Flat out at Flowers!

A very busy weekend for Flowers Band sees four rehearsals and two performances in 24 hours.

We were involved with the inaugural Brasspass.tv Band of the Year Contest, which features the top nine bands in the UK performing a 30-minute set involving a major work for Brass Band, and a soloist. The event took place at Stoller Hall, Manchester.

As we were setting up for our Thursday rehearsal to finalise our set, MD Paul Holland slipped a disc in his back, leaving him in excruciating pain and unable to move. Solo Euphonium Matt Rowe took the rehearsal to allow Paul to head back and rest before the weekend.

The injury, unfortunately, proved more serious than originally thought. This meant Paul was unable to take Flowers Band to the Contest, nor the annual Chipping Sodbury Festival.

After some delving into his phone book, Paul secured the services of Mareika Gray, conductor of Eccles Borough Band in Manchester and a very well respected Conductor and Adjudicator. Mareika is also the Chairperson of the National Association of Brass Band Conductors, so we were delighted to have her agree to take up the baton.

We first met Mareika at Eccles Town Hall at 11pm on Friday night after a three hour coach ride. This gave us an hour to to introduce Mareika to the programme, which featured a seventeen minute test piece. We ran the programme, and managed to get everyone back to the hotel, coach unloaded and all checked in by 1am.

With an early start the next day, the band was back in the rehearsal room and playing, this time Eccles Borough Band’s Bandroom, by 7am the following morning. The fabulous Val, of Eccles Band, was already there, providing hot drinks, some fabulous cakes and incredible support. Val - we salute you!

Of the many thanks we have given over the weekend, 1010 Taxis of Manchester ensured a smooth and comfortable journey for the band during the Saturday morning, also checking in with the band afterwards to see how we’d done at the Contest! Thank you 1010 Taxis!

Onto the Brasspass.tv Band of the Year Contest. Flowers were drawn second to allow us to travel to our commitment later in the day - more on that later. We began with Jonathon Bates’ Jacob’s Ladder, before featuring Cornet soloist Thomas Fountain with Ben Hollings’ Threnody. Our chosen major work for the Contest was Ascension by Philip Wilby, the piece we performed at the French Open just a few weeks ago.

Mareika was masterful in her handling of the Band and provided a much needed calm during our performance.

Following our 30 minute slot, the Band quickly loaded up the coach and settled in for our 4 hour journey south to Chipping Sodbury.

Mareika once again topped and tailed the programme, and introduced the Band to our new vocal soloist - Phillipa Lay.

The Concert was a resounding success! Phillipa sang a beautiful rendition of Summertime, and led the audience through the Prom’s half of the Concert.

We featured many soloist from within our own ranks, including Kayleigh Mitchell (Cornet), Matt Rowe (Euphonium) and Carlton Sykes (Eb Tuba).

Mareika was masterful in her compering, involving the audience in all aspects of the performance (Princesses and Princes even featuring as guest conductors!) and led us to such comments as “The Best Concert we’ve ever had on here”. Following a quick load up, the Band was saddened to hear that we were having to say goodbye to two of our players. Zoe Brittlebank is taking a step away from playing whilst she gives birth in a few months time. Everyone at Flowers Band wishes you the very best Zoe and we can’t wait to meet our latest member! Also departing for pastures new was percussionist Emily Quick, who has provided the band with some great individual performances during her time with us. Good luck Emily!

There have been many thanks over this post, however I will mention a few names yet again, such was their involvement over the weekend;

1010 Taxi’s

Valerie of Eccles Borough Band

Eccles Town Hall

Barry, our driver from Barnes Coaches of Swindon

Brasspass.tv Band of the Year and Stoller Hall

Phillipa Lay - Vocal Soloist

and last, but certainly not least…

Mareika Gray - The Band were thrilled to have such a masterful deputy at such short notice. Thank You!!

Paul Holland - Thank you for your tireless efforts, preparation and your following of the band. We hope to see you back just as soon as you’re ready!

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Rob Wilshaw