• Liv Appleton

Pomp and (an unfortunate Circumstance)

Uneventful? With me? Never.

So, I wasn’t planning on writing about last weekend’s concerts as I thought it was going to be a straightforward affair with nothing in specific to write about. Everyone knows about Proms style concerts, especially banders, so where is the need to write about them? I totally forgot that if I’m involved in anything, something is bound to happen, as I am a liability who just shouldn’t be allowed out in public without full time supervision. This is a fact that you already know.

If you saw my blog social media or the Eccles Borough Band Facebook page (you should give us a follow, we’re a lovely bunch), you’ll know that Eccles played, not one but two Last Night of the Proms themed concerts last Saturday. It was lovely spending the day with the band and playing for two rather large and incredibly enthusiastic audiences. It’s worth noting that in these concerts we had a change of uniform half way through, just for a little touch of glamour. The first half was all black and in the second half we had to wear an outfit that incorporated either red, white or blue (or all three!). Now I’m not really a dress person (unless paired with Vans or Doc Martens) and I’m not a big fan of playing in a frock due to me being a buffoon and the whole range of accidents that can befall a clumsy person wearing a dress- so I usually opt for some kind of trousers and a ‘nice top’ combo. However, as I didn’t have a stand up solo in this concert (therefore limiting the embarrassing possibilities of a dress…or so I thought) and as we were dressing up fancy, I didn’t want to look like a scruff, so I broke tradition and decided to wear a dress. Something I will never, EVER be doing again.

Festive Firebirds and Cackling Cuckoos

Our first concert in the afternoon got off to a great start. Our audience were treated to Festive Overture by Shostakovich, Love of My Life By Queen (played beautifully by our lovely Solo Baritone, Jonathan) and the Finale from The Firebird By Stravinsky. As I looked out into the audience, I was surprised to see so many children. Children who didn’t look bored out of their skulls or look like they’d been dragged by their parents/grandparents to watch a brass band. They were waving flags, singing along and taking in all the sights and sounds of the band as well as the visuals playing on the screen behind us and the coloured lights we use- we really do put on a show! It really was lovely to see and it warmed my cold, black heart immensely.

I think a particular highlight for our younger audience was a piece we played called The Mill on the Dale. If you’ve never played it, you really must at some point in your banding career! If you can get all the way to the end without bursting into giggles , you are a much better player than me. It’s a very…let’s call it descriptive piece that depicts the scene of a bloke (who is quite clearly a morning person) cheerily singing to himself on his way to work at the mill. I’ve never met a person who is quite so jolly about their chosen career as the guy this piece describes. If I had a soundtrack to my commute to work, it would probably something similar to the Imperial March from Star Wars- I make Darth Vader look as amicable as Winnie the Pooh before I’ve had my morning coffee. With bird calls, including an elusive sounding cuckoo and an overly excited duck, half the band enthusiastically singing ‘Tra la la la la’ (I’m not kidding, this is actually written in the score) I don’t think it was a piece the audience were expecting!

A Dress-aster

The first half came to a close and it was time for us all to change into our red, blue or white outfit. I’d chosen a lovely little number with red roses all over it. This particular dress has a corset-style element built in that pulls you in at the waist- incredibly flattering for a night out….but disastrous if worn playing a brass instrument, as I would soon find out. I sashayed onto the stage feeling utterly fabulous in my rose covered frock. We filled the hall with the glorious warm chords of Amazing Grace– everything was going wonderfully.

The Offending Dress

That is, until the second piece of the second half which was Legends of Cyfartha (or as me and my partner in crime in the horn section, Simon, call it: Legends of Faffarfa- don’t ask me why we find it funny, I don’t think we know either it just is…I digress). It’s a fabulous piece that opens with a beautiful quartet section at the beginning that leads into a lovely little segment for horn and flugel. I’d been having kittens about this section as it took me a while to figure out where my part was supposed to fit (don’t you just hate it when your little solo part doesn’t start at the beginning of the bar, which means you have to count? Just rude). I was soon to learn that counting wasn’t going to be my main issue. The little horn feature went without a hitch (thankfully) and I sat back happy that I’d got it right. However, as I took a deep breath for the next section, probably the most mortifying event in my banding career occured. I know I’ve put on a couple of pounds from my summer holiday (all inclusive lifestyle and all that) but nothing massively detrimental, however my dress apparently couldn’t take the strain. To my horror, as I inhaled, the entire zip that went down the back of my dress burst open completely. Let’s just thank the universe that the zip wasn’t at the front otherwise our concert may not have been classed as family friendly. To those in the audience who could lip read I said : ‘oh fudge!’ rather than the word you may think you saw me say…

In typical Liv fashion, after the initial mortification subsided, I then got the giggles about the whole situation, so was unable to play for a good eight bars or so. Luckily, Simon was wearing a red waistcoat which he kindly loaned me, so I could button myself in and prevent the broken dress from falling off when the band stood up at the end of the concert. I managed to scarper off stage at the end, clutching my broken dress together, with most of my modesty still intact. This could only happen to me!

If you look closely you can see the borrowed waistcoat- Thank you Simon!

Thankfully, our conductor, Mareika, had a spare dress which she kindly let me borrow and our second concert went ahead without any wardrobe malfunctions. We delighted another full audience with Pomp and Circumstance, Fantasy on British Sea Songs, a stunning solo called Threnody performed by our brilliant Principal Cornet- Debbie and finished off the day with a funky version of Auld Lang Syne, which is just the cheesiest arrangement known to man (I loved it).

As the song Auld Lang Syne says:

May all broken dresses be forgot and never brought to mind…

Well despite managing to fix the zip, it will be forgotten at the back of my wardrobe as punishment for its betrayal and never again will I wear a dress to a band concert.

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