The last year at Usk has seen numerous players joining, as well as several internal moves. The band has welcomed Hayley from the Forest of Dean to strengthen the back row, Holly has filled the second baritone seat after starting playing again for the first time in twenty years and long term friend of the band, June has joined from BTM on soprano cornet. Phil has joined on solo euphonium to fill the void left by the band’s MD James, Russell has taken over the solo trombone seat whilst John and Janet have joined the percussion section from Abertillery and Abergavenny bands respectively. Finally, Ken has joined the band on back row for the National Finals assault in Cheltenham.
The band has also seen players return from University on a permanent basis. Emily, who played soprano at the National Finals victory, has re-joined the back row as has Becky, who bolsters the horn section.
In addition to the new faces and returning faces, there have been several key switches in the band. Rachel has moved from Euphonium to the engine room on bass whilst Georgie has replaced Rachel by moving from baritone to euphonium.
Probably the most notable of switches comes on the end seat. Internal promotion has seen Callum step up to the principal cornet seat after Katy has moved to flugel. Katy has played principal cornet for the band for fifteen years and has won many solo prizes during her time. Although she will be missed on the end, she is relishing the opportunity to take over the flugel chair. Both Callum, a former pupil of the band’s MD James, and Katy will make their contest debuts at the National Finals of Great Britain in September. Former conductor Jeff, has stepped down from flugel and moved permanently to tenor horn. Finally, the band has most recently welcomed two new players; Mandy and Lee. Mandy and Lee have moved to South Wales from Leicestershire and strengthen the back row and bass section with many years of brass banding experience behind them.
The band has seen substantial changes in the last year and MD James commented:
‘It has been a whirlwind year for the band. I can’t thank the players enough for their endeavours so far. To qualify for the National Finals, two years in a row with such change in personnel is testament to the determination and focus of the group. Asking players to move positions has been a difficult decision for me, but everyone has gladly accepted and hopefully these moves will help us to protect the band’s longevity. We have been very lucky to sign some outstanding musicians. The band is so keen to learn and develop which is something I’ve found incredibly refreshing. The band has a busy summer concert schedule before turning attentions to the finals in September.’