Learning that you’ve lost your long booked venue just a week before the event you’re hosting is due to take place is enough to vex even the most placid of folk, and this is exactly what happened to Dale Willis and the Summer Rhythm band contest recently.
Many others would have been tempted to give it up as a bad job but Dale and his team were able to not only find an alternate venue, but also make the event a great success in the process.
In stark contrast to the sodden DCUK show the week before, the weather was positively balmy with pleasant sunshine and a light breeze. The arena was a on the smaller side and set back from the club house where the judges had an excellent view from the first floor balcony. Spectator seating wasn’t great; rows of chairs, with many electing to stand to get a better view.
Although not ideal, this gave a more intimate feel to the event in keeping with the smaller venue and meant that members from different bands we able to mingle and get acquainted.
First band on in Contest Class were Ibstock Scouts with their ‘Night at The Oscars’ show. With the main theme from Star Wars straight off the line their show featured the music of the movies including ‘The Sound of Music’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. This was a very mobile show that will improve as the members grow in confidence.
Formed in only 2017 and with a performance dedicated to staff member Jane Straw - who sadly passed away early this year - at their first ever BYBA contest the second band of the day were 15th Nottingham Boys’ Brigade.
15th Nottingham had a varied repertoire which included ‘Do you hear the people sing’, ‘America’, ‘Eye level’, ‘Michael row the boat ashore’, ‘O when the saints’ and ‘Jesus Christ Super Star’.
Some initial nerves were swiftly overcome and as the band settled the performance improved markedly. For a band not used to performing in the outdoor environment they coped remarkably well and I’m sure will go on from strength to strength.
Concord Allstars were next up and again it was another movie themed show, this time 'The Greatest Showman’. Circus imagery and motifs were used throughout, along with a circus ring marked out on the field.
Concord’s standout section were without doubt their colour guard who with the assistance of good staging managed to portray the circus theme. Still lots of work for Concord to do visually as the show became static before the end... but it’s still early in the year.
Today's hosts Liberty were next to perform with their ‘The American Dream’ show depicting the early 20th Century migration into North America, interestingly a topic never far from the headlines these days too!
The show follows the life of the immigrants as they arrive at Ellis Island, build New York and follow the American dream - certainly an apt show choice for a group called Liberty.
Music included ‘To Dream the Impossible Dream’, ‘New York New York’, ‘Take the A Train’ and ‘Autumn Leaves’ with clearly another piece still to come…
Like Concord, Liberty had a strong guard who did a great job portraying the roles of the immigrants and lots of room for visual input from the rest of the Corps. I’m looking forward to seeing a completed musical performance at Midlands Music in Motion on 7th July.
Final band in contest class were 1st Minster GB / BB who had made the long trip up from Minster-on-Sea on the Isle of Sheppey to take part at Summer Rhythm. Like 15th Nottingham this was the bands first BYBA contest.
1st Minster’s show was based on ‘rain’ and included excerpts from ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘Rhythm of the Rain’, ‘It’s Raining Men’, ‘Singing in the Rain’, ‘Raindrops keep falling on my head’ and ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’.
With only eight performers on the field 1st Minster utilised them to their fullest extent with each member playing a number of different instruments and even spinning umbrellas! This is a band short on numbers but certainly not talent!
The only band in Championship Class were Phantom Knights from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, bringing their ‘This Is It – The music of Michael Jackson’ show to the marching band field.
Knights repertoire included ‘Blame it on the Boogie’, ‘Beat it’, ‘Billy Jean’, ‘Thriller’, ‘Man in the Mirror’, ‘Smooth Criminal’ and ‘Earth Song’. Any hard-core Michael Jackson fans reading this will realise that the music is being played in order of release, charting the course of Michael Jackson’s career, which is a nice narrative touch.
From the build and opening hit of ‘Beat it’ it was clear that this was a very different Phantom Knights’ from what we have seen over the past few years. A much fuller ensemble sound from the brass section supported by a very impressive baritone line.
The guard utilised the dance opportunities inherent in a Michael Jackson show to really sell the theme. This was especially true during thriller which saw a great unison moment with the whole corps dancing, with great timing and great effect!
Much of the credit should go to Clive Williamson for the brass arrangements and Gareth Toon for writing a visual show that was perfectly matched to the ability of the young members in the corps and is a prime example of writing for your members.
All in all this was a day of great performances. It’s sad that there were only 6 bands on the day although we had a number of bands withdraw due to unforeseen circumstances before the event; hopefully they will be able to attend next year.
It was great to see two new member bands take part for the first time at a BYBA contest. From what I hear, they had a very enjoyable day and were both a credit to the Boys’ Brigade and Girls Brigade organisations.
The real positive for me though was the friendly, supportive attitude the bands had to towards each other with bands taking the time to watch and cheer on their competitors, it’s the thing that really makes BYBA such a very special organisation and long may it continue.
Our next contest is Midlands Music in Motion being held in Nuneation on the 7th July. If you missed Corby be sure to come along and support a British Youth Band Association which is very much alive and kicking!
Photo's Courtesy of Matthew Sewell, Southern Percussion and Richard Haw