I’ve been a great admirer of Cory’s successes down the years and my association with them goes back a long way. I was the resident conductor of the band in the early 1990’s, a time forever etched on the minds of Cory players of old as it was in May 1990 that the band suffered that terrible inferno in the bandroom.
Thankfully, much happier times have followed and I was particularly excited to receive the recent invitation from Philip Harper to join the creative team of Cory as its Musical Consultant.
Back in early part of 2014 I’d been popping over to the band to have a listen to the preparations going on for the contests at that time, particularly the European Championships in Perth.
Phil thrust a spare score under my nose and asked me for any observations at the end of the evening.
I immediately felt a sense of involvement and Phil and I would have discussions about the progress of the rehearsals. This I found to be very stimulating.
Phil, being a family man and a very busy conductor and adjudicator around the world, then asked me to deputise for him in a couple of concerts whilst he went off on a well-earned holiday. Newtown and Morley in Leeds were the two venues and needless to say I had a whale of a time!
Then came Band Cymru, a televised entertainment contest on the Welsh channel S4C. Phil was still on holiday and so I was entrusted to conduct the programme that he’d chosen for the competition.
John Williams’ Sound the Bells, Ken Downie’s gorgeous arrangement of Myfanwy and a finale of Phil fabulous arrangement of part of Rachmaninov’s Third Piano Concerto were all played with the band’s customary virtuosic brilliance, resulting in the band being awarded first prize AND the rather handsome prize pot of £10,000!
Since that time I’ve been fascinated to be part of the creative process that goes on in the bandroom as Cory prepares for its performances at concerts, contest and CD recordings and to see how a great band applies itself to the work in hand.
Our new bandroom in Cwmparc is going to be a fine place to prepare great music and the band has a policy of open-door rehearsals. So why not pop along one night – I’ll see you there!