It’s hard to know where to begin in recounting the story of the last few days. Weekends like the one just passed are rare indeed and this one will live long in the memory of all who were there (and quite a few who weren’t).
If you haven’t already heard, on Sunday 22nd September 2013 LGB Brass were crowned Third Section National Champions of Great Britain.
The weekend started well – with lucky mascot Anneka Rice once again giving us a mention on her national radio programme. Sadly it was before 6:30am, so none of us heard it – but thanks to the wonders of iPlayer we’ve pinched it and can play it here:
We were once again very kindly hosted by Avonbank band for a rehearsal on Saturday evening. Everyone was relaxed and excited and looking to enjoy the experience of playing at the national finals with, it must be said, modest expectations. Most of the band (and a few of the hangers-on) then decamped to a local pub for a final bit of team bonding over dinner.
Sunday dawned not quite as sunny as had been promised, and we headed for Cheltenham Racecourse early, only to arrive to find that we had been drawn to play 15th out of 17. This was a significant improvement on our previous, slightly disappointing trip to Cheltenham, when we drew number one and had to play first!
Luckily, the powers that be had seen fit to organise a car boot sale at the racecourse – meaning that LGB members could do what they do best – mooch round stalls selling wares of varying quality looking for the most truly hideous articles with which to adorn the cupboard in our favourite pub – the John Harvey Tavern in Lewes. This activity is also known as ‘Tat Heap Challenge’.
Once the appropriate tat had been selected and purchased (technically the budget of £1 was exceeded, but it was a special occasion) the rest of the wait was spent perusing the trade stands, listening to other bands, and in one notable case, knitting.
By the time LGB took the stage, a number of other great performances had already been delivered. LGB had a lot to live up to – and the supporters in the audience knew that they would really have to pull it out the bag to earn a place.
The test piece for the finals this year had long resonated with the band. Titled ‘Penlee’, it was composed in 2007 for the Cornwall Youth Band by Simon Dobson – as a tribute to the eight crew of the Penlee Lifeboat ‘Solomon Browne’, who were tragically lost in December 1981 while attempting to rescue the eight aboard coaster ‘Union Star’. 16 lives were lost that night and the 13 minute piece is an evocative re-telling of the events.
LGB have a strong association with the RNLI. Flugel player Alex Emberley is a member of the Eastbourne Lifeboat crew, and earlier this year cornet player Tom Elliott left the band to take up a new job at RNLI headquarters in Poole. Through Alex, the band had already gained an understanding of the sacrifices made by volunteer lifeboat crews around the country, and didn’t have to delve too far into their imaginations to appreciate the devastation that would come from losing one of their own in such circumstances.
As a result, the performance that LGB were able to deliver in Cheltenham on Sunday was not only a showcase for the band’s remarkable sound, but also an exciting, atmospheric and ultimately extremely moving piece of story telling. As the performance came to a close, the band sat with heads bowed, and the audience collectively held its breath.
You never know with contesting quite what the adjudicators will be looking for. LGB are lucky enough to have the experience and guidance of both MD Ian Stewart and President Dennis Wilby to call upon – but so often it comes down to the subjective opinion of whoever is in the box on the day. On Sunday, Simone Rebello and Steve Pritchard-Jones were looking for drama – and they certainly found it in LGB’s portrayal.
None of us who were at The Centaur on Sunday will ever forget the moment where, after counting down the top six places, LGB were announced as the Section 3 Champion Band of Great Britain – but if you fancy reliving it, check out this video:
Many a happy tear was shed as the band posed for press photographs, and Ian and Dennis were interviewed by 4BarsRest. As is tradition, everyone then piled into the bar to toast our success.
The journey from Cheltenham back to East Sussex has never felt so good.
LGB Brass would like to thank:
- Dennis Wilby; our President, our biggest cheerleader, our stand in MD, and, for one event only, our front row cornet player. You are a legend Dennis. Big love.
- Ian Stewart; for his knowledge, expertise, support, enthusiasm and passion. And the innuendo that keeps us entertained in rehearsals which he claims is accidental.
- Jane Stewart; for her unfailing dedication to the (often thankless) role of secretary. And yes, even for the emails.
- All the members of the band who didn’t play yesterday, and everyone who has played a part in LGB’s journey over the last four or five years. You have all made a contribution.
- The supporters who came to Cheltenham this weekend, and the supporters who turn out even for our slightly less glamourous jobs. You are part of the LGB family.
- Everyone on Facebook, Twitter and offline who sent us messages of encouragement and support. Knowing that there are people out there rooting for us inspires the band to play well.
Bring on the second section.