Dysart Colliery is revelling in the glory of last weekend’s historic success at the Scottish Brass Band Championships in Perth Concert Hall.
Dysart Colliery’s performance of Alan Fernie’s St. Andrews Variations found favour with adjudicators Brett Baker and Sheona White in Sunday’s 4th Section contest, propelling the band towards the 3rd Section for the first time in nearly 50 years. Indeed, the victory was Dysart’s first for close to 100 years, its last win coming in the Scottish 3rd Section as far back as 1921!
A quick glance at Dysart Colliery’s website leaves little doubt as to the amount of preparation which has gone into the band’s assault on this year’s Scottish, with an intensive rehearsal plan, extra sectional rehearsals and a detailed roadmap to success - an approach which many bands could consider following, especially given the outcome.
Band Secretary Iain McAlpine gave British Bandsman a brief account of the re-invegoration of the Kirkaldy-based outfit, commenting: “This is the biggest result Dysart has achieved at national level since winning the 3rd section in 1921. The band was second in 1968, gaining promotion, but Dysart was soon in decline and player exits as well as a lack of financial support resulted in the band being unable to compete at national level again until 1978. With the demise of the coal industry, support was limited and it has taken many years to get Dysart back to being a competitive band.”
“In 2007 Bill Sandell, himself a local bandsman, became the first conductor for many years to get Dysart back on the contest stage with some encouraging results. He was followed by the late, great Bruce Fraser, a popular local teacher and musical director who had enjoyed a career of success within brass banding, who really consolidated and developed a core of players into a higher standard of musicianship and managed a 3rd place at the Scottish Championships (4th Section) in 2013."
Solo euphonium player Ron Rye (pictured below with SBBA President Carrie Boax and co-adjudicator Sheona White) who, it is safe to say, expressed a fair degree of satisfaction when the result was announced, added: "Last year, as part of a programme which aimed at cementing growth and gaining contest success, the band engaged the services of a new young conductor, Ross Brotherston, who came with enthusiasm and passion to try and restore some belief in the band - he was tasked with the job of gaining promotion. This was rewarded with section wins at the Fife Charities Band Contest in Kirkcaldy and the Scottish Challenge at Kilmarnock, but the jewel in the contesting crown came this past Sunday with our success in Perth.”
The band now embarks on the summer programme of park events, essential to provide income to enable the band to survive. However, this summer will also be focused on the task in September when the band will be the only Fife representative at the National Brass Band Championships in Cheltenham. Ron added: “The effort to take our band to Cheltenham will be massive and will challenge us both financially and musically. Be sure to watch out for our fundraising events in the near future. If any one feels they can provide any assistance to help the Band on this journey, please contact us through our Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.”