Our trip to Gateshead earlier this month for the Brass in Concert contest turned out, quite appropriately, to be rather similar to the weather: really bright and sunny at times but with some disappointing rain which dampened the overall experience. Friary’s performance of ‘And Now the Shipping Forecast’ certainly found favour with the audience, judging by the storm of applause, and with at least one of the judges but an overall position of 10th was not as good as we’d hoped to receive. That said, nine of the ten bands we were up against are the top 14 worldwide.
The shipping forecast theme (the radio forecast celebrates its centenary in 2024) was the concept of former Musical Director Chris King who returned to deliver the amusing narrative, scripted by bass player Ben Miller. The set comprised five brand new commissions - Viking, Cromarty, Thames, Tyne and Rockall - from composers Paul Saggers, Simon Dobson, Callum Au, Andy Wareham and Sam Every respectively. Each piece was very different: the ominous atmosphere of approaching Viking raiders; a tranquil harbour scene; a clever medley of nursery rhymes; varaiations on a Northern folk song; and a jazzy finale. Cromarty featured Lauren Straker playing a hauntingly beautiful flugel solo to superb effect.
Highly effective lighting and an engaging graphic presentation, devised by Richard Straker, completed the backdrop to the music. Brass in Concert is an entertainment contest, generally regarded as the world’s leading such event, so we were particularly encouraged to receive full marks and first place from one of the two adjudicators judging entertainment and presentation, one of only two bands to obtain a perfect score for that aspect.
To get a flavour of the theme, our promotional taster clip can be viewed on our Facebook page and the whole performance, together with the rest of the contest and a wealth of other band concerts, contests and recordings are available by subscribing to World of Brass’ wobplay at www.wobplay.com
Congratulations to the current no.1 band in the world, Foden’s, whose tale of Aladdin took first place, and to Norwegian band Eikanger who were runners-up with their set based on the life of Marie Curie (and said to have taken inspiration from our George Gershwin themed performance last year). Flowers completed the podium line-up with a lively Alice in Wonderland set.
Despite the result, we were thrilled to have been invited to this prestigious event and with the appreciation we received from the audience, if not from all the adjudicators. And lastly we are deeply grateful to all those involved in creating and delivering the programme, and to the various deps who filled the unavoidably vacant seats on the day.