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The only cornish band

Bodmin Town Band represents Bodmin and the whole of Cornwall in a brass band competition in November 2023.

Bodmin Town Band, Summer Spectacular 2023, St. Petroc’s Church, Bodmin


The band’s committee and members decided to participate in the Wychavon Festival of Brass, an entertainments contest. The main reason for this choice is because it’s a different type of event to most competitions.


Explaining the difference, musical director and conductor Colin Hudson said: “Usually there’s a set test piece for bands to perform at a ‘closed audition’. Months are spent perfecting the test piece. Without seeing each band, the judges listen and select the band who plays the best. At an entertainments contest, however, the band produces a 20-minute programme of music of their choice to showcase their standard. Judging includes visuals and choreography as well as the choice of theme, compere and delivery. Judges and bands in the competition are the audience.”

Band members enjoying the contest


Twenty bands in the championship section of the contest performed their programme on 4 November. Bands enter this level only if they have earned their place as “champions”. A set number of points are required, gained from entering and winning competitions. Bodmin Town Band are champions. They have participated and won many competitions to earn that right, for example, the “iconic Friday marches” in Yorkshire, famously depicted in the film ‘Brassed Off’ that includes a mad dash from venue to venue. Band members thoroughly enjoyed this experience and plan to return next year.


Bodmin Town Band is only one of a few championship bands in Cornwall and demonstrates an extremely high level of playing. Colin said: “Bodmin Town Band is very fortunate to have fabulous musicians as committed members.”

Bodmin Town Band, Summer Spectacular 2023, St. Petroc’s Church, Bodmin


The championship band has entered the entertainments contest before, several years ago. It is a new endeavour for Colin Hudson, however. It has been a rapid learning curve, drawing out new skills for him. Colin’s first task was to select a theme that reflects the band’s geographical location. He said it was not easy to create a cohesive musical theme for the programme. Inspiration came as he watched a document on the history of Cornwall where music from the Americas was played. Selecting American music would have created a lot of interest but wouldn’t reflect the band’s roots. Colin decided to choose as the theme the Cornish mining diaspora from 1815, when a quarter of Cornish miners, including many from Bodmin, left their homeland for a new adventure.


Music selected for the contest

Firstly, Four Cornish Dances, by Malcolm Arnold. This was followed by the compulsory solo, Georgia on My Mind by Hoagey Carmichael, played by principal cornet, Grace Denford. Conga by Gloria Estefan, a modern Latin America piece, was next followed by the hymn Treskerby, written by Cornishman Monty J Pearce. The finale was the rousing theme tune to Silverado, a Wild West movie based around the California Gold Rush, from which many Cornish miners and their families benefitted.

Bodmin Town Band at the pre-performance rehearsal during the contest in November 2023


If any committed band member ever needs to boost their dedication, they need look no further than the role model of their own conductor. He spent over 50 hours putting together the music, multi-media display, writing compere notes and memorising scores for this one competition.


Colin said: “The band has worked extremely hard on this and bought into the crazy ideas and the sentiment behind the contest programme.”


He continued: “There are so many variables in the contest. You don’t fully know what the adjudicators are looking for and you don’t know the other bands’ programmes. We have a good chance of winning. Ultimately, we are representing the town and the county and will do our very best.”


The whole band, 28 musicians, travelled to Evesham for the contest. The band has been looking forward to it as they can relax and let their hair down, at the same time as showing what the band has to offer musically.


The winning spot eluded the band on this occasion, but Bodmin is proud of its championship brass band.

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