On November 18th 2018, 46 members of DUCB travelled to Oldham, near Manchester, to compete in the National Concert Band Festival regional competition.

Led by our excellent student conductor, Thomas Hicken, a physics PhD student, the band performed in the festival for the first time and achieved a Gold Award in the highest category, the second highest award available.

The National Concert Band Festival is an open competition in which each band is graded against set criteria, rather than against other bands in their category. There are four award levels (bronze, silver, gold and platinum) meaning that DUCB achieved the second highest award possible in our debut performance at the festival.

Conductor Thomas Hicken said:

This really is a remarkable result for the band, but one that they truly deserve after putting so much hard work in to today’s performance. To achieve the second-highest award in the top category on our debut performance is more than I could have possibly imagined!

As an un-auditioned society that prioritises inclusivity, DUCB are particularly pleased with this result.

President of DUCB, Chloe Langham, said:

In only 6 weeks the band have managed to reach an incredibly high standard, and with such a large group of people with a wide variety of ability and experience, I am very proud!

The band is comprised of students from all academic disciplines, with only a small portion studying music as their degree, again highlighting the achievement.

For the programme the band prepared two pieces: October by Eric Whitacre and Silver Screen by Paul Hart. The first piece was commended as being ‘well controlled and effective’ with ‘a very atmospheric opening’ and the second was described as ‘bright and breezy’ by the adjudicators. The constructive comments from the adjudicators are helpful at this stage in the year allowing the band to focus on aspects mentioned in rehearsals, continuing to build upon the already fantastic standard of playing that the band has achieved already this year.

Not only did the band gain detailed feedback on our playing from professional musicians, but the band also had opportunities to listen to other bands throughout the day, including Manchester University Wind Orchestra and Bangor University Concert Band, as well as school bands.

The band would like to extend a specific thank you to Music Durham, particularly to Jess Lawrence and Lydia Heald, for supporting us so much in the organisational aspect that comes with taking part in such a large event.

It is our hope that NCBF will become a key date in the Concert Band calendar over the next few years.

However, for now, if you didn’t make it to our pre-competition concert, DUCB would love you to join them for their Michaelmas concert in Elvet Methodist Church at 7pm on Wednesday 28th November. Tickets available here.