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Hade Edge Band: Nationals Diary 2002
by Simon Wood

Following their winning performance at Torquay and becoming 2nd Section National Champions of Great Britain, MD Simon Wood took the time to write for 4BarsRest his diary of events building up to a performance that we noted for its tightness in the ensemble and boldness in attack


Edgar Dickinson & Simon Wood
2nd Section National Champions of Great Britain 2002

With that I shut up and let Simon continue...

Bradford - The Area results are announced. We are Yorkshire Champions. There was no question this time, I told the band, we would be National Champions.

The test piece arrived and we loved it, there was a buzz round the band immediately. Motivating this band is not a problem.

Three weeks to go - Most sectionals are complete and we rehearse every night, climax on Sunday. Rehearsals are really good and after the Sunday rehearsal I can’t believe how well it’s going. Some people tell me to stop saying we’re going to win, but I know it, and it doesn’t stop me being as hard as ever with them!

Two weeks to go - We take it easy. We rehearse Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. One person misses on Thursday, one on Sunday. At this stage I record a performance of the piece every night and I realise there are four main problems. Speed of first and third movement, Flugel intonation at the beginning and Euphs breathing all over the place!! I would like to conduct the first movement in two but it drags and the third movement needs to keep moving- my problem. But the mood is good and there are still no doubts.

One week to go - I’m at church on Sunday morning and they all pray for the band, for a safe journey and for the wonderful friendship the band enjoys. That’s good.

Our plans to rehearse at a big church on Tuesday are scuppered, we can only go on Wednesday- our night off!! At the end of the Monday rehearsal I tell the band that we wont have a night off and no one moans. Band sergeant, Matt, says “Great, let’s keep it going.” I’m getting excited but we still can’t get the flugel sharp enough at the beginning so we try cutting down an old shank. Doesn’t work. An old mouthpiece will go in further so we try that - it’s better.

We rehearse at the church on Wednesday and a friend of mine comes to listen. Dave Shutter, MD of Tintwistle band. After a run through my deputy conducts and we sit at the back listening and discussing balance etc. The band are sat in a V shape and this is working well, they sound great, our 15 year old rep player is beginning to get nervous about his solo in the final movement but plays it well. The banter is now flying and we have a great rehearsal. No one has missed yet this week.

On Thursday, most things are working well. Norman Law, conductor of local rivals, Silkstone, comes to lend an ear. He suggests playing the third movement much faster, in two, and the band like it but I think it’s too fast. I find it difficult to stick to my own plans but I do. Norman takes some of the rehearsal and the band enjoy it, he picks up on some good points and at the end of the practice I run the piece. Wow. I’ve never heard the band as good. Another full rehearsal, no one has missed yet this week.

Friday - We begin our long journey, the rehearsal at the Hotel is tired but good and we sing long into the night, long into the night.

Saturday –
It goes all wrong. We are scheduled to rehearse twice, at 9.30 am then at 8pm. The first rehearsal is terrible, Flugel player is still half asleep and I pounce. Euponiums breathe together and I nearly explode. At 10.45am we stop. I go and listen to some of section three and realise that the adjudicators box is too close to the stage for our v formation, we will have to soften it. At six we all go for curry but the restaurant can’t cope so we are late for the rehearsal. This time it’s different. This is good. We run the piece and do lots of flexibility exercises and I spin the rehearsal out as long as I can. But before I can say anything there are speeches, presents, gifts, medals and the room is packed with friends and supporters, the atmosphere is electric and I cry when they give me a gift. I tell the band it’s the best prepared I’ve ever been for a contest and no one can take away those full rehearsals and all the hard work. People have some banter with me for crying, but I’m not the only one and I’m not bothered. We are all friends. We could all go home now and it would have been worth it.

Sunday -
6.30am breakfast. Short rehearsal at Torquay football club till we get the draw at 9.20 am. 15th. Excellent. The day drags but we get there in the end. On stage I feel calm. There are some split notes and some untidiness and as we come off we all feel flat, but as we look back we slowly realise it was really quite good.

In no time we are the Champions. Everyone is crying, this means so much to us all. Our sponsor, 80 year old Edgar Dickinson is with us, and it seems fitting that we win when he is here. The days at Hade Edge are exciting, great fun and precious, long may they continue.

© Simon Wood
© 4BarsRest

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