RONG ON RIGHT PATH - BB shines a light on one of the rising stars of Norwegian banding

Issue 6062

BACK IN BUSINESS - Boost for bands in England as rehearsals resume

STAGE SET FOR CORY CONTEST - Draw made for online championship, with international flavour

Delight for Isle of Man band as it returns to action

Friday 26 June, 2020

While most brass bands continue to encounter government-imposed lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Castletown Metropolitan Silver Band from the Isle of Man is hitting the high notes after enjoying a return to action.

With the last recorded case of the virus on the island dating from more than a month ago, lockdown measures have gradually been eased on the self-governing crown dependency to the extent that even social distancing is no longer a requirement, though the border remains closed. Members of the community band had been preparing to take part in an outdoor rehearsal when it became clear that restrictions were being lifted and they would be able to perform together in their rehearsal hall.

Speaking to British Bandsman, musical director Ian Astill said: “We gave our band room a good clean and provided hand sanitiser for members to use on entering the building. Apart from that it was business as usual.

“There were definitely a few rough edges when we started the rehearsal (and I include my own conducting in that statement). I expected there to be some major issues as some players will have been motivated and able to practise regularly, while other members were too busy in keyworker roles or unable to play regularly at home due to living arrangements. However I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly the playing came back together after a good warm-up.”

Ian continued: “We are a community band and we play around 40 engagements a year so we had been busy getting our various concert programmes together. It was a period on the island where no one quite knew what was going to happen. As in the UK, toilet rolls, hand sanitiser and pasta were selling out fast in the shops. Some early social distancing measures were announced around March 15 and we decided to cease rehearsals two days later as most other local bands and other organisations had done the same. The first confirmed case of COVID-19 on the island was announced on March 19.”

When the island entered lockdown, members kept in touch via social media and took part in Zoom meetings. Ian also set musical challenges to players and their families in order to keep things ticking over until normal activities resumed. Forthcoming events include a concert to help raise money for the Royal Artillery Association, providing some background music for the Tin Bath Racing Championships in its home town and the band’s own last night of the proms-style night. There are also hopes of setting up outdoor events to make up for some of the engagements which have been missed.

Ian added: “Our borders remain closed for the time being so there is hopefully relatively little risk of any further cases. Our members were very keen to restart and if anyone was nervous they hid it well. "Everybody seemed to be happy to see each other and we were able to enjoy the music and camaraderie."