Jaguar Landrover band one voice

This brass band festival went online this year due to the Corona virus restrictions and the event was a great success. On Saturday 4th July 2020 Pershore Midsummer Brass festival should have been held in Pershore as it has been annually, bringing together bands from across the Midlands and beyond, in a unique non-competitive festival of brass with as many as 4 venues around the town. This year bands provided virtual performances and footage to the organisers instead.

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak and the Government advice on Social Distancing, these band have had to cancel rehearsals, but many are holding ‘virtual’ rehearsals, where they all play their own individual parts and then ‘mix’ them together. Others provided pre-recorded footage, even recordings made by their supporters at previous performances and open rehearsals.

A fanfare opened the day, played by Jaguar Land Rover Band alongside a welcome from John West, chairman of Pershore Midsummer Brass and Pershore Town mayor, Councillor Chris Parsons MBE. This was followed by full performances from Arrow Valley Brass, AW Parker (Drybrook) Band From the Forest of Dean, the Band of Gloucestershire Constabulary, Bretforton Silver Band, City of Coventry Brass, Jaguar Land Rover Band based in Coventry, Malvern Hills Brass Band, A reunited Perscoran Brass, Shipston Town Band and Stour Concert Brass from Shipston in South Warwickshire, Shirley Band fromSolihull, SPAL Sovereign Brass from the Black Country,  Stourport on Severn Brass Band, Tewkesbury Town and Training Bands, The Langley Band from Oldbury in the West Midlands, Worcester City Brass and Worcester Concert Brass.

Langley brass over the rainbow
Langley brass over the rainbow

All the bands had worked hard to gather what was required by the organisers within a tight deadline. Some fun videos from bands were recorded under lockdown conditions, where we could spot the matching wallpaper of brass-banding families, We loved the music of Worcester City Brass and spotting the silly hat’s and goggles, post it notes(?) and teddies, even a dog in their videos recorded at home.  Langley Band even arranged their lockdown videos on the screen in the same way they would have appeared onstage as a band as if they were facing the conductor, wearing rainbow colours to play Over The Rainbow in tribute to the NHS.

Some bands sent pre-recorded performances on existing CDs of music. AW Parker (Drybrook) Band even supplied music recorded in Pershore Abbey itself, where they would have hoped to play at Pershore Midsummer Brass. There was a further taste of Pershore Midsummer Brass with a proms concert from Stourport on Severn Band playing in a marquee similar to the one at the Angel Hotel or the Star Inn. 

Stourport on Severn 500 miles

Tewkesbury band sent archive videos of their training band through many years, while the training band for Worcester City Band appeared in their own lockdown videos and we reminisced with the archive photographs of Perscoran Band and Bretforton Silver Band through the years. Perscoran had hoped to reunite at Pershore Midsummer Brass to perform in celebration of their founder Gordon Hartley Bennett who also began the first incarnation of the Pershore Midsummer Brass festival. Gordon Hartley-Bennett responded to their recording and photographs with the message: “Thank you for the kind tribute and wonderful memories. It would have been brilliant to see you all. Roll on PMB 2021!”

Some of the bands had managed to add an extra touch to their perfomances. Arrow Valley Brass provided a tour of Ireland recorded from a drone to accompany a celtic tune, while Jaguar Land Rover Band performed with friends on electric guitars, as an exciting addition to the normal brass band line-up.

The festival ended with a performance from Lockdown Brass, comprised of players from Worcester Concert Brass, Malvern Hills Brass Band and Malvern Chase Band who have supported each other through lockdown with quizzes and chats online. They recorded a piece by Fodens Band Principal Trombone player, John Barber, known as Song for the Frontline, in support of the NHS. Fodens Brass have more ‘lock down’ performances and links to their NHS charities campaign on facebook: www.facebook.com/FodensBand/

As hoped, this method of sharing Pershore Midsummer Brass reached many of those who would normally come to Pershore as well as being shared with new listeners. We had an incredible total of 5287 views over the whole weekend and many positive comments from bands and spectators alike. Despite the difficult conditions the event was a great success, and to quote Gordon Hartley Bennett commented, “Roll on 2021”. It will be on 3rd July if you want to add it to your diary now.

By: Sarah Dentith

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