Wotton Hill: The Band Plays On

A tradition that started in 1910 in Wotton Under Edge, Gloucestershire, for the local brass band to play a free concert to the public on ‘Wotton Hill’ will continue in this unusual year, albeit in a modern way.

The event is a highlight of the calendar for the local residents and Wotton Silver Band alike, and traditionally heralds the start of the band’s summer outdoor concert season. Members of the band hike up the hill on the edge of the town, which offers fantastic views of the countryside, to play a selection of marches and hymns.

This year, due to the global pandemic, the band is not permitted to meet or perform together but their performance will go on, in not just one but two forms.

A competition was launched on the town’s Facebook page for locals who wish to open their windows on “Band Sunday” to play on their hi-fi’s at full volume tracks from the band’s CD, Legacy. Within minutes of posting on “Wotton Noticeboard” the band had received dozens of requests for CDs, which the band has posted out to the local residents free of charge. Meanwhile, band members have been busy practicing at home and have individually recorded performances of The Highland Cathedral, recorded on their smart phones in their bedrooms, which will be digitally stitched together into a full band video performance by friend of the band Gareth Hamer. As it happens the last place Gareth went for a walk before ‘lockdown’ was on Wotton Hill, and now with a bit of spare time he is able to help with this project.

But the Wotton Hill connection doesn’t stop there.

To show off the splendour of Wotton Hill on the planned video, Deputy Musical Director David Lawrence searched the internet for aerial views of the scenery and found some drone footage taken by Dale Curtis – Dale’s grandfather Maurice Brown was a long standing member of the band, being the conductor from 1919-1939 and being one of only two members of the band in the 1960 who were determined to keep the band alive for generations today. The band owes a great debt indeed to Maurice.

David Lawrence said, “the fact that the band members have gone to these lengths to keep the connection with Band Sunday on Wotton Hill alive in this unusual year shows not just their commitment to music making but also their sense of pride in their home town and its community. I’m sure that Maurice would have been very proud.”

The video performance of Highland Cathedral will be released via the band’s website on the traditional day of ‘Band Sunday’ which this year would be 3 May.

The band has another Wotton Hill related project in the pipeline, commissioning Cory Band's Composer in Residence, Christopher Bond, to write a concert piece as a tribute to and based on the Band Sunday tradition. Christopher is working on the piece now and the band are planning to premier the work in September when they are hoping to be back giving live performances.

Look out for more updates on the band’s website www.wottonsilverband.co.uk.

For more details contact: Bruce Davies: 07799105609, bruce.c.davies@gmail.com Emma Williams: 07545167674, emmajhenderson@gmail.com

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