Kia ora loyal viewers. Luke Spence here, aka "Beaker". I was lucky enough to join the band in 2014 after moving from Whakatane to study the Euphonium.
I am currently the Principal 1st Bb Baritone player and section leader of the Eupho/Bari section During my time on this tour it really has been a privilege opening my case to find the beautiful sight of the Bb Baritone waiting for me! It has also been interesting to note the constant baritone chat being circulated amongst the band members. Including one "Jonny Momo" who quoted, "I wish I could play that amazing Baritone part".
If somebody told me that in my 3rd year of study I would be sitting on the Birmingham Symphony Hall stage gearing up to play in the British Open, I would have told them to stop spinning a yarn. Now as I sit in my room, (Beer in 1 hand) I find myself absolutely fizzing only a day away from fulfilling one of my life long dreams! As a self confessed Brass Band geek I have no shame in admitting that the highlight of this entire trip for me will be those 18 minutes on stage! It has been an incredible journey to arrive at this moment. The sheer fact that we made it to England is an achievement in itself, especially when you consider the incredible amount of fundraising we have done! I think this group of musicians have a great deal to be proud of, not only are they all great musicians, they are all great people.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank every person from NZ who has sent us messages of support! I have been absolutely revelling in it. The band has read every single one of your messages and it really makes us feel like we have the whole banding community behind us. Nz banding is a pretty tight bunch and It has been really cool to see so much support for us during our time in the UK! I would also like to make a shout out to the EBOP brass, you guys are awesome! All of your kind words have been so overwhelming, (especially mother dearest). I would also like to once again thank the people of Dobcross for their incredible hospitality. From the moment we arrived everybody felt so at home. In the words of Sir Riki McDonnell, it really was "sensational".
Today we were lucky enough to visit the Symphony Hall which we will perform on very soon. I can honestly say I have never seen anything like it! The size of the room was rather overwhelming, but I think it can only be a good thing for the band to experience before heading on stage. We were treated to a behind the scenes tour of the hall by our British Open stalwart Byron Newton. Inspired by the work of Mr Sweeney from our tour of Rugby, Byron expressed a great deal of passion for his surroundings but lacked the stories to add that little bit extra. An integral moment of our tour of Symphony Hall was the continued progression of Brad Mancer's quest for excellence. Bradley decided that his goal in England was to "Drop the kids off at the pool" as they say, in every possible location. Today he was extremely successful, not only did the aroma travel far and wide, he was also 15 minutes late to the tour of the great hall.
Some of the more experienced members of the band then spoke to us about there experiences playing in the British Open. This was a great idea for those of us not really familiar with just how intense this competition can be. These band members were Byron Newton, Riki McDonnell, Mike Ford and Phil Johnston. It is always fantastic to listen to these guys, real superstars of NZ Banding. I have always been amazed at how calm and relaxed these guys play under pressure, for such a young band this was great advice.
The fine night also provided a lot of laughs. Josh Rogan was fined for cleaning up the remaining toilet paper. Toby for trying to juice an apple. Tommy sacking himself from a low Db. About 5 different people admitted to bullying sister Mark Davey on a regular basis. But the fine of the night has to go to Jack Bewley for admitting to having a Fanny pack! And with that we all had a hot cup of tea and whistled off to bed by order of Chief Commander David Bremner!
Tomorrow is the big day, time to sleep and pray that we don't draw number 1! I personally can't wait and I know everybody else feels the same! If you want to geek out you can follow the live comments via 4 bars rest. Arohanui to everybody back home