Restarting the town band is music to the ears
- Credit: Jane Knight
This Sunday (July 25), Sidmouth Town Band will finally be able to perform at Connaught Gardens for the first time since 2019.
At 8pm, as the bells ring and the band starts up, the sheer sense of joy at being back, surrounded by familiar faces and beautiful scenery in the gardens, will likely feel a monumental moment, both for individuals and for the band as a whole.
Sidmouth Town Band last performed at the Manor Pavilion theatre in February last year and, after the first lockdown was announced in March, the players assumed that they would be back a couple of months later, practising at home to get ready for the 2020 summer season.
“Fiona Harvey from the band said: “How naïve we were! The season, like everything else, was cancelled. Although we could return to socially-distanced rehearsals later in the year, the extended period with no regular playing or performing was really hard. We managed to play carols around the town in December, which was wonderful, and the positive reaction from the public gave us enough of a boost to find the motivation for playing again. The lockdown in January, however, put further doubt on the chances of performing in 2021. The cancellation of key events in the band's calendar, including the Hot Cross Bun giveaway, contesting, and spring concerts, made it hard for us all to keep up the home-practice. When we could finally return to rehearsals in May, therefore, the celebration was tinged with nervousness about our own abilities! The committee worked hard in preparing a safe return to rehearsal, and because of the spacious size of our new band room at St Francis Hall it meant we could socially distance ourselves. We could rehearse before the government's full restrictions had been lifted.
“Sadly, a couple of players took the opportunity during the break to pack up their instruments including Colette Hill, who has been an amazing stalwart of the band for over 40 years. We would like to thank Colette for all she has done, and hope she remains a central part of the 'band family'. Two of our training band members have also become full-fledged members of the senior band (it seems younger players are much better at home practice during a lockdown!). We look forward to them becoming regular faces at the Sunday evening concerts.
This Sunday's concert will start at 8pm (weather permitting). Visitors are advised to bring their own deckchairs. There is no admission fee, though there will be a collection which will all go towards band funds. With very little revenue over the last two years, we are indebted to the support of our Friends of STB committee, and to Sidmouth Town Council, who have enabled us not just to survive as a band, but also to develop the facilities at St Francis Hall into a brilliant rehearsal venue and community hall.”