CBBB to represent the City of Birmingham

We’re honoured to have been invited to represent the City of Birmingham on a visit to celebrate the relationship with the town of Albert, France.

After the First World War, the City adopted Albert and acted as a ‘War Godmother’ sending supplies and money to help rebuild the town.
To commemorate WW1 and to celebrate this relationship, CBBB will perform at the Theatre de Jeu de Paume on the 20th September in Albert for a historical event.

The town of Albert was almost totally destroyed during the First World War as it was only a couple of miles from the front line and the Somme.

After the First World War many British towns and cities became involved in ‘adoption’ schemes to provide help for the devastated battlefield. Many of the places adopted were on the Somme and Birmingham adopted Albert in 1920. Today Albert still has a ‘Rue de Birmingham’ and the almhouses paid for by the citizens of Birmingham still exist although with a different use.

Read more about the relationship here.

New MD and change of rehearsal venue!

Change is in the air… The City of Birmingham Brass Band are excited to announce the appointment of their new Musical Director, Saphran Ali. Saph has had a long association with the band already and so it is particularly gratifying for us to welcome him at this time to take the band forward into the future. We’ll also will be taking up residence in a new regular rehearsal venue at The Moseley All Services Club following 7 years at the Joseph Chamberlain Sixth Form College. The band would like to express our warmest thanks to the College for some wonderful memories, and also to Ben Hewlett-Davies, our outgoing MD for his productive and enjoyable spell in charge of the band, which has featured many highlights. It is not the last we will see of him!

Members of City of Birmingham Brass Band stand in front of bandstand holding their instruments

An afternoon at Trentham Gardens

Sunshine was out and the audience were in good spirits for an afternoon of music at Trentham Gardens.

We began with the march of ‘Castell Coch’ to get everyone in the mood for the brass band performance. A mix of film music including ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’ and ‘Theme from Shrek’ were popular and we finished the first half with an ‘Oliver’ medley (great singalong!).

Opening the second half was a second march ‘Death or Glory’ before we slowed it down with the ballad ‘Love Changes Everything’.

Our finale was the classic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ which had everyone tapping their feet and once again singing along.

We made the most of the weather with a well deserved picnic. Katy’s cheese scones went down a treat – thanks!

Picnic time at Trentham Gardens

Billesley Lane Allotments – Open Day

CBBB aren’t always out in full force and the Billesley Land Allotments Open Day was one such occasion.

As invited guests for the event, a small group of CBBB members entertained visitors at this special event.

With something for all the family, from wildlife stalls to gardening advice, light music and popular tunes were just right for this outdoor performance.

BBC Sports Personality of the Year

What an experience! After much preparation, including three days of rehearsals, we took to the stage at the Genting Arena, Birmingham to perform ‘Three Lions’ for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.

Alongside other community groups including a gospel choir and bhangra dancers we took to the stands to start the rousing chorus in front of a live audience of 12,000 and millions watching at home.

Towards the end of the song we made our way to the stage and soaked up the atmosphere in front of sport stars and celebrities including 2018’s winner, cyclist Geraint Thomas.

The event was a fantastic way to end 2018 and we were delighted and grateful to be involved in this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

‘It’s coming home!’

Watch our performance with the Lightning Seeds, Baddiel and Skinner here (BBC website).

Don’t Call Me Ishmael + CBBB

Being part of the diverse local musical community in Midlands is something we relish and will jump at opportunities to add that Brass Band sound to a performance.

A group looking for that distinctive sound were Don’t Call Me Ishmael, a five piece alt-pop band from Staffordshire.

Don’t Call Me Ishmael + CBBB

Arriving at Stirchley Baths on a sunny Saturday, members of CBBB were ready to record the ballad ‘Until You Can’t Run Anymore’. The track was written for Don’t Call Me Ishmael’s third album and the addition of a brass harmonies gave another layer and depth to the song.

A great opportunity to play with some fantastic songwriters and musicians in a beautiful venue.

Area Contest 2nd place!!

