8th & 9th July, 2017
Last weekend saw the return of the popular Cotswold Edge Brass Festival. What began just last year as a day of lessons and a concert has now grown to be a whole weekend of fun.
First of all there was a competition for ensembles and soloists taking place at the British School in Wotton-Under-Edge. Alan Swain, one of the organisers and local professional trombonist, said:
"The idea behind the competition was to give the local brass players something to aim at and to build momentum in the weeks and months before the festival. It's a necessary part of learning or maintaining brass playing that we need to practice. Giving the children a piece to practice for the competition is a really good way of keeping the enthusiasm going."
The solo competition winner was Matthew King of Thornbury Area Youth Music and the ensemble was won by a group from the British School itself.
Saturday evening was a real highlight of the festival this year which saw the beautiful Wotton Town Hall transformed into a Jazz Café with musicians performing from Welsh National Opera and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. They had come together to perform easy listening hits with their informal group 'The Mexican Connection'. The show was stolen, however, by husband and wife duo from the West End of London: Danny Marsden, trumpeter extraordinaire from the band of 'Wicked the Musical' and Louise Marshall, just back from singing with Jools Holland at Glastonbury who provided a hot night of Jazz whilst lending some glamour to the happy proceedings. This Jazz Café was a first for the festival but judging by the smiles on the faces of the packed audience members it won't be the last!
On Sunday, after a sweltering night of jazz, the fun started at Rednock School in Dursley. Chris White-Horn, organiser, said
"The original idea last year was to give local brass players of all ages and abilities a chance to be inspired, educated and connected. After the last festival we asked for feedback and we were cheered to realise we were onto something badly needed in this area, namely a chance for people to come together to make music, share tips, learn from professionals and above all have fun in this informal atmosphere."
The finale of the festival, the same as last year, was a Gala Concert with the Wotton Silver Band at Lister's Hall in Dursley. The participants of the day got to show off their new skills and showcase pieces they had worked on with the tutors throughout the day. In addition the crowd were entertained by other soloists including local Euphonium wizard and organiser Philip Anderson buzzing around the 'Grandfather's Clock'. The exciting climax was the celebrated 'Story Time'. This piece featured all participants but no written music, only music and sounds composed on Sunday. The story featured a man with wobbly legs after visiting Uley Brewery, a cheeky gingerbread man and somehow Darth Vader, who was over visiting the Berkeley Hunt! A suitable and fun way to end what was a very successful festival. Bruce Davies, organiser and Principal Cornet of the band said:
"We are really pleased with this year's festival and are happy to give the local brass players this opportunity."
The next festival is at Stroud Sub Rooms on 4th February and will feature the celebrated Flowers Brass Band. Some of the participants will be performing this Saturday at the Dursley Carnival.