Brassed Off: The merry month of May

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.Mark Rodgers

MAY IS special in our banding diaries again this year. Simply because it is Whit Friday on Friday 24, a day when our quiet and picturesque district turns into a veritable daylong feast of processions and band contests.

The morning processions of Witness are a special event in themselves, with everyone out in their finery, the banners unfurled and of course the spiritual celebration and meaning.

Our local players who have managed to book the day off work or school can look forward to the pride of leading the walks. We can also expect to be re-acquainted with old friends, who often return from far and wide to either make up the numbers or simply to keep their own traditions going.

For those who contest in the evening as well, it can be something of a necessary evil, with lips and legs alike taking a battering before repeating the same and more in the evening.

I’m sure there are few players who really complain though, as it is such a special and unique event to be involved in.

Players will meet at their headquarters or rendezvous points from 3 o’clock onwards. Once those with the fresher lips and legs have been regaled with the morning’s events and the contest march has been ‘top and tailed’, that’s it – ‘Let Battle Commence!’

The whole crazy evening is always worth it. Our bands are guaranteed the warmest and most fervent of welcomes at each contest but especially in our own villages, where they might as well be the world champions. Nothing throughout your banding year can match that experience.

May isn’t all about Whit Friday though and bands still have their usual engagements. Dobcross Youth will be looking forward to their second most important appearance of the month when they share the Civic Hall stage with the current double Open and National Champions, Fodens Band on Saturday, May 4.

Delph Band are appearing at their club with an ensemble from Luxembourg, so a little bit of history will be made on the evening of Saturday, 18.

Diggle Band has to wait until Friday 31 for their big May event. They are joined at Oldham’s Queen Elizabeth Hall by the world famous Mnozil Brass from Switzerland (Tickets 0161 770 4083) before two more collaborations in Huddersfield and Llangollen that weekend.

Several of our local bands will no doubt be leading Whit Sunday processions on the 19th, so look out for them around Oldham and Tameside.

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