Cornet player Mark Rodgers, tutor and conductor of the Delph Youth Band and Training Bands, gives us an insight into the band world with his column, Brassed Off.
THIS CERTAINLY was a different Whit Friday for me this year for many reasons. It was my first as Principal Cornet of Delph Band for a start.
It was also the first Whit Friday that the usual combination of Delph, Delph Youth and several rather timid debutantes from my Training Band were joined by a band from overseas. It was also the first time I have played in weather worse than winter on Whit Friday evening.
The foreign band was Brass Band Breitenbach from Switzerland, a band hosted by local entrepreneur Phil Beckwith. While we opted for our warm raincoats, they were happy to play in their concert tunics and bow ties. I put this down to the fact they were used to the cold weather!
After our 9am Hail Smiling Morn march down, fingers were crossed the weather would pick up a little. Unfortunately, the only thing that did pick up was the wind, buffeting the bands, the congregation and the church banners about. The St. Thomas’ Church banner took the brunt of the wind on Stoneswood Road and we had visions of it ending up in Diggle.
After such a terrible morning, the evening could only bring better weather, surely? Sadly not, well for the first few hours anyway. Delph opted to play at Scouthead first, close to our village and the closest place our conductor Johnathan Davies could get to after his journey from work in Preston. The weather was reasonable, but as we sat patiently on the coach, we could see the black clouds looming in from the East.
I have marched in bad weather, perhaps the worst being at Poulton-le-Fylde in November, but Scouthead was unbelievable. Horizontal rain that nearly took your eyes out!
When we made it onto the contest arena I wondered why my face was becoming increasingly sore and half way through our performance I noticed hailstones bouncing off our conductor’s coat, which answered that question. We played well, considering the conditions.
On Whit Friday evening, your main battle is with the adjudicators, trying to impress them enough to bag a few prizes. This year, the battle was definitely with the weather.
There were occasions when I couldn’t hear my own playing in the quiet moments of Knight Templar. Despite the maelstrom, we won seven prizes from eight contests.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all our local bands for any prizes achieved and all the contests for another enjoyable evening.