When we first decided, with just a couple of hours’ notice, that it would be safer to cancel that Monday night’s XBY rehearsal back in March 2020, little did we know that we would be looking at 15 months without face-to-face rehearsals. As various milestones passed – the weekend we were supposed to be representing the UK in the European Wind Band Championships in France, our annual summer outdoor concert, our November Remembrance concerts and our Christmas celebrations – it felt at some points as though XBY would only be a memory. A feeling which everyone can relate to of so many aspects of pre-pandemic life.
So it was with great excitement that on Monday 7th June we gathered together for our first in person rehearsal in 63 weeks. Playing our first piece brought quite a wave of emotion and there were definitely a few tears hastily wiped away.
It may have seemed logical to some that, having been out of practise (beyond a few virtual rehearsals and performances) for so long, we would take things easy, getting back in tune (literally and figuratively) with each other and the notes under our fingers. But no, Maestro Mycroft was determined to pick up where we had left off and brought out some fiendishly difficult pieces – Sparke’s Merry Go Round, Verdi’s Force of Destiny and Hess’s Global Variations to name but a few. Within 20 minutes, most people’s lips were in trouble but over the coming weeks stamina returned and with it that XBY sound.
Rehearsals were not without their own Covid-related problems. Restrictions meant we could not rehearse in the hall as usual but instead were outside in a large marquee on the grounds of BYMT and exposed to the early ‘summer’ weather of winds and rain, with dark clouds requiring head torches to be worn just to see our music. The pingdemic caught out a number of players, as well as our conductor Dennis Mycroft, but throughout all the show went on.
All of this was building to our welcome back concert in the grounds of BYMT in mid-July. We were treated to a wonderfully hot and sunny Sunday afternoon with XBY being shaded by the marquee and the 200 plus audience members coming well prepared with umbrellas, chairs and picnics. What a lovely sight it was to see so many old friends and supporters enjoying a British summer’s afternoon and it was XBY’s greatest pleasure to be able to entertain them for a few hours.
We now look forward to what we hope is a more normal year, with rehearsals having now started again and our Christmas concert already in the diary on 11th December. We are hoping to make it to Kerkrade next July to once again compete in the World Music Contest and we hope to add many more dates in the intervening months. Continue checking xbyconcertband.co.uk to keep up to date with all our news and events.
By Philippa , Clarinettist in XBY