OVH Christmas Concerts – 10/12/2016

Although somewhat belated, we love to keep our fans up-to-date with our activities, and Christmas is our busiest period. Read on for more!

The now traditional Otterbourne Christmas concert weekend was once again a highlight of the Band’s busy Christmas schedule.

Both the afternoon and evening concerts were very well supported and the audience enjoyed a varied programme of Christmas music, which included many different arrangements to traditional and well known Christmas tunes. One particular highlight was the The Huron Carol, a traditional Canadian Carol probably written in 1642, arranged as a Cornet Solo, and played superbly by Sonja Charters, the Band’s Principal Cornet.

For a little variety the concert programme also included some non-Festive pieces that were associated with “tunes from the Radio”, such as the theme tune from Desert Island Discs (“Sleepy Lagoon”), which proved to be very popular with the audience.

Another highlight was Goldcrest, a march the Band played at the recent Wessex Contest, which included a section requiring the Band to sing – a first….

At the end of the concerts the audience departed with smiles and “thank you’s”, confirmation that performances were much enjoyed and appreciated.

As always, the concerts could not have happened without the hard work of the Band, the Committee and everybody who helped to organise the events.

And not to be forgotten, Paul Chapman and Melvin White the MD’s for the concerts.

And especially not to be forgotten are Melvin’s Christmas Cracker quality jokes…

Article by Martyn Parsons

Otterbourne Village Fete and Jalopies – 26/06/2016

Sunday saw the band making its annual appearance at the Otterbourne Village Fete, an event which is enjoyed by band members young and old. The threatened rain fortuitously held off until we had finished playing and we were able to entertain visitors to the show with a varied selection of music from the Second Waltz of Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite to the sublime delights of Frozen.

The day started in its traditional way with a parade of home made jalopies (including a Dalek made entirely of lego!) driving through the village to the fete ground. Here, they were greeted in front of a large and enthusiastic audience by the band who played a couple of rousing marches by way of welcome.

Solo items included Stardust played by guest trombonist Sue, and An Untold Story performed by Berni on tenor horn. Both solos featured playing of the highest quality and we are fortunate that the band has such talented players.

Particular thanks have to go to euphonium player Will Wilkins, who stepped in at short notice to conduct the band for most of the first half. Melvin White, our musical director, was delayed on the M3 but managed to join us in time for the ice creams and cake during the break!

Thank you to our deps: Meg, Billy, Paddy, Mark, Ben, Sue and our regular guest Ken on bass trombone.

Our thanks are also sent to the organisers for another wonderful fete and we look forward to returning next year.

Article by Ian Austin


OVH Summer Concert – 03/07/2016

So after thunderstorms and heavy rain on Saturday, I was worried that we may not have a good turnout for our summer concert today, but the sun was shining for us and the village hall was …(almost?) full. Everyone seemed in good spirits as I arrived, having gone to pick up “Big H”, that’s Henry, who plays for Michelmersh Silver Band and was kindly helping us out in the bass section.

With the stage set and a few other deps helping out we got up on stage. As usual it’s hot up there, especially with the stage lighting. We did have a little more room today though as unfortunately we were without our percussionists.

It was a nice surprise to see Paul Kennett depping for us on 1st baritone as I played in the Hampshire Youth County Bands with him from age 9-18 & my Bach Stradivarius trumpet I got for my 10th Christmas present was from his Dad’s music shop in Alton (many years ago!) Poor Fred (usually on 1st baritone) has had to duck out as his son has appendicitis and is recovering from surgery. We all wish him a speedy recovery.

The concert began with Intrada on Regent Square and The Magic Flute followed. Melvin seemed pleasantly surprised with our standard of playing and concentration.

The first half of the concert continued and included 2 wonderful solos. The first from our principal cornet player, Sonja who played a beautiful rendition of Morricone’s Cinema Paradiso, and Amelia who played Eyes of a Child, the beautiful solo she played at the SCABA contest recently – winning the prize for Best Soloist! Both solos captivated the audience.  I was thinking if I can do half as good I’ll be pleased (my solo was coming up in the 2nd half)!

