The start of Big and Brassy
For many years Ray and Linda Somers attended workshop weekends run by the Central Band of the Royal British Legion, where music was made with somewhere in the region of 90 fellow enthusiasts. Music was chosen to challenge and entertain, and the weekend was always thoroughly enjoyable but never finished with a concert.
In September 2016 Ray and Linda attended a concert in Godalming given jointly by Farnham Brass Band and Haslemere Town Band and realised that there are many smaller non-competing brass bands who might also enjoy, and benefit from, working together. And so the seeds of Big and Brassy were planted and the idea of a massed band weekend was born.
They also had a great desire to be able to raise funds for both local and musical charities.
Bring these three things together and you have a weekend filled with music, for people to belong to a unique band, to make friends and enjoy opportunities not normally available to them; and to bring it to an amazing climax with a spectacular massed brass band, charity concert. Charley Brighton wowed us all with his virtuosity on the euphonium and a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon was had by all. All profits from the first concert were donated to Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice in Farnham.
But we needed a name! We are a BIG band and we are a BRASS band – and so Big and Brassy was born.
The success of the original Big and Brassy was beyond our wildest dreams, bringing 70 musicians from 8 local bands together for just one weekend to make friends and to make music, raising almost £2500 for Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice in Farnham. Furthermore, friendships were formed, and networks created such that by drawing on their newfound friends, no band went out understaffed over the following months. Big and Brassy Take 2, in 2018, went even further, involving more brass and percussion players than ever before. On this occasion we welcomed the renowned composer and arranger, Alan Fernie, as our guest soloist on trombone. This was even more special as Alan is composer in residence for what has now become our musical charity, Brass for Africa. We were able to donate instruments and a large number of mouthpieces through our Big Mouthpiece Drive to the charity along with a share of the profits. On this occasion we also supported local charities Parkside and Step by Step, once again donating a total of just over £3000.
In 2019, we took the music of stage and screen as our theme and once again were able to share just under £2000 between Brass for Africa, Parkside and Midhurst Macmillan. Our very special encore was the Big and Brassy March, composed especially for us by our 2018 soloist, Alan Fernie. This march is sold through Brass for Africa publications and is now being played worldwide continuing to support this charity. A new dimension was added to the concert with a moving video shown of the first playing of the Big and Brassy march being shared live with Jim Trott, founder of Brass for Africa, and some of the young people he was working with in Kampala during our rehearsal. The audience were also treated to a Lion King quiz during the band’s rendition of Selections from The Lion King, which proved very popular.