3rd January 2019
Happy New Year to you all! We’ve had a much busier Christmas than we had at first thought, but it’s been lovely having a house full of people! Here we are in January, though, and I’m back down to Earth with a bang!
I’ve 35 pocket trumpets for routine maintenance from Devon Music Education Hub, a new album of songs for Dan Callow at One Life Music to arrange, and several new transcriptions for MF Publications all needing my time. I’m really looking forward to the years’ concerts and contests with Glastonbury Brass this year, and I’m especially looking forward to performing Bela Bartok’s ‘Concerto for Orchestra’ with Exeter Symphony Orchestra in March. It will remind of my time studying it for my A Level music back in 1975, and thinking that I’d never be able to play something like it!
With so many good things happening in my musical world, it’s hard to remember that it will be twenty years since I retired from the the police service in March. 😢
26th November 2018
There’s a novelty for you: two updates in less than a week! Just thought I’d report that apart from a dizzy spell whilst walking around Exeter after the Exeter Symphony Orchestra rehearsal (thanks to Michelle Hiley and Helen Creedy for looking out for me), the concert went extremely well. The Elgar Symphony No. 2 is a fairly difficult piece, and I thought the orchestra did rather well. Not overly struck on the Britten Suite from ‘Gloriana’ though. The Vaughan Williams tuba concerto: well the soloist is nothing short of a phenomenon. Absolutely brilliant! Check out this website: it mentions the legendary Grimethorpe Colliery Band that he has played with, and the Cooperative Funeralcare Band (didn’t think I’d ever type those words onto my website) that he’s Principal EEb bass in. This chap is a star! Ross Knight. 23 years old? I am seriously in awe. The ‘encore’ was stunning: playing two different notes at the same time, whilst singing another line altogether into the mouthpiece, and appearing not to breathe ever. What a delight!
Back to Glastonbury Brass on Sunday with my trusty JP377 Sterling EEb, and the comments were that the bass sound was suddenly a lot bigger! Loved it, and looking forward to the Christmas concerts.
22nd November 2018
Huge apologies for not posting on here for some time, but it’s been a difficult few months. I’ve been having some medical issues after blacking out in the back garden back in September (made a nasty mess of my face), which have currently resulted in me having scans (both CT and MRI) and having a heart monitor fitted. I’m still waiting for a heart ultrasound scan. The net result of all this is that I’m not allowed to drive, so my duty chauffeur Catherine has to take me everywhere. Living in the middle of nowhere hasn’t exactly helped. I haven’t been able to play tuba or drums since my last appearance with Glastonbury Brass at the Scarecrow Festival concert here in Bishops Lydeard on 27th September 2018, but am now getting back into it and hope to be performing with Exeter Symphony Orchestra on Saturday 24th November. I’m also going back to Glastonbury Brass, but on EEb bass rather than BBb – which is brilliant. I hope I don’t let them down any further as they have been absolutely brilliant since my demise. Two sad things: because of this incident, I missed going to the SWBBA Contest in Torquay this year – first time I’ve missed that for years, but more sad than that is that I was unable to march with Glastonbury Brass or play at their WW1 Centenary concert on November 11th, something I’m really disappointed about. I was really looking forward to wearing my Granddad’s medals together with mine on parade, but it wasn’t to be.
25th August 2018
New website up and running – and even though I say so myself – it looks great! Saturday 4th just past saw me performing with Glastonbury Brass at the Glastonbury Extravaganza event (sadly minus the poorly headline act Paloma Faith), but what a gig! 10,000 people heard us play – and that must be a record for me – other than marching displays at Wembley Stadium. We were all miked up individually – that’s around 30 mics – and it sounded great! Two huge screens showed what we were all about – and the word is that people were very impressed. I just wish concert organisers would get it into their heads that we are a new band called ‘Glastonbury Brass‘, and not a resurrection of an old one called ‘Glastonbury Town Band’ – it’s really annoying! Then on Sunday supporting my good friends at Tiverton Town Band on EEb Bass at the People’s Park – two gigs that couldn’t be more different, but equally as enjoyable.
My new website is up and running now – danceiswithmusic.com – oh – you’re already there aren’t you!
