'Dobson Masterclass' brings success to the band

When Simon Dobson visited the band, he put them through their paces on his popular work Penlee, inspired by the terrible lifeboat disaster of 1981. The extra effort paid off as the band came back from playing the work at the Wessex Winter Contest in Weymouth were they won first place in the third section, came fifth overall (beating many bands currently ranked a lot higher than them!), and the Musical director Paul Williams was awarded the South Wilts Cup, given to the conductor judged to have the best musical interpretation of the score.

Appropriately, given the tragic subject matter of Penlee, the Wessex contest is held at Weymouth’s Pavilion, situated on the waterfront right next door to the Olympics sailing venue and just yards away from Weymouth’s lifeboat station. Gillingham’s Musical Director Paul Williams said “I would like to thank Simon Dobson for spending time to come to our bandroom and inspire us all with his wonderful score. The band certainly learned a lot from having the composer right in front of them.



Joint Woodfalls Concert "Wonderful"

Gillingham Band hosted a concert with the prestigious Woodfalls Band on the 22nd June 2013 to great appreciation.  The warm Saturday evening added to the electric atmosphere of the concert held for the first time at the Exchange in Sturminster Newton.  Gillingham Band opened the concert with the March Goldcrest, followed by the equally upbeat Stevie Wonder number ‘Sir Duke ‘,  The Band then rounded off their set with their interpretation of ‘Storm’ by rising new Composer Lucy Pankhurst, who commented on her twitter feed “WONDERFUL! Well played+thank you all very much! :) ” after seeing the performance online.

The Woodfalls band then took to the stage to wow the audience with La Fiesta, Overture Russlan & Ludmilla, A Fabulous Soprano Solo Lyrica.  The band also performed the Music from Silverado, and finished their presentation with America & Somewhere, taken from West Side Story.

After a short break the Gillingham Training Band took to the enlarged stage, alongside the Woodfalls band to kick start the second half with the lively New Colonial March led by Jackie Adams.  Whilst Woodfalls took a rest, the Training band then impressed their championship friends with renditions of Music from the Pirates of the Caribbean, and Toccata in D Minor.  The joint group then completed the section with Paul Lovett-Cooper’s Big Top.

A Quick turnaround saw the Gillingham Imperial Silver band take the places of the Training Band, to continue the second half.  Launching into the emotive ‘Penlee’ by Simon Dobson, the joint bands, led by Paul Williams took the audience on a rollercoaster ride depicting the terrible tale of the Penlee lifeboat disaster.

The Piece ends with the distant sounds of a ships bell and the bass drum and timpani dying away to nothing.  So powerful was the performance there was almost half a minutes silence after the piece as everyone in the hall took in every last sound wave produced by the bands, before a rapturous applause, once again filled the air.

Taking to the stage to take up the baton, was Phil Randall, leading the bands into a spritely disco number, ‘Manhattan Skyline’ taken from Saturday Night Fever.

Another moving piece was the William Himes arrangement of ‘Amazing Grace’

Then came the finale as the bands played ‘Fire in the Blood’ by Paul Lovett-Cooper, under the direction of Phil Randell
Fire in the Blood was commissioned for the 120th anniversary of the International Staff Band of the Salvation Army. The piece was composed for the celebration concert where the ISB were joined by several other staff bands from around the world to perform independently to a sell-out capacity crowd at Britain’s most famous concert hall The Royal Albert Hall. Fire in the Blood received its world premier at the ‘ISB 120’ concert at the Royal Albert Hall on June 4th 2011.

When thinking of a title for the piece Paul Lovett-Cooper had no hesitation than to reflect and re-word the Salvation Army’s motto under their famous crest ‘Blood and Fire’.

The Crowd was clearly left wowed and astounded, as shouts of ‘More’ were thrown in the direction of the performers.  Members of the band also found the experience exceptional, and unmatched in recent years.

Nicola Sansom – Flugel: For those of you that think brass bands are boring take 10 minutes to listen to this. Hopefully you'll change your mind. It was a great concert

Nathan Biss – Trombone: Proper chuffed to involved with this! This was amazing! To all my friends who don't realise what we do at band, give this a listen. It's only 10 minutes!

As with any good concert, there was of course an encore, Paul Williams took to the stage once more and with a shout of One, Two One, the band launched into ‘You’ve been Warne’d (another PLC piece) , a final upbeat piece featuring multi instrument solos, and also gave the band a chance to test out their singing voices.

If you missed the concert, we were lucky enough to have most of the concert recorded in high definition multi channel audio, as well as multi-camera video.  You can see some of the material on the Band’s YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/user/GillinghamImperial

Keep checking back, as we are adding more as time goes by.  You can also keep up to date on the band’s facebook page www.facebook.com/gillinghamband, or by the twitter feed www.twitter.com/gillinghamband



Band delighted with recent 4th place at West of England regional contest

On Saturday the 8th of March the band competed in the West of England Regional contest at the Riviera centre, Torquay.

This annual event takes place over a whole weekend, with the 4th, 3rd and 1st sections competing on the Saturday and the 2nd and Championship sections competing on the Sunday. This contest decides the qualifying bands for the National Finals, so is an exciting time of year for all involved. This year’s 3rd section test piece was “Partita for Band – Postcards from Home” by Professor Phillip Wilby. Professor Wilby is a prolific writer of Brass Band music, who has written many fine test pieces over the last 25 years. Notable compositions include Paganini Variations, Red Priest and Vienna Nights – all three having been used for the British Open Contest.

Partita for Band was written by Professor Wilby as a tribute to his childhood memories of brass bands, and consists of four movement – Towers and Chimneys, Churches: Lord of the Dance, Pastorale: Sunday Afternoon and Coronation Day Parade. The band found this piece thoroughly enjoyable to play, despite the technical demands placed on all players.

Many weeks of rehearsal included an afternoon with our old friend Simon Dobson, whose inspirational style really helped the band to bring out the music in the piece.

On the day we all rose early to catch our 5:30 coach to Torquay, and this year was the first in living memory that every single band member travelled to the contest on the coach! This is just one sign of the great team spirit we have at GISB at the moment. After a short rehearsal in one of Torquay’s fine hotels, we were drawn number 4 out of 14 competing bands. On stage we all did ourselves proud and gave a good performance of the piece. Several hours and 10 bands later came the nervous moment of the results, and we were delighted to have been placed 4th. This confirms our status in the 3rd section and is a sign of the great amount of hard work that the whole band have done over the last few years.

Congratulations must of course go to our new Musical Director Jim Bennett – this was his first ever contest conducting a brass band and not only did he lead us to 4th place but conducted us without needing his score!!!

Congratulations also to our local friendly rivals Bratton Silver Band on winning the 3rd section, Yeovil Town Band on their much deserved 3rd place in the first section, and of course Woodfalls Band on coming 2nd in the Championship Section, securing them a second successive visit to the Royal Albert Hall in October for the National Championships.

Onwards and upwards! Our next contest is at Weston-Super-Mare on 18th May where we will be playing Labour and Love by Percy Fletcher – the first ever test piece for brass bands, written in 1913.



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