Ware Brass’ performance at Ware Priory on Sunday 2nd July will mark the end of an exciting and highly successful era for the band as it will be the last time that Phillip Littlemore will take the helm as Musical Director with the Hertfordshire outfit.
Phillip and his family are moving to the Isle of Wight during the Summer, and despite best intentions a 220-mile round trip, not to mention the two ferry crossings as well, make the weekly jaunts to High Cross impossible!
Phillip took on the role of Musical Director with Ware Brass in April 2006. They had been, up until that point, a fairly active contesting band as well as a regular concert giver in and around Ware itself. Phillip wanted to concentrate the band’s efforts more towards concert-giving and, with the band’s blessing, embarked on that path continuing to entertain the concert-goers of Ware as well as further afield. The Concert Spectaculars performed at the Drill Hall each November are stuff of legend and have included, among many, a 60s Night where everyone was entertained by Elvis, Tom Jones and many other icons of the decade through to their Heroes & Villains Night where audiences came face-to-face with Darth Vader himself. Of course, Phillip and the band also continued to compete in the Regional Championships each March and are now established as one of the London & Southern Counties strongest 1st Section Bands.
Phillip, commenting on his decision to leave said: “We have done so many great things together. It is going to be very difficult to say goodbye to everyone involved, including the large number of friends and supporters outside of the band itself. I haven’t counted everything up, but I have probably taken the best part of 1,000 rehearsals and conducted something like 250 concerts in my time with the band. I am deeply sad to be leaving, and I look forward to hearing great things form them in the future.”
Lisa King, Chairman also commented: “Phillip has been an absolute integral part of Ware Brass during his time as Musical Director. He has done so much more than his role as MD requires, including taking responsibility for our marketing and publicity. With Phillip’s exceptional musical arrangements we have been able to put on concerts with a range of music that you will not hear from any other bands. The members of Ware Brass are sorry to see Phillip leaving, and I will certainly miss his friendship and support. We would like to wish Phillip and his family all the best for their future in the Isle of Wight and hope that he will be inviting us out there for a band tour!”
Ware Brass’ last concert with Phillip Littlemore as Musical Director will be on Sunday 2nd July in the grounds of Ware Priory from 3.00pm. The concert is FREE for all.
Last Sunday, 28th May, Ware Brass took part in the prestigious All-England Masters International Championship at The Lighthouse Theatre, Kettering. A contest that has, in the past, attracted such great brass banding names as Brighouse & Rastrick, Grimethorpe and Fodens.
Over recent years the contest has drawn in bands from the continent, hence the insertion of International into the Championship title some years ago. The contest is one of the brass band calendar’s finest, and so for Ware Brass to be invited was both an honour and a challenge. The test piece for the occasion was The Torchbearer by Peter Graham. Peter is one of the finest composers writing for the brass band medium at the moment, and his piece was a tribute to one of the all-time great brass band composers, Eric Ball. Taking a theme from the march Torchbearers by Eric himself, Peter took both the theme, and sections within in it, to create a very demanding work of some 13-14 minutes (depending on how brave bands were in taking the quick sections!). He also took snippets of other Eric Ball pieces and interwove them in to the work.
Ware Brass did not underestimate the task ahead and spent a number of weeks rehearsing this difficult piece – the hardest the band has ever encountered. As Phillip Littlemore, Musical Director, commented: “We entered this contest knowing that a high placing was beyond us. However, we wanted to prove to ourselves that we could enter a competition alongside some of the great competing bands and give a creditable performance. We achieved that, and I am proud of the band for all their hard work. I also want to add how impressed I was with our soloists who all played their technically demanding parts with great aplomb. Our final placing was not unexpected, but every one in the band was a true master on the day!”
The competition was won by Milnrow from the North West, with Brass Band Willebroek form Belgium taking second place and City of Bradford in third. Last year’s Champions and hotly-tipped pre-contest favourites Virtuoso GUS were fourth.
The band was sad to hear that the former long-serving Ware Brass bass player Dennis Levey passed away on the 23rd March at the age of 92. He joined the band in the 1950s on cornet before settling on bass some time later. His son Douglas also played with the band for a while on cornet.
All the members of Ware Brass offer their condolences to his wife Jean, son son Douglas, daughter-in-law Carol, and grandchildren Emma, Alice and Adam. The funeral will take place at Parndon Wood Crematorium, Harlow on Wednesday 19th April at 1pm and anyone wishing to attend will be most welcome.
The band is currently preparing for the Regional Championships to be held in the Arts & Leisure Centre, Stevenage in just a few days time, Sunday 19th March. The selected test piece is Land of the Long White Cloud (Aotearoa) by Philip Sparke. Aotearoa was the name given to New Zealand by its Polynesian settlers whose first sight of the islands was a long, flat cloud lying low over the land. The work is not speciﬁcally programmatic, although many have images of the surging ocean in the opening section or maori dance-like features throughout. It’s a challenging work, but we’re putting the hours in….
