Following a successful run-out of the Area test piece in Brighton in February 2020, Saints were looking forward to putting the finishing touches to the piece ahead of the Areas in Stevenage in March. Unfortunately, before this was possible, the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK.
Along with every other band in the country, all rehearsing and performing became impossible due to the lockdown restrictions. Ultimately, the Area contest for the London and Southern Counties region was cancelled and the band has not been able to rehearse together since.
However, this does not mean the band have been completely inactive during this period. With a lot of help from the band’s previous MD Nigel Howard and his video-editing skills, Saints have put together two ‘distance’ performances.
The first saw each band member record their part to the popular Alan Fernie arrangement of ‘Baggy Trousers’. This has always proved a hit with the crowd whenever we have performed it and therefore was an obvious choice for our first foray into the world of ‘virtual banding’. A link to the final recording of all 31 different parts being mixed together being found on Saints’ YouTube channel here.
With Wokingham Armed Forces Day sadly being cancelled for 2020, again due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Saints were approached by Wokingham Town Council to prepare a further virtual band performance of a march. Armed Forces Day is an event at which Saints regularly perform and are proud to lead the parade through the town centre, so we were happy to oblige, choosing to record a march close to the band’s heart. ‘The Wokingham March’, arranged by the band’s second cornet player and former Bandmaster Steve Block, proved a popular choice and again the final recording can be found on our YouTube channel here.
Whilst bands across the country are now slowly being able to return to some semblance of normality and beginning to rehearse again (albeit with a considerable number or restrictions and required safety precautions) Saints have taken the decision not to return to regular rehearsals at present, but very much look forward to doing so as soon as we can safely.
The band are pleased to announce that with a majority vote, they have offered the MD position to John Watts, who has accepted in principle.
John is an accomplished musician and teaches Brass at both Berkshire Maestros and Henley Music School. He has conduced many bands, including coaching youth orchestras and area ensembles and is the Co-Conductor of the Brass for Africa Band. He also regularly deputy conducts Pangbourne Brass Band, conducting them at the 2016 area regional championships, as well as Trinity Concert Band and South Berkshire Concert Band.
A skilled Brass player (Tuba and Euphonium), John has played for Friary Guildford, Aldbourne, Bath Spa, and Markham Brass Bands, as well as Orchestral organisations such as Windsor and Maidenhead Symphony Orchestra and Reading University Symphony Orchestra to name a few.
John is due to start on the 4th of January 2018.
Saints’ next gig will take you on a journey through the cinematic universe, with music from Jurassic Park, The wizard of Oz and James Bond to name a few.
Playing at the Whitty Theatre, Luckley House School, Wokingham, Saints will be joined by the ever-popular singing group, Masterclef.
Tickets are only £10 and you can buy these on the door, or to make sure you get one go directly to https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/sswb or phone 0333 666 3366.
The band thank Nigel Howard for his hard work, musicianship and guidance over the past 10 months. Since joining us last August, Nigel’s contribution was essential to our success at the National Championship and our fabulous concerts in Wokingham. Nigel wishes the band every success for the future and thanks everyone for their hard work during his time as MD. We also wish Nigel the very best in his musical career.
The band thank Lee Woodward for seven and a half years of tireless dedicated service, which have seen the band move up to the Second Section, win the Oxfordshire and District Contest and qualify for the National Championship.
Saints are a social Band, who like to get together for fun and to take on challenges other than just music. With many in the band with an interest in running, it made sense that this would spur some of the band to take on park runs in the local area together.
Both Kevin and Joan Barker are already very active in the running community; Joan herself having run over 40 park runs to date.
Having encouraged some of the band to join them, Kevin, Joan, Sian and Leighton took on the Forest Five on Wednesday 16th June. A five-mile run through Swinley Forest, it’s a tough course with a steep hill for 3 miles, but all 4 members of the band enjoyed it and made it home. They haven’t received their official times yet, but Leighton was the first home in around 40 minutes.
It’s a great achievement by the Saints Runners.
