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Besses o' th' Barn Band
A brilliant Besses o’ th’ Barn Band, under MD Simon Cowen, delighted judges and a packed audience in the Holmfirth Picturedrome on Saturday 14 November 2015 with its playing, singing, choice of music, unique arrangements, and its all-round entertainment value. Besses won the latest round of an emergent Yorkshire entertainment contest, Brass Factor, where the results are decided by audience voting rather than the panel of judges.
Besses kicked off its performance with a short version of its own “signature” march, Whitefield, before neatly following into a custom arrangement by Carin Johnson of the trio melody from the march, now heard as a haunting slow hymn tune played by a quartet. The hymn tune then transitioned straight into the song “I know him so well” from the musical, Chess, delightfully arranged by Carin and sung superbly as a duet by her and Caitlin Wineyard over an accompanying band.
Simon Cowen then stole the limelight in a comedic performance of that traditional favourite trombone solo, “The Acrobat”, whilst an increasingly desperate Paul Exton-McGuinness, on principal trombone, tried his best to get a note in edgeways. The band’s set concluded with “A Blast from the Past”, another custom arrangement, this time by Tilly Tompkins, the band’s chairperson, of a foot-stamping and singalong medley of pop tunes from Johnny Cash, Phil Collins, Barry Manilow, Dexys Midnight Runners and David Bowie.
The judges applauded the band’s choice of programme, showcasing soloists and sections of the band, and its overall performance. They were particularly appreciative Carin and Caitlin’s singing, which was a big hit with the capacity audience.
Simon Cowen commented:
"The performance was just fantastic. This is a band which really does put on a great show. Saturday topped them all so far. To the band, thank you very much for all your patience, hard work and most of all, belief. This was a well-deserved win."
Onwards and upwards - Besses continues its winning ways
Besses is delighted to have won the third section of the 2015 Rochdale Brass Band Championship, held in Rochdale Town Hall on 25 October 2015.
Only twelve months ago, a handful of players was staffing an exhibition stand in the same venue during the 2014 contest trying to “save our band” and garner support and players for Besses, desperate that the band should not “fold”.
Following the appointment at the turn of this year of Simon Cowen as MD, Besses is gaining momentum, re-establishing its reputation, and it now has two contest wins in 2015 proudly under its belt.
Performing Percy Fletcher’s classic test piece, Labour and Love, at Rochdale, the band was described by the contest adjudicator as producing a great band sound, with balance and quality, and some great solo playing.
Despite the recruitment of several new players over the year, due to the loss of players to universities this autumn, there are still seats to be filled. Besses has still got to be the band going places to join at the moment, and will continue to look for talented youngsters, as well as experienced and seasoned brass players.
Interested players should call Simon on 07968 942267 or contact Besses via the website or the Besses Facebook group. Simon would particularly like to hear from potential euphonium, baritone or bass players.
Besses o'th' Barn Band, with special guest soloist Andrew Berryman on both trombone and bagpipes, will play a special charity concert this Saturday, 17 October at 7.30 p.m. in Walkden Methodist Church, Manchester Road, Walkden M38 9AN. All are welcome and tickets will be available on the door, priced at only £6.00.
Proceeds will help to replace equipment to help a church's foodbank scheme.
In early September the Bolton News reported that vandals had caused £1,500 of damage to a polytunnel installed to help a church's foodbank vegetable growing scheme. The Cleggs Lane Methodist Chapel has run a foodbank for the last three years helping local people with emergency food parcels when they are undergoing difficulties. It looks after the Little Hulton and Walkden area.
Besses MD Simon Cowen was saddened by the report and decided to do something to help. The band committee agreed immediately that the band should support by putting on a charity concert and Simon put in a call to his mate Andrew Berryman, former principal trombone of the Halle Orchestra for 20 years, to join the band as its star soloist for the evening.
It has been a fantastic month at Besses with a major concert at the Ramsbottom Music Festival (supporting the Proclaimers) and a three concert series last week with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the amazing Vasily Petrenko, its Chief Conductor.
It is not often that you get to play to 10,000 people in a week, be given a standing ovation, and receive massive plaudits from concertgoers outside the venue when leaving for home.
Simon Cowen is keeping the pressure up, though. There is no time to relax as there is plenty of work to be done and Besses will be building on this momentum.
There are player vacancies to be filled due to loss of players to University this autumn. Besses has got to be the band to be with at the moment. It has had so many recent high-profile engagements, with access to the classical music world as well as the brass band world through the efforts and imagination of Simon.
The word needs to be spread. Besses is looking for talented youngsters, as well as experienced and seasoned players. "There is a storm coming". Besses will be celebrating 200 years of existence in 30 months’ time and plans are in place to hit the band’s third century with a bang, perhaps one as big as the finale of the 1812 Overture as played in the Royal Albert Hall last Tuesday - available to listen to on Classic FM as follows:
Interested players need to call Simon a.s.a.p on 07968 942267 or contact Besses via the website or Facebook group.