The evening of Saturday 23rd June will bring both merriment and music to John Hanson School in Andover, where the Test Valley Brass Youth Band will be performing their Summer Concert, entitled ‘Movie Gold’. From 7pm, lovers of music and movies alike will be treated to the talented Youth Band’s renditions of classic and modern film themes while also witnessing the ‘brassing of the baton’, part of a marvellous new project taking place for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
The Summer Concert is a stand-alone event for the Test Valley Brass Youth Band, who will be performing along with their beginner band Frosty’s as well as the absolute starter group, the Pre-Lims. The show begins at 7pm, but guests are also warmly invited to a pre-concert barbecue taking place from 5.30pm in the school grounds, where they will have the opportunity to enjoy some delicious food while chatting to the bands.
What’s more, the Summer Concert will feature the exciting ‘brassing of the baton’. Organised as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, this nationwide project is the brass band equivalent of the Olympic Torch Relay, and has been designed to celebrate and encourage participation in the art of brass band music on a hitherto unprecedented scale. ‘Brass the Baton’ consists of a relay race involving five conductor’s batons, each coloured to represent one of the five Olympic rings. The ‘race’ began at the prestigious European Brass Band Championships on Sunday 6th May. Since then, the five batons have been passed across the UK – and, indeed, across the globe – by various brass bands and ensembles, who have the task of finding innovative ways of performing with, and passing on, the batons. Lasting for 11 weeks and including up to 385 performance days, the race will come to an end on Sunday 22nd July, when the five batons will reach their destination at the London 2012 Festival.
Excitingly, the Test Valley Brass Youth Band has been invited to take part in this thrilling event, and will be passing on the Blue Baton during their Summer Concert on the 23rd. During the relay, the Youth Band will play a special composition commissioned for Brass the Baton: ‘Going the Distance’ by famous composer Paul Lovatt-Cooper. Comprising five ‘flavours’ that can be performed independently along each baton’s route, the piece will only be performed in its entirety at the project finale on Sunday 22nd July – but each separate performance promises to be a stirring occasion in itself!
The Test Valley Senior Band were also invited to be part of the relay, and have already passed on the Yellow Baton during a concert at The Lights Theatre in Andover where they were joined onstage by brass legend Brett Baker, the principal trombonist of the world-famous Black Dyke Mills band.
Test Valley Brass conductor Alec Grimsey said, “Everyone involved with the band is ecstatic about being part of this fabulous and very unique opportunity. It really is the opportunity of a lifetime as who knows when the Olympics will next come to the British Isles.” He added, “As an organisation we always try to create as many opportunities as possible for our members – especially members of our Youth Band – and it is just brilliant that both bands have been invited to take part in such a fantastic event. It really is something that will hopefully stay with them forever.”
In the end, it is not surprising that Test Valley Brass were invited to take part in the Brass the Baton project, for tales of their talent as they develop their skills in the performance of brass band music are spreading across the UK. In January, for example, the Youth Band travelled to the Trafalgar School in Downton to take part in the Wessex Brass Band Association Youth and Training Band Contest, where they placed second in the Youth Band Section after a near-flawless performance, winning the ‘Bert Stockwell Memorial Cup’ and gaining praise from the adjudicator and fellow participants alike.
Those wishing to see these fantastic young people in action should contact Test Valley Brass on 01264 335527 in order to purchase tickets for the Concert, or else pick them up on the night at the door. Entrance is a very reasonable £5, with £3 for concessions (and a little extra for the barbeque, if applicable). The John Hanson School is located on Floral Way, Andover, SP10 3PB.
More information about Test Valley Brass is available on Facebook or over at their website, where you can also find details of their practice dates should you wish to get involved! Both the Youth and Senior Bands welcome new members to their rehearsals in the Test Valley Brass Room at John Hanson School. Test Valley Brass also offers lessons in conducting for both young and old – a fantastic opportunity for those who want to expand their repertoire of musical skills!