Foden's Band has announced the results of its innovative on-line Whit Friday competition that saw 90 bands enter march performances for the banding world to enjoy.
The initiative was part of the Sandbach band's successful application in obtaining over £33,000 of Arts Council England's National Lottery funding through its 'Covid 19' emergency response fund.
Its guidance stated that the funding had been set up to 'afford practitioners and organisations time to stabilise, to think, and to plan for the future' — something which Foden's did with a project that certainly made a worldwide impact with audiences in a new and innovative way.
Additional financial support came from a raft of sponsors such as Tameside Metropolitan Council and The Friends of Tameside Whit Friday Committee, Culture Tameside and 4Barsrest and Mango Design, with break between bands also supplemented with adverts and features.
All 90 performances were listened to by Foden's MD Michael Fowles, with 86 being assessed for the competition and all for the special prizes. Entries came from all over the world and at all levels — from 'regular' top UK Whit Friday circuit contenders, to ensembles from Japan, USA and Europe, university groups, scratch ensembles and youth bands.
Little wonder then that despite having to listen to almost 8 hours of music making adjudicator Mike Fowles said "...what a great contest that was after 90 performances to enjoy."
The selection of marches was just as varied — from the opening 'Civitas' written for the occasion for Chiltern Hills Brass by Nigel Hall off the number 1 draw, to 'Spicy Slaidburn' played by Gresley Youth Band and even a couple of clear-eyed renditions of 'Barnard Castle' and the obligatory Whit Friday classics of 'Knight Templar', 'The Wizard', 'The Cossack' and 'Ravenswood'.
It was also great to hear less familiar fayre such as 'Thundercloud', 'Le Reve Passe', 'Ballerina', 'Green & Gold' and 'When the Saints go Marching In'.
Plenty of fun
Bands also entered into the fun of the event, with just about every performance featuring a great little cameo appearance by at least one player in a band.
It certainly meant a hard decision for Mike to select the 4Barest/Mango Design 'Most Innovative Presentation', which eventually went to 'The Prez', by Bad Ass Brass, which saw the band, made up of friends, produce a funked up version of William German's famous march 'The President' accompanied by a fantastic stop-go animated video production.
The outstanding youth bands, all added an extra sense of fun and inclusion in the broadcast too, with their efforts being recognised by each receiving an equal share of the cash support given by Tameside Metropolitan Council and The Friends of Tameside Whit Friday Committee.
That was also true Foden's Award for Spirit and Inspiration, which deservedly went to Whit Spirit, an ensemble made up of 60 players from 36 bands on four different banding continents for their performance and presentation of 'True & Trusty'.
At the serious end of the contest there were a host of excellent performances with the overall winning performance coming from the British Army Brass Band with their polished rendition of the famous George Allan march, 'The Wizard'.
Runner-up was the Leyland Band also with their 'Wizard' rendition, whilst third place went to GUS Band for their performance of T.J Powell's 'Emmaneff'.
Immediately following the event, Foden's Band Manager Mark Wilkinson told 4BR that its success will mean that it will be held again in 2021.
"We've been overwhelmed by the large number of messages supporting the event and would like to thank all the performers, bands and audience who contributed to its success.
Due to its impact we are able to confirm that we will run an online event again next year, not to replace or compete against the official Whit Friday but as a valuable on line addition."
He also revealed the breakdown in the numbers who participated and enjoyed the event: "The interest in the contest exceeded our expectations with 90 bands from 10 countries playing 43 different marches 'virtually' against each other.
The live stream has been viewed over 22,400 times in 19 different countries including Kenya, Russia and Indonesia — all enjoying over 2430 performers featured who each recorded their individual parts in isolation."
The live stream has been viewed over 22,400 times in 19 different countries including Kenya, Russia and Indonesia — all enjoying over 2430 performers featured who each recorded their individual parts in isolationFoden's Band
Mark added: "We are extremely grateful to Tameside Council, Friends of Tameside Whit Friday Contests, 4barsrest/Mango Design and Foden's who all contributed cash prizes as well as our 'partners' for their continued support.
Finally, I would personally like to thank Darren Lea for coordinating the project alongside Richard Poole, Ian Raisbeck and Jonny Bates who all worked extremely hard to make the event a success.
Foden's is a forward-thinking organisation and we are extremely proud to have been the first band in the world to run an event of this kind as a way to keep players motivated and working together during these difficult times. We have further exciting on line events planned which will be announced in due course."
The video stream can be viewed again via: https://youtu.be/0FCzJfxH-9w
1. British Army Brass Band 'The Wizard'
2. Leyland Band 'The Wizard'
3. GUS Band 'Emmaneff'
Foden's Award for Spirit and Inspiration:
Whit Spirit 'True & Trusty'
4Barsrest/Mango Design Award for Most Innovative Presentation
Bad Ass Brass 'The Prez'.