Woodbridge band take on the competition

FINISHING touches have been added to a performance that could provide a Woodbridge band with recognition as one of the best in the country. The Woodbridge Excelsior Band spent the weekend fine tuning a routine that they hope will see them through the regional qualifiers of the Boosey and Hawkes national championships, which is being held in Stevenage, on March 16.

FINISHING touches have been added to a performance that could provide a Woodbridge band with recognition as one of the best in the country.

The Woodbridge Excelsior Band spent the weekend fine tuning a routine that they hope will see them through the regional qualifiers of the Boosey and Hawkes national championships, which is being held in Stevenage, on March 16.

Under the expert guidance of Simon Dobson – the European Composer of the year for 2002 – the traditional brass band spent ten hours over the weekend rattling out a rendition of Lydian Pictures.

Evan Howells, musical director of the band, said: "This competition is very important for the town. We are not only playing for Woodbridge, but we are representing them in a national competition. This town should be very proud of us.


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"Three years ago, this band was struggling for survival but last year we were only one point away from qualifying for the national finals. We've come a long way."

The band finished fifth out of 29 at last year's competition, leaving them just one point adrift of qualifying for the national finals. This year, the band needs to finish in the top three of 22 bands to qualify.

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Assistant musical director Jackie Walker said: "We want to raise our profile and it would be a magnificent achievement if we qualified.

"Last year was the first time we had competed for eight years but this year other bands think we are the ones to beat."

The band benefited from the guidance of 21-year-old composer Simon Dobson, who is currently studying at the Royal College of Music in London.

He said: "It's a very difficult piece for this level of band but they are pulling it off very well. Fingers crossed, we should do well in the competition."

Mrs Walker, who has been in the band for more than 30 years, said: "Simon is beginning to make a name for himself and we were lucky to get him. I think he is a composer who we are going to hear a lot more of in the next few years."

N The band will be performing a rendition of Lydian Pictures for the first time in public on Sunday, at the Woodbridge Community Hall, March 9 at 7pm. Entrance is free and everyone is welcome to attend.

FAST FACTS

At the championships, each band performs a 13-minute rendition of Lydian Pictures. The band judged to have performed it the best will emerge victorious.

The top three bands qualify for the national championships, which are being staged in Dundee in September.

The 25-strong band, which ranges in age from 12 to 60, meets once a week usually but have been meeting twice a week in the run up to the championship.

If they finish in the top 12 places at the championship, the band will be guaranteed promotion from Section four to Section three of the national league.

Forty years ago, the legendary figure in the brass band world Harry Mortimer OBE composed for the band.

During the 1970s, they appeared in a Golden Wonder television advert.

They have performed on the same bill as Deep Purple and also at the premiere of the film Akenfield.

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