Warning: very long post ahead!
Well, it’s that time again. 2017 has been a year filled with personal growth for me, as well as many new opportunities that I am grateful for! With that being said, I though I’d look back through everything that’s happened this year and pick out some of my favourite moments!
if you don’t like reading lots of text, here’s a nice concise version:
Highlight of the year: performing at the Albert Hall in London as part of the BBC Proms
Where better to start that the very beginning?!
On the 6th of January this year, I attended my first rehearsal with Revolution Show Corps. Similar to an American marching band, they are a drum corps and compete in UK and European circuits.
A week later, on the 14th, I went down to Skegness to compete at Butlins Mineworkers contest. This was the first time I’d been down to this contest, and I definitely enjoyed it!
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So proud to be a member of this band 💪 in my opinion we deserved a higher placing, but I'm still happy with our performance regardless! I've had such a great weekend with all my banding friends too, and even made a few whilst trying to find my way home! 😉 #butlins17 #butlins #skegness #bbb #besses #boys #band #contest #inclusion #video #inclusion #contest #brass #perc #percussion #end #ending #performance
For the first week of February, I was in the pit for a production of Les Misérables. Doing a combination of percussion and French horn, it was the first time I have performed in an ensemble alongside my Mum and brother.
I also signed for a top-flight brass band for the North West Area contest.
March was quite a busy month for me, and took me all over the country!
Besses Boys were recorded as part of Monty Don’s Big Dreams, Small Spaces, playing at the reopening of Hawkshaw’s Community Garden.
I also attended auditions for BIMM in both Manchester and London, being offered places at both universities. There was no set repertoire for BIMM Manchester, so I decided to perform a cover of Andrea Vadrucci (Vadrum)‘s version of the William Tell Overture:
BIMM London, however, sent me a list of songs to choose from. I couldn’t decide which song to do, so I decided to play through them all and see which one I liked best!
My first public performance with Revolution also took place in March! On the 19th, we performed a static exhibition of our 2017 repetoire at the WGUK Halifax show.
I turned 18 in April this year, however that was not the most exciting part of the month! It all kicked off with a production of Miss Saigon, which I was playing tuned percussion in the pit for.
Aside from music, in April I was lucky enough to represent the North West at the AoC National Championships. I was selected as the goalkeeper for the hockey team, and we were lucky enough to finish 5th (above Yorkshire and the Humber on goal difference), as well as the North West finishing 5th overall out of the 10 regions competing!
May was tinged with sadness, both in my personal life and in the wider community. I sadly lost my wonderful Gran quite early on in May, although I was able to play for her one last time as my brother and I marched in front of the hearse with snare drums. The Manchester Arena bombing also took place in May, although that was towards the end of the month.
Unfortunately, the rest of the world does not stop for personal tragedies. The day after my Gran’s funeral, on the 13th May, I was up in Blackpool to compete at the British Open (Spring Festival). We played Fragile Oasis, a beautiful piece of music by Peter Meechan.
However, the Manchester Arena bombing gave a new purpose to a fundraising event I was taking part in. Brooke’s Barmy Army, a marching band made up of members from over 22 different brass bands, had decided to march the Great Manchester Run in order to raise money for RMCH (Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital). Due to the terror attack, and the emergence of Don’t Look Back In Anger as Manchester’s sign of resilience in the face of the attack, we decided it would only be right to cross the finish line whilst playing that song. Videos were shared widely around the internet, and they garnered over half a million views collectively!
I also joined UkePunk (and rejoined Arrowhead) in May.
I made one of the longest trips for a gig that I’ve ever done at the start of June, travelling all the way to the Winchester Ukulele Festival with UkePunk!
I also took part in another musical -this time in the pit for a production of Oliver!. The pit space was traditionally cramped, but I still managed to fit a glockenspiel, xylophone, crash cymbal, tambourine, bass drum and snare drum, as well as a home-made contraption so I could play the snare drum with my feet!
I bought my first car pretty early on in June, buying my Gran’s car from my Grandad. Although at this point I hadn’t passed my driving test, I’d decided that when I could drive it would be nice to have that one.
