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Issued: 21 Sep 2021

Top brass: Hemel musicians impress judges in National Brass Band Championships


On Sunday 19th September, Hemel Hempstead Band were stunned to reach an impressive fourth place at the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain in Cheltenham. Fending off challenges from bands across the U.K., the Apsley-based ensemble put in a rousing performance of test piece “An Elgar Portrait” to wow the adjudicators with their musicality and bravado.

This achievement is all the more impressive considering that due to the pandemic, the band were unable to meet, rehearse or perform together in person until May this year. Even then, to keep everyone safe from COVID-19 they decamped from their usual rehearsal facilities in Apsley to use a larger hall in nearby Cassiobury School (pictured here at their dress rehearsal last week). Juggling timpani and tubas alike between locations, the intrepid musicians met twice a week under the baton of Musical Director, Mr Paul Fothergill. Their dedication and optimism paid off this weekend.

“We were honoured to be chosen to select the south east of England to play at the National Finals this year. And we had a wonderful weekend in Cheltenham,” says Mr Fothergill. “It’s been a bleak few months but playing together and achieving this fantastic result has put a real smile on our faces.”

The growing band has a thriving training group. Of the twenty-eight brass players and percussionists who played at the contest, seven were under eighteen. By building this groundswell of young talent, the band has big ambitions to extend its 150-year history of making music for the local community by gaining promotion at next year’s regional championships.

“It’s wonderful to see all these youngsters coming through from our training band,” says band President Mr Peter Davis, who started playing in the band aged 14. Now a youthful 89, with an extraordinary 75 years of brass playing under his belt, Peter represented them on baritone horn this weekend. “The future of the band is bright. This result has really put Hemel Hempstead on the map.”

The band welcomes new and returning brass and percussion players of all standards to their band room on Monday evenings from 6.30pm. If you’re interested, please get in touch on our Hemel Hempstead Band Facebook page or tweet @hemelband