Well Done Guys!!!
Female members of the Saints Runners (Joan, Dawn, Sian, Steph, Maria and Amy) will be taking on Race for life on 17th July in Reading. http://raceforlife.cancerresearchuk.org/choose-your-event/reading-prospect-park.html
Competing in the second section against some very talented bands, the pressure was on, though you wouldn’t think it looking around at the band on the morning of the Contest. Everyone was calm, focused and in good spirits; you’d think it was just another rehearsal before a concert as the band were smiling and joking.
Drawn to play 13th, I know what you are thinking, ‘unlucky for some’, but our Musical Director Lee Woodward was not phased; It doesn’t matter if you are drawn first, last, or 13th; as long as we play as well as we have been in rehearsal and give them a performance that they’ll remember, we will be placed among the top bands. The other main points of wisdom from our MD were to concentrate, enjoy it and make sure you don’t walk away from the stage thinking that you could have done better! It doesn’t matter what the two men in the box think, as long as we do ourselves proud.
The second section commenced at 10am on Saturday 19 March and was adjudicated by Stephen Roberts and Dave Lancaster, both outstanding musicians. For these guys it’s a tough job to sit in a box and listen to 16 brass bands all playing the same piece of music and having to grade and sort them into places.
Philip Harper’s The Mermaid of Zennor is no easy feat; a piece of music that on first glance seams simple and easy to play, but it is as deceptive as the name suggests; luring musicians onto the rocks of dynamic swells, changes in tempo, rhythm and flow as well as passing tunes around the band and making sure that no member of the band is left without some part that needs to shine out at some stage, before dipping below the musical waves to let the next unsuspecting player be chosen by the Mermaid.
After 12 bands had played, it was finally Saints’ turn, waiting patiently backstage to be called for one final performance. Again the band seemed relaxed; smiling and joking as we waited. The smiling continued on stage, every member knowing that all the hard work was done, the music known inside and out and all that was needed to was to play it.
Under the direction of Lee, the Band took charge of this perilous yet highly enjoyable piece of music and gave the adjudicators something to take notice of, leaving the stage smiling. Lee’s initial reaction to our performance was good and he was immensely proud of every player’s performance, no matter what the end result.
Waiting for the results was definitely more nerve-racking than waiting to play and every band in the theatre was eager to know if they had won.
Firstly the announcements of 4th (Grimsdyke Brass) and 3rd (Soham Comrades) places, followed by the special prizes of which we won the Best Bass section!
Best Bass Section!! We cheered so loudly, the entire band and friends so proud of our boys: Eb Basses: Dave Yates and James Kelloway. Bb Basses: Derrick Curtis and Josh Moorhouse.
Then the room hushed as 2nd place was announced… Saint Sebastian Wokingham Band! The room erupted, the band cheered and stamped as our Contest Secretary Derek Hawkins received the trophy.
In 1st place was Cawston, who also won best Trombone section.
Commentating on the discipline and musicality of the band, the adjudicators were impressed with Lee’s interpretation and the fact that he took musical risks with the dynamics and flow, while keeping the band secure and together. Our fabulous soloists Kevin Barker (Principal Cornet), Rosie Saxton (Euphonium), Sue Fowler (Baritone) and Siân Moorhouse (Solo Horn) played beautifully and the rest of the band really rose to the moment and shone through.
Lee Woodward had the following to say, Our performance yesterday was fantastic. You did everything that I asked; the quality of our sound, dynamics, soloists and our prize winning basses was outstanding. Your discipline and musical quality shone through. As we finished, the emotion of the performance got to me and my initial reaction was: that was damn good. The comments from the adjudicators were great and it was wonderful to have our hard work recognised. We have created history, the highest placing that the band has achieved in its 85 years, take pride in that, I certainly do.
Well done Saints, it’s now onwards to the National Finals, which take place at The Centaur, Cheltenham on 17-18 September 2016.
Full results can be found here: http://www.regional-contest.org.uk/lsc/contest/2016-contest-entry