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Surprise trip to Harwich

 

Harwich June 2015 -  127

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Six months ago Anthony (Tug) stood in front of the band and announced; “I want to take the band to Harwich to surprise Dave”….and so a plan was born!

 

Fast forward to 7am on Saturday the 13th June. A bleary eyed brass band packed themselves onto a coach at Froxfield to start the long journey to Harwich, Essex. The plan being to surprise Dave in his home town, in the band stand he used to play in, with his former band – to mark his incredible milestone of 70 years in brass banding.

Dave had already been whisked to Harwich for the weekend under the guise of attending a family party and watching Liane make a guest appearance with the local band. Not suspecting that his band were following behind.

 

On arrival at the Park Pavilion in Harwich there followed a mad rush to unload, change, set up the Band Stand and have a quick rehearsal with two bands who, until that afternoon, had never met. Phoenix Brass were joined by Tendring Brass Band (formerly Harwich RBL Band). The bands waited nervously until Dave was spotted rounding the corner in the distance. Tug led the band with the march Dovercourt Citadel, a favourite of Dave’s with a strong local connection. Feedback later in the day suggested Dave’s initial reaction when realising what was happening was “That’s my bloody band”. What a great reaction!

 

After some tears and a quick change of clothes, Dave took over from Tug to lead the two bands in their concert. Unfortunately the rain forced the bands to play the second half of their concert inside the Park Pavilion building. But as it turns out this building also held many happy memories for Dave.

 

After the concert the Phoenix and Tendring players and supported enjoyed a well-earned buffet (and raffle!) before starting the long journey home.

 

It’s safe to say, that all things considered, it really was a “Perfect Day”.

 

We would like to say a massive “Thank You” to everyone who made the day happen (to name a few; Dave’s family for helping arrange his visit and keeping the secret – especially Liane and Irene, Marilyn for her help sorting the mountain of music, Tendring Brass Band (formerly Harwich RBL Band), Pewsey Vale coaches, and of course the players and supporters from Phoenix!).

David Watson - 70 years in Brass Anniversary Concert

 

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A capacity audience filled the Upper Chamber in the Marlborough Town Hall on Sunday 26th April, to witness a very special event. Phoenix Brass were joined by the Cricklade Band and past players and friends to help David celebrate his great achievement – 70 years of playing and conducting in brass bands.

David had chosen the concert program to reflect pieces that had special significance to him, to remember people and places. There were over fifty players on the day, making a truly wonderful sound. The president of Phoenix Brass, Mike Kilroy, was guest artist that afternoon; also in attendance were Vice Presidents Commodore Jamie Miller CBE and Mrs Christine Peacock.

Mike played four pieces that had been picked by David. The forst was a duet ‘Deep Inside the Sacred Temple’ with Liane Sqibb. The audience were bowled over by the beautiful sound of this Euphonium duet. Mike played three other solos that demonstrated his amazing musicmanship and why he was Principle Euphonium of such bands as Grimethorpe and Brighouse and Rastrick – Blaydon Races, Grandfather Clock and Carnival Cocktail (in which one bar of music contains 32 notes!).

Phoenix Brass cornet player Anthony Palmer as entertained the audience with his beautiful solo ‘Cornet by Candlelight’.

Carol Silk presented David with a commemorative baton on behalf of The Friends of Phoenix – David christened it in the second half of the concert.

It was the most wonderful afternoon with everyone enjoying the music. The feedback after the concert was fantastic.

Mike Kilroy spoke eloquently about David’s life in brass banding, how they met over the phone when David tried to buy a euphonium from Mike, and how privileged and honoured Mike feels about being President of Phoenix Brass. All the glories of the top flight band are as nothing, Mike said, in comparison with the family atmosphere and dedication of grass roots brass bands. Commitment and loyalty are traits of banding that stay with a brass player throughout their life. Mike presented David with an engraved glass on behalf of Phoenix Brass.

Commodore Jamie Miller also spoke about his association with David and Phoenix, praising the dedication of David in the service of banding and thanking him for the many occasions at which Phoenix have played. Jamie presented David with a lead soldier, a fife player, but did say it was on loan until he could find a bugler! High on the Hill, Jamies favourite piece was played…twice!

After the concert, the players and audience were invited to the lower chamber of Marlborough Town Hall where the Friends of Phoenix had laid on a magnificent tea. Plates of sandwiches, savouries, cakes and trifles were soon demolished. It was wonderful to have a chat and meet up with friends old and new. It was good to see some familiar faces in the crowd, all enjoying the afternoon.

One final surprise for David was the presentation of a celebration cake by his wife, Irene. Made by their daughter in law, Carrie Watson. It featured the sheet music of All in the April Evening.

Overall a fantastic afternoon, and a cracking concert.

 

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