Report from the National Finals

22 Sep 2018

In March of this year the Senior Band were one of three Midlands 1st section bands to qualify for the National Finals held at the Centaur, Cheltenham Racecourse. This gave the band the prestigious opportunity to represent Leicestershire and the Midlands at a national level. A few weeks after qualification, the test piece was announced as Benjamin Britten’s ‘King Arthur’ suite, which was originally used for a 1950’s radio play based on Arthur’s life. The score had been arranged for brass band by Paul Hindmarsh – a well-respected arranger, so the piece promised to be an interesting and unusual choice.

Early preparations started over the summer under the baton of Simon Oates, while the band were looking for a permanent musical director. In August, the band started to rehearse the piece fully under new musical director Ryan Richards. Unfortunately, during the preparations, one of our registered percussionists had to pull out due to a back injury and with little time to find and register another percussionist, this looked to be a major setback. However, EBO president, Garry Sleath agreed to step in.

With just a week to go to contest day, the band suffered another major setback when Ryan was taken ill just before our Sunday rehearsal. At very short notice, Simon agreed to take the rehearsal and to continue with rehearsals as required until Ryan was well enough to take the band again. However, it soon became clear that Ryan would not be well enough to take the band before the contest, so Simon very kindly agreed to rehearse the band and to conduct on the day of the contest. The Enderby Band is eternally grateful to Simon for this, but even with a conductor who was familiar with the piece and the band, this was a major hurdle to overcome and meant our preparations in the crucial final week before the contest were significantly affected.

The band travelled down to Cheltenham on Saturday, to be ready for the contest on Sunday afternoon. If anything, the problems in the run up to the contest had a galvanising effect and the band were in good spirits for the first of the weekend’s rehearsals on Saturday. We were glad to see that Ryan was well enough to travel with the band and lend his support throughout the weekend. The band’s members enjoyed a meal and a few drinks together on Saturday night before turning in for the night, ready for Sunday’s rehearsal and the contest itself.

After getting a number 7 draw, the band took to the stage at the Centaur around 4:30pm. While the performance wasn’t our absolute best, we were generally happy with it. After the performance and during the official photographs, the band presented Simon with a bottle of ‘Gin Mare’ as a token of our appreciation for agreeing to take the band at such short notice. Come the results, the band were placed a very creditable 9th, which given the circumstances was a sterling effort. Fellow Midlanders Stafforshire were placed 2nd with Foresters coming in 14th.

Speaking after the weekend, band chairman, Ian Hayto said:

“Without Simon’s assistance I genuinely don’t know how the band could have got to Cheltenham after Ryan’s unfortunate and untimely illness. With the challenges we faced in the run up to the contest 9th place really is a great outcome for us, but I am left wondering what might have been had we not lost the week immediately before the contest! I thought the band showed a lot of tenacity and spirit in the week before. It would have been easy for us to give up or even withdraw completely from the contest, but that was never on the cards and each and every player worked their socks off to make sure we put out as good a performance as possible. The presentation to Simon afterward was the least we could do. I had heard that the Spanish gin ‘Gin Mare’ was a bit special and the name seemed entirely appropriate. I hope Simon enjoys it – and lets Vikki have a sip or too as well! Finally and most importantly I am glad to report that Ryan is back fit and well again and is back where he belongs, conducting Enderby Band.”

There is no rest for the busy band though – they are back in competition in a few weeks’ time at Bolsover Festival of Brass on 30th September.

Results (1st Section)

Test Piece: King Arthur — Scenes from a Radio Drama (Benjamin Britten arr. Paul Hindmarsh)
Adjudicators: Alan Bourne, David Hirst, John Maines

1. Oldham Band (Lees) (John Collins)
2. Staffordshire (Leigh Baker)
3. Johnstone (Martin Ramsay)
4. Amersham (Paul Fisher)
5. Dunaskin Doon (Chris Bradley)
6. Ebbw Valley (Gareth Ritter)
7. Chalford (Steve Tubb)
8. Sandhurst Silver (David Johnson) 
9. Enderby (Simon Oates)
10. Freckleton (Paul Dalton)
11. Bournemouth Concert Brass (Howard J Evans)
12. Skelmanthorpe (Martin Heartfield)
13. Harrogate (Dean Jones)
14. Foresters Brass (John Davis)
15. Burry Port Town (Gareth Robinson)
16. Houghton Brass (Lee Morris)
17. Strata Brass (Jonathan Bates)

Best Instrumentalist: Helen Mitchell (soprano) — Johnstone

Published for:

The Enderby Band

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Image Gallery

Simon 'Captain' Oates at the helm during the performance. (Picture courtesy of British Bandsman)
Trevor, Megan and Lewis consider the task ahead beforehand
Saturday's rehearsal with the band in good spirits

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