The Covid pandemic has had a major impact on Phoenix Brass. Life for the Band ended abruptly in March 2020 after all engagements for the remainder of last year were cancelled by the organisers. 2021 to date has been no different.
The players have missed all concert, contest, committee meeting activities and supporting events such as the Remembrance Parade and Church Service in Marlborough, charitable work and playing at the many carol services and events during the Festive period. These engagements and the twice weekly rehearsals on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Froxfield War Memorial Hall had been a big part of the player’s lives prior to the pandemic.
So, when the advice was issued on 12 April 2021, under Step 2 of the Government roadmap, the players were delighted that they were allowed to start small section rehearsals, albeit outdoors in the car park of Froxfield War Memorial Hall.
Wrapped up against the chilly weather, small groups of six players from different sections of the Main Band recommenced rehearsal activity led by David Watson, Musical Director, during the week and weekends. Players from the Beginners Group and the Training Band recommenced rehearsal activity on Saturday mornings outside the Hall. Evading the showers and inclement weather became the norm, but the players persevered where they could.
The latest performing arts guidance published this week allowed the resumption of rehearsal activity inside Froxfield War Memorial Hall after the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) granted an exemption to allow multiple permitted groups to occupy the same facilities and be directed by a single individual. To satisfy the social distancing capacity limits and adherence to strict Covid restrictions, sixteen players met for their first indoor rehearsal for more than fourteen months. This necessitated putting in place all possible measures to mitigate risks, including the completion of a rehearsal activity risk assessment, social distancing at 2m, wearing of face masks when not playing, the use of bell end covers for all instruments and the ventilation of the Hall.
The Band is currently waiting to hear whether performances at Swindon Bandstand and Victoria Park, Newbury Bandstand scheduled for July and August will go ahead.
David Watson, Musical Director, stated that “I and all the players from the Main Band, Training Band and Beginners Group are extremely pleased to have taken a small step to some normality with the return of rehearsal activity and we hope to be back soon enjoying what we do most, participating in musical activities of many types, entertaining the public and providing educational and training facilities for people of all ages to learn to play a brass instrument. We continue to act strictly in accordance with the guidance from the UK Government and Brass Bands England (BBE). Strict protocols are observed following a series of risk assessments, and attendance at rehearsals is purely voluntary. It is our hope that as restrictions continue to be eased, and when the BBE advises further, we will be able to return to full band rehearsals in due course”.
He added “Phoenix Brass is now receiving and accepting bookings for the remainder of this year and onwards, and will advise as and when these become confirmed. If you would like to enquire about having the Band at your event, please contact the Band Secretary. Anyone wishing to join the band as a player is very welcome to contact us. Currently, due to players commencing University studies, we have a number of vacancies across the band, and we are really keen to welcome E flat soprano and B flat cornet players, EE Flat and BB Flat Bass players”.
As a reminder, Phoenix Brass meets in Froxfield War Memorial Hall for rehearsals on Tuesday and Thursday evenings throughout the year from 7.30pm until 9.30pm and are always pleased to welcome players of all standards.
The Training Band and Beginners Group meet in Froxfield War Memorial Hall on Saturday mornings.
Contact details for Main Band, Training Band and the Beginners Group can be found via the Contacts page.