Hemel Hempstead Band recently reached an impressive fourth place at the British National Marching Band Championships in Cheltenham.
On Sunday September 19th, the group pushed back the challenges of groups across the UK, the Apsley-based ensemble presented a rousing performance of the essay “An Elgar Portrait” to wow the judges with their musicality and bravado .
This achievement is all the more impressive given that due to the pandemic the group were unable to meet, rehearse or perform together in person until May of this year.
Even then, to protect everyone from COVID-19, they left their usual rehearsal facilities at Apsley to use a larger room in the nearby Cassiobury School.
Juggling between timpani and tubas between venues, the intrepid musicians met twice a week under the baton of musical director, Mr. Paul Fothergill.
Their dedication and optimism paid off this weekend.
Mr Fothergill said: “We were honored to have been chosen to select South East England for the national final this year. And we had a wonderful weekend in Cheltenham.
“It’s been dark months, but playing together and getting this fantastic result really made us smile.”
The growing group has a thriving training group. Of the twenty-eight brass and percussionists who entered the competition, seven were under the age of eighteen.
By building this wave of young talent, the group has great ambitions to extend their 150-year history of creating music for the local community by securing promotion at next year’s regional championships.
Band president Peter Davis started playing in the band at the age of 14, now 89, he has 75 years of extraordinary brass to his name.
Peter performed them on the baritone horn at Cheltenham. He said: “It’s wonderful to see all these youngsters come out of our training group.
“The future of the group is bright. This result has really put Hemel Hempstead on the map.”
The group welcomes new and old brass and percussion players of all standards to their group room on Monday evenings from 6.30 p.m. If you are interested, visit the Hemel Hempstead Band Facebook page.