Abnormal loads

Ah, Stevenage. The concrete epicentre of the London & Southern Counties Regional Brass Band Contest. 15 bands gathered in the Arts & Leisure centre for the first area contest since 2019.

Due to two 300 ton, 70m long bits of some sort of national grid infrastructure making its way across Sussex (didn’t they know about the contest?), the traffic was predicted to be carnage. Many of the band arrived incredibly early in order to avoid delays, so as is customary, the pilgrimage to the magnificent Tesco Extra ensued. Some opted for light refreshments in the cafe while others roamed the homeware aisle for soft furnishings.

Before long, it was time to rehearse. A useful hour or so to tidy up any little corners in the piece and make sure we’re all in tune. Fortunately this time, there was no mix up with the draw and we knew we were drawn 12th – another couple of hours to wait and soak in the delights of Stevenage.

After a rather rambunctious game of ‘eye spy’ (no, B is not for baritone or brass band), we headed to the storage area, spirits were high as we went through to registration and patiently waited for our stage debut in the 1st section.

Once we’d got seated on stage, our MD did his usual pre contest checks, smiling and nodding at players, making sure we were happy and settled before lifting his baton for the opening bars of Gilbert Vinter’s ‘Spectrum’.

The band played well and it felt comfortable playing on a contest stage again – the weeks of hard work and preparation paid off and after the final chord, the audience rewarded us with a well deserved round of applause. We left the stage with shiny eyes and beaming smiles, we were pleased with our performance.

We had just about enough time for a quick round at the bar before finding a suitable spot in the theatre for results. We knew we weren’t going to win this as we were up against some incredible bands, some of whom had been relegated from the Championship section.

After some words from the adjudicators about the 15 performances, results began starting from 4th with special prizes awarded for best bass section, outstanding cornet player and best soprano cornet, won by Sandhurst Silver and East of England Co-Op respectively. When we knew we hadn’t won a place in the top 4, it wasn’t long before we got our result – 12th place. The band was a little deflated by this; we’d worked hard but that’s the gamble of contesting for you.

Despite this result, we are incredibly proud of our performance, our MD was and still is, probably still a little emotional about how well we played and it’s not everyday a spit and dribble band from Glynde makes it to the dizzying heights of the 1st section; LGB Brass made history in its centennial year, a moment we will all be proud of for a very long time.