Six members of City of Birmingham Brass Band smiling holding a trohpy

The City of Birmingham Brass Band are very proud to have achieved 2nd place in the West Midlands Brass Band Association Area Contest 2018 (4th section), held on March 11th. Drawn to play number 1 it was somewhat of a rush to get to the the performance venue in Bedworth from the rehearsal room in Bulkington but if anything having less time to think about it maybe helped to quell any nerves and the band played confidently, with a balanced warm tone, good intonation and assured soloists (from the adjudicators’ comments). The band are thrilled with the result and looking forward to the Nationals for the first time in quite a few years!

Butlin’s Mineworkers’ Contest

There’s nothing quite like arriving into Skegness on a dark Friday evening in January… but, as members of the band arrived, along with hundreds of other brass banders, there was a sense of excitement and anticipation at the annual gathering of the Butlin’s Mineworkers Brass Band Festival.

After locating the apartment amongst the maze of apartments that all looked alike, the night began, and ended, with some serious dancing to 80’s covers in the main venue – Centre Stage. As a relative newcomer to the band, this was the perfect way to get to know one another to the backdrop of Footloose. Several rounds of toast got everyone going the following morning and we were up and ready to see our MD Ben, and repiano cornet Becca play with 3rd Section Band, Ammington.

Staying to listen to some of the bands that followed demonstrated the interpretation of the test piece and the different strengths of each band.

Saturday afternoon was filled with amazing music as the Butlin’s Mineworkers Championship Section Contest got underway. We all listened with delight as technical and musical ability were demonstrated by the top-class bands. A varied choice of test pieces, both contemporary and more traditional kept all the audience in the packed Centre Stage hooked. Upon leaving the venue for the evening, we were all filled with excitement and motivation for improving our own playing and the overall standard of City of Birmingham Brass Band. Once some shared chilli had been devoured the evening was spent together playing card games and charades – some members of the band were certainly better than others but that might have had something to do with the alcohol consumed!

Sunday came around and it was time to head off to see the Entertainment Contest. These mini concerts from the Championship Bands were filled with skilful solos, varied programmes and musical chairs. The more relaxed performances on the final day of the Butlin’s Brass Band Festival reminded us that playing with a brass band is all about making a great noise and having fun whilst doing it. Overall, a fantastic weekend with great company and a wealth of wonderful music.

Christmas Concert at JCC

Amidst a refreshing flurry of powdery snow, the CBBB held its annual Christmas Concert at Joseph Chamberlain College. Although the snow hampered travel to the College for some, audience attendance was high and good spirits abounded. The hall had a number of festively-decorated tables set up, and cheerfully dressed audience members took their places before the band played a number of holiday favorites. One of the band’s featured soloists was trombonist Iain Jackson with his arrangement of Santa Baby, where he skillfully demonstrated both jazzy improvisation and the bass trombone’s deep lower register. Jordann Brionne, euphonium soloist for The Cavalier, displayed nimble musical ability as he made his euphonium sing through numerous melodic passages.

The band also gave the world premiere of MD Ben Hewlett-Davies’ new composition, The Steel Pressers, a march dedicated to the City of Birmingham’s industrial past. Other band and audience favorites included We Wish You a Merry Christmas, the upbeat Christmas Festival, the soulful and wintery Snowman, and the rousing Bavarian Christmas song, Schneewalzer. A good time was had by audience and band members, and a number of refreshments, including lovely hot drinks and delicious baked goods, were served during the interval. It was a grand holiday concert and generated delightful Christmas cheer for all. Kerstin Becker

Stratford Christmas Lights

It was a very cold afternoon when the Band arrived in Stratford, but a meet up for cake and tea before playing gave all the players a chance to warm up and get into the Christmas spirit comparing this year’s selection of Christmas jumpers.The band were set up in Bells Court, a lovely modern, outdoor area in the centre of Stratford, surrounded by several eateries. It was already dark when they started their set at 4.30pm all huddled under the lights of the Everyman Theatre.

After setting the scene with a small selection of favourite Christmas tunes, Santa arrived on the balcony to wish the bystanders a Merry Christmas and announce the turning on of the Christmas Tree lights, before covering the band in a dusting of snow! There was a great turn out from the public who enjoyed meeting Santa and two of his reindeer, and a Christmas dance performance put on by a young dance group. The band’s mixture of traditional carols and modern favourites entertained the local families and they even had a young guest conductor to complete their visit to Stratford. A great gig to be a part of, organised by some lovely people – Sarah Timms