As the January transfer window comes to a close, Ware Brass is delighted to welcome four new signings to strengthen the ranks ahead of the Regional Championships to be held in Stevenage on the 19th March.
Rejoining our cornet bench after a few years in the wilderness is Ian Muncey. Ian joins us on Repiano Cornet, which is one of the pivotal positions in the cornet section as it requires a high level of versatility – something synonymous with Ian! Our second new addition to the cornet ranks on 2nd Cornet is Louise Barlow. Louise has recently graduated from Birmingham University, where she studied French – bienvenue! She was a member of the University brass band throughout her time there and a regular performer at UniBrass.
Stuart Black has been playing Flugel Horn with us since October, and we are delighted that he has now put pen to paper and made that permanent. Stuart is a master of many instruments (most of which live under his bed) and we are delighted that he has made Ware Brass his brass band home.
We are also delighted to welcome Adrian Ricketts on first trombone. Adrian has recently returned to playing after an extended break – although you would not be able to tell that from the dulcet tones emanating from the end of his trombone.
Why not come and join Ware Brass for a rousing afternoon of festive cheer with Christmas carols, Christmas songs and much more this Sunday, 11th December, in Fletcher’s Lea, The Priory, Ware for our annual festive Singalong.
The fun starts at 3.00pm and is FREE ENTRY. We hope to break our record and play/sing up to 40 carols (and all the verses) in our two hours together! Mince pies and other festive favourites (tea, coffee etc.) will be served at the interval.
Ware Brass would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!
Ware Brass will be playing their annual Christmas Concert in Fletcher’s Lea, Ware Priory on Saturday 3rd December at 7.30pm.
All the music will be full of festive flavour, including several new pieces never played out by the band before. You can also take this opportunity to buy the Ware Brass CD “Christmas…. At Last!”. What better way to wake up on Christmas morning and have the band play for you!
Tickets are priced at £15/£12 concessions and include either (festive) Fish & Chips or Chicken & Chips Supper. You can order your tickets either in person or by phone from Ware Town Council on 01920 460316.
For those wanting a good old sing song, look out for our forthcoming “Ware Brass Christmas Singalong” on 11th December.
Ware Brass is renowned for their November Spectaculars and this coming November is no different.
Preparation is underway for a great night of Magic & Fantasy on Saturday 12th November. Not only will the band perform musical numbers from films such as Harry Potter, The Wizard of Oz, Hook, Frozen, Into The Woods and the Disney film Fantasia , they will also be playing music related to the Fantasy genre such as The Chronicles of Narnia, Back To The Future and Pirates of the Caribbean!
In addition to the band performances ,we will be featuring the vocal talents of John Sharples singing Pinball Wizard (Tommy) and It’s A Kind of Magic (Highlander) but his even-more-talented daughter, Beverley Jane will be singing the Disney classic Let It Go (Frozen) and Come Little Children (Hocus Pocus). We will also have the added bonus of acting talent as we feature the children of players within the band as they hit the stage as intrepid Ghostbusters!
Tickets are available at £12 (adult), £10 (OAPs) and £8 (children) with a family ticket available for £32 (based on two adults and two children). They can be bought from members of the band or online here.
The band recently competed in the First Section of the London & Southern Counties Championships at the Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage. Playing alongside fifteen other bands each one had prepared the same piece, Essay for Brass Band by Edward Gregson.
Written in 1970, Gregson’s piece was quite a challenge not least because it’s lyrical and technical demands are as relevant today as they were forty-five years ago. Over 150 bands across the UK had competed on this piece (there are seven other regional championships that take place during February and March from as far north as Perth in Scotland and as far south as Torquay in Devon) and only a handful of bands in each region managed to overcome the demands of the music.
Ware Brass was one such band and impressed adjudicators Mark Wilkinson and Paul Norley enough to secure a fifth place. Musical Director, Phillip Littlemore said: “The band had worked hard throughout February and March on a very difficult piece of music. With our adrenalin pumping, our performance was not without drama, as the contest arena is not for the feint-hearted, and we did not come away unscathed, However, our overall performance was very good indeed and but for a few momentarily lapses in concentration could have seen a higher placing. Special mention should go to all our soloists and especially to Assistant Principal Cornet, Jo Todd, who gave an exquisite rendition of a very difficult, and fairly long solo.”
The band is now firmly established as one of the leading First Section bands in the London & Southern Counties Area but with the contest over it now returns to its core activity of concert performances. Please take a look at the Concert Diary here.
Why not come and join Ware Brass for a rousing afternoon of festive cheer with Christmas carols, Christmas songs and much more on Sunday 13th December in Fletcher’s Lea, The Priory, Ware for our annual festive Singalong.
The fun starts at 3.00pm and it is FREE ADMISSION. We hope to break our record and play/sing up to 40 carols (and all the verses) in our two hours together! Mince pies and other festive favourites will be served at the interval.
Ware Brass would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!