2020 has certainly been a strange year for the band, as for most people, and we have really missed being able to see each other and all of you.
Throughout the year, we have been overwhelmed by love and support, from our local area and across the world, for our lockdown videos, our virtual contest entries and our fundraising.
Looking ahead with optimisim for 2021, here is our very last video of 2020. It's a musical message from all the band (and from someone very special).
Merry Christmas Everyone!
Last night, the band held a virtual Christmas Party. Band member came along with a game for everyone to play mixed with some rather terrible Christmas jokes. We all had a fantastic night and it was great to catch up with everyone and wish them a safe Christmas and New Year.
One of the greatest brass banding traditions is the Christmas band and choir concert, and our band is no exception.
To bring that spirit into your homes this Christmas, we invited the wonderful Northern Spirit Singers (who contributed to our recent prize-winning entry in the Cory Online Brass Band Championships) to join us for the classic Christmas carol "Hark the Herald Angels Sing".
It opens with the fanfares composed for the carol by David Willcocks, and arranged for brass band by our own Alan Beaumont.
Our December isn't stuffed with concerts like normal this year, but that hasn't stopped us celebrating!.
We're proud to present the first of three virtual videos for Christmas, arranged by Alan Beaumont, our Principal Percussionist from Peter Martin's concert band arrangement.
Our thanks go to our special guests for our Christmas virtual videos
For the first time in 9 months, the band have performed for the general public in Durham Market Place, albeit socially distanced. It was also the first outing for the newly purchased bell covers to help make us covid secure. Thank you to the band who all did either one hour stint, or doing a two hour stint. Also, a massive thank you to the general public who put something in our buckets to support us. It is always appreciated, but in these difficult times, it is appreciated even more so.
Despite some rain, it was wonderful to be able to play some music in person on Saturday for Durham's Christmas market - in socially-distanced groups of six, showing off our new bell covers. Here's a bit of music to start getting into the Christmas spirit.
Tonight saw the band host its Annual General Meeting virtually on Zoom. It was good to see all the band and have a catch up as well as do the official business. It has been a strange year, but as a band, we have stuck together.
At the end of the meeting, the presentation of awards took place, virtually. The first trophy which was awarded was The David Waterworth trophy for Player of the Year, as nominated by David & Phillip.
This was awarded to our percussion player Charlotte Tait
The second trophy which was awarded was The Most Improved Section Trophy
This was awarded to the Euphonium and Baritone section
The third trophy which was awarded was The Alan Beaumont Most Improved Player, as nominated by Alan & Phillip.
This was awarded to our Principal Euphonium player Jonathan Wigham
The fourth trophy which was awarded was Bandsperson of the Year.
This was awarded to Tim Packer.
The final award which was awarded this year was to Michael Evans for his 45 Years of dedicated service to the band. The band members helped create this award by thinking of words that summed up Michael and his time with the band. Some of these included: passionate, dedicated, Last Post, post horn, Santa Claus, perfectionist, Switzerland, 1975, helpful, conductor, memories, family and friends.
A big congratulations goes to all of the award winners
The band has had the honour since 2007 of taking part in the Remembrance Parade in Sunderland, which is one of the largest outside of London. As the event can't take place this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have commemorated the day with this new virtual recording of "Remembrance" (arranged by Ben Hollings) and accompanied by photos from the Sunderland Remembrance Parade since 2008.
A big thank you goes to the following guest players and returning registered players from playing on this virtual recording:
Despite the coronavirus restrictions currently in place, some of our band members were honoured to play the Last Post, show their respects and represent the band.
At the going down of the sun and the morning,
We will remember them.
Today, a small group of the band were honoured to play at the funeral of one of our own and a legend in the brass banding world, Jimmy Towns. He would of been celebrating his 93rd Birthday today, so we couldn't let him go without playing Happy Birthday. We also played one of Jimmy's favourite pieces, Don't Stop Me Now and ended the service with the joyous Songs o' the Tyne. Our principal cornet player, Michael, played a very emotional Last Post at the committal.