We finished the first half with highlights from Frozen … unfortunately for Melvin his young daughter wasn’t there to sing along “Let it Go! Let it Go!”. There are some tricky little bits in this piece but I think we played and listened really well today. I’m pleased to say that chatting to the audience during the interval – between cups of tea and delicious looking cakes (included in the ticket price) – the audience seemed to agree with me. They loved the programme so far and especially enjoyed the solos.

After the tea and cake were consumed and our kind volunteers had helped in the kitchen and with the raffle draw, we were set for the second half. My solo was up after the first piece and I was determined not to let the nerves get the better of me!

We couldn’t really hear what Melvin was saying and I got quite relaxed in my chair, when suddenly it was my turn to stand up. As I took the stand from Mark, our dep soprano player, the music flew off the stand and down onto the village hall floor. A kind member of the audience retrieved my music and the band began. A lovely introduction to my solo, An Untold Story. I stood at the edge of the stage (don’t look down!) and I wanted to play well on my quite new, still very shiny, Yamaha Neo tenor horn (a lovely gift from my husband for our forthcoming silver wedding anniversary).  I was lucky enough to take part in a workshop recently with Arfon Owen, (ex-Black Dyke Solo Horn player and very talented musician) organised by Basingstoke Silver Band. During the break he allowed me to try his Yamaha Neo, and the rest is history, as they say! Up until a few years ago I was always a trumpet/cornet player, but I’m really enjoying the tenor horn and hope I continue to improve (and strengthen those lungs!). I had only been given this solo a few weeks’ prior to the concert and had never seen or heard it, so have been listening to it on YouTube a lot over the past few weeks.

Getting back to the concert, we then played The Wizard of Oz which I love as it’s a family tradition to watch this film every Christmas Day (it’s not Christmas without Dorothy & those munchkins!). This was followed by the entertaining Ian with Eb bass solo Teddy Bears’ Picnic.

Remember the film Beaches? Well, our final solo was destined to be superb. Nick played The Wind Beneath my Wings on trombone. Nick always makes his playing look effortless. He is a great new addition to the band and I look forward to many more of his solos!

Unfortunately due to no percussion we had to make a few adjustments to the programme, but our audience were very understanding and enjoyed the addition of Yesterday.

All in all, despite a few regular players missing (for good reasons: One player on honeymoon – congratulations from us all – and our 1st horn player Dawn was racing a car at speeds of 120mph+ at Thruxton!) the atmosphere was great, and we are very grateful and thankful to all the deps that played today: Mark on soprano cornet, Elizabeth on 1st horn, Paul on 1st baritone and Henry on Bb bass.

Also thanks go to band members who brought along helpers to ensure everything ran smoothly and of course to those helpers and to the Otterbourne community for their support.

If you enjoyed the concert today, please tell your friends and bring them along to the next concert!

Article by Berni Ralph

OVH Summer Concert – 12/06/2016

With a win for Wales and a draw for England in the Euros the day before, the referendum a mere blip on the horizon and the sun holding out, all was set for Otterbourne Brass’s first summer concert.

Led by Paul Chapman, the band got off to a rousing start with Fame and Glory before settling into the Overture from The Magic Flute. The band then played the modern classics of My Fair Lady and Yesterday before Graham Jones’s mellow tones in the euphonium solo Michelangelo.

Cornet players Sonja, Steve and Becca then took to the stage to delight with the fast paced Bugler’s Holiday before the final piece of the first half, Let there be Praise.

During the interval, the full hall was served with home-made cakes and tea by the members of the band before being called back to action by Firedance, one of the pieces Otterbourne Brass played at the SCABA Entertainment Contest on 22nd May.

Given the wet month of June, the next two pieces weren’t out of place –  Laughter in the Rain (beautifully played by Berni on tenor horn) and Singing in the Rain. Our solo trombone player Nick gave us a wonderful rendition of Stardust, and extracts from Porgy and Bess were played before finishing off with Joyful Joyful and The Lord Bless you and Keep You.

Everyone stood for the National Anthem to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday, before collecting their raffle prizes and stepping back out into the mildly sunny Sunday afternoon.

Article by Hari Cooney


SCABA Entertainment Contest 2016

This weekend saw us arrive at our annual trip to the SCABA entertainment contest in The Hawth, Crawley. This is a great opportunity for the band as we get another outing in a contest setting and the chance to get some new repertoire under our belts!

