Saints Support the Mayor in 10th Annual Concert

Presentation to the Mayor

Saints present the Mayor with the Wokingham March for the 10th anniversary.

St. Sebastian Wokingham Band’s annual concert in aid of the Mayor of Wokingham’s charity took place this year at the newly-opened Whitty Theatre at Luckley School. The evening, which was the 10th anniversary of the annual concert, was a little different than usual, as this year it was organised by the Town Mayor, Cllr Gwynneth Hewetson, and we shared the concert with some of her chosen local acts.

Saints opened our set with the premiere of a brand new composition commissioned in honour of the town – The Wokingham March. This was composed by our cornet player and bandmaster, Steve Block, and is based on The Wokingham Song by Roy Lillington. The piece went down extremely well with the audience and afterwards The Mayor was presented with a special memento in honour of the premiere of the piece and the 10th anniversary of the concert, which is now displayed in the Town Hall!

After this presentation, the Bandsman of the Year was announced, which is voted for by band members and given to the member that has contributed the most to the running of the band in the past year. The very-deserving winner this year was our band librarian, and part-time quartermaster, Siân Moorhouse. Siân also received a long-term service award for her 5 years with the band, and a special award was given to Bill Martyn for his amazing 45 years’ service with the band.

Following the awards, our MD, Nigel Howard gave the audience a brief introduction to the film Brassed Off, which had been requested by the Mayor as a theme for the concert, before the band played several pieces from the film. The first piece we played was a Flugel Horn solo, featuring Damon Emes; Rodrigo’s Adagio from Concierto de Aranjuez (famously referred to as Concierto d’Orange Juice in the film). This was followed by Clog Dance and Danny Boy, before finishing with a breathtaking rendition of the William Tell Overture.

The concert was a huge success, and some fantastic feedback has been received. Of course the night was not just ours, and the success is shared with our fellow performers the Wokingham Choral Society, Jaxannah, When We Speak and The Hula Monkeys.

Saints are now looking forward to our next public engagements – our annual marches in Wargrave and Wokingham for Remembrance Sunday on 13 November. We are also busy in December with carolling, and our Christmas Concert this year is on Thursday 15 December at the Wokingham Theatre, in aid of the Wokingham Cancer Care Trust.

Saints take 9th Place in the Second Section at the National Finals

On Saturday the 17th of September, Saints competed against 15 other bands in the National Finals held at The Centaur in Cheltenham.

Having come 2nd at the London and Southern Counties Area Contest back in March, the band worked really hard on Images for Brass by Stephen Bulla.

It was not an easy road, but everyone pulled together; having two very good conductors and a great bandmaster prepare us for the challenges of our first National Finals in the Second Section.

We thank Lee Woodward, who shaped the band for over 7 years and led us to 2nd place in the Area Contest and qualification for the National Finals; we are grateful for Lee’s hard work and dedication to the band.

We also thank Nigel Howard for further refining the band’s performance of Images for Brass, doing an excellent job in maintaining the momentum and leading the band through the finals to take 9th place.

Special thanks go to Steve Block, Saints’ bandmaster, who worked closely with Nigel to help get the band ready and for his continuing enthusiasm.

Coming 9th is a great achievement for Saints and for the London and Southern Counties area. The other band in our area, Cawston (MD: Leigh Sharpe), came 6th – this shows the growing standard of bands in our area!

The adjudicators, Alan Fernie and Steve Sykes had some very good things to say about Saints; ‘Super to open – really sets the scene’….’good blend. Clean and clear cords from sections – noble trombones’. They also had some constructive input, pointing out some insecurities and how the band can improve.

With the National Finals over, we will prepare for the autumn and winter season of banding, before focusing on the next 2nd Section area test piece, Rhapsody in Brass by Dean Goffin, which we will perform at the Stevenage Arts and Leisure Centre on Sunday the 19th of March 2017.

Full results for the 2nd section can be found here:
http://www.4barsrest.com/news

Saints to appear at the Mayor’s Concert on Saturday 15 October!

Joining 5 other Acts

Saints join 5 other Acts

Saint Sebastian Wokingham band will be joining 4 other acts at the Mayor’s Concert this October.

The Mayor, Councillor Mrs Gwynneth Hewetson, became Chairman of The Cultural Partnership in 2004 and was the Town Councillor for Arts & Culture, making her very invested in the local arts programmes. This will be reflected in the Mayor’s concert as Saints will be joined by other musical acts close to the Mayor’s heart.

With such diverse musical treats, the evening concert on 15 October is worth attending and tickets are only £12, with under 12s Free. You can book tickets by phone or on the website:
Booking: 0333 666 3366
https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/wokingham-town-council

Musical Director

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.

Ted Cull, Principal Cornet 1981-2005

ted_cull

Saint Sebs Ladies Run Race for Life

RFL

Girls at the start of the race

The lovely ladies of Saint Sebastian Wokingham Band took on Reading’s Race for Life at Prospect Park on Sunday 17th July.

Joan, Siân, Amy, Dawn, Maria and Steph took on quite a difficult course in very challenging temperatures in the late 20s!

The park was a sea of pink and the atmosphere was brilliant, with all the runners and supporters ready to kick cancer’s butt. A Pink Army indeed!

Saint Sebs Ladies

Saint Sebs Ladies

The Saint Sebs ladies rose to the challenge, completing a tough course, after which they enjoyed a well-earned BBQ courtesy of Steph and her husband Nigel.

We thank all our supporters and donators and have raised £1,077 so far.

At the finishing line

At the finishing line

Armed Forces Day in Wokingham Town Centre

Saints played really well today for Armed Forces day in Wokingham. With a selection of music ranging from traditional marches to more up-to-date music from tv shows and films, the sun held out for the first half of the performance.

This was followed by Damon Emes playing a Fanfare on the balcony of the town hall; a mark of respect that he has gladly performed for a number of years for the Town Council.

Following Town Mayor Councillor Gwynneth Hewetson’s speech commemorating Armed Forces Day, the band continued with the rest of the programme with grey skies looming. Saints delivered the rest of the performance just in time before the thunder, lightning and rain started.

The Mayor was very pleased with the band’s performance and the wonderful public turn out. She sends her thanks to the Band and is grateful for Saints’ continued support.

Saints Runners take on The Forest Five!

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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.

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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!!!

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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

Final preperations for scaba Entertainment Contest in Crawley on 22nd May

The band have been working really hard over the past couple of weeks in preparation for the Crawley Entertainment Contest which is being held this Sunday 22nd May.

Located at The Hawth Theatre, Crawley, West Sussex; Saints will be competing in the B section against seven other bands and unlike previous contests, which tend to have a set test piece, each band has 24 minutes (including applause and addresses) to perform a program of own choice music to ‘entertain’ the audience.

Adjudicated by Michael Fowles, the band will be marked on Musical Performance, Entertainment, Presentation and Deportment.

The whole band is ready to put on a great show this year, especially the Trombones who are defending the ‘Best Trombone Section’ award that they won last year. No Pressure guys!

Saints theme this year is ‘A Welsh Celebration’ and features:

Castell Coch
It’s Not Unusual (trombone feature)
Benedictus (Euphonium Solo – Rosie Saxton)
Ballad & Triumph (from Day of the Dragon)

A Second Place for Saints Means We’re Off to the National Finals!

Saints Celebrate

Saints win 2nd place!


After a win in Oxfordshire, Saints have been working hard to refine, perfect and ultimately tame The Mermaid of Zennor ready for the Area Contest held in Stevenage on 19 March.

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.

We're going to the nationals

Our very happy Musical Director Lee Woodward

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