Jimmy was such a gentleman with a fabulous sense of humour, as well as a devoted family man, soldier, professional boxer, greyhound breeder, gardener, mobile shop owner and a first class bass player.
All the band would like to extend our love to his wife Betty, his daughters Lynn and Beverley, and all the family.
The last words from Jimmy which summed him up and in the current climate are so apt - "Don't be sharp, Don't be flat, just be natural".
Our 3rd place trophy from the Cory Online Brass Band Championships has come in the post today. A big thank you goes to the Cory Band for a well ran contest and supporting the smaller bands around the country, and to Indoor Music Games for sponsoring the 2nd Section.
It is with great sadness that the band have learned of the death of Jimmy Towns at the age of 92. Jimmy played Eb Bass in the band for many years and was a first class musician and, as the images show below, we had many laughs with him throughout the years. Band, his allotment and his dogs were his life. He was a great miss to us all when he had to retire from playing due to ill health. Our condolences go to all his family at this sad time.
The band are proud to have been awarded 3rd place in the 2nd section of the Cory Band Online Championships 2020. The band were up against some tough competition internationally so to come 3rd is quite an achievement. Congratulations goes to all of the bands that have won awards and to every band who participated. A massive thank you goes to Cory for putting on a fantastic contest.
The full results from the 2nd section & the top 3 results from each section can be found below.
Tonight has seen the band enter into the Cory Band Online Championships 2020. It was a great night of entertainment from all the bands who entered in the 2nd & 3rd Sections. We received some great comments from the three adjudicators (Glyn Williams, Rob Nicholson & Nigel Seaman). The results will be given next weekend (26th September) after the completion of the contest.
The band would like to send a huge thank you to: Gareth Poole, David Patterson, Nichola Mccaw, Andy Hunter, Savannah Bone, David Shawcross, Beth Johnson for helping us out on our videos. Also, a big thank you goes to our editing team of: Tim Packer, Lindsey Rowell, Richard Evans & Phillip Tait for all of their blood, sweat and tears in producing such an amazing video. A special thank you goes to our Cory Band mentor, Siôn Rhys Jones for his advice and support throughout the whole process. The final thank you goes to our featured choir, Northern Spirt Singers, who added something special to our hymn tune, Abide with Me.
The video of the full performance can be found below as shown live on the Cory Band's YouTube Channel, in case you missed it along with the programme notes.
"Bearpark and Esh Colliery Band's entry for the Cory Online Entertainment Contest is an emotional journey exploring the Power of Song. It opens with Leigh Baker's all-singing, all-dancing arrangement of Lionel Richie's hit, All Night Long. Then, the band is joined by the Northern Spirit Singers for Karl Jenkins and Peter Graham's arrangement of the hymn, Abide with Me. The finale is Stephen Ponsford's epic, Let There Be Light, based around the theme from Tim Hughes' song, Here I Am To Worship."
The band should have been taking part in the 136th Durham Miners Gala today, but unfortunately due to Covid-19, this years Gala was cancelled a few weeks ago. This blog post includes all of the videos which have been produced for the 2020 Virtual Durham Miners Gala. Throughout all of the videos, the Esh Winning Banner had a brief look out before been put away until next year.
The first video is the band performing one of our marches from the "Big Meeting" March Packs. Traditionally, this march would be played by the band at some point on our route to the racecourse. The march being played is The Middy.
We couldn't let Durham Miners Gala pass us by, even though it is virtual this year, without doing a performance of the traditional miners hymn Gresford.
While recording music for the Virtual Durham Miners Gala, we also recorded Gresford using the small group of six players, and then the rest of the band virtually. We hope you enjoy!
The band has a reputation for entertaining the general public and Durham Miners Gala is no exception. Here is the final video which has been produced for the Virtual Durham Miners Gala this year, which is the band playing Sway, which is a piece of music that we have entertained the public at the Magdalene Steps for many years. The band look forward to a bigger and better Durham Miners Gala in 2021.
Finally, a big thank you goes to our good friend Adam Reed and Andrew Hedley, who played on all of our virtual videos that we have shared with you today - we really appreciate your help virtually.
