A weekend of Music Making
It all started on Friday evening (6th June) with an intense rehearsal taken by our guest conductor, Harald Hepner Musical Director of the Jugendsinfonieorchester Ravensburg, Germany. This is the third consecutive year that the Band has been privileged to work with Harald and to have him conduct us for the D-Day 70 memorial concert the following day was to be a great honour.
The D-Day 70 concert was a great success with a capacity crown enjoying the music from the band, Llanfoist Fawr Primary School, the Youth Band and soloists Maggie Pratt and Keith Purkiss, both long-standing members of St Mary’s Priory Church Choir.
As you’d expect the programme was entirely designed to evoke memories and stir emotions. The concert was dedicated to all who served in all the forces and included such pieces as; The Dambusters March, The Great Escape, Hymn to the Fallen, The Army, the Navy and the AirForce, Blue Birds Over and A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.
The concert concluded with the Royal British Legion Standards being lowered to the Last Post which featured in the world premiere of Dave Collins evocative piece “Lest We Forget” with narration by Lewis Wilkinson read by Craig Roberts and buglers Diane Mogford and Louise Russell.
Then, the following morning, it was off to the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay to perform under the baton of Alwyn Humphries MBE, who led massed choirs and the band in a Cymanfa Ganu in the Glanfa foyer.
Alwyn Humphreys combines two busy careers as a television presenter and choral/orchestral conductor. He is Conductor Emeritus of the Morriston Orpheus Choir and Principal Guest Conductor of the Chamber Orchestra of Wales. The last time the Band played for Alwyn was at the Millennium Stadium in 2012 when Wales played the Barbarians.
10th June 2014
SEWBBA Championships – Merthyr
Once again our youth and senior bands participated in the same contest, this time at the Rhydycar Leisure Centre, Merthyr on Saturday 17th May. This is the first time the leisure centre hosted the competitions and it proved to be an excellent venue with great facilities in and around the centre.
The youth band started proceedings having been drawn to play first in the junior section on the day. Adjudicator, Mike Kilroy, thoroughly enjoyed the programme which comprised of Liberty Bell, The Rose, Delilah and 500 Miles. He praised all sections of the band congratulating them on their ensemble, dynamics and rhythmical playing. The youth band came away with a silver award and the prize for the best percussionist on the day.
The senior band didn’t fare so well only coming 6th in the Championship sections with their performance of Martin Ellerby’s Chivalry. A joint adjudication this time with Ian Porthouse and Mike Kilroy pointing out mainly interpretive problems within the performance. Mike Kilroy also looked for much more care and focus in our playing to bring out all of the opportunities that are contained within the score; whereas Ian Porthouse commented on an overall performance that had good energy but needed channelling in a more subtle way.
MD Craig Roberts stated that despite the result, the band delivered an excellent rendition of the music and had improved significantly over the playing at the last contest in Llandudno.
21st May 2014
Band to give D-Day premiere
A new work by composer Dave Collins, inspired by the selfless sacrifice of those involved in the D-Day landings will be premiered in Wales. Inspired by the 70th anniversary of the Second World War D-Day landings the music will be premiered in Wales on June 7th by the Band during its concert at St Mary’s Priory, Abergavenny.
Entitled, ‘’Lest We Forget’, it has been written by composer Dave Collins and features the Band with accompanying offstage buglers and spoken text by writer Lewis Wilkinson.
As part of the long term building of reconciliations and friendship between the twinned towns of Abergavenny and of Oestringen in Germany, the performance itself will be directed by guest conductor Harald Hepner, Director of the Stadtorchester and Musikschule in Ravensburg.
Dave Collins commented “Lewis and I are very excited for this work to be premiered by Abergavenny Band as part of this incredibly moving concert.The work reflects our admiration of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice protecting this country, but also acknowledges the violence, horror and destruction caused by war."
The Band’s MD, Craig Roberts added: "We've held a close connection with Germany for many years. Abergavenny is twinned with the town of Oestringen and the band itself will be heading to Nürtingen and Baden-Württemberg on tour this summer. I'll also be working in both Hamburg and Ravensburg, and with the D-Day anniversary and First World War centenary this year, we thought it the perfect occasion to invite Herr Hepner to Wales to conduct this concert and tribute to all fallen servicemen and women."
The concert will also feature other music by the Band, who last year was awarded prestigious Ty Cerdd WS Gwynn Williams Award.