25th July 2018
If I’ve been a little quiet recently, it’s because lots has been happening. I have a contract to maintain all of the brass (and percussion) instruments at Devon Music Service throughout the year, plus sets from schools that own their own, so I’ll be kept very busy! I’ve also received 18 pieces from MF Publications for transcription for brass to wind or wind to brass band. I’m currently on number 9! Last weekend saw Resonate Brass performing at the annual ‘Songs of Praise’ in Kern Parish Church (not quite so well attended as last year – but it might be because it was sweltering) which included my lovely arrangement of ‘As the Deer’. People seem to like that one! Glastonbury Brass are busy rehearsing for the Glastonbury Extravaganza on the 4th August – in which Paloma Faith is the headline act – and is apparently sold out. Should be an interesting day! The legendary Black Dyke Band did the event the last time it was held, so no pressure there then! Then after the Exeter Symphony Orchestra concert at Southernhay United Reformed Church – which was well attended, the Musical Director Brian Northcott casually announces that not only are we doing a tuba concerto next season (I’m not the soloist), but we’re also going to tackle the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra. That’ll be fun – I remember studying it at Exeter College for my A Level Music. It’s not exactly easy: concerto – orchestra???
And this week I’ve rebuilt my website from scratch onto WordPress, and once I’ve ironed out any issues, it’ll be published. It will have the same domain name but will be hosted on a secure server. It didn’t take me as long as I thought it would either! It just took an age to correct all the URL links.
10th June 2018
Surely it can’t be almost two months since I last posted on my blog? What am I like! Loads to tell you all – notably that there are three new pieces out there published by MF Publications with my name on them. There’s two originals: one that first saw light of day as part of a two section contrasting work, but has now been thoroughly revamped and stands alone as Love Song, and there’s Carn Les Boel, which again is also part of a published suite (The Ley Line of St Michael) but stands up well as a piece on it’s own. My arrangement of Susan Aglukark‘s As Only A Heart Would Dare , which plays its main melody off against ‘Amazing Grace’ has also been published. I have received the recordings by Leyland Band from my publisher and they are available to hear on the Featured Publications page of this site. Enjoy! At Glastonbury Brass we await with anticipation the appointment of our new MD following the final auditions next week. Let’s hope we can then put a period of some uncertainty behind us and get on with the job of banding. I’ve volunteered to be the Band Librarian and am kitting out my storeroom to receive the cabinets, at which point I’ll categorise and list it all in my own inimitable style!
Onward and upward!
13th April 2018
The last two months have been something of a whirlwind, and seem to have gone past in a flash. I’ve had several sets of brass instruments for maintenance from Babcock LDP Music Service, and there’s still two sets in the workshop yet to be done. I’ve been hard at it with transcriptions for MF Publications, and have also had more new pieces of my own accepted for publication.Then there was the Gabrieli event in Tisbury for the Cherubim Music Trust – which to be fair was very enjoyable, and went very well in the end. Resonate Brass enjoyed themselves, and once the parts issue had been resolved, the whole thing went off rather well. A few issues to be sorted if Cherubim are to stage another event along the same lines. Glastonbury Brass is going well, but is having to search for a new MD as Simon Jones is finding that his conducting is starting to conflict with his playing at Aldbourne, and so is leaving us after the next concert. We’ll be sad to see him go, and I thought he was a true asset for the band.
13th February 2018
Here we are toward the end of February 2018, and this is my first blog entry since 2017. One really must buck up one must! As per usual, it’s a fairly quiet time of year musically, but I have been uber busy with transcriptions from MF Publications, and rehearsals with Glastonbury Brass. The test piece (Brass Metamorphosis – James Curnow) isn’t very difficult to play, but it is difficult to make it musical. Simon is doing a sterling job in getting the message across, and with sectionals aplenty we will get there with it. There’s some seriously good solo work from the Principal Cornet, Horn and Euphonium. I did appear a newspaper feature in the Exmouth Journal in January, and subsequently a radio interview on Bay FM (Exmouth) last weekend, which was actually quite good fun. Howard James and I just had a chat about my varied and interesting life, and I put across the message that I had originally intended in the newspaper articles. It came across as a ‘my wonderful life’, but I meant it to be a message to people that despite setbacks, feelings of despair and failure in the past, I’d turned it round – – and so can others. I’m really looking forward to the next Exeter Symphony Orchestra concert in March, and to the Gabrieli weekend with Resonate Brass in April.
