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The Amazing Grace Notes

Newsletter for Olney Brass and Friends
including Beginner Band and Open Band

The band is busy preparing for a feast of summer events. We would love to see you at some of the events listed, in particular the Summer Showcase and, of course, our 50th celebrations - read on for more information.

Under the direction of David Rose and ably assisted by Sara Cawte, our principal cornet, the band is proud to announce the Summer Showcase. A feast of brass band music from all three of the Olney Brass Bands

The traditional fete season gets under way at Weston Underwood. The setting is reminiscent of an episode of Miss Marple, try to avoid the ‘knob tax’ and plenty of free parking.


As the weekend approaches we look forward to the concert in Stantonbury Theatre, the original home of Stantonbury Brass This will take place on Saturday 28th September at 6.00. Tickets will be available in advance and for a slightly enhanced fee join us for a buffet afterwards. More details to follow.

For those of you who are staying over night and any one else of course - it is hoped there will be enough support for a family day on Emberton Playing field on the Sunday. Anyone for rounders? bring a picnic lunch and a chair, catch up with old friends

Last time we had a family fun day was 2012, not sure how much rounders was played but it was good to catch up with some former members, including Tim Hunt - formerly principal cornet - who was over from his home in Australia. Some of you may be interested to know that Malcolm Holloway is presently on a walking tour of Scotland, having previously cycled from MK to Peel House it’s good to know he is just as active. I have also recently reconnected with Robert Darling (conductor and Euphonium player) who is currently living in Iceland.

Whilst we have welcomed new players since the last issue - we are still looking to fill some seats on a more permanent basis. This is an ongoing struggle for many bands, indeed some have seen their numbers decline so much that they have had to disband. We are lucky to have 3 well supported groups but extra players are more than welcome.

Contact us via email or through our facebook page.

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Updated: Apr 30

The band now turns their attention to devising a programme for the following events as we begin our schedule of summer engagements. Let’s hope the weather is kind.

Where to see the band this year:

23rd June Weston Underwood Church Fete

25th June Beginner showcase

30th June Cherry Fair Olney/ Ravenstone

6th July Newport Pagnell Carnival

14th July Bell and Bear Emberton

1st September Emberton Fete

28th September 50th Anniversary Concert

Please check social media for precise times and venues


Stevenage Area Qualifying Contest



The band travelled to Stevenage for the annual regional contest, competing against 17 other bands in the Second Section, playing Triptych by Philip Sparke, they left the stage pleased with their performance. Of course, as we all know, the result is in the lap of the adjudicator and it perhaps wasn’t what we had hoped for. However, through the power of social media we do get instant feedback from other interested parties and this was the comments posted on

Band 9: Olney Brass (Philip Devine)

An effervescent opening from Olney Brass, with a true show of light and shade. Some good sounds across the band, especially the lower brass. Clean and precise exposed passages supported well by basses and percussion. Confidence grows in time and the bright band sound is shown. An accurate display of agility and technicality from the euphoniums and basses.

The duet sees a rhythmic and fluid rendition of a beautifully written score. Gorgeous tone from principal euphonium - yet another show of upcoming young talent here at Stevenage. Tutti cornets take over the tune with ease and grace.

Brilliant sounds coming from the trombone section - the only way I can describe the bass trombones gorgeous sound is meaty. Rich lower brass supports a sparkling cornet melody. The easy-sounding euphonium is a refreshing reminder of the beauty in this music.

The band really lets loose in this final section and you can hear the ease. Fun and bouncy, the melody leads the mood, with even the basses adding to a cheery atmosphere. Euphoniums - wow! You glided over the band with such ease and musicality. As the band heads towards the finale, you can feel the excitement and energy here in the auditorium.

Well done!

March was a busy month for our beginners - here we see David Rose presenting certificates to

members who graduated from 'Learn to Play Brass Stage 1'.

Well done everyone! 👏🥳🎶🎺Their showcase is scheduled for Tuesday 25th June 2024 at

6.30pm in St Peter and St Paul‘s Church Newport Pagnell. This will feature the Beginner and

Open Bands and Olney Brass -a great way to celebrate a successful year.

