Our main band is a traditional, competing brass band who have recently gained promotion to the Second Section national brass band grading. Alongside competitions, the main band love to perform in a wide variety of concerts and events - including traditional brass band concerts, Oktoberfest beer festival-style events, weddings and fetes. The band rehearse twice a week (Wednesdays and Sundays) in our purpose-built facility in Dean Hollow, Audley. Find out more about what we get up to below.
A typical year in the life of Audley Brass
Whilst there is no such thing as a 'typical' year in the life of a brass band as every rehearsal and concert is different (surely that is the beauty of making live music together!), there are a number of key seasonal events that our members and audiences alike look forward to every year. Below is a brief overview of what a typical year looks like for Audley Brass!
Following a well-deserved Christmas break, we like to kick start the year with something a little different! This generally takes the form of an early-season contest which in recent years has seen us perform in venues such as Preston Guild Hall, Butlins Skegness and Warrington Pyramid Theatre. Here you can see us at our morning warm-up on contest day in Warrington 2020.
February is typically the month where contest preparations are at the forefront of our rehearsals. As well as full-band sessions, we hold smaller sectional rehearsals and masterclasses with professionals at the top of their game in the brass band world - having recently worked with the likes of Russell Gray, Gary Curtin, Mareika Gray and Mark Wilkinson. Just before a competition, we invite the general public to an open rehearsal which gives us the opportunity to perform a 'trial-run' of the contest piece.
In terms of competitions, this is the big one for us as it marks the Midlands Regional Brass Band Championships, which in 2021 will see us competing in Bedworth Civic Hall (COVID-19 permitting!). The results of this contest determine our national grading and if we perform well, it also gives us the possibility of qualifying for the National Finals at Cheltenham Racecourse. Whatever happens on stage, after all the hard work is done, we look forward to downing tools and socialising afterwards with our fellow band members - which normally takes the form of a few drinks and a band curry!
After a couple of months where rehearsals have focussed heavily on competition preparation, April sees us switch focus completely as we start to work on concert repetoire for the upcoming summer season. As well as traditional brass band tunes, we like to push the genre boundaries and have been known recently to add an electric guitar into our performances!
Behind our Christmas concert, our Spring Concert held in May is one of our biggest self-supporting events of the year. In recent years this has taken place in St James' Church or Audley Methodist Church Hall and gives us the opportunity to perform a concert set to our local audience and supporters.
A much-loved event in the calendar this time of year is the Whit Friday Marches held annually in Saddleworth & Tameside. This has been known to be described as 'The Greatest Free Show on Earth'! The day sees us all board a coach in Audley and travel around to various villages together performing a short road march and a static contest march at each venue.
During the summer months our typical bookings are for performances at summer fetes, park bandstands and weddings. We believe there's nothing better than spending a sunny weekend afternoon lazing in the sun, ice-cream in hand listening to the sound of a brass band!
SUMMER SHUTDOWN! During the month of August we take a well-deserved few weeks off rehearsals to enjoy the summer holidays. Whilst the bandroom is locked up, band members meet for a summer social such as a band barbecue, with burgers provided by our own head chef, Ian Hill!
Back in the bandroom and our major activity this time of year is preparing for an entertainment contest, where in recent years we have attended Bolsover Festival of Brass. This competition involves the band performing a 20-minute entertainment programme - where pretty much anything goes! Here you can see our chairman, Matthew Dashper-Hughes, in his alter ego as a rock guitarist!
In recent years we have expanded our concert range by performing in Oktoberfest-style events. These performances have proved a hit with both band members and audience alike - giving the opportunity of a sing-a-long and lots of audience participation! Repertoire for these events ranges from Queen to Elvis Presley to Coldplay!
Our most humbling engagement of the year has to be forming part of the Remembrance Day services held in Audley. We lead the parade in a short march up to the cenotaph and then accompany the congregation in a selection of hymns. One of our cornet players will perform the Last Post ahead of a two-minute silence.
When most people think of brass bands they think of Christmas and this has to be the time of year where we are most in-demand - we are typically booked-up for December a year in advance! Our engagements this time of year range from our self-supporting main Christmas concert through to performing Christmas carols in small groups around the streets of Audley and in supermarket foyers to raise funds to help keep us going for the year ahead.