29th December 2017
Just doing the finishing touches to yet another set of songs for Dan Callow at One Life Music (I really must get to meet him in 2018) called ‘ His Goodness Never Fails’ – a set of eight songs to be released on yet another EP to go with the three I’ve already done for him. That’s 48 songs in total so far!As this is almost certainly my last entry here for 2017, it’s probably a good time to sum the year up in a few words, but that’s not going to be easy! Focusing on the positives: I’m a member of Glastonbury Brass, which is brilliant, I’m still Principal Tuba at Exeter Symphony Orchestra and Brass Quintet, which is also brilliant, and there’s loads of music out there with my name on it being played by bands around the world – courtesy of Peter Frank (I really must get to meet him in 2018 as well) at MF Publications, to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude. Lastly: a massive vote of thanks to Richard Evans, Arthur Butterworth, David Golightly and Alan Fernie for believing in me on my degree course and pushing me past my own self-limiting doubts. Not bad for a ‘no-hoper’ and an ‘eleven + failer’ at school, and a ‘You’ll never amount to anything – you’re not good enough’ in my teens, not forgetting the ‘You’ll never make it as a professional composer’ far too recently! Now I have a first class Honours degree under my belt which I’m using to good effect in my new career. Life is good and I intend to live it to the full!
Happy New Year!
12th December 2017
Then we bumped into some players from Glastonbury Band who asked what I was doing there, as they were playing some carols in a few minutes time. Explaining that we were there by chance, but I did have my bass in the car ready for the concert that evening. It transpires they had no one on bass, so I joined in for the 45 minutes, which wasn’t a ‘big noise’ at all! Finding myself to be well and truly at home with Glastonbury Brass: two Christmas concerts under my belt (different programmes) – and an impromptu carolling gig at the Willow and Wetlands centre near Somerton. Catherine and I went there because they had a Christmas Fair on – well, we would, wouldn’t we? There was an ‘interesting’ shall we say, band playing some very loud music of a festive nature in a pseudo jazz/swing style, but all you could hear were a very loud trumpet and sax (not always in the same key as the others), an even louder tuba and sousaphone (never in the same key as the others, but obviously in charge), and someone hitting seven bells out of a Samba band bass drum. I’m sure he wasn’t actually part of said band, who bizarrely called themselves the quite appropriate ‘Big Noise Band’, and I was glad when they finally stopped.
5th December 2017
It seems I may have joined Glastonbury Brass then! Played at my first official concert with them on Sunday 3rd December at the Salvation Army Temple in Street – fabulous band, just fabulous. What an honour to play with so many great players. As for Paul Lovatt-Coopers’ ‘Fire in the Blood’ – wow. Such a powerful piece – it nearly overwhelmed me. Catherine could see I was really made up about finally finding a truly magnificent band to play in – and not too far away from home either.
25th November 2017
Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 1 – the Sea Symphony – with Exeter Symphony Orchestra at Exeter Cathedral today – complete with over 200 singers from local choral societies, organ, and two vocal soloists: oh, and a completely full, sell-out house! It’s a true delight to be able to perform such diverse and demanding pieces with this orchestra: I love it! It was a superb performance, especially with the two regular conductors playing percussion to pave the way for our guest conductor Laurence Blythe who had come up with the idea for the concert in the first place, wanting to do ‘something epic’ – well he certainly achieved that. Looking forward to Brahms Symphony No. 2 next March!
16th November 2017
Thoroughly enjoyed conducting the lovely folks at Burnham & Highbridge Band, but after much soul-searching I’ve decided it’s a little too far away and too much for me to take on full time. On the spur of the moment, I looked up the newly-formed Glastonbury Brass (what used to be Yeovil Town Band), and as luck would have it, they need a BBb bass player. I’ve been for a blow, during which I successfully sight-read the Areas test piece (Paganini Variations), and did the same with Journey into Freedom – a piece I’ve always wanted to play. I thought I did rather well – I certainly enjoyed every moment. I’ve been asked for my availability, and am awaiting a call to arrange a formal audition. We’ll see what happens.