The first two drum corps shows of the season took place on the 18th of June. Both BYBA (British Youth Band Association) and DCUK (Drum Corps: UK) had the first show of their respective circuits at Barnsley Football Ground on the 18th June. My first show, the BYBA one, was definitely not my best (dropping my stick within the first minute or so of the show!), however overall I had a good time and smashed the DCUK run!
I spent the first week of July in a shed. But that shed was a good shed. By the end of the week, Arrowhead had their debut EP, Vignettes.
I also started working with Box5, the developers of the Envision drill writing software.
The next drum corps show of the season was on the 16th of July, in Leicester. We added 2 new sections to the show, with characterisation at the beginning and a new, “3.5” in the middle.
I rejoined Besses Boys Band, and as another fundraiser for the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing I played in a joint concert with them, Bury Young Voices and Bury Community Choir. I was a member of all 3 ensembles at the time of this concert.
August has definitely been the highlight of my year. I found out that I had passed my Grade 8 percussion exam with Distinction, and my Grade 5 french horn with Merit!
Then, I embarked on a European Tour with my crazy Besses Boys Band family! Being based in Valkenburg (Holland), the band gave performances in Maastricht (Holland), Drielandenpunt (the point where Belgium, Germany and Holland meet) and Luxembourg (although I had left before that one), as well as heading to Phantasialand in Germany for a bit of fun! (shoutout to my brother, Kai, for making sure my music didn’t blow away, and for turning the page for me!!)
The reason I missed the concert in Luxembourg was because I was on a train headed for London! Earlier in the year, I had successfully auditioned for the BBC Proms Youth Ensemble. They were performing at Prom 44, alongside Bang On A Can All-stars, for a world-premiere of Michael Gordon’s Big Space – a BBC commission. Out of the 8 groups that were spaced around the Albert Hall, I was in one of just 3 on the stage, and fortunate enough to be in the only group that was photographed on the night!
September was another musical month. There was another joint DCUK/BYBA contest, this time in Birmingham, as well as 2 finals in the European Music Games (DCUK and DCE)!
But first, I played at Ramsbottom Festival with UkePunk. I had previously played here once before, opening the main stage with Besses o’ th’ Barn Band, however this time we were last on before the Stranglers! There was such a good atmosphere in there, so this has to be up there with one of my favourite gigs!
At DCUK Prelims, we placed 5th with 68.05 points. However, later that day at Finals, we’d jumped up by almost two points to 69.80! Not bad going considering we didn’t have any extra rehearsals between them!
At DCE Prelims, we knew we were going to be judged a lot harsher, as the best corps from all over the continent would be there. We dropped almost a point from our DCUK score, ending up with 68.85, which put us in 11th place – one spot away from making it to Finals!
The first weekend of October saw the final Finals of the season – BYBA finals. BYBA is adjudicated differently, by a different panel of judges, and so we managed to score 81.85. We were the only band competing in our section, so we took 1st place and all captions! However, as the highest scoring band in the section below us scored 78.95 I think it is safe to assume we would still have won had they been in our section (or we in theirs)!
I also sat my driving test on Friday the 13th of October, and passed first time!
I wrapped October up by taking part in my first contest since rejoining Besses, Rochdale contest. We played Flashback, by Jan de Haan, placing just off the podium at 4th.
As Besses already had two drummers going to their Remembrance Parade, I travelled over to Queensbury as I had been told Revolution were running a little short on members, as well as to thank Corps Director Oliver Richardson for letting me march but also let him know that I would not be staying for the upcoming season.
I also attended audition camps for THE COMPANY and Kidsgrove Scouts. These two are the top two UK drum corps, and are consistently in or around the top 3 at DCE. I was offered spots to march at both.
I attended the second COMPANY camp, which really helped to make up my mind about which corps to march. Whilst everyone at Kidsgrove is really lovely, and their show is going to be amazing, ultimately I know a lot more people at CO (and they have invested in me by helping me march with Revo last year), so I knew where I had to go.
Although I couldn’t get out of training to attend, everyone that marched the 10k back in May went and played some Christmas carols at RMCH. This was followed by a cheque presentation of £20,660.16 from the band – almost double our original target of £11k!
Well, that brings my year to a close. I feel so blessed to have had so many amazing things happen during this year, and hope that 2018 can be even better!