Sunday, 30 October 2016

Village Bands

When I first came to Loughborough way back in the late 1970s, I was very interested in the musical activities of the town, and did some research into these, which resulted in a directory of such things. I remember there used to be loads of brass bands in the town, the surrounding villages, and nearby towns, which was great because having lived in the coal-mining areas of South Wales, and also having lived in Yorkshire, brass bands have been a big part of my musical life. 

It seems that bands may have originated from the town waits from Medieval times, or from musicians associated with the army. The latter may have influenced local musicians to found their own bands. The tradition of Medieval wandering minstrels may also have had some influence on local bands.

Brass instruments didn't become particularly common in town bands until about the 17th century. Village bands could either be small, and composed of families, or they may have been bigger affairs which practised in the local pub.

Over the years there have been many, many bands in the area. As I was saying I remember the Loughborough Town Silver Band, as well as the Desford Colliery Band, and the William Davis Construction Group Band. At the time, Hathern was a little too far for my interests, but, of course, I have since become very familiar with the Hathern Band family of bands! The Loughborough Echo has had some great pictures and news of Loughborough bands on its Looking Back pages recently.

Anyone who follows the world of banding will be familiar with the website 4 Bars Rest, where there is live coverage of contests, lists of band rankings, news from the world of banding, and notice of vacancies within bands. Of course, there are loads of other band-related websites out there, and I would suspect that most bands have their own page: I know Hathern does.

While I was hopping around the internet, I also found a very interesting site on which people list what it is about banding they are researching; collections of music and instruments of historical interest, like at Cyfarthfa; some great old pictures of people and their brass instrument (check out the trombones!); and lists of both existing and defunct brass bands. Do have a look at the defunct bands, as probably every town, village and hamlet you can think of in and around Loughborough and North West Leicestershire has at least one entry (although I couldn't find one for Mountsorrel, so do let me know if you spot one!). Would you believe that Newtown Linford had its own band in about 1840-1850, that Lord Donington had a private band around the 1890s, and that there was a band called the Best Blooming Band between Burton and Bagworth, known as the Five Bs Band about 1890.  

Anyway, this is what I was up to last evening:

At Hathern Church we were treated to a veritable cornucopia of beautiful music from English composers, played by the Hathern Band. The last time I was here, the band were joined by Loughborough Male Voice Choir, but tonight was solely hosted by the band. Music from the royal court of the 16th century (John Bull's King's Hunting Tune) and from King Henry VIII himself (Pastime with Good Company (aka The King's Ballad) and strains of Greensleeves in the first half piece Fantasia on the Dargason (by Holst) jostled for favourite position alongside pieces by Vaughan-Williams, Coates, Binge, Langford, Elgar, Lloyd Webber, Walton, Alford, Elgar, Vinter, Sullivan, and Lennon & McCartney.

I simply can't remember when I last heard Dashing Away With The Smoothing Iron, nor Pineapple Poll, but I've certainly heard Cornet Carillon and Fantasia on the Dargason more recently. Ashamed to admit I was not familiar with Spitfire Fugue. I was relieved the Vaughan-Williams piece played was the theme of the film the 49th Parallel, and not the Talis Fantasia which is a very powerful piece of music that never fails to reduce me to tears!
As ever, the conductor, Dave Newman, tells me something I don't already know, either about the music or the composers. This time it related to the composer of the music for Desert Island Discs, which was composed by Coates, and that for the Shipping Forecast, which was composed by Binge.
Finally, for encore, we were treated to Jerusalem, a rousing English anthem, that always has me longing to hear music from my own country, and leaves me with a strong feeling of hiraeth.

So immersed was I in the music that I only took a couple of photos, which really didn't do the band justice, so here's some taken at previous events:
The 4-piece trombone trio at Hathern Church!

On the Banks at Quorn, summer 2016

On stage at Loughborough Town Hall in Brassed Off!

At the bandstand in Queen's Park, summer 2016

At the Baptist Chapel in Shepshed.

You are welcome to quote passages from any of my posts, with appropriate credit. The correct citation for this looks as follow:

Dyer, Lynne (2016). Village bands. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 30 October 2016]

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