17th May 2014
D-Day 70 Concert
On Saturday June 7, Abergavenny Borough Band will mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings with a grand scale concert at St Mary's Church, Monk Street, Abergavenny, NP7 5ND.
The concert will feature Abergavenny Borough Band, Soloists of St Mary's Church Choir, Abergavenny Borough Youth Band and Llanfoist Fawr School Choir. Tickets are just £10 / £8 concessions with complimentary tickets being offered to current and ex-service personnel, plus children 12yrs and under.
Tickets are available direct from St Mary's Church on 01873 856 624 or from Abergavenny Band on 07971 853 951
The concert will be conducted by Abergavenny Borough Band Musical Director Craig Roberts together with guest conductor, Harald Hepner, Director of the Musikschule of Ravensburg, Germany. Abergavenny Youth will be conducted by Youth Band Musical Director Lana Tingay.
Welsh Regional Championships – Llandudno
As Llandudno basked in the warm spring sunshine, brass bands from all over wales descended on Venue Cymru for the annual regional championships on 15th and 16th March. It was to be adjudicator David Reed’s last event as a Brass Band judge before retiring from the role.
He said what we all felt in his comments at the end of the 1st section contest; that the test piece was no technical challenge but really tested bands musical ability and quiet playing prowess.
He placed our performance 8th out of the nine contenders on the day and his adjudicators remarks seem to bear out his comments on stage; that we tackled the challenges well giving a “workmanlike performance”, praising the quiet playing but wishing we had given the piece “more expression and musical shape”. 4Barsrest tended to agree commenting that ours was “a performance that grew in stature, but it seemed a little off the pace today”.
Band Chairman, Andrew Richards, commented “we probably left the best performance in the rehearsal room, but never the less I think we rose to the occasion and met most of the challenges presented by the test piece. Expression and musicality are very subjective areas but I’d agree, we could have performed better on this aspect of the music”.
Test Piece: 'Cry of the Mountain' - Howard Lorriman
Adjudicator: David Read MBE
1. Llwydcoed (David Childs)
2. Goodwick (Matthew Jenkins)
3. Lewis Merthyr (Gavin Pritchard)
4. Markham (Gareth Pritchard)
5. Pontardulais (Paul Jenkins)
6. Rogerstone (Jeff Hutcherson)
7. Deiniolen (Lois Eifion)
8. Abergavenny Borough (Craig Roberts)
9. Llanrug (Paul Hughes)
Best Instrumentalist: Matthew Fletcher (euphonium) - Pontardulais
17th March 2014
Band Annual General Meeting
After 26yrs Band President, Ray Hill, has stepped down at this year’s AGM. Ray recalled the day officers from the band called at his house to invite him to take up the position and said it was one of his proudest moments. Ray has been a keen supporter of the band and has worked hard to represent us in the town. He can always be seen collecting in the town when the band plays to raise funds and takes every opportunity to promote the band locally. But Ray will continue his long association with the band as he has agreed to become one of our vice-presidents.
Our new president was elected at the AGM and the band is proud to announce that local businessman, Alun Griffiths of Alun Griffiths Contractors Ltd., has taken up the position. Founded in 1968 and still privately owned, Alun Griffiths (Contractors) Ltd is one of the leading civil engineering and construction contractors working in Wales, the English border counties and the West Country. Its head office is in Llanfoist near Abergavenny.
Band Chairman, Andrew Richards, said the whole band is extremely grateful for the years of dedication Ray has given the organisation and we are delighted he will continue as a Vice-President. Everyone in the band is also excited and honoured to welcome Alun as our new President and we look forward to a long and happy future together.
Other vice-presidents elected at the AGM were former band secretary of 10 years, Gareth Havard and his wife Sharon. Gareth and Sharon became associated with the band when their daughters joined the youth band and have always been keen supporters and hard workers for us.
22nd March 2014
Silverware at the Welsh Open
Band wins the Eifion W Rogers Trophy and £300 – Best 1st Section Band
The recent spell of extremely bad weather abated to allow bands to compete at the Welsh Open Entertainments Contest on Porthcawl today (15th February 2014). The band selected an exciting programme, an eclectic mix of musical styles, opening with some Latin rhythms in Los Hermanos De Bop. Louise Russell then featured as our Flugel Horn Soloist in the second piece, Faith. by George Michael arranged by Cory MD Philip Harper. Louise was roundly congratulated by adjudicator, Stan Lippeatt for some fine Flugel Horn playing.
