In the Brass Band world, being in the top section is a real achievement. It is only attained after competing against a large number of bands in national competitions, and, unlike many music competitions, the adjudicators do not see the competitors but only hear them, ensuring a high degree of impartiality. Wotton Silver Band, our local top section band, gave a superb concert (22nd June) during Arts Week to an enthusiastic but disappointingly small audience. Live music with a high degree of skill (no electronic enhancement and no microphones) deserves to be better supported, and I hope that when the band are able to come again they will get the audience they so deserve.

Ironically, it was a brass band concert which first brought me to St James back in the 1970's! At that time Thornbury Town Band was aiming for the top section and, as it was conducted by David Thomas (the brass teacher at school) with some talented pupils as band members, I had hoped to hear them play in Thornbury. However, this was not possible and so I was told that I “could hear them in Dursley”. In those days a regular Saturday concert took place at 6.00pm at St James' (initially called a “Musical Service”) which continued until the early 1990's. After hearing Thornbury Band, Barbie and I went the following week to hear an organ recital given by Cecil Adams, and so began a connection with Dursley and its church.

Ironically, the Wotton Silver Band concert (normally conducted by Ian Dickinson) was conducted by David Thomas; his first concert since retiring some years ago!

This month's organ recital will be given by Jonathan Hope the talented young Assistant Director of Music at Gloucester Cathedral. His last visit here showed a superb standard of playing, and I know that the recital on August 26th comes firmly in the category of “not to be missed”.

Recently I stumbled across the Stroud Sacred Music Festival (June 30th – July 1st) and was intrigued to see the varied programme of events; a workshop on Plainsong; a Gospel Choir, African Drumming; Indian Music etc. All very commendable and varied – but there was a distinct lack of what would be regarded as “mainstream” sacred music as defined by Anglican standards; not even a choral evensong in St Laurence's church!Still I suppose that a festival “which is founded on the belief that music is the language of the heart, and can succeed in bringing unity and peace where dialogue often fails” has a place in our multi-cultural society...........

The latest Royal School of Church Music publication (Church Music Quarterly) is always an interesting read for those of us actively involved in promoting the cause of church music – indeed our own Lionel Jones has graced its pages on several occasions! However, a recent trend shows that most of the real growth areas in places with robed choirs seems to be in Africa and in America; most recently with a newly-formed Choir School serving the Greater Wilmington area! I'm not quite sure how to take the full back page colour advertisement for Yeldall Manor heralding “A Christian Response to Addiction” for men only. Perhaps it's a place for we who are addicted to traditional church music!

During the month of August, the choir will be on holiday and for the 10.00am and 11.30am (St Mark's) services the organ will be played by David Collins, Trevor Pierpont (Assistant at Wotton) and myself. The choir will resume on Friday September 1st at 7.30pm in the choir room. We are still looking for sopranos, and an Assistant Organist!

Nigel Davies

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