personified as he did everything on stage that we were all expecting.
We’re having Monday night off, but Alan says we’ve still got to have a bit of a toot - no complacency in this band.
Monday 3rd April
On Saturday, Sovereign took part in the inaugural ConStest competition at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. As you’ll have probably seen - we won both the highest placed First Section Band but also the overall Champion Band title. A fantastic result for the band and our Musical Director Alan Gifford (who also conducted his local band Amington at the contest). We’re absolutely delighted and will be showing off the amazing cup at all our local concerts.
However, we wanted to say a big thank-you to the contest organiser (Mikey Foley-Hall) for running a contest that felt as much like a festival or celebration of banding as any we’ve ever attended. It was the first time Mikey has ever done anything like this but you’d never know. Details of when to meet, who would chaperone us, where our allocated rehearsal room was etc etc were sent to us in advance. Even two bands getting stuck in the M6 closure, which totally threw his timing, didn’t affect his cool - we were texted new times and everything still clicked. The event felt much more akin to a festival than a contest, with an amazingly receptive audience for each band, and real sense of appreciation for every single performance (from all grade bands). Top tier adjudicators, additional prizes from generous sponsors (including a £1000+ cornet) and a hall the quality of which few of us will have performed in before, made it a day to remember.
The internet has been full of praise for Mikey and the ConStest, all well deserved. Hopefully the event will take place next year and we’ll have the opportunity to defend our title. Looking forward to it already.
Thursday 6th April
Make a date on your calendar for a fortnight today. If you want a great St George’s Day meets the Last Night of the Proms evening then there’ll be no better place than Wednesbury Town Hall on Thursday 20th April at 7.30pm. Bring your flags and hats and best voice and be entertained by award winning local band Sovereign Brass.
Tickets are selling well - so don’t miss out, get yours (and a friend’s) soon.