It has been a very busy couple of days recently, and I’m really sorry to have been largely absent from Blogland and being in contact with my lovely Bliblings (blog-siblings in case you didn’t know!).
Here’s what’s been going on:
Some of you might remember that I took up the post of conductor at Todmorden Band last Friday. I have had two rehearsals now and it has been brilliant both nights, which I’m really pleased about.
The band has been going for about 12 years now, after being revived from the ashes of a 100 year old band that sadly lost its way and crumbled before new life was breathed into it. The old band was – ironically enough – called Todmorden Old Band, and this new one is called Todmorden Community Band. The band is a brass band, and it conforms to the proscribed makeup of an English brass band, ie it has 10 Cornets (one of which is a soprano cornet, pitched in Eb), a Flugel Horn, three Tenor Horns (pitched in Eb also), two Baritone Horns, two Euphoniums, three Trombones (one of which is a bass trombone and reads bass clef in concert pitch), two Eb Basses (the orchestral equivalent is a Tuba), two Bb Basses and a percussion section.
The brass band repertoire falls broadly into two categories – the “traditional” side of things, and modern arrangements of modern pieces. The traditional side is a mixture of marches, overtures, songs from the shows, solos etc and the modern side is pieces that have been written especially for brass bands or arrangements of pop songs and modern musicals etc. Like I say, that is a very broad categorisation, but that’s the way we work I guess. The “old” band was a big contesting band and they have competed at the highest levels for many years. The “new” band exists purely for the enjoyment of the players, and for its concert audiences in the town.
I have been given a specific brief with this band, and that is to take them from September until Christmas to give their resident conductor a break, and to allow him to have a rest away from the rigours of choosing music and crafting it to performance standard for a couple of months. He was the primary mover when it came to rebuilding the band 12 years ago, and by his own admission, he’s a bit jaded and wants the band to experience some “new blood” for a while to reinject them with a bit of oomph. I’m really glad to help out because the resident conductor, David White, is a music teacher who I knew from music centre banding when I was a kid and it’s nice to be able to payback those lessons he gave me all that time ago.
My first task was to sort out what music to keep in the pads and what to introduce as new stuff for some upcoming concerts. We are hosting a French exchange band in a couple of weeks, so that is my first priority. After that we have got Remembrance Sunday (show me a brass band that doesn’t!!!) and I want to play some traditionally British music without resorting the old tried and tested “favourites”, which to be quite frank, are tedious and boring for the band to play. I’m sure that each audience that listens to a “Last Night of the Proms” concert really enjoys it, but there’s only so many times we can play Land of Hope and Glory before our collective eyes glaze over and the trombones decide to go one a rampage. After that we will be looking ahead to Christmas….which I absolutely refuse to tackle until at least Halloween!! I’m looking at a couple of arrangements I can do for the band, and I’ve got a couple that I have already done that I’d like the band to try in a week or so. The first one I’m going to try is an arrangement of themes from Pirates of the Caribbean. Or maybe The Rhythm of Life…hmm…decision time!
There is a nice age range within the band and it is a mixed ability group of musicians, which makes rehearsals really interesting. There are some people who are in their 70s who are seeing out their last days of music making, but who have a massive wealth of experience between them, and there are young teenagers who are just at the start of their musical journeys meeting them along the way. There are some people who are there for the social aspect of the music making, and there are those who are there to learn a new skill as mature adults. The common thing between everyone is the thread of humour in each rehearsal, for which I’m really grateful! Knitting together all those people could be a nightmare if it weren’t for the humour and the love of music we share.
Todmorden itself is a small town on the border between Lancashire and Yorkshire, between Rochdale and Halifax. It is about 45 minutes drive away from my home, so Friday nights are taken up with driving and banding, which I am liking!! Kevin and Ethan are joining me on a Friday night – Kevin plays cornet and he’s sitting on the front row (the melody line, and boy can he blow!) and Ethan is sitting on 2nd Trombone and learning lots FAST.
So, Friday night is definitely music night, but unfortunately I’ve underestimated the time commitment this week and didn’t manage a proper blog post, which I usually do in the evenings. Next week I’ll plan ahead and do my post during the day. I promise….
