The Desford Colliery Band has recently returned from a highly successful tour of South East Asia. This was the band’s fifth tour to the Far East, and their most gruelling schedule to date, completing ten concerts in eight days in three countries. The band were taken directly from the All England International Masters where they had given a highly acclaimed performance of ‘In Memoriam RK’ which unfortunately did not find favour with the judges. However, there was little disappointment from the players, they were looking forward to the impending tour and were satisfied with their tremendous showing in Cambridge. The first few days were spent in Jakarta, where the band’s brass quintet made up of David Smith, Steve Bailey, Martin Dawson, John Barber and Nick Etheridge gave a variety of concerts and educational workshops for students ranging from 3 to 18 years at the British International School. The workshops covered many brass playing skills, including basic technique, breathing and jazz scales. The inspired children were also allowed to play on some of the instruments. The educational concerts in Jakarta were held in the BIS (British International School) School’s new concert hall, the BIS World Theatre, and all of the students at the school were thrilled with the band’s performances. The head of performing arts at the school, Adam Gordon said he had never seen the children react in such a way; they cheered, stamped their feet and gave a standing ovation at the conclusion of each demonstrations. After the school visits, the band played to the BIS sponsors and general public at the Raffles stage. The band thrilled the audience with numbers from John Williams, Wagner and Duke Ellington. The audience were very vocal in their approval. To thank their wonderful host, Desford invited Mr Gordon to conduct them through a rousing rendition of ‘The Champions’ march. A late night flight took the band from Jakarta to Singapore, which is home to Desford’s talented principal cornet, David Smith. David is co-principal trumpet with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. This was to be a short but busy stay in Singapore with education again featuring heavily. The band played concerts at two international schools, where the students were introduced to all the instruments of the band and were treated to many diverse genres of music. The band were fortunate to have world class soloists, Fredi Sonderegger the band’s bass trombone player who is also a resident of Singapore and also a member of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. Fredi gave the world premiere of “Break Cue” for bass trombone and band by Singapore composer, Tony Makarome. The piece is a real test for the soloist exploiting the full range of the trombone. Very much a jazz oriented piece it proved to be a huge hit with soloist, band and crowd. Other soloists included, John Barber on solo trombone, Emily Cumby on xylophone, Richard Brown on solo euphonium, Alexandra Kerwin on cornet and Steve Bailey, who not only wowed the audience with On with the Motley but also astounded both the band and the audience by playing 6 different Cs on the soprano cornet as his demonstration of the instrument. After one of the performances, the band were able to visit some of the night spots in Singapore, including a wonderful meal at the Marriott Hotel and partaking in Singapore Slings at the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel. The final leg of the tour took place in Bangkok meaning another flight loading tubas and percussion equipment. The “Kasetsart University Wind Band” were the hospitable hosts of Desford. In the final public concert, the Desford band and the audience were treated to fine playing from the University trombone choir and tuba ensembles. When Desford gave their performance, the audience roared their approval and demanded three encores. It was a fitting end to a demanding tour. After the last note of Procession to the Minster rung in the hall, there was a sigh of relief, the hard work of the tour was over and the band were then able to relax and unwind in Bangkok, haggling at the markets, exploring the city and enjoying the diverse night life. However, there was an impromptu jamming session on the last evening by John Barber and Steve Bailey who performed “Cantaloupe Island” and “Cherry Pink” with the house band at the Road House Bar in Patpong. The tour was a resounding success with the band performing at the highest level and inspiring many youngsters in all three countries to hopefully take up a brass instrument or to at least appreciate music and to be inspired by the wonderful playing from Desford Colliery Band. Thanks go to Peter and David Smith for the daunting task of putting a monumental tour like this together. Thanks also to Kevin Steward for directing the band during the tour. The informative and witty compéres of the workshops and concerts were David Smith and John Barber who proved to be a wonderful double act. It is not easy to hold the attention of a band let alone a theatre full of very young children, but their manner and delivery were well placed for all. The band is now looking forward to the challenges of the rest of the year, including performances at the National Championships of Great Britain, The British Open Championships, Brass in Concert and Whitwick Leisure Centre later this year. There will be some exciting player news that will be announced shortly. Further pictures from the tour are available to view at Steve Bailey’s blog, www.baileysblog.typepad.com, and a collection of tour pictures is currently being made at http://baileysblog.typepad.com/photos/desford_tour_2007.