After last weekend’s successful concert we knew that our set was a force to be reckoned with, starting with Sykes’s Firedance to get our blood pumping. After that, our lovely flugel player, Amelia Young, took to the stage to melt the hearts of the audience and the adjudicator, Michael Fowles, by playing ‘Eyes of a Child’- off by heart! Her “quality flugel sound” (quote from our remarks!) not only blew everyone away but also earned Otterbourne the Best Soloist prize, a fantastic and well deserved achievement!

However, this was not the only prize we walked away with on Sunday. Our concert march, ‘Emblem of Unity’, was a fantastic choice from Melvin and meant that we could prove ourselves as a band- which led to us being awarded Best March as well!

If you didn’t think that was entertaining enough we took it up a notch by featuring two fantastic trombone players. Nick West and Susan White are an indomitable force and they certainly proved it with an arrangement of Herbert L Clarke’s duet, ‘Cousins’. Starting off their duet on tenor trombone they then moved to euphonium, over to alto trombone and back to tenor to finish. All in the space of 3 minutes! To quote Mr Fowles again, it was “impressive stuff!”. We are not a band that like to leave without a bang and so the finale to Dean Jones’s ‘Glorifico Aeternum’ became our ending to the set. It was a great way to finish off and left the band smiling from ear to ear.

Although we were pipped to the post for first place by Verwood band- who also played fantastically, we were very happy with our performance and it has put us in high spirits for the summer season! Another huge thank you to Melvin for bringing us a fantastic set, it pushed us to work even harder and play even better. SCABA was a great opportunity for us to show off our lovely soloists and the band had a fun day as well!

Make sure that you come and see us on June 12th or July 3rd in Otterbourne Village Hall for what is going to be another great performance!

Article by Sophie Hart

Spring Concert – 08/05/2016

Last Sunday saw Otterbourne Brass’s first concert appearance of 2016. With the first three months of the year dedicated to the two contests the band have competed in, it was nice to have a change of scene and put on a great concert. In addition, the concert saw a return to one of our favourite venues, Chandlers Ford Methodist Church, the first time we have played there under our new MD, Melvin White.

As well as the concert, the band is busy preparing for the SCABA Entertainment Contest at the end of the month, and as such the programme contained some of the music we will be playing at this competition. We opened with Steve Sykes’s exciting Firedance, before featuring our first soloist as Amelia Young played the gorgeous flugelhorn solo Eyes of a Child. We then continued with an American circus march, Emblem of Unity, before the rest of the programme was loosely held together by Melvin’s “song and dance” theme. This saw us play such popular favourites as Singing in the Rain, Let’s Face the Music and Dance, and selections from both Porgy & Bess and My Fair Lady.

There were also several other soloists throughout the afternoon. Bernie Ralph on tenor horn played an arrangement of Laughter in the Rain by Neil Sedaka, and our principal cornet Sonja Charters played Ennio Morricone’s beautiful music from the film Cinema Paradiso. After the interval we featured some members of the lower band, as Ian Yardley gave an entertaining performance of Teddy Bear’s Picnic on tuba, before Nick West added a touch of sheer class with the trombone solo Stardust. The final soloist was principal euphonium Graham Jones, with a wonderful performance of Michelangelo. All the soloists were on top form and they were certainly the stars of a great concert.

The appreciative audience were as delighted with the concert as the band were, and we look forward to our future engagements. After the competition, our next concert appearance is in Otterbourne Village Hall on Sunday 12th June.

Article by Will Wilkins

WEBBA Regional Championships 2016

This weekend saw all at Otterbourne Brass in high spirits and excited to set off on our annual trip to Torquay, where we were to compete at the West of England Brass Band Regional Contest held at the Riviera Centre.

After many weeks of hard work in the rehearsal room with planned sectional work and many hours practising just one set test piece, Essay by Edward Gregson, we had finally reached the main event.

Some of the band travelled down on the Friday and made a long weekend of it, others travelling on the Saturday and arriving just in time for our penultimate rehearsal which went really well and we were rewarded with an early finish.

We followed the rehearsal with a fantastic band meal at the Aztec Bistro where we could all relax with good food and great company. A good opportunity for us all to bond socially which of course helps our teamwork in the bandroom.

Sunday morning – and back to work. Our final rehearsal and just enough time for us to work on our tuning and mentally prepare before we found out our draw for the afternoons’ proceedings. We were drawn 5th out of 15 bands in our section which meant that we didn’t have to rush to the venue, but also didn’t have too much time to hang around before it was time for our last and most important performance of this great piece.