5th November 2017
Sighs loudly and with all due passion: Wellington Silver Band and I have parted company. Just too many Christmas gigs (there’s dozens of them), but mainly because it clashes too much with Exeter Symphony Orchestra on a Tuesday evening – something I’m not prepared to give up – and it’s just become too much. The business with my arrangement for their concert hasn’t exactly pleased me either, and it doesn’t seem that I’m going to reimbursed for it either. So my local band has to be Taunton Concert Band then, but I’ve just seen their engagement list, and I can’t do two out of three major Christmas events as I’m already booked elsewhere! Not going terribly well is it? I do have an interview’ for the post of Musical Director at Burnham and Highbridge Band (non-contesting) this week, so I’ll let you know how that pans out. Disappointing day for Tiverton Town Band at the SWBBA Contest in Torquay at the weekend – 8th out of 9, but at least they were there and made a herculean effort to make it despite going through a very difficult period. Fantastic result for Sidmouth Town Band though – 3rd in the ‘Open Section – beating several Championship Section bands, but most notably coming way ahead of SW Comms Band (Lympstone) – no one saw that coming I’ll bet!
22nd October 2017
Two more back to back concerts this weekend just past – one on tuba with Wellington Silver Band for the Poppy Appeal at Wellington School (tell me again: why did they do the draw right at the end after we’d finished and were packing up??), and the other on drums with Tiverton Town Band at Tiverton Community Arts Theatre. Both concerts featured music either composed or arranged by myself, which is always good, but please – READ THE MUSIC AND PLAY WHAT’S WRITTEN! Cuprinol, as I’m frequently heard to say. It makes the audience thinks it’s the composers’ fault when it goes wrong and not the players. That said, when you’re sight-reading a drum part that merely says ‘play straight quavers and ad lib on bongos or whatever’ but fails to tell you that it changes from 4/4 to 3/4 then EVERYONE thought it was me! I know only too well some drum parts can at best be described as being basic, but please – even we percussionists aren’t all clairvoyant! Oh the joys of playing the drums!
15th October 2017
Back again after a short absence due to illness just for a change, and after a well-deserved week long holiday in Brittany – wonderful. September saw the Cherubim Music Trust Festival take place, and it appears to have been well-supported and has received quiet a lot of praise. Videos are available on the Cherubim Trust website. Then there was the concert in Ashburton with the only slightly under rehearsed Esoteric Brass Quintet, but again very well received despite the dreadful weather.Then I had the pleasure of playing tuba with the Stan Hacking Concert Band under the direction of Barry Parsons – albeit at very short notice. Sight reading the entire programme was fun! Thankfully, and by pure chance, I’d had the opportunity to play one of the most difficult pieces at the John Packer Advanced Wind Band Day the day before.And this weekend, well! Two events that were rather like chalk and cheese. On Saturday I played drums with the Tiverton Town ‘Oompah’ Band, which despite everything went really well and was a actually a lot of fun. They truly are a fabulous bunch of people. Today saw me playing tuba again at Choral Evensong with Exeter Symphony Orchestra in Exeter Cathedral, which, was a pure delight. How professional did it sound? Top notch – especially the combined Cathedral and University Choirs, who were exceptional.
16th August 2017
I’ve taken a few days out recently after the debacle of the last couple of weeks. They say things happen in three’s, well, now I’ve had to let down my good friends at Tiverton Town Band at Blenheim Gardens in Minehead over the weekend due to work commitments with Co-operative Funeralcare, and I didn’t even get a call-out either!I’ve been back to the docs: medication changed (again), had my hands looked at by an Orthopaedic Surgeon, and it seems my left hand with the clawing and the trapped nerve, is much better, but my right hand may have to be operated on in the future – not if I have anything to do with it it won’t!! Physio seems to be working, and to quote the surgeon: “You have to stop abusing your hands by playing the drums and the tuba…!” Good news: Kate Yarwood is coming back to Wellington Silver Band on percussion, and I’ve also been ‘promoted’ to Principal (only) BBb Bass, to which I am really looking forward.
