Alder Valley Brass - promoted to championship Section for 2014

Roger BurkeRoger Burke who has been a member of the NABBC since 2009 was almost lost for words when the results were announced at the recent London and Southern Counties Area finals at Stevenage.

Whilst congratulating the winners in the 1st Section Kidlington Concert Brass, Roger and his band could barely believe it when Alder Valley Brass were awarded second place. Not only does this give the band qualification to the national finals at Cheltenham later in the year but Roger has just received confirmation that the band will be in the Championship Section in 2014.

This has come just as the band celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012 a great start to the next 50 years. 

I contacted Roger to catch up and ask how the band's preparation had gone in the lead up to the contest and how the band members felt about the performance before the results were announced. 

It hadn t seemed long ago that I was saying ’Six weeks to go before the areas’ and all of a sudden we are making our annual pilgrimage to the Arts and Leisure Centre in Stevenage for the 2013 London and Southern Counties Regional Championships.

Preparation of Gareth Woods Brass Triumphant had been very thorough and each member of Alder Valley Brass had worked their socks off throughout the series of sectional and part band rehearsals leading up to March 16th. I couldn’t have asked for greater commitment, or for band members to support each other throughout the very demanding and intense rehearsal program.

The draw for the first section was at 1.30pm so there was time for a steady drive from my home town of Aldershot and to stop off for a rehearsal on the way, nothing too intense.

Having safely arrived I waited for the draw and word soon spread that we had drawn 15th. Last to play. A wait of at least five hours, probably longer, lots of time to consider how the band might respond after such a long wait, it had also been many months since our last contest.

There followed the age old conversations about split and pre draws however it was not going to change anything this year. I chose to listen to a few of the early performances while other band members drifted off to local coffee shops and restaurants, no beer just yet.

A bite to eat and it’s almost time to get changed. I’m one of the last to arrive at the changing area, no blowing but some anxious faces. Registration awaits and as we sign in we hear the closing chords from the previous band. Time to go.

Band settles and I smile, as always, they seem relaxed enough. Green light, baton down and off we go, too late now, no stopping this time through!

A short pause between each movement and four shot chords complete the performance. Stand up, take a bow guys, you’ve just earned it!

I felt an immense mixture of pleasure, pride and of relief as we came off stage, my earlier concerns were unfounded. Our performance on stage was as good as I could have wished for, none of the ‘Leaving the best performance in the practice room’ today, I couldn’t have asked for more from the ‘Team’ It had performed very well. I guess now, I can have a beer.

Ultimately the results were announced and Alder Valley Brass were placed second overall in what was a very closely contested competition. I left the ensuing celebrations earlier than most and as I walked through the car park felt immense pride in the band members who, for their outstanding achievement on the day, had earned a place in the National Championships later this year.


Kidlington Concert Brass

Duncan Wilson



Alder Valley Brass

Roger Burke



Sandhurst Silver

Ian McElligott


Who said ’Its about taking part ‘ sorry, today was about winning!

Confirmation has recently been received that AVB are promoted to the Championship Section in 2014.

Roger J. Burke

MD. Alder Valley Brass