Downton Band

Wessex Brass Band Association Contest, Weymouth 6 Dec 2003

After the Indian Summer experience of Dundee this year, getting motivated for even more Eric Ball seemed a real challenge for band and MD as we looked toward the 2003 Wessex Area contest.

It proved too much for some, and a series of absences through October and November ensured that full practice was not achieved until the day of the contest. Despite this - and the test piece (chosen by the band) being “Resurgum” we were surprisingly relaxed as we mounted the stage to perform. As always, due to the local grading, we had to punch well above our weight in our (first) section. Against nationally graded bands 3 sections above, we knew finishing last would be considered an excusable (if not acceptable) result!

We did ok, enjoying the piece and putting on a good show. We would thank all the supporters and friends who cheered so nicely for us at the end. Or was that the wind rushing in from the sea?

The result was good too. 6th out of 9 meant we could hold our heads high, and it keeps us in the section another twelve months, at least – keeping the incentive to improve our personal standards year on year. With a few vacant chairs in the band we were very grateful for the services of deps. Claire Sadler (Perc.), Bill Willis (Eb) and Peter Hartley (Fly Fishing Rod & Eupho). If you do need to permanently “step up”, you know where we are…

Perhaps especially pleasing was the contesting debut of our training band, also led and prepared by Roland. The result was fair – we were the smallest ensemble with, on average (excluding Liz Tanner) very young individual players – but I hope the youngsters may have a taste for performing now. Time will tell.

The band celebrated (well before the results) in usual style. Some grouped together in the Pavilion Bar to eat, drink and be merry. The natural bonhomie of well relaxed bands personnel caused a flow of gentle teasing – well at least Roland enjoyed dripping his pint on Dan’s head. Dan would like to remind Roland that he bought him that pint – and good natured banter between members of a band now very comfortable in each others company. New friends, as always were made – how Steven does it still amazes us all – and Greg’s pics should give you a flavour of the whole day.

The charabanc departed on time and – for a change – no one was left behind. Still, a quartet of hardy bandsmen Rachael and Emma booked into a hotel for the night. Dan’s wife couldn’t make it and Charlotte was very tired so we all shared Rachael in the evening. (Actually this didn’t happen. We shared a curry…). For future reference, Weymouth isn’t a great town after August Bank Holiday, it seems…

As far as Downton Band days out go, it was rather quiet. Perhaps the cold weather and cramped venue – or the contrast with the excitement of Dundee, had some effect.

Whatever, we came and played and, in our way, conquered…