Members had an early start travelling to Cheltenham and were part of a joint venture with other young players from MK to participate in the National Youth

Brass Band Championships in Cheltenham.

Taking on the theme of ‘Time Travel’ players walked on to the theme from Doctor Who. Their programme included William Tell, Moonlight Serenade and Jurassic Park. The early start was worth it as the band played really well. For some it was their first experience of playing in a group and to an audience. Here's to many more! Many thanks to Brass Bands England for organising such a great event and to Olney Brass for helping to collaborate with us on this trip.

Thanks again go to David, Sara and Phil for giving up so much time to ensure this went ahead.

Some former members we are hoping will attend our 50th!

Mark ‘Oscar’ Harris Stephen Drury Philip Peake (trombones)

Duncan Larder Susan Coombs James Howson Barry Webster

Andrew Greig Andy Harris Paul Sanderson Kevin Daniels

Claire (?) John Albone Dale Underwood Tim Hunt Simon Gee

Some fund raising memorabilia from the early 80's. No doubt some former members have a few items stashed away at the back of their cupboards.


Plans are well underway for the band’s 50th year celebrations. Reserve the date Saturday 28th September 2024.

More details will follow in future Grace Notes and through social media - please mention to anyone who has a connection with the

band or who might be interested

Stevenage Beckons

The band return to Stevenage in March for the Regional Qualifying contest, and following last year’s promotion will be playing Triptych by Philip Sparke in the Second Section. The successful Christmas season over, the rehearsals take on a new meaning as we get to grips with the test piece.

Written in three connected movements, the piece tests all players whilst remaining entertaining to listen to

1. Pageant

Has a slightly medieval mood through use of modal harmony and starts with a single line with the feel of a fanfare. The texture thickens as layer is laid upon layer until a chordal climax is reached. A second, but still martial, subject leads back to the original fanfare and after material is restated three themes combine to close the movement.

2. Fantasy on One Note

A hymn-like movement, which has a concert ‘F’ present throughout. As the harmony changes, the ‘F’ appears in various parts of the band but returns to the 2nd and 3rd cornets under changing harmony to lead to:

3. Festival

A joyous movement with a lively tune first stated by the trombones and euphoniums. The full band takes this up. A cantabile second subject is introduced by the euphoniums and again taken up ‘tutti’. The first tune the reappears to bring the movement to a close.

Martin Mills

Martin Mills, our soprano cornet player for over a decade, has retired from Olney Brass.

Whilst he was with us he helped the band to a number of contest successes and also featured often as a soloist. In 2012, not only did he help us win the Second Section at the SCABA contest he was also awarded best instrumentalist and was mentioned several times in the adjudicator’s comments about our performance of Laudate Dominum.

Martin has a distinguished playing career and I’m grateful to Chris Stevens at Towcester Band for the following information and photos. Martin played for Jaguar Car Works Band and transfered to Coventry Festival in 1962. He then moved to Towcester Studio in 1977 before joining us. He will be hard to replace and wish him every success in his retirement

This photo shows a dashing young

Martin, next to Laurence May as part

of the cornet line-up at Towcester.

We take our hat off to you!

Elsa Morley

Our First Baritone player Elsa Morley has also decided to step down in order to concentrate on her studies. Elsa is an example of the great work David Rose does with the band to develop and encourage players of the future.

Elsa took to brass playing quickly and soon began being recognised as an outstanding

player. She was presented with the gold award at our solo competition. Kevin Nicholls said ‘Elsa chose to play 'Bone Idyll' which was a brave choice as it was much more avant garde but she played with clarity and conviction.’

Elsa quickly rose to the main band and coped with the demands of playing Solo Baritone.

In 2022 Elsa was awarded best instrumentalist prize as part of our Second place at the Area Qualifying Contest (playing Facets of Glass) and helped to secure a place at the Cheltenham Finals We wish her every success with her studies.

Often when we say good bye to players we loose the invaluable support of parents. Elsa’s mum Debbie made a valuable backstage contribution to the band - helping at concerts, beginner band rehearsals, serving teas and selling raffle tickets.

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