New face in the middle

Strata Brass is thrilled to announce the appointment of Alexander Webb as the band’s new Musical Director.

Alex is based in Manchester and studied percussion at Birmingham Conservatoire. He went on to achieve a distinction as the Timothy Reynish Conducting Scholar (RNCM) and is continuing his studies as a PhD Student at the RNCM, researching Light Music and the music of Ernest Tomlinson.

From 2016 – 18 as part of his studies at RNCM, Alex was the assistant conductor to Jon Storgards and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. The following year he became the assistant conductor to Vasily Petrenko and Sir Andrew Davis at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

As a conductor, he is recognised for his versatility and ability to engage with ensembles from brass bands and wind bands to symphony orchestras. He has made recordings for BBC Television and Radio as well as touring worldwide. Alex is the Director of Music for the Greater Manchester Police Band and Poulton-Le-Fylde Brass Band. He will also be directing the newly re-formed Orchestra of the Light Music Society which is due to give its first concert after a hiatus of nearly 45 years.

Aside from performance, Alex is deeply interested in pedagogy and is a proud member of the ConductIT.eu team who are developing new online teaching and learning resources which are due to go live this autumn.

Alex says, “I am delighted to be working with such a dynamic and forward-thinking band at what is an exciting juncture in their 130 years, or so, history. Strata Brass’ core ethos of nurturing and empowering the next generation of banding superstars – as well as focussing on the cutting edge of what it means to be a modern brass band, whilst still connecting with the wider community – speaks to the heart of my own principles as a conductor.”

Band Manager Robert Hardy adds, “We’re very excited to welcome Alex to Strata Brass. The band was extremely impressed from the moment he raised the baton in his audition. We are all really looking forward to working under his direction as we head into the autumn contest season and beyond. The band would also like to offer their sincere thanks to the extensive number of people who applied for the position.”

The band are also looking forward to welcoming some new players to the team – more news on this soon!

New Home

So today was the day Strata brass said farewell to it’s home after 35 years. With the impending sale of the land which we called home, the band have completed it’s move to the Elsecar Parish Hall 1 mile down the road.

On Saturday, Fuelled by bacon sandwiches and coffee, several of the band arrived to transport the last of the bands possession’s to their new home ready for the start of rehearsals in the build up towards the 2 contests in October.

Behind the scenes, the search for a new Musical Director continues. The band have had several auditionees, but so far no decision has been made.

Elsewhere in the band there have been a few personnel changes. Liz Hatch moves up to Solo Euphonium and is joined by new recruit Davey Webster on 2nd Euphonium. Len Hodgkiss, who only recently joined the band has slide along the bench to Solo Trombone, leaving the 2nd chair waiting for another new face.

With almost a full band, only 4 vacancies, Post Lockdown life for Strata Brass is looking like it will be an exciting time.

Return of the Concert

Strata Brass have been working hard over the last few weeks to prepare for Weatherby Bandstand on the 20th of June and their ‘Return of the Concert’ programme.

With regulations relaxed enough to allow them all back in to a rehearsal room for the first time since the start of the global pandemic in March of 2020, The band very quickly fell back in to the playing habit very quickly, leading the management team to take the decision that a full band performance would be possible.

As much as getting back on the proverbial bandstand is great news and a sign things are getting beter, this performance will be the last with Strata Brass for James Atkins and Riley Anderson.

James has been the bands Principle Cornet for the last two years, but has been offered a seat at the Fairey Band, which is a fantastic opportunity and the band whole heartedly support him in the move. James will feature as the Cornet Soloist on Sunday for the last time before handing over the reins to James Corking who will be making his debut as Principle.

Riley like wise has been the Principle Euphonium also for the last couple of years while he was studying at the RNCM under the fabulous David Thornton and Steve Mead, He is a promising young player and in the last week has completed his final recital. He will be heading back to his native Virginia in the coming weeks, and we at stratabrass.com will be interested to watch his progression over the next few years to see where his playing career can take him.

Speaking on behalf of the Management team, Band Manager Robert Hardy said “Both players will be missed by the band, but we want to thank them both for being a part of the band, especially for their hard work on the Lockdown Videos. We wish them both the very best in the future.”

Whit Friday

After the (hopefully) last of our long list of Virtual videos, Strata Brass came full circle with its entry to the Fodens Online Whit Friday Championships. Against a strong field of 24 bands the band once again showed its class and ability with an excellent second place. The band is now looking forward to Wetherby on the 20th of June and once again being able play together live.
David Heiland of the media team at stratabrass.com said “Our congratulations go to all the bands who took part and especially the Prize winners in all sections. A big thank you also go to the team at Fodens on such a well run contest once again.”

American Dream

So here is the teaser for our Fodens Online Whit Friday Championship video. We can only wonder what march the band are playing and wait with bated breath to find what the video will bring. All will be revealed on the Whit Friday Weekend.

Centre Page

Hot on the heels of their win in the First Section of the Kapitol Cory Online Brass Band Championships, Strata Brass are honoured to be featured as the Centre Band in the April edition of Brass Band World magazine.

Getting all the band together under current circumstances wasn’t a possibility, but the technical wizard behind the competition winning performance, our vwey own Jonny Bates, found a way to show the band as we hope it will be again in the near future.

The band’s management team are hard at work in the background preparing for a return to rehearsals in a couple of weeks, and the latest Strata Brass virtual video has been submitted for the Fodens Online Whit Friday Competition on the 28 & 29 of May. The band are showing no sign slowing down and are looking forward to the rest of 2021 and beyond and being able to get back to live performance and hopefully find a way to incorporate a new way of entertaining at our concerts.

Strata Meets The Beatles

Following on from the exciting news of our First place in the Kapitol Cory Online Brass Band Championships, here is our winning entry for the competition.

Our thanks again to the Cory Band for organising such a great 3 weekends of brass band entertainment – making us all realise just what we’re missing and can’t wait to return to!

TRIBUTE TO THE BEATLES
Video & Audio production – Jonathan Bates
1. ELEANOR RIGBY*
(Lennon/McCartney arr. Jonathan Bates)
2. SOMEONE LIKE YOU (from ‘Jekyll & Hyde’)
(Lesley Bricusse arr. John Barber)
Trombone Soloist – Elliot Gray
Piano – Ruth Hollick
Bass Guitar – Gary Williams
3. WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS*
(Lennon/McCartney arr. Jonathan Bates)
*performed and arranged with kind permission from Hal Leonard Europe/SONY BMG

Online Competition

After 3 fabulous weekends of very strong competition in the Kapitol Cory Online Brass Band Competition the results are finally. Nearly 100 bands took part from all over the World.

The Band entered the fray in the First Section on the 20 of March with our video which was put together during the recent lockdown and a huge thanks go to all the band who took part in making it such an amazing performance especially the Bands MD, Jonny, for all of his hard work.

On the Sunday evening, many of The Band met up on a Zoom call to watch the final evening of performance and results in which the band were delighted to be awarded the best horns and also the Champion Band of the First Section.

The band would like to offer their congratulations to all of the bands who participated in the contest and also say a massive thank you to Cory and all involved in making the competition such a success again.