We entered Autumn with a great evening of music at the Eastgate. The audience was treated to a great selection of music from top class traditional marches, music from the musicals with West Side Story, some great Beatles numbers – and some fantastic more relaxed melodies in the form of Sleep and Irish Melody.
“Highly enjoyable” “A great evening” “A fantastic selection”
The evening featured The Silver Band, Youth Band – and the Senior Band.
As well as the fun evening of music we’ve also been running the Grand Draw with a range of great prizes. The winners are:
Grand Prize Draw – Winners
£200 – Cliff Balson, £100 – Sophie Ward-Murray, £50 – Louise Ballantyne
The Band were out in force this morning on Peebles High Street. Entertaining shoppers with some pretty cool playing of popular numbers like “Sweet Caroline” and “Yes Sir! I Can Boogie” as well as Scottish favourites like Sunshine on Leith and that well known march Ingleside.
We made a good collection for band funds and quite a number of people wanted to enter the Band raffle.
But what made the morning especially fun was the traffic works going on in Peebles right now. Apparently a manhole cover needed to be fixed – necessitating endless lines of stationary traffic backing up along the High Street. But, in the 26 degree heat, at least they could wind their windows down and listen to the music – as many did. Some almost looked disappointed when the lights changed to Green.
August saw the band returning to the Peebles Agricultural Show – a large and well attended event held just outside Peebles at Horsburgh Ford.
As well as the many farm animals, the show is also a chance for many local small businesses and other community organisations to share what they’ve been up to. These included the band’s very own resident artist and celebrated pet portrait painter, Eilidh Geddes.
Perhaps the most notable event was an escaped bull in the main arena. With its long and very pointed horns it was a fearsome beasty. But its handler did the right thing and lay motionless until others were able to get it under control. Compared to that, the bands marches were perhaps a little less stirring, but nonetheless entertaining.
As the summer sun sizzled, our Youth Band, under the direction of David Robb, has been out in force, playing concerts, taking part in workshops and marching at Beltane.
A key highlight has been our Silver Squad, who stomped their presence on the scene this term. Made up of our newest Youth Band members, these young people have been practicing hard throughout the winter months and made their debut performance at the Peebles Concert Band concert, before delivering another outstanding performance at the Peebles Burgh Silver Band concert in June. Their enthusiasm was infectious, and they soon had the audience stomping and clapping along to their performances. We look forward to seeing a lot more from these promising musicians.
The band was pleased to be invited to play at the Peebles Concert Band concert in early June at the Eastgate Theatre. Both our Youth Band and Silver Squad played, with the Muppet theme tune being a personal favourite. The Youth Band thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to play alongside and experience the music of the Concert Band – a big thank you to them for inviting us and to their (and our!) band conductor, Vaughan Fleischfresser for stepping in to conduct at the last minute.
We move on to the Peebles Burgh Silver Band concert, where the Youth Band played to a packed hall. Many of the more senior members of the Youth Band have transitioned to the senior band and this link was obvious to see, with so many of our members playing with the senior band at the concert. Particular mention to Malkie and Ben, who are the most recent young players joining the senior band ranks. A special thanks also to former Youth Band member, Lucy, who has been helping with the Silver Squad and was rather thrown in at the deep end at both concerts.
And of course, we can’t have a summer term without mentioning Beltane. The sun shone (mainly!), the town was decorated red and white and the band has been out in force. Not to be left out, our Youth Band joined the senior band at the Apprentice Ride Out, leading the young riders through the streets of Peebles. On a sweltering summer’s evening, our Youth Band members, Fraser and Sophie, made their debut marching appearance, pulling it off with aplomb.
Further afield, a strong contingent of our players took part in the Scottish Borders Brass Band Association Workshop in Galashiels, enjoying the opportunity to play with other musicians from across the Borders. The MacArts was packed for the final performance and it is clear there is a strong youth band contingent across the Borders. A group of our more experienced players also played with the Scottish Borders Youth Brass Band at Selkirk Silver’s concert in May, again enjoying playing with other Borders musicians. We look forward to being part of many more of these workshops and events in the future.
As the dust settles and the red and white flags have been packed away for another year, we move to a well-earned summer break. We wish James the very best at the National Youth Brass Band of Scotland (NYBBS) summer course at Strathallan – we hope you have a great week.
Saturday is the highlight of the week for all those involved in the Peebles Beltane Festival Week. This is the ‘big day’ for the Beltane Queen, but most of all this is the ‘big day’ for the hundreds of school children who have been given costumes to wear with pride when they march down the High Street; stand on the Church steps, watch while the Beltane Queen is being crowned, and then show their enjoyment by waving and cheering from decorated lorries as they parade through the town.
The Peebles Burgh Silver Band is the town band – it leads the grand procession and plays whilst the Queen is being crowned.
Once all the children are assembled on the church steps at the end of the High Street the assembled audience await the arrivale of the Beltane Queen and her court.
Led by the Cornet and Cornet’s Lass who are on horseback, the Beltane Queen arrives by carriage for her coronation.
Once crowned, all the children move to a series of floats for the Grand Procession.
On the Wednesday of Beltane Festival Week the Band paves the way for the Cornet’s Installation and Ride Out. We start the evening at the Chambers Institute and lead the principles and public to the Church Steps for the Installation.
At the church steps the Cornet is installed, the Cornet’s Lass is installed, as are their Supporters. The Cornet and his Lass are installed by the Beltane Festival Chairman and the Cornet’s Lass pins the Cornets ribbon to the Flag. This is known as Bussing the Colours. All duly installed, the Cornet, Supporters and followers mount horses and proceed to ˜Ride the Marches”. Each year more than 250 horse riders can be seen enjoying the spectacle that is commonly known as the “Ride Out”.