6th August 2017
Well what a few days that was! We’re back in our own bedroom now after sharing one with the penguins for the last month: something I found very stressful. Not the penguins of course, but decorating our own room from scratch and having all our ‘stuff’ all over the house. Then there’s the debacle of missing the Honiton Show due to the mud. I was hours early for the opening night of ‘Annie’ as a result, so much so that I hadn’t noticed that the show had started at 7.00pm – although I thought the start did come round fairly sharply. I’d have made it for at least 7.00pm on Friday evening had it not been for me a) being uber-stressed with getting our house straight again, and b) forgetting it was mid-summer on an August Friday evening. Could I get out onto the A303? No. It took me the best part of 20-30 minutes. I was dead chuffed that I’d made to The Beehive in the nick of time for the 7.30pm start, only to find they were halfway through Act 1 having started at 7.00pm. My already frazzled brain took an even bigger nose dive and the black dog enveloped me again. I don’t remember much of the show – everyone was clearly worried about me, but I was beyond help. I phoned Catherine after the show in a right state, and somehow managed to drive home safely. What a complete nightmare: I’d managed to let down Ottery St Mary Band, and now I’d let down Ian Crew and Honiton Musical Theatre Company too. I was beyond consolation. Rather sheepishly, I arrived in plenty of time for the Saturday evenings’ last performance – and played really well – heaven knows why. Everyone was so caring and helpful – I didn’t know what to say. In the words of Annie herself: ‘the sun will come out tomorrow…….’
5th August 2017
I had to let a band down yesterday – because of the weather. I arrived at Honiton Show a couple of hours early knowing what it was usually like, and was met by a chap turning cars away from the car park at the Green Gate, and it wasn’t hard to see why. I went on to the White Gate where I was supposed to drive in to unload my drum kit, and found that the torrential rain had taken it’s toll – and it was a quagmire. Lorries were getting stuck, cars were being towed out, so I reluctantly had to admit defeat and called off my guest appearance with Ottery St Mary Silver Band – not something I like to do very often. I couldn’t afford to a) get stuck on site in my car and not make the opening night of ‘Annie’, and b) get my beautiful Premier ‘Resonator’ drums and Paiste ‘Signature’ cymbals damaged in the mud and rain. Not very happy. Being the first to arrive and hanging around for ages outside The Beehive, once the doors were opened I was able to get all set up and ready in plenty of time. First night was not bad at all – but I was ready for my bed by the time I arrived home.
29th July 2017
Today saw me playing drums for Wellington Silver Band at Dunkirk House in Bishops Lydeard – right on my doorstep. It’s a lovely facility run by the Royal British Legion for ex-servicemen, and we played some suitably memorable music for them. Andy Stark looked a lot better today and had some proper colour to his cheeks, and it was good to see Kate Yarwood attending a Wellington Band gig – albeit as a spectator on this occasion. There was an outing for my composition ‘The Love That We Share’, which the band seem to enjoy – probably because it’s easy, and short!
25th July 2017
I’ve just received an email that’s made my heart sing: my original composition Excalibur has gone on global release in the new 2017 MF Publications catalogue, together with my concert march Heroes of the Sky and trombone trio Midnight In Moscow. It sits alongside works by Alan Fernie, Simon Kerwin and Mario Buerki and will (hopefully) be bought and played worldwide. I love the cover – couldn’t have done it better myself. Can I finally call myself a professional composer? Here’s one in the eye for all those in the past that have written me off as a no-hoper and said I’d never amount to anything. It’s not riches beyond compare, but it’ll do me and there’s more to come.
23rd July 2017
So today, other than battling the constant scourge of depression, I’m off to Honiton for the band call of the Honiton Pantomime Society’s production of ‘Annie‘ – one of my least favourite shows – but hey, it’s a great story. Looks as if I might get slightly damp carting my gear about: might just take the bare essentials. It’ll help being with fellow musicians – all of whom know I suffer with the dreaded ‘black dog’ (not going to give him the honour of capitalisation here) and some also suffer in silence. Music is a huge help dealing with it.
21st July 2017
Such a shame! Wellington Silver Band’s ‘Proms at St Margaret’s Hospice’ tomorrow evening has been cancelled as the site is waterlogged after the rain yesterday and today – and probably more tomorrow. Never mind – I can look forward to a day’s decorating instead! Looking forward to the ‘band call’ for Honiton Pantomime Society’s production of ‘Annie’ on Sunday though. Whilst not totally inspired by the music (!), it’ll be good to play the drums anyway!
