Friday, 22 June 2012

Battle Town Brass (music)

For today's blog, I have been speaking to Louise Edwards. Louise is the principal cornet player for the Battle Town Band who will be visiting Eastbourne at the very beginning of July to play an 1812 Firework Concert at the Bandstand.

 tE: How did you get involved with Brass music in general and particularly with the Battle Town Band? LE: I grew up in a very musical family and learnt piano and violin as a child. When I was older, I was studying Arts Management at the Welsh College of Music and Drama and made friends with a few brass players who decided to practise their teaching skills on me. I started playing the trumpet and really enjoyed it. I practised hard and a couple of years later I joined my first brass band in Sussex. After a couple of years, I wanted a further challenge and decided to join Battle. I'd seen a list of the music they played and it looked like great fun. I enjoy the relaxed but hard working atmosphere at rehearsals and the conductor knows exactly how to encourage me and has helped me become a much better player. I've been principal cornet at Battle for five years and as well as enjoying our concerts and contests, I really like spending time with my friends at the band. We're a very social band and enjoy a good curry together!

tE: How long has the Battle Town Band been in existence?
LE: I believe there was a a Battle Town Band in the early 20th century but the outbreak of World War 2 ended it. BTB was reformed in the early seventies as part of Claverham Community College's adult education programme but soon became an independent organisation, although we retain our links with Claverham and are very grateful to them for rehearsal / storage space.

tE: It must be quite expensive to maintain all the instruments and travel to concerts. Does the Band struggle to find enough members?
LE: Band members all pay annual subs and we also have income from our concerts and various generous grants. We've been incredibly lucky recently to receive grants from the Hastings Lions, Battle Lions and Isabel Blackman Foundation which has enabled us to buy 9 brand new cornets and mutes for the band. Having high quality instruments really helps us to play better! We have a busy summer every year. In the last few years, we have played in Battle, Hastings, Eastbourne, Rye, Catsfield, Icklesham, Bodiam, Brighton and travelled further afield to Hever Castle, Sevenoaks, Dover and Deal in Kent. We have even played twice at Westminster Abbey! We have a good strong core of regular members, several of whom have played with the band for many years. However, we often need to rely on friends who play with other local bands to help us out at concerts - we then repay the favour for them! Battle isn't the easiest town to get to so attracting new players can be difficult. We rehearse on Friday evenings at Battle Memorial Hall from 7:00 - 9:30pm and we're a very welcoming, social band - we could always do with more tuba players! 

tE: The Band has quite a varied repertoire. Who gets to decide what you all will play?
LE: Our conductor, Jon Penton, is mainly in charge of repertoire and we play all kinds of music - there really is something for everyone. He particularly likes to choose music that challenges us as players and helps us improve!Members often suggest new music as well, particularly if there's a solo that someone wants to play. Jon is in charge of putting together a balanced programme and making sure that it's entertaining for our audiences.

tE: I saw the Band has had several competition triumphs in recent years. Are you aiming for more this year?

LE: Thank you! We're so proud of how much we've improved over the last few years. The brass band world is arranged a little like the football league - with a Championship section, going to First Section, Second Section, Third Section and Fourth Section. We worked very hard and won the London & Southern Counties Regional Fourth Section in 2009 and 2010 which meant we qualified to represent the area at the National Finals both years in Harrogate. We were then promoted up to the Third Section and this year we have achieved promotion again so will be a Second Section band in 2013, which we are very excited about. We are hoping to enter a contest in Crawley in September run by our local band association SCABA and we have also discussed the possibility of entering a contest at Butlins in Skegness in January.

tE: What does the future hold for Battle Town Band?
LE: Hopefully more contest successes, lots of great concerts and lots of laughs with friends! This summer, we have already done a Last Night of the Proms concert at Eastbourne, the opening of a Diamond Jubilee Garden and our own summer concert at Battle Memorial Hall. We are playing in Sevenoaks on 1st July followed by Eastbourne Bandstand on 4th July. We are also very excited about playing for the arrival of the Olympic Torch in Hastings on Tuesday 17th July and will be playing a very special piece of music called Going The Distance as part of a national brass band Olympic event called Brass The Baton. Later in the summer we have concerts at Hever Castle, Catsfield and Winchelsea. We will continue to play at community events in Battle such as Remembrance Sunday and the St George's Day parade as we enjoy supporting our local town. I'm sure Jon will have picked out lots of new challenging music for us to play and we will enjoy rehearsing for contests and concerts. We are also bound to have a few curry nights and other social events such as crazy golf, bowling, theatre trips, ice skating etc.
Battle Town Brass will be playing at Eastbourne Bandstand on Weds 4th July, 19:30.
£7.75 adults / £3.75 children or £1 extra each if you wait to pay 'on the door'. Tickets available from the Seafront Office, by calling 01323 410611, or online at the VisitEastbourne shop.

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