I created a mascot hat on Friday….if you’re a Manchester City fan you’ll recognise it straight away as being based on Moonchester! I’m so proud of this little hat – I worked out the stitches, the design, the measurements, the fixings etc all by my little self and when I showed it to my nephew Will this morning his face told me all I need to know about it being a success. Hurrah!!!
In the realms of fairness, I suppose I’d better design a Fred the Red hat now too for the Manchester United fans out there….I suppose…..do I have to?? Really? Oh ok then…..*snarl*…..!
I’m hoping to sell some of these little blighters, so keep an eye out on Etsy.
Authorised Lay Minister
This is something that I posted about earlier this week, when I posted a guest post by my Mum as she was looking at her licensing to be an Authorised Lay Minister for our church.
It was the licensing ceremony yesterday in Manchester Cathedral, and it was a momentous occasion. The whole cathedral was filled with supporters for the 56 people who were being commissioned alongside my Mum in churches across the Manchester Diocese. The 57 candidates have undertaken a year’s training in various aspects of ministry. My Mum’s speciality is Pastoral Care which brings her into contact with people who need that extra bit of support from the church, whether it is through illness, bereavement, crisis of faith or family difficulties. My Mum is going to be heading up a team of people who will be visiting the sick and housebound in the parish and we will be sharing communion with them in their homes. There are exciting times ahead!
We celebrated my Mum’s licensing with a party at the vicarage last night….and it was BRILLIANT. Kevin and I laid on a buffet for about 25 people who came back for drinks and nibbles, which took quite a bit of shopping and logistical manoeuvring yesterday morning. The wine flowed almost as much as the laughter and the chatter, which was a great way to celebrate our fellowship. I love my church family.
In amongst the banding and the shopping and the visit to the Cathedral yesterday, I also had to find time to write the intercessions for this morning’s service. We have a rota for leading prayers and reading the lessons in church, and it was my turn to lead the prayers today. I knew about it a couple of weeks ago, but I always leave things to the last minute (one of my major faults!). I try to kid myself that it’s because I like prayers to be fresh and current….but the reality is that I’m just a major procrastinator and I put things off until it’s almost too late. I suppose if they offered a qualification in procrastination I’d put off applying for it until after the closing date….tsk….Pamster!
I prayed for the usual things – the work of the church, the support of its leaders, the sick and the bereaved etc – but I also included a prayer for the two police officers who were shot and killed this week in Manchester. I also prayed for the community leaders and the officers who were in charge of rebuilding that broken community in Hattersley, which is an area that is no stranger to violence sadly.
I also gave thanks for the life of one our brothers in Christ, Guy, who died last week. Guy was 89 years old and has been a member of our church for the past 12 years. He had had a colourful life, being born in India in the days of the Raj and travelling the world ever since, but was suffering the early stages of dementia when he joined us so we only knew him in his declining years. However, his humour and his spirit was as intact as it ever was and his smile was totally infectious. He took delight in seeing other people smile and even though his dementia was a major issue at the end, he continued to make us smile and enjoy his company right to the end. A typical “Guy” thing to do was when everyone sat down at the end of a hymn, he would purposely stand up again and say “NO!!!!” loudly when his wife Val tried to sit him down. He would then look round at everyone and with a smile and a wink, would sit down in his own sweet time.
We learned at his funeral more about his engineering skills, and his mechanical intelligence when it came to inventing gadgets and devices. He was a gifted woodworker and there are literally hundreds of pieces of his work all over the world. A lovely man, and a sad loss to us.
In amidst all of that going on in the last few days I’ve not been very well. I have been feeling “that” pain build up in my chest/stomach again and today I have seen traces of blood in my water which is a usual indication that my kidneys are not working at their best. I’ve taken it easy this afternoon and have rested up so hopefully I have contained it before an episode gets fully established. Fingers crossed eh?!
So….as you can see, it’s been a bit of a hectic few days recently. I hope you forgive me dear reader for abandoning you this weekend! Normal service will be resumed shortly, I promise.