Last weekend Maestro Richard Evans invited me to be featured soloist with the Mount Charles Brass Band from St Austell, Cornwall. The band take part in an annual series of concerts that take place in the spectacular Minack Theatre, right at the foot of the Lands End Peninsula. For those who haven't experienced this wonderful theatre, take a look at their web link https://www.minack.com , it is a stunning venue.
After a frantic seven-hour journey from my home in Warwickshire, I managed to make it to rehearsal in St. Austell only a few minutes late. The band were in full flow and sounded wonderful. Having been away from the UK for the last eight years, to say that I have missed the sound of a brass band is a bit of an understatement, to say the least! Richard, in his usual manner, had picked a program that appealed to everyone and was based around a 'Last night of the Proms' format. It featured music by George Gershwin, Hoagy Carmichael, Tchaikovsky, Puccini and some masterly arrangements by Paul Lovatt-Cooper.
All the concerts were a sell-out, meaning that we had performed to approximately 2,500 people. Not many bands can boast those figures nowadays!
It was a very special weekend for me as not only was it the first series of solo concerts I have taken part in since I returned home, but it also gave me some precious social time with Richard and Pam. Richard and Pam are very close friends and are a treat to spend time with. A few cheeky bottles were shared in celebration!
In addition I met up with an old colleague of mine from my time at Leyland Band, Andrew Blackledge. Andrew kindly helped the band out on flugelhorn and sounded absolutely terrific. I had forgotten how good these players are back home. Inspirational stuff indeed.
I also had the good fortune of meeting up with an old friend from Brighouse & Rastrick Band and top class tubist Simon Martindale. My father and I have known Simon for some time, he's a lovely chap, fine player and excellent photographer. Check his photography out on Twitter @SMartdale
The hospitality and friendship the members of Mount Charles Band displayed was humbling. They are a top bunch of people, and all fine musicians to boot.
Bravo Richard Evans, Andrew Blackledge and Mount Charles Band. It was a pleasure performing with you all and I very much hope we can do it again sometime.