About Keith Merriman

I play bass trombone in the band, and look after the website.

One more sleep…

Early tomorrow morning, the band will travel to Stevenage after putting in months of hard work in preparation for the London & Southern Counties Regional Qualifiers.

Principal Conductor, Rob Tompkins said “The work the band have put into getting the test piece to the standard they have has been excellent; very well attended rehearsals have allowed the band to make great progress and really get the most from the music. On Sunday we will take to the stage at the Area Contest for the first time since 2001. This is a big step up for the band, but one they are very capable of. I will be very proud to conduct the band and hope they all enjoy the experience.”.

The band tomorrow will be made up of players from across the different playing groups in the Abbey Brass organisation so many will be experiencing national brass band contesting for the very first time.

This year’s 4th section test piece is Three Spanish Impressions by Alan Fernie, and as you can see from this photo from last night’s final rehearsal, we’re trying to get in the mood…

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There are a number of Oxfordshire brass bands contesting this weekend, and we’d like to wish all of them the best of luck – and see you afterwards for a beer.

Final Contest Preparations

I am sure I want to delete all pending comments and realize this can't be undoneThe band have been working hard over the last few weeks in preparation for two upcoming contests. Last week, guest conductor Alan Fernie braved the stormy weather and flooding to travel to Abingdon from Scotland and take Abbey Brass for a rehearsal on this year’s 4th section Regional Championships test piece, Three Spanish Impressions – a piece he also composed.

The band thoroughly enjoyed meeting Alan and the rehearsal proved valuable in our preparations. This weekend, Abbey Brass be taking part in the local 2014 Oxfordshire & District Brass Band Association Winter Contest and then on March 16th we’ll be heading over to Stevenage to compete in the London & Southern Counties Regional Qualifiers for the National Brass Band Championships.

Good luck to all the local Oxfordshire brass bands taking part!

We currently have several vacancies in the band that we are auditioning for at the end of March. If you’re interested in joining a busy and friendly brass band, then why not get in touch?

Alan Fernie to Rehearse Abbey Brass

Abbey Brass are delighted to announce that Alan Fernie will be visiting the band to take a rehearsal in the lead up to the London and Southern Counties Area Qualifiers in March 2014. In 2013 the band gained success at the local Oxfordshire contest in February, in part due to Philip Harper coming to rehearse the band in the lead up to the contest. We know that the influence of Alan Fernie will give the band a boost going into the area qualifiers for the first time since 2001.

Alan Fernie is the composer of the chosen piece for the qualifiers; an original work entitled ‘Three Spanish Impressions’. Alan will be travelling down from Glasgow to rehearse the band and said he was delighted to be asked to come and take the rehearsal.

Abbey Brass Principle Conductor Rob Tompkins said ‘This is great news for the band and we are very grateful to Alan for agreeing to travel so far to come and take the rehearsal. We are stepping into the contest arena as a registered band for the first time in 13 years and the band will get invaluable help and a real lift having the composer of the piece taking them through the music he wrote and giving them guidance. I am really looking forward to meeting Alan and discussing the music with him.’

The Area Contest takes place on March 16th in Stevenage, so keep an eye on the website for news of the bands efforts.

Abbey Brass – Oxfordshire & District Brass Band Association Entertainment Contest (Section B) Winners

Abbey Brass are excited to announce that on Sunday 13th October they won both Section B (The Abingdon Band Contest Besson Challenge Cup) for playing and Section B (The Oxford Mail and Oxford Times Challenge Cup) for presentation during the 2013 Oxfordshire & District Brass Band Association Entertainment Contest.

ODBBA Entertainment Contest Trophies

The band performed a 20 minute own-choice programme featuring Singin’ In The Rain, If I Were A Rich Man (bass trombone solo), Going Home (theme from Local Hero) and Amparito Roca.

This is the band’s second contest this year, and the second ‘double’ that they’ve won marking a successful return to contesting after eleven years.

Rob Tompkins, Principal Conductor said “What a great result, we are now the proud owners of 4 trophies from the 2 contests we have taken part in this year - we should all be very proud of the performance. Our next contest is likely to be the ODBBA Winter Contest in February 2014 when we hand over the 2 trophies we won earlier in the year and go up against the 4th and 3rd section bands. This is a real challenge, but one I am sure the band are more than capable of rising to.”

The band will now start preparing for what is traditionally one of the busiest times in the brass band calendar on the run-up to Christmas. Find out where you can see them playing in and around Abingdon on our calendar.