18th July 2017
A very interesting evening at Kenn Parish Church on Sunday evening with Resonate Brass. We played at a ‘Songs of Praise-style’ service where individuals of note from the village were ‘interviewed’ about aspects of their lives. It was most enlightening listening to a retired Royal Marine Padre – what an interesting life! It was also the culmination of the Kenn / Kennford ‘Scarecrow Festival’ week – some examples of which were very good indeed! A great way to bring the villagers together. Playing my hymn arrangements and the first outing of ‘As the Deer’ – it all went rather well. Lunch provided by Paul and his good lady wife – huge thank you!
17th July 2017
Saturday evening saw me playing drums with Wellington Silver Band at the hugely well-attended ‘Proms in the Park’ event in Wellington Park. Great fun – and a very appreciative audience who I’m sure were there not just for the band, but for the bar and hog roast! Just a bit of a shame that certain ‘official jobsworths’ not part of the band seemed hell bent on making it as difficult as possible. Words have been had in the right places and we hope there is no repetition at future events in the most beautiful of settings. Great to be playing the drums again – I just love it.
13th July 2017
Having managed to arrive at Kenn for the first Resonate Brass quintet rehearsal since 2016 – this time on the right date but minus most of my dots, which still haven’t materialised, we went through the hymns and pieces I’d arranged for the church service next Sunday – and they sound lovely -especially ‘As the Deer’. Everyone was in sparkling form, well their senses of humour in any case! Slightly worrying that a group four Magpies congregated on a house roof opposite and seemed very intent on us. My good friends in the quintet are great bunch of people though, and we welcomed Josh Beadon on trumpet who is standing in again for the poorly Myles Taylor, despite recently having had some dental work done himself!
12th July 2017
Interesting rehearsal with Wellington Silver Band last evening – great to be playing kit again, and my right hand was nowhere near as awkward as I thought it might have been, which has to be good news. I’m looking forward to the first of their series of ‘Proms in the Park’ concerts this Saturday coming. I’ve sent the major piece of work that was arranging ‘Princes of the Universe’ by Queen from the Highlander films to the publisher, and hope they like it! Writing it solely from a YouTube live video recording was a real challenge. Last evening I was also handed two photos of a bygone era by a band member too – pics of my time in the Band of the Devon and Dorset Regiment back in the 1990’s.
10th July 2017
What a honour to share the same stage as Raphael Wallfisch last night! His playing in the Dvorak Cello Concerto was sublime – a true virtuoso player – and here in Exeter. The Bliss also went well, but it was beginning to sound a little weary towards the end. Fantastic job by all the back room staff – and a sizeable audience in what is a huge venue too. Now all I have to do is locate my dots for the Esoteric Brass Quintet gig in a couple of weeks: they seem to have hidden themselves during our recent house move.
7th July 2017
I’ve started working for Musikverlag-frank (MF Publications) as a transcriber – as well as doing my own compositions and arrangements. So, when you’re playing music from MF Publications in the future, there’s a high possibility it might be my work. If, on the other hand, you don’t like it, it’s almost certainly not my work! Plenty of new pieces coming that will have my name on them though – and it’s quite a humbling thought that they’ll be out there long after I’ve departed this mortal coil. Some not so good news today though: Physio has given me a steroid jab in my right thumb joint (ouch!) to relieve the pain I’ve been suffering from for years. It’s Arthritis – and may well result in an operation in the future to remove the problem piece of bone. I’m already finding it harder to play percussion because of it (and that’s not a cue for derisory comments), and it remains to be seen how it will affect my tuba playing. I don’t think it’ll be a problem, but as it’s strapped up good and proper at the moment, the ‘Colour Symphony’ by Sir Arthur Bliss might be fun in Exeter Cathedral tomorrow night.
29th June 2017
So, I drive all the way from Bishops Lydeard to Kenn (the other side of Exeter) for a rehearsal of ‘Resonate Brass’ (my brass quintet), arriving promptly at the allotted time, only to find no one else is there. A quick phone call to to Paul proved fruitless – phone not switched on, so I phone Liz. The conversation goes: Liz: ‘Hello Colin’. Me: ‘Hi Liz – am I in the right place?’ Liz: ‘That depends where you’re meant to be’. Me: ‘I’m supposed to be at our quintet rehearsal at Kenn’. Liz: ‘That’s next week, so you’re not in the right place!’…