On Sunday 9 July 2017 the young members of Thurrock Marching Brass travelled to Daventry in Northamptonshire to compete in the British Youth Band Association (www.byba.org.uk) Championship Class for the very first time since their re-launch on 18 October 2010. This was two classes above their last season entry, but with a stronger design team, staff base and all the ingredients necessary to compete at this new level, there was an air of determination building from the start of the journey from Essex.
The kids just love performing this year’s production called Charlie’s Chocolate Factory, which sees young Charlie take the keys to the Wonka kingdom for the very first time. He opens the gates for the first time to reveal inside the famous factory with an arrangement of ‘Pure Imagination’ from the motion picture smash hit Willy Wonka. Charlie struggles to understand how to manage and in a frenzy of activity it isn’t long before the youngsters in the factory take all the sweets on offer. The design team have used extracts from Bow wow wow’s ‘I want Candy’ to create that emotional segment which then leaves young Charlie sad and forlorn. As he contemplates what to do next, the design team changes the mood completely, introducing two young soloists and featuring our incredible front line ensemble and amazing colourguard. An emotional arrangement of ‘Cheer up Charlie’ from the musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory really tugs at the heart strings, and at the end Charlie has a light bulb moment which tells him to travel around the world in search of new ingredients and new sweet ideas to re-stock the factory. There was only one real choice that the designers could choose for this, and that was Status Quo’s ‘Rockin’ all over the World’. A frenetic arrangement that features all musical and visual elements of the corps, leading to a climax that you just can’t help getting involved in as a spectator. Finally, the reprise of “Pure Imagination”, again from the motion picture smash hit Willy Wonka and featuring the brass line and the front ensemble Charlie finally realises what it takes to run the infamous Wonka factory, and a final reveal of the entire factory as a single image backdrop sees him receive the equally infamous Wonka hat and coat. He has made it!!
The designers of the show have intertwined an intricate audio soundtrack to accompany the musical presentation, and in between each of the tracks, segments of Oompah Loompa fun signals a complete change of scene that each member contributes to in creating on the field.
Rehearsals the day before the show really surprised everyone involved, with an improvement being evident from their first show, and so the mood was buoyant as the team approached the venue at Daventry.
Planning had gone well, and things were checked and re-checked as the scenery and sound system were put into place ready to go on. The kids themselves were giddy to showcase all their hard work over the previous week and they looked amazing as they took the field and everything was set up for them ready to begin. Their first ever performance at this new level was about to commence.
The announcer gave the all clear to proceed and the sound system started. The opening statement was crisp and clear by the brass line, but then, totally unexpected, the sound system stopped playing. An integral part of the production was, in a split second, taken away.
With such a reliance on that part of the production there was only going to be two options available to the young members. Panic and stop the performance or pull their socks up and perform to the best of their ability under difficult circumstances.
The staff encouraged them to carry on, and some of them even sang through some of the segments to give them a reference in parts, because for the youngsters of Thurrock Marching Brass, they took it upon themselves to drop their shoulders and plough on. Counting as best they can through the silence where the soundtrack should have been and working as a team to make each number as enjoyable as they could. Some difficult moments through the sectional changes didn’t deter these young stars and the entire audience got behind them to drive them all the way through the show to the very end. At this juncture, the judging process didn’t mean a thing. The score didn’t mean a thing. What mattered to each and everyone involved with Thurrock Marching Brass was that the kids showed more character and determination to complete their program and in many parts to a high standard of delivery under these extreme circumstances.
A rapturous reception from the entire audience really captured the moment and the emotion perfectly. Tears of affection for what the young members of TMB, whose average age is just 11 years of age had just done. They could have crumbled, but they stood tall and gave it their best. They could have given up, but their training and love for the program wouldn’t let them even think that was an option. This was a moment in the history of the re-launch that will stay with us forever. Anyone who was there will tell you just how brave each and every member was on that day in Daventry on a sunny afternoon at a BYBA contest.
Carlsberg don’t do courage, grit and determination on the field of marching band or Drum Corps, but if they did then they would use this effort as their flagship showcase!
From everyone at Thurrock Marching Brass, WELL DONE KIDS. You are all amazing.
Speaking of the day, a very emotional Corps Director, Jay Lindner said, “Every time our kids perform there is something special that they, and we, learn. It could be one of them who has been struggling to get a part of their program right finally getting it, and to see their joy in achieving is exactly why we do what we do. The sound system failure today threw something at our members that I am sure would have challenged even the most seasoned of performers and teams, but the way they handled it brought me and many others to tears. Yes they got confused through the transitions, which I have made a note of to ask our chairman not to sing in future!! But that didn’t matter to them, they worked as a team and counted where they needed to in order to get through the program and to deliver as best they could under the circumstances. We know what went wrong with the sound system, and that will be sorted out for next time but oh my, the sheer grit and determination was stunning. To cap the whole day off, our friends at the Comets Performance Ensemble just added to the emotions on the day, taking all the kids under their wing and making sure that their day was as enjoyable as possible, new friendships were formed today and both organisations decided to team up for the retreat and go on as a combined mass band. Absolutely first class support for our youngsters and something I want to develop even further going forwards. Despite the challenges faced by our youngsters the day couldn’t have ended any more positively with the colourguard taking third place and Music Effect taking fourth place out of seven competing units in the class on the day. Proud of everyone involved is an understatement! Thank you everyone for what you do for these kids.”
Thurrock Marching Brass is proud to perform as much as they can within the community and you can keep up to date with all their engagements on our website below or by following them on Facebook.