The band has played tribute to one of our own, Mary Kelly, today at her funeral. A small group of the band, socially distances, played Proud Mary (one of Mary's favourites) as she came into the crematorium. The service remembered a lot of memories from Mary's time in the band, along with recalling Mary's all time favourite time with the band, of when we went to Switzerland in 2010.
The band was also described as a community that she really enjoyed being apart of. This is so true and at these difficult times, we have all stuck together. Due to the change in guidance from Government yesterday, they have now stopped all outdoor playing for us in small groups. Today was the last time our band will play together in a group of 6 until the guidance changes.
The fifth virtual performance from the band is finally released. It is a dedication to our wonderful NHS and keyworkers. The piece performed by the band is Love Unknown, which was arranged by our local composer Steve Robson, and also features Gareth Johnson from The Cory Band on Principal Cornet. You might need to watch the video more than once to see all of the lovely things we have included. We hope you enjoy it.
A big thank you goes to our guests who have joined us on this recording:
It is with great sadness that the band announce the death of our 2nd Baritone player, Mary Kelly. She first joined the band in 2004 and took a break from band 3 years ago due to ill health. Unfortunately she never made it back to band due to having a diagnosis of cancer.
Mary was a lovely lady who was fully committed to the band. She will be greatly missed. Our condolences go out to her family at this sad time.
When it was announced that this year's Durham Miners' Gala was cancelled due to Covid 19, the brass banding world took a blow. One of the biggest events in our calendar was suddenly taken away from us. For our latest virtual video, we decided to remember one of our favourite days by playing something that we have got a reputation for marching to when we leave the Racecourse, Fame.
This project has been put together by our webmaster & 2nd Cornet player Richard who rose to the challenge of putting his first video together. We hope you enjoy!
On Friday (5th June), the band entered the "Online" Whit Friday Marches hosted by Foden's Band to replace the usual Whit Friday Marches. We entered the contest with our first virtual lockdown video performance of Goldcrest (which if you haven't already seen it - can be seen below).
Out of 86 competing bands from all over the world, the band are delighted that we were awarded 40th place overall and were the 3rd highest placed 2nd Section band.
Keep an eye out for some new lockdown performances and a very special dedication.
Today, the band have been celebrating the 75th anniversary of VE Day, commemorating the end of World War II in Europe. To mark the celebration, we have put together a special performance to commemorate the event.
For our tomorrow they gave their today. We will remember them.
In 2010, the band visited Switzerland for our 60th Anniversary, and one of the highlights of the trip was playing at the Freddie Mercury memorial statue in Montreux. This year is our 70th Anniversary, and we were hoping to be celebrating with joint concerts and events - but, like other bands and musicians, we're locked down and fed up!
This is our second virtual video, dedicated to those carefree days, and shows the commitment that the show will go on! - Keep watching to find out just who is our very own Freddie Mercury.
Enjoy the Video!
Tonight has seen some of the band members complete our Solo Horn player, Lindsey's scavenger hunt on Zoom. It was great fun and just what was needed in these difficult times we're facing. We hope all our followers are staying safe. Keep an eye out for our next virtual project, it will be released very soon!
Over the last three weeks, the band has been in lock down and unable to rehearse together. However, it hasn't stopped our members from playing - as the band present our premiere of our virtual performance - from the comfort of all of our homes. The band hope all of our supporters are fit and well, and you are all staying safe. The band hope you enjoy the virtual performance.
Tonight would of normally been band practice so instead of a practice, the band met on Zoom for QuaranQuiz #1. We had 5 rounds with a mixture of questions from guess the logo, guess the piece of music, questions about the band, emojis and TV/Film. A big thank you goes to our quiz master Richard for putting it all together.
During these difficult times which we are facing with the COVID-19 Coronavirus, meaning that band rehearsals are currently cancelled until further notice, the band members all met tonight on Zoom to have a catch up. It was a great laugh and it was great to see everyone after nearly two weeks off. We will be doing this regularly each week during 'lock down' to help keep the moral of the band high during these hard times of social isolation.