With Christmas fast approaching and bringing with it the band’s busiest period of the year, we had chance to fit in one last contest. Following our successes in 2012 at both the Midlands Area and National Finals contests, the band was eager to showcase its talent once again, this time at the annual Leicestershire Brass Band Association ‘Open’ Contest.
On the evening of Sunday 25th November the band made its way up the M1 to the contest – a strange experience for us all with no ‘band bus’ and no 6am start! After a brief stop in Shepshed for a run-through of the piece and a warming cup of tea, we headed over to Charnwood College in Loughborough, the venue for the day’s contest. Some 65 bands were due to compete over the course of the day, a record entry for the contest, with sections from Championship to Unregistered. Our section, the Second section was to round off the day, scheduled to commence at 6pm (another first, having been used to 10am starts for this section). As 6pm came and went, so did 7pm and the section finally got underway at 7.30pm. Unfortunately one band had withdrawn and so we were one of eight bands competing to be the winners for the second section.
At 9.40pm, having been pre-drawn to play last, the band members entered the stage, a little tired but nonetheless eager to give their best performance. Under the expert guidance once again of our professional conductor David Stowell, we sat down to give our performance of Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture, the piece we were placed 2nd at the National Finals in September playing. Fifteen minutes of sheer concentration and determined playing later and it was all over, the band members delighted with their performance.
A quick change from our dress uniforms back into our walking outs and we all rushed back into the hall to eagerly await the results. Unfortunately on this day the title was not to be ours. The adjudicator, Brett Baker (principal Trombone for Black Dyke), unfortunately did not think our interpretation was the best and the title went to City of Bristol Band with their performance of California Legend. We were placed a respectable Fourth.
The unpredictability of brass band contesting (especially for an own-choice contest) is what makes it exciting but the band were still sure that they and David had delivered their best performance on the night.
That said, we’re still the Midlands Area Champions for 2012, so watch this space to see what successes 2013 holds for Bilton Silver (Rugby) Band!