BB On the Record

BB On the Record is a podcast series from British Bandsman, the world’s oldest weekly music magazine. Editor Mark Good goes beyond the stories of the week for a more in-depth discussion of the hot topics in the brass band scene.

Conductor Russell Gray and cornet player extraordinaire, Mark Wilkinson, look back on an impressive performance and victory for Foden’s Band at the 2021 National Brass Band Championship of Great Britain in London’s Royal Albert Hall.

The pair reflect on the band's performance of Bruce Broughton’s Heroes and the preparation of the piece, including the successful working relationship between the band, Russell and Mike Fowles, who undertook much of the band’s work on the piece. Mark, who’s occupied the principal cornet chair at Foden’s for around 29 years, lifts the lid on his secret to flourishing in tricky exposed passages in a high-pressure environment and discusses Foden’s plans for the coming weeks and months.

Russell reflects on a very special weekend in the Gray household after wife Mareika guided Ratby Co-operative to fifth place in its debut at the event, and began by confirming whether or not the sore heads had calmed down after celebrating a double success!

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Issue 6111 digital September 30, 2021

Multi-Emmy winning composer, Bruce Broughton, composer of Heroes, the set test-piece for the 2021 National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain, chats to British Bandsman editor, Mark Good.

Bruce, who’s 76, is a renowned composer in the world of film and television; you might have heard his work featuring in everything from Silverado to Tombstone, The Rescuers Down Under and Miracle on 34th Street, as well as episodes of Dallas, Quincy, Hawaii Five-O and How the West Was Won.

Bruce discusses Heroes and how the piece came into being. He also charts his musical roots and early experiences playing in Salvation Army bands. Bruce ponders how he might find the experience of listening to not one, not two, but 19 performances of his piece in one day, such is the way of brass band contesting, and discusses his admiration for some legendary brass players with which he crossed paths.

But first, Bruce reflects on the past eighteen months, from the perspective of a composer.

Nicóla Shaw, the newly-appointed flugel player with The Fairey Band, discusses settling into her new surroundings and the positivity around the stand as Faireys prepares to hit the ground running.

She also looks back on a lengthy spell with Wingates, charting her progress from back row to her treasured flugel seat. Nicóla chooses her Piece of the Podcast and discusses her banding journey, from being too small to play trombone to performing at Symphony Hall, the Royal Albert Hall and taking centre stage in the Best of Brass Festival.

But first, how is life in her new musical surroundings?

Jonathan Bates, principal horn of Foden’s Band and a member of the A4 Brass Quartet, discusses the quartet’s second studio album, Mosaic, which is out now, and looks back on the ensemble’s humble beginnings which came when the players were all first year students at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

Jonny also discusses his own musical journey, from growing up in a banding family to hitting the slow melody circuit and catching the banding bug. He reflects on his successes to date and lifts the lid on a busy schedule, crammed with playing, conducting and composing.

But first, Jonny describes what it feels like to be gradually getting back to in-person music making.

Mark Good chats to Helen Williams, flugelhorn player with the number one ranked band in the world, the Cory Band.

Helen looks back on a historic victory with Marple Band, 25 years ago at the British Open Championship at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. She became the first – and so far, only – female principal cornet player to take the title, as well as the prize for best instrumentalist.

Helen also charts her musical career to date, from the little girl given her dad’s old trumpet to her lengthy spells at Poynton, Marple and Foden’s. Helen discusses nearly retiring from playing and making a life-changing decision with husband Glyn that took the couple to the south Wales valleys where the rest, as they say, is history.

British Bandsman editor Mark Good chats to Jim Hayes, a Geneva artist and the principal cornet player with the cooperation band.

Jim recently released his latest solo album, Jonny Midnight – The Edge of Forever so chats about the release and the creative process involved in bringing the project together. He also reflects on his musical career to date, from being left a battered old instrument as a youngster to enjoying a lengthy tenure in the top chair at one of Scotland’s finest bands. Jim discusses his musical influences and describes just what it felt like to be getting back to banding action.

But first, he reflects on life during the COVID pandemic.

Mark Good looks back at the 2021 Best of Brass Festival, which took place at the Victoria Theatre, Halifax, and was streamed via

The one-day festival showcased high quality brass music making from Black Dyke, cornet soloist Tom Hutchinson, Hammonds and Wingates bands, along with the JSVB Legacy Ensemble. The day featured a range of world premieres and saw everyone involved adhering to COVID guidelines.

UniBrass Foundation trustee Abi Groocock and organising committee chair, Voirrey Baker, discuss how plans are taking shape for the 2021 UniBrass Contest, which is taking place in Sheffield on June 26. In a ‘first’ for brass band contesting, the competition will run in a hybrid format, featuring a mixture of in-person and pre-recorded performances.

Abi and Voirrey reflect on the challenges faced by UniBrass over the past year and discuss the organisation’s innovative work to serve the university band community during lockdown. From producing a distance banding album to racking up the miles in a fundraising run and introducing a dedicated university section as part of the Cory Online Championship, keep listening to hear how UniBrass has been working hard throughout lockdown.

The pair also look ahead to UniBrass’ first Band Camp, a new residential course under the baton of Grimethorpe Colliery Band’s musical director, David Thornton – and yes, it is possible to pitch your tent and actually go camping.

Since trumpet soloist Matilda Lloyd burst on to the scene with successes in the BBC Young Musician of the Year brass final and what was then the BBC Radio 2 Young Brass Awards, she has cemented her reputation as one of the outstanding performers of her generation. Now 25, she’s combining her busy solo career with studies in Malmo with trumpet legend, Håkan Hardenberger.

Matilda looks back on her musical career to date, including a performance with Cory Band that she credits among her favourite concert experiences. She discusses her musical roots, from finding an old trumpet in the back of her parents’ cupboard to experimenting with the cello and finding her passion for standing out front as a soloist.

Matilda, who was speaking from Germany, also discusses life in lockdown, which meant practising amongst the cattle at her parents’ farm, and she looks ahead as her diary of engagements starts to look a little more like normal once again.

But first, how has she been getting on during these very strange times?

Elland Silver Youth Band’s inspirational musical director, Samantha Harrison, joins British Bandsman editor, Mark Good.

From its formation, the band has grown into a hugely successful multi-level setup, enjoying a host of competition wins including national and European titles. Sam reflects on some of the highlights so far and discusses how the organisation is planning for a brighter banding future.

Sam, who was born into a banding family, also charts her own musical path, from being invited to play a violin to having a tenor horn shoved in her hands before taking flight with the cornet.

But first, she discusses some of the ways the organisation has kept engaging with its members during 14 months like no other.


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