The next work was from the pen of that most quintessentially English of writers, Ralph Vaughan Williams and his first ever film score as the band played the beautiful and moving Prelude 49th Parallel. Changing styles completely the band then entered the realm of the famous Russian dancers in the fast and furious Cossack Wedding Dance, before concluding with a toe tapping rendition of Bill Whelan’s “Riverdance”
Adjudicator, Stan Lippeatt, praised the soloists throughout the performance and congratulated the band on some exciting playing and a good choice of music for an entertaining programme.
MD, Craig Roberts commented that the band delivered a confident and well rehearsed performance. He added that the adjudication was very fair and there were no real problems of balance and intonation which was very positive. The band now has to concentrate on the Welsh Regional contest in Llandudno in March.
15th February 2014
Silver for the Youth Band
Well done to all our young players in the Youth Band who travelled to Ross-on-Wye on February 2nd to take part in the Gloucester Brass Band Association Entertainments Championships. Winning a silver award for their performance was a great reward for all their hard work in the weeks before the contest.
Opening with Souza’s Liberty Bell March the youngsters followed with two pieces more fitting for a Welsh Band; Delilah and the Welsh traditional air “Suo Gan”. The Proclaimers “500 Miles” then had the audience stomping away before the solo cornets played the beautiful love song “The Rose”. More hand-clapping for the final piece “Amarillo” delighted the packed auditorium.
Adjudicator, Ian Porthouse, congratulated the youngsters on their beautiful and tuneful playing and MD Lana Tingay on her choice of programme that suited the band very well.
5th February 2014
A mix of concerts and contests is planned for 2014 which will keep the band very busy throughout the year ahead.
The local contesting round commences on February 15th in Porthcawl with the Welsh Open Entertainments Championships closely followed by Welsh Regional Championships, Venue Cymru, Llandudno on 15th March. Preparations are already well advanced for this trip and players are working hard to polish the test piece for the day, Cry of the Mountain. May 17th will see the band in Ebbw Vale for the South East Wales Brass Band Association Championships. The penultimate contest of the year will take us to Fishguard overnight on October 4th for the West Wales Brass Band Association Championships before closing the contest season with a visit to Blaenavon in November.
The band is pleased to be supporting Hospice of the Valleys on March 1st for a St David's Day Concert with Abertillery Orpheus Male Choir and soprano Elizabeth Tiley at Ebbw Fawr Primary School Hall. The School Hall at Ebbw Fawr Primary is a fantastic venue for this type of concert and this will be the first of its kind there. With a St David’s Day theme running throughout, the choir, the band and Elizabeth are going to sound fantastic with those acoustics and we’ll be raising money for the Hospice in the process. All money raised will go towards the charity’s ongoing work supporting those who have life-limiting illnesses in Blaenau Gwent. Tickets are £5 concession £4 and can be purchased from the Hospice office - 01495 717277. For more details visit www.hospiceofthevalleys.org.uk
Of course, this year marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the centenary of the start of the 1st world war. A special evening concert is planned for June 7th - D-Day 70 with Abergavenny Youth Band, Senior Band and Choristers from St Mary’s Priory, Abergavenny. Continuing with the commemoration there will be a spectacular parade through the town on Saturday June 28th led by the senior band.
As winners of the prestigious W.S Gwynne Williams award in 2013, we will again be participating in the Ty Cerdd conference on Sunday June 8th. Joining in the Cymanfa Ganu, the band will be performing arrangements of 10 traditional Welsh hymns together with a massed mixed choir on the Glanfa stage of the Wales Millennium Centre, together with two or three stand-alone band items with a Welsh basis. The band and choir items will be conducted by Dr Alwyn Humphreys MBE http://www.morristonorpheus.com/conductor-emeritus and the band by our MD Craig Roberts. In an added element it has been confirmed that the event will be recorded by the BBC for broadcast on BBC Radio Cymru.
In late July, the senior band flies to Baden-Württemberg, as guests of the Stadtkapelle Nürtingen, for the 18th annual Nürtingen Tattoo. Each year the Nürtingen Tattoo takes the form of a large-scale open air performance held on specially constructed lit stages in front of the City Hall. Over 2,000 people attend the event which also features the 50 strong Stadtkapelle Nürtingen and the Ehingen Donau Pipe Bands.
5th January 2014