Friday, 13 February 2009


We continued our Centenary celebrations last weekend when the National Methodist Youth Brass Band under their principal conductor Jennifer Spencer gave the second concert in the series celebrating the 100th Anniversary year of Caversham Heights Methodist Church to a capacity audience at the church on Saturday 7th February 2009

The band was formed in 1987 and was honoured to have the founder, Norman Avery, in the audience. The band draws its membership from around the country and has a core membership of around 50, whose ages range from 14 upwards. The players come from far afield, (currently Aberdeen to Guernsey) and they give 5 concerts a year, leading the worship in the host church the following morning. They rehearse on the Friday evening and the Saturday morning, and have the Saturday afternoon free to enjoy themselves exploring the locality. Proceeds are donated to Methodist charities and this event raised over £600, which was donated to the Methodist Relief and Development Fund that supports the poorest of the poor in the world through long-term development aid.

Several members of the band provided short introductions to pieces, and to the soloists, and it was a novel twist for the band members to exit two by two at the end of the first half leaving a somewhat demented percussion player on his own, needing to be physically removed!

Their concerts usually start with "Deep Harmony" as this was the first piece performed by the band back in 1987 but their repertoire is wide ranging, taking in items including "Amazing Grace" and selections from "Cats” and “Out of Africa”, as well as solos featuring members of the band. One of the soloists was 14 year old Matthew, playing with the Band for the first time, who had travelled on his own by train for 6 and a half hours to reach us from Lincoln!
When we saw snow-covered Britain on the TV, we wondered if it would be possible for us to have the planned concert, so all the band members were to be congratulated on the way they got to Caversham Heights in spite of many difficulties.

Just before the last item, "Pirates of the Caribbean", a member of the band offered a short homily highlighting the Christian principles that guide the work of the band. He said, "The theme for our devotions this weekend is 'Thanksgiving'; the way we give thanks to God through our day to day lives and our music, and how we can give thanks to God in times of trouble. When we feel God is far away, God is faithful to us so that, taking His hand, He will guide us through." The band’s motto is Fun, Faith and Fellowship. Finally, the encore was "Crimond" (with modulations reminiscent of Elgar).

Any young Methodist interested in joining the band can download an application form from the band’s website He/she must be at least 14 years old, have achieved Grade V satandard on his/her instrument and must be playing regularly with a local brass band.

This was a very talented and professional performance much enjoyed by the appreciative audience - even though it was one of the coldest nights of the year.
Accommodation was provided in the church hall, with camp beds and blow-up matresses loaned by church members, and substantial and very satisfying meals were served to the band from Friday evening through to Sunday lunch by a large team from the church.

The Sunday morning service was greatly enriched by the way in which the Band led our morning worship, playing all the music, not just the hymns, and four members of the band reading the lessons. Our Minister preached the sermon and it was a very joyful and inspiring service. Thank you to everyone!


Granny Annie said...

My grandchildren would love being a part of something like this. Our church uses an occasional brass ensemble but there is not a group that works together all the time. You can see about the church we attend by clicking the link on my blog list. It is an historic UMC and has recognition for it's architecture nation wide.

Thanks for adding to my followers. I don't remember if you had been there before and I lost you but I'm glad you are there now.

Olive Morgan said...

What a large staff you have, and such a lot of music! That sounds as though you have a large membership.

I don't think I had added my blog to your list of followers before, though I was always going to do so - but i read your blog most days, even if I don't have time to comment. I had a follower pull out too. I wondered if they were now on Facebook, which seems to be engulfing everything else these days - except me!

Denny said...

We were blessed to host the National Methodist Youth Brass Band at our Methodist Church in Hanover, PA, U.S.A. In June, 1998 a group of us from the church were led by Norman Every on a two week tour of England, staying with Methodists in Melksham, Exeter, Chesterfield, Eastborne, and Godalming. Norman was a marvelous tour host, as were the many friends we made along the way. Over the years, we have lost touch with Norman. Do you or any of your readers have his address? We'd also love to be back in touch with any of our dear ones who hosted that crazy group of Methodists from U.S.A. Dennis and Betsy Keller