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Trish Burgess reviews St Nicolas Players' production of Brassed Off at the South Holland Centre




The house lights dimmed, the curtains opened and the unmistakable sound of cornets, horns and trombones filled the auditorium. There, on the stage of the South Holland Centre in Spalding, was a full brass band. From my seat in the gallery, I could feel waves of glorious sound and see shimmering light as it bounced off highly-polished instruments.

I was watching the excellent St Nicolas Players' production of Brassed Off, a play about the struggles faced by the community of Grimley and members of their colliery band.

To tell this story a brass band is essential but how does an amateur society find one? If there isn't one available they have to create one. And that's just what they did - from scratch. Horn player, Tony Fell, built up the band, player by player, over a number of months. This was an astonishing feat and the result was incredible.

Kitted out in full uniform, kindly provided by the Murton Colliery Band, which sadly disbanded earlier this year, all members of this impressive ensemble wowed the audience with their renditions of the Floral Dance, Concierto de Aranjuez - "orange juice to you!" - the Dambusters March and Danny Boy.

As I listened to the stirring tunes, I realised this was the third time I had been enveloped in the brass band sound in as many months.

In August, Dougie and I attended the Edinburgh Tattoo in his home city and our hearts soared as we listened to the military bands from across the globe. I remember walking back down the Royal Mile with a spring in my step and a tear in my eye: it was such an emotional night.

Andy (Joe Dickinson) andGloria (Dominique Spinks). (4248816)
Andy (Joe Dickinson) andGloria (Dominique Spinks). (4248816)

Only a few weeks ago, during our trip to Switzerland, we were standing outside the magnificent KKL concert hall in Luzern and spotted a banner indicating the World Band Festival was currently taking place. What were the chances of that!

On the spur of the moment, we booked tickets for that night's event: Tattoo on Stage. It was another musical sensation. We listened to bands from Switzerland, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Russia. Tears flowed again, as the full cast played together in a breathtaking rendition of 'Highland Cathedral'.

Near the end of Brassed Off, Danny, the band leader, speaks to the audience after their win at the Albert Hall. He tells them that music doesn't matter after all: that it's people who matter. But, of course, music does matter. It matters to members of colliery bands who lost their jobs and whose communities were destroyed. It matters to every single person who is uplifted or brought to tears by the sound of a collection of notes.

It also matters to the individuals who make up the newly-formed St Nicolas Brass. It's heartening to learn that the ensemble which Tony Fell gathered together, piece by piece, will now, hopefully, continue to play together in the future. I think that deserves a huge round of applause.

You can read Trish's blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk

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