Whit Friday Fun

Abbey Brass have built on our first trip to the Oldham & Saddleworth Whit Friday Brass Band Contests last year by taking part in another 5 contests this year and improving our overall score.

Our final rankings this year were:

Delph: 47th out of 81
Dobcross: 52nd out of 65
Greenfield: 53rd out of 60
Lees/Springhead: 37th out of 49
Scouthead/Austerlands: 47th out of 58

Here’s a video of our performance of our contest march, Castell Caerfilli at Dobcross:

Although the weather was terrible to start with, a great time was had by all and those who stayed for an extra day enjoyed an excellent concert by three Swiss brass bands – Brass Band MatzendorfBrass Band Breitenbach and Mg Konkordia Aedermannsdorf.

A huge thank you to all the band supporters, those in the band for their hard work on planning and organising our trip, and of course to the organisers of the contests that we attended – we look forward to coming back next year!

Whit Friday Brass Band Contests 2013

After a fantastic weekend away at the Whit Friday Brass Band Contests last year, we are again heading north to compete alongside many of the world’s best brass bands in probably the most popular event in the banding calendar.

The contests, know as “the greatest free show on Earth” are taking place next Friday, the 24th May.  We have been practising our music, but now the weather is (slightly) better we need to get in some marching practice.

On the evenings of Sunday the 19th and Wednesday the 22nd of May, we’ll be rehearsing our contest march outside, and marching up and down the road in preparation for our trip to Saddleworth – roughly sometime between 7.45pm and 9.00pm.

So if you’d like to come down and get a flavour of what the contest is like, and listen to us rehearsing, then please come along – it’s much more fun for us to play to an audience!

Find out where we rehearse.

Abbey Brass – Oxfordshire & District Brass Band Association Winter Contest (Section C) champions

Abbey Brass are excited to announce that on Sunday 24th February they won both the Section C (ODBBA 90th Anniversary Cup) and Section C March (Shaw Club Trophy) during the 2013 Oxfordshire & District Brass Band Association Winter Contest.

2013 ODBBA Winter Contest

The band performed the march Castell Caerffili by T. J. Powell, and their own-choice test piece was Oregon by Jacob de Haan.

These results mark a return to contesting from an eleven year absence, and the band put a lot of hard work into rehearsals following a busy Christmas period. The contest was adjudicated by David Hirst, the well-known brass band conductor, adjudicator and arranger and held at The Marlborough School in Woodstock.

In his contest remarks, David wrote about a “Tidy opening and a well measured march”. For the test piece, he commented on “Well controlled, neat playing and good technique, nicely played…”.

Principal Conductor of Abbey Brass, Rob Tompkins, said “This result is a real boost for the band, a lot of hard work went into getting these pieces ready for the contest. The sad loss of our Soprano Cornet player Tony Bush in November made the performance even more difficult for the band, and the win has been dedicated to his memory. I am so proud of all the players, they have put up with me pushing to get the best out of the pieces and this proved to be well worth it. We were also privileged to have Philip Harper, conductor of the world famous Cory Band rehearse the band in January which helped to get the pieces to such a good standard.”.

The band will play both of the winning pieces at their next concert on May 18th at Yolande Patterson Hall (St. Helen & St. Katharine School) in Abingdon. This is a joint concert with Wantage Concert Brass, so why not come along and listen to the band perform these award-winning pieces.

Philip Harper to Rehearse Abbey Brass

We’re excited to announce that Philip Harper, Musical Director of the world-famous Cory Band, will be visiting Abingdon later this month to take Abbey Brass for a rehearsal in our preparation for the 2013 ODBBA Winter Contest.

As well as conducting The Cory Band, Philip is a freelance educator and adjudicator with brass bands at all levels. He is also a prolific composer, with his work Olympus being selected for last year’s National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain.

We look forward to welcoming Philip, and to what will be a very enjoyable and educational evening for the band.

It’s all over

Follow live updates (and possibly some photos) of Abbey Brass competing at The Oldham & Saddleworth Whit Friday Brass Band Contests 2012 on this page. We’ll start updating the page when we get on the bus late afternoon on Friday 1st June.

1500: Getting on the bus!

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1600: First band at Lydgate!

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1615: Band photo – 15 mins to the first march!

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1620: Our first registration.

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1630: First one done, stopping to listen!

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1700: Amersham coming up the hill at Friezland.

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1800: Arrived at Greenfield. Black Dyke following us apparently!

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2000: Dobcross. Bit chilly now!

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2145: Saw some friends at Dobcross! Getting dark now, so onwards to Delph & a well earned pint(s).

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0014: Back at the hotel, all over…until next year perhaps ;-)

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