If you are anything like me, there’s nothing I like better than a drop of Shakespeare and in particular Midsummer Nights Dream, which I consider one of his finest works. Full of pathos and humour, not to mention a stunning plot line, with excellent character definition this is singularly one of the great Bard’s finest outputs
Now most of you who know me, will know what a crock that is, cos the closest I’ve ever been to Shakespeare is getting wrecked in a pub in Stratford upon Avon, mind you the wife does often remind me it is “much ado about nothing” as well……Whatever does she mean?
The play itself was being staged as part of the Broughton Open Air festival http://www.broughtonfestival.com , by a professional arts company, Partnership Entertainment Events Ltd (PEEL). The idea for the performance was to have musical interludes throughout the play and for this a Brass Dectet was swiftly put together conducted by Martyn Ford, who was the Musical Advisor for the Play and using the Roger Harvey arrangements of Mendlessohn’s Midsummer Night Dream Suite.
So when I was asked to take part in this very professional production of a Midsummer Night’s Dream, for a week, I must admit I was sceptical. Nevertheless, life is the sum total of your experiences so on the 6th August I headed North to Brighouse, where the first rehearsal of the Band was taking place. A swift run through of the incidental music which had been scored especially, led us into the Roger Harvey stuff. Wow!!! Being a mere trombonist, I though I had been given a trumpet score. (What are those things with 2 lines through it, semi quavers apparently) but nevertheless we persevered and by the end of the rehearsal we were beginning to make a good sound of it all, as you would expect.
A word about the Band. It was MD’d by Martyn Ford, I won’t say too much about Martyn, as his website says it all really www.martynford.co.uk Needless to say Martyn thoroughly threw himself into the Band and his dry sense of humour was quite engaging at times. The Band consisted of the following players, the names of some will be known to you.
Trumpet 1 Tabby Clegg (Brass Journo)
Trumpet 2 and Eb Simon Morgan (Rutribal)
Trumpet 3 Josie Drake
Trumpet 4 and Flugel Joel Newsome
French Horn Matt Crossley
Trombone 1 Rich Walker (Bones)
Trombone 2 Marc Nethercott
Trombone 3 Ben Knowles (Brother Bone)
Bass Trom Nick Stokes (SunnyJimBob)
Tuba Tony Whittingham
The staging of the play called for the Band to be mobile, as the various acts of the play were being performed in 5 locations in the gardens of Broughton Hall itself. This meant a lot of moves for us and logistics were quite a challenge. A brisk fanfare led into an overture. Nothing hairy apart from the key signature (F sharp Major…nice) and then into the first act, whilst that was being done, the Band moved to their 2nd location, a courtyard, whilst the trombone section then went back to the first location and played a jolly march to lead the audience and cast alike to the courtyard. Nothing much I hear you say except that I now have this march imprinted in my memory and suspect it will be lasting. A musical interlude from the group followed, then a move to a new location, for the 3rd act. The trom section then led the audience off again, (why the trombones I ask myself!!!) and returned to the group to play the fiendish scherzo from the Roger Harvey arrangement of MSND. A few edge of the seat moments, and then very little to do for 30 minutes.
Into the 4th act after the interval and with a few comedy horn calls (including the now famous arrangement of Little Donkey: an air varie for unaccompanied French Horn by Matt Crossley) the Band assembled for the Mendlessohn Wedding March. After that, a complete run round the walled garden to set up for the final act, accompanied by various musical interjections.
The cast, crew and management team were all absolute professionals. It really was a joy to work with people who clearly got a real buzz out of what they do. And although the technical and dress rehearsal were dreadfully long, the performances themselves were very punchy and very fresh.
Why write this article? I think when we learn to play quite often we can get pigeon holed, either by instrument or genre. And certainly when I started playing, all I did for 8 years was Brass Banding. As much as I love banding, it is great to get out and experience different musical genres especially when the opportunity presents itself to you. Thankfully I have done a lot of dectet work, with Harlequin Brass and Bentley Brass, and have played in more theatre shows that I could care to mention. But this set up, was certainly a new one for me and really quite enjoyable.
So hats off to the Cast and Crew for putting on a great week, I really enjoyed it. But also, hats off to the Mouthpiece and Tabby Clegg for advertising the need for players. All the musicians, are or have been associated with Bands in the past. (Even Matt, our French Horn admitted to helping out Fishburn on Tenor Horn gasp!!!) And with typical Brass Band Camaraderie we all had a great time. Here’s to the next one.