After 14 months of virtual videos and Zoom rehearsals, the band are very proud to say that we're back. Tonight saw the band return to the bandhall as a group, all 2 metre socially distanced from each other. This wouldn't have been possible if it wasn't for the support grant received from County Durham Community Foundation.The grant awarded to the band has meant that we could fit a full ventilation system into the bandhall to help us become covid secure. Without this system, we would simply not have been able to come back together as a band.
We would like to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you to the County Durham Community Foundation for their support and to Durham Air Conditioning for supplying and fitting a superb system with excellent customer service.
"Ravenswood" by William Rimmer is the band's entry to the Whit Friday Online March Contest organised by Foden's Band.
This is a march you'd hear many top bands play at the in-person Whit Friday contests in a normal year, and we chose to perform it for this virtual contest in the traditional contest style, without percussion. The band is led by musical director Phillip Tait, and features principal cornet Michael Evans.
We were proud to achieve 4th place out of 11 second-section bands entered, and 46/119 overall. We hope enjoy it!
Tonight, the band has had the honour of sharing an evening with the legendary Richard Evans over a Zoom Video Call. He shared his life story and offered some hints and tips for returning to the bandhall after such a long stint off. It was a very enjoyable night.
The band have got two signed copies of Richard's book "Still Beating" for £15 + p&p. If you would like to get your hands on a copy, then please get in touch with us through our Facebook page.
The band are delighted to learn that we were placed 5th out of 14 bands in the recent Kapitol Cory Online Brass Band Championships 2021, in the 2nd section. However, the Euphoniums and Baritones were awarded the prize of the best section Euphoniums and Baritones within the section as well. We were also the highest placed English band within the 2nd section and the highest placed North East band over all of the sections. We are quite happy with that.
A big well done goes to Easington Colliery and North Skelton, our fellow North East bands, for competing and a thank you goes to the Northern Spirit Singers for making our performance special.
The full results of the 2nd section can be found below.
The band are now busy perfecting and recording our entry for the Foden's Whit Friday March contest in May.
Please enjoy our programme from the 2021 Kapitol Cory Online Championships: Memories of War.
"Our programme centres around Jessica Curry's piece "Last Post", from the Durham Hymns. The lyrics for this suite were written by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy based on wartime letters from local soldiers, and the piece commemorates their lives as well as those they left behind in County Durham. We were proud to play for the premiere of the hymns in Durham Cathedral in 2016.
We lead into this with a classic war film theme, Ron Goodwin's "Where Eagles Dare", arranged by Christian Jenkins with features from each section of the band.
Finally, we end on a note of optimism with the help of the wonderful voices of the Northern Spirit Singers: Matthew Hall's "Nightingale Dances", based on a song that brought many people hope during wartime.
Sit back, reflect and enjoy ‘Memories of War’"
The band would like to thank The Cory Band for providing this fantastic opportunity again for us to compete. We would also like to say a massive thank you again to the Northern Spirit Singers who joined to us to make our performance extra special.
Lastly, we cannot forget all of our players and editing team who have all shown dedication and commitment to this contest. We couldn't do what we do without them.
This Friday (12/03/2021), the band will be competing in the Kapitol Cory Online Contest, looking to build on last year's third place.
In the runup to the contest, we'll be posting pieces from our previous entry, to give you a taste of what to expect at the weekend.
We're delighted to have the Northern Spirit Singers joining us again. Here's the band and singers with Karl Jenkins' beautiful arrangement of Abide with Me, described by contest adjudicator Rob Nicholson as his "favourite piece of the contest".
We would also like to dedicate this video to Margaret O'Connelly, our life president, who sadly passed away last week.
It is with great sadness that we have learnt about the passing of one of our life presidents Margaret O'Connelly. Margaret was associated with the band for over 20 years and was well known as the bands treasurer. We are unsure of when she passed away but we are extremely grateful for the donation she has left the band through the WI. We will be posting a video this weekend as our dedication to her. RIP Margaret.
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!
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".
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: