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Commentary Debut, Crying and cocktails - Cory Online Championships Day 1 & 2

I think that I can safely say I’ve never previously sat and watched a brass competition, sipping a Long Island Iced Tea whilst awarding points for cute dogs, funky costumes and groovy dance moves - welcome to contesting during a pandemic!

I must start this post by congratulating every single band that took part in the 2nd and 4th section competitions last weekend.

I hope you are so proud of your performances and it was a joy to plonk myself on the couch and immerse myself in incredible music for two full evenings.

I must also thank and congratulate Philip Harper, the Cory Band and everyone who brought the first two nights of the Cory Online Championships to our screens.

The banding community owes you a debt for giving us an opportunity to take part in and to enjoy amazing musical performances and to give us our fix of a hobby and way of life we are missing so much.

I will admit, I didn’t envisage or plan doing a commentary on It’s Not a Trumpet’s Facebook page, but I liked the feeling that I was watching it in the same room with other members of the banding world and my debut into contest commentary was born.

I don’t believe it was my place to look with a critical eye so my commentary was solely based on the joy, talent and hard work that was displayed in each performance.

I have kind of developed my own personal point awarding system over the course of the weekend which consisted of:

  • Extra points for cute animals - bonus points for floofy animals

  • Extra points for cool costumes

  • Extra points for what I called the ‘Bit ‘O’ Cheese’ - you know the type, e.g. Floral Dance

  • Extra points for groovy dance moves

The competition was a musical triumph, despite the controversial comment made by one of the adjudicators on Friday.

It was so wrong and the distraction, anger and damage this comment caused I hope taught a lesson and is a deterrent from it ever happening again.

There is no room for these comments in banding anymore and as much as I don’t like negative backlash on social media , I feel that it was important that viewers condemned it, as it is showing that these attitudes will no longer be tolerated.

It was condemned by Philip and the band and more than one apology was issued, so I am grateful to Cory for their handling of this issue.

This is a step in the right direction as a few years ago this would have been simply swept under the carpet.

There is a huge project from this blog in the pipeline that is all about tackling attitudes that have allowed these comments - so keep your eyes peeled, because I do not want an outdated and insulting comment like this taking centre stage at an event that was created to celebrate music and our movement ever again.

Let’s move on to the music.

I loved every performance and you can see the rundown of my thoughts on each band on my Facebook page - @itsnotatrumpet!

However, to prevent this post from being about 4000 words long, I’ll narrow down my highlights from each day.


Day 1 - 2nd Section

My first highlight came from the band who played number 4 - Ware Brass.

I absolutely love a vocal performance with brass band accompaniment.

I’ve been lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to sing with my own band and it was one of the coolest experiences ever.

However, I was nowhere near as cool on stage Tom Huttlestone - that entrance was just effortlessly cool and the vocals in ‘Sir Duke’ were awesome!

Band no. 5 - Annan Town band highlighted a theme that really brought me joy over the course of the weekend.

So many performances gave us a taste of their local area and culture which was marvellous.

I loved the bagpipes and the awesome girls who performed a traditional dance (and also played for the band - multi-talented).

It was just a beautiful performance showing off how proud the band is of their area.

I have also been invited to a rehearsal in their bandroom which is over a pub and a tour around the nearby Gin Distillery.

I am very much a fan of Annan Town Band - you lot are lovely!

Furthermore, I think Philip Harper deserves special commendation for the attempt at the Scottish accent!

Brass Band B10, provided the first case of sweaty eyes on Friday night as their footage of the band really made me miss spending time with my band and just taking part in normal banding.

However, the performance that did break me emotionally (for all the right reasons) was Bearpark and Esh.

What a stunning performance that was.

Anything Remembrance-themed makes me emotional anyway, but this was just a rollercoaster of emotions.

I adore ‘Where Eagles Dare’ and Bearpark’s performance was brilliant and I love the addition of the air-raid siren.

However one of the stand-out pieces from Friday’s contest was ‘Last Post from Durham Hymns’ composed by Jessica Curry (wonderful to see a female composer featured!).

I have fallen in love with this piece, it is absolutely gorgeous and the bugle call, performed expertly by the principal cornet, had me sobbing (full-on ugly crying) into my cocktail.

That particular performance will stick with me for a while.

Another girl boss moment that was a highlight for me, was Lynsey Aitken’s performance of Peter Graham’s ‘Whirlwind’.

I was in utter awe of this musician’s performance.

Technique, sound, style - just phenomenal and a playing role model for any young female musicians watching!

My last highlight was a piece played by Fjell Brass called ‘Knut - Liten Og Sylvelin’ which featured an amazing viking scene that told the story of the song with costumes in beautiful snowy scenery - divine!


Day 2 - 4th Section

The main theme of Saturday night's contest was the amazing young talent in our community.

So many fantastic young performers took to the virtual stage, sometimes with their family playing alongside them, which was just beautiful.

It did bring a tear to my eye occasionally - I’m getting soft in my old age, I know!

Anyway, the first highlight had to be from a band I used to play for a couple of years ago - Golborne Band.

What a fun performance this was.

It was nice to see old friends and they definitely won the extra point for the floofy dog!

As well as the bass trombone choosing to play in a bath tub (Pete, you had me in stitches with that stunt!) the other highlight from this performance had to be Aimee Claire’s vocals in ‘Chicago’.

This was so cool!

I loved Holmestrand’s performance, the standard of playing was outstanding, especially the Soprano - what a sound!

Again, I loved seeing all of the scenery from their local area and the band showing off their culture - it was a lovely learning experience.

It was also lovely to see another friend of mine, Tom performing with his band Blackley - it was a lovely programme and Tom, your playing was brilliant!

I love watching everyone play, but it is a lovely feeling that even though we can’t meet up in a bar after a performance we can still virtually see our friends perform and cheer them on through the power of social media.

My absolute highlight of the weekend had to be Morecambe’s performance.

That opening solo, All By Myself performed impeccably by Carol Porter was like a movie!

It was so well thought out and incredibly executed.

The storyline was brilliant, the filming was brilliant, the acting was marvellous - the whole thing was just (*chef’s kiss*) perfect!

I absolutely adored it. They also included a Queen song and we all know how much I am obsessed with Queen - bonus point for that!


Roll On This Weekend!

It was such a lovely weekend and I can’t wait for next week.

If you want to watch along with me, commentary will be live on my Facebook again for the both nights - so come and say hello!

I’d also like to thank you for the brilliant response to my little attempt at brass band commentary - it was lovely to speak to you and the messages I have been sent since have meant so much, so thank you and I hope I can continue to be entertaining!

See you on Friday!

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