The band played really well on stage and we were pleased with the massive progress we had made over the last few months. We received lots of positive comments from the audience and now we just had to await the adjudicators decision.

Unfortunately, we were disappointed to come away with a 10th place, especially as the adjudicators reports were both very positive. However, this could not take away from the huge sense of achievement that the band felt and we will now return to the rehearsal room to prepare for our next engagement, our Spring Concert on the 8th May in Chandlers Ford, with renewed determination and refreshed motivation to continue our progress and ready to come back fighting for our next visit to Torquay in 2017.

Article by Sonja Charters

Oxford & District BBA Winter Contest – 28/02/2016

Otterbourne Brass participated in the Oxford & District Brass Band Association Winter Contest on Sunday 28th February. The Band under MD Melvin White took this opportunity to play out Essay by Edward Gregson ahead of their performance at the National Brass Band Championships Regional Contest in Torquay on 13th March. We came 3rd out of 11 Bands and are now looking forward to Torquay following a further 2 weeks of rehearsals.

The Band can next be heard in concert on Sunday 8th May at Chandlers Ford Methodist Church at 2.30pm.

Article by Sarah Arnold


The Christmas Season 2015

December is notorious for being the busiest season for brass bands. For Otterbourne Brass, this is no exception. Sarah was hard at work in the early months of 2015 booking us into shops, garden centres and Christmas Markets to give us the opportunity to play for donations. This is essential for us, as we are a charity and in order to run the band, stock and maintain instruments and have a fresh supply of music for our concerts, we rely on donations from the public.

We were able to play at 7 different venues for donations, as well as 3 venues we were invited to play at for Christmas functions. Our thanks go to:

  • Alton Masonic Centre
  • Bitterne Conservative Club
  • Littleton Gardening Club
  • Arturi Garden Centre
  • Port Solent Christmas Market
  • Sainsbury’s Shirley
  • Sainsbury’s Broadcut
  • Sainsbury’s Badger Farm
  • Winchester Council

As usual we also donated a proportion of our collections to our Charity of the Year, NeST.

In addition, Otterbourne Village Hall hosts 2 Christmas Concerts back to back. On the 12th of December, Otterbourne Brass played Christmas music for 4 hours, to regular and new audience members at the hall. We love putting this showcase together for our local fans, and this gave us an opportunity to show Melvin, Paul and Roland off to our audience.

Finally, we could be as bold as to say we finished our year off in style. We were extremely pleased and proud to be playing for George (Soprano) and Sarah (Trombone) Arnold at their 25th anniversary wedding vow renewal service. With guest soloist Kevin Crockford, and soloists Sonja Charters, our principal cornet player, and Becca Charters, our repiano cornet player, there wasn’t an arm hair or goosebump left to raise after their beautiful playing. Congratulations George and Sarah, and here’s to the next 25 years

If you’d like to hear some of the playing from the wedding, please click here.

Article by Harriet Orchard

Brain Tumour Research Fundraising Concert – 06/06/2015

On Saturday the 6th of June, we had the privilege of giving a concert at St Mary’s Church, Bishopstoke in aid of Brain Tumour Research. The concert was organised by Wendy Dale, in memory of her husband Malcolm, who sadly passed away last year due to this condition.

We started off in the traditional way by playing the march The Contestor, followed by the overture Nabucodonosor, which includes the wonderful Chorus of Hebrew slaves. Our soloists for the evening were George Arnold who played Queen of the Night’s Aria from the Magic Flute and Graham Jones, who played Phillip Sparke’s Song for Ina. Our musical songs included a selection from Cats and Somewhere, from West side story.

Two pieces of film music, Soul Bossa Nova from Austin Powers and dancing with Wolves were interspersed with traditional Brass band music.

We rounded of the concert, the band on this occasion conducted by Paul Chapman, with a tribute to those who have given their lives in the service of their country. In Flanders Fields, Hymn to the Fallen and The Greatest War themes provided a rousing end to the concert.

We are pleased to be able to announce that £1040.00 was raised for Brain Tumour Research.

The band look forward to playing at St Mary’s again in the future and we thank Wendy and her team for their kind hospitality.