Once the horses have started on their Ride Out the Band is bussed to Neidpath Castle to play at the Warden of Neidpath’s installation. Here’s a picture of the Band playing in front of the Castle – note, this picture was taken when creating a special video for the town following relaxation of COVID when Beltane had to be cancelled.
In September 2022 the Band were lucky enough to be invited to return to the Europäische Blasmusikfestival (European Brass Music Festival) in Bad Schlema, Germany. With many bands invited from across Europe, only two were invited from the Anglo Celtic Isles – Peebles, and the Irish Friendly Band. Bands varied from town and nationally-renowned amateurs to professional bands such as the the Bundespolizeiorchester Berlin.
The festival is spread over four days and the organisers arranged all local travel, accomodation and refreshments. The festival is held in a huge temporary performance arena that was typically full of up to 5,000 keen audience members – as well as many stalls selling typical German food – and of course beer.
Bands played on two stages – one at each end of the performance arena. One playing whilst the other set up. This led to the spectale of audience members moving up and down the arena depending on the band playing. Huge screens were erected and the bands televised to help reduce this – but it was still quite some sight to see the rush of Germans whenever we struck up – particularly when joined on stage by the Tweedale Pipe Band who joined forces with us.
We typically plaid in both daytime and evening – with changing audiences as the day progressed (rapidly getting younger as the evenings progressed!). The atmosphere was fantastic – with audience members dancing (on and off the trestles) and joining in with the drinking songs (or Tom Jones, in our case). Check out our highlights video:
We also marched around the town that the Festival is hosted in – and helped out with leading the dancing when the need arouse. Here are some of the Band members accompanying the Irish Friendly Band. We shared accomodation with the Irish and even helped each other out on stage from time to time!
Peebles Burgh Silver Band and our youth section, Peebles Burgh Youth Band are not just back in Peebles Life but also back contesting recently in the Scottish Brass Band Championships in Perth Civic Hall.
Whilst our rehearsals have been off and on sporadically throughout the last 2 years due to the Covid regulations and fears our “blowing” would spread the virus throughout the band exponentially, we have been able to hold almost normal rehearsals since the start of 2022 – normal in this context is defined as sitting a metre apart from each other, with windows and doors wide open and a gale howling up the School Brae!
We are pleased that some 12/14 members of our Youth Band were able to continue regular one to one “Online” lessons via Microsoft Teams throughout the lockdown periods over the past 2 years – under the guidance of our professional tutor, David Robb and some of our Senior Band Members. This has enabled the youngsters to continue to progress with no less than 6 of their number joining the Senior Band on stage in Perth on 13th March 2022 – our photo shows James, Holly, Ellie, Lucy, Owen and Alec along with 2 of our senior members, Ian Aitchison & Ian Swanston, proudly showing off their “50 Year” medals.
Unfortunately, at the Contest, we were only placed 5th in our Section out of eight bands but certainly did not disgrace ourselves. Even the adjudicators admitted that playing on such a large stage at least one metre distance from everyone else, when it is difficult to hear anyone else but yourself playing, is a very scary experience. I can testify to that! The good news is all our youngsters carried it off with great aplomb – thank you and well done all. Special mention must however go to Alec who played at least 4 different percussion instruments throughout our performance without missing a beat.
Whilst we didn’t play on stage as well as we rehearsed, we are far from downhearted. The make-up of the band has changed considerably since our last contest in Perth in 2020 – we had 10 changes overall with 4 lost to university and others retired or unavailable (plus some positional changes to help the balance of the band). The good news was we were able to introduce replacements direct from our Youth Band. The even better news is that we have a pipeline of other youngsters waiting to step up into the Senior Band in the near future. To keep that pipeline going, do you know anyone who would like to join our Youth Band? We can provide an instrument on loan and music tuition all free of any charge whatsoever. If so, please contact our Band secretary, David Cornwall on 07976 242433, email to email@example.com or speak to any band member.
We are very pleased to confirm that David Robb, who is a full time music teacher with East Lothian Schools, is now conducting both the Senior and Youth Bands. This makes it easier to promote our youngsters into the Senior Band as and when they are ready for their next stage of development.
We have still not re-started our quarterly Coffee Mornings to raise funds towards the running costs of both bands, but we do aim to play on Peebles High Street on Saturday 16th April, (10.30 am – 12 noon) weather permitting. Please come along and support us then if you can.
Unfortunately the Beltane Festival in Peebles was cancelled in 2021 for a second year due to the Covid 19 Pandemic. However, undaunted we have produced a video of Oor Wee Beltane to let everyone know that we are still playing. Hope it brings a tear to your eye as you think of the previous Beltane Festivals and your friends and family missing this year.
To access the video – please see our Facebook page or watch on You Tube using the following link
That was the cry from our youngsters on Sunday 8th March when the results were announced after the Band performed “Neverland” by Christopher Bond at the Scottish Brass Band Championships in Perth. We were placed 3rd out of 14 Bands in our Section (we were 4th last year) – and we can’t complain at that. The Band played almost as well as rehearsed but given stage nerves and a faster tempo than the adjudicators wanted, we were 3 points off the winners, Newland Concert Band and 1 point behind Kilmarnock Concert in 2nd place. Both Newland and Kilmarnock were promoted into the 3rd Section and with continued hard work and regular practice that is where we hope to be this time next year.
Here’s a photo showing the Band were pleased with their performance.