Published on June 19th, 2020 by gavin
Music Isolation – Socially Distanced
Each year, on the last Monday in June, the village of Hepworth near Holmfirth, hosts its annual Feast. This traditional local event is a popular local gathering, involving an afternoon procession accompanied by Hepworth Brass Band and an evening village centre celebration.
The Feast marks the end of the Great Plague in 1665: the village is reputedly the most northerly place the disease reached, having been carried on cloth bought from London.
The plague divided Hepworth in two. In the ultimate act of social distancing, those infected isolated in one half of the village, helping to keep the rest of the villagers safe. Thirteen people lost their lives.
Almost four centuries later, Coronavirus has seen the return of a need to distance ourselves, which has led to the cancellation of this year’s Feast, planned for June 30. However, Hepworth Brass Band don’t want the occasion to pass by unmarked.
It’s been a big year for this Championship section band, formed back in 1882 and now one of the finest Brass Bands in the world. In their last outing they qualified to represent Yorkshire at the National Brass Band Championship finals, due to take place at the Royal Albert Hall in October this year. Since then, they haven’t been able to play together due to social distancing guidelines.
On the 13th June six of the young, talented soloists from the band played their first notes together since qualification at the beginning of March. However, this time they socially distanced! They performed the bandsman’s hymn, “Deep Harmony” live in the beautiful, historic setting of nearby Wooldale Hall, in a bid to give something back to their local community and to raise much needed band funds.
More pieces from the recording session will be released in due course.
The linked piece shows a new recording of six members of The Hepworth Band “Socially Distanced” in their first return to live playing following lockdown.
It was recorded for three main reasons:-
- The multitude of virtual recordings from home have been innovative and great, but as we know, there is no substitute for playing with others in a group, so to maintain playing standards and interest whilst full rehearsal cannot take place, Hepworth has put together four “sextets” – each group will come together to rehearse, perform and possibly record music for online release – all in private settings. The music is being “curated” and issued by the Band’s Musical Director, Ryan Watkins. We believe this may be the first “live playing” initiative in the country and perhaps something that other bands will wish to consider.
- With all public engagements cancelled (probably including the bands appearance at the National Finals!) the band is fundraising for a series of (hopefully) full band livestreamed concerts in Autumn and to adapt the bandroom for a post-Covid rehearsal environment – we are reaching out to the community for help via the video.
- The video tells the interesting and very relevant story behind the commemoration of Hepworth Feast, an event which has been cancelled this year for the first time in its long history. The event, held annually on the last Monday of June, commemorates the end of the 1665 Great Plague, which reached Hepworth as its most northerly point from London. The lives of 13 residents were lost as they selflessly “socially distanced” themselves from their family and neighbours in the village when they found they had symptoms of the disease. There are obvious parallels with current times and the need to socially-distance again. The band would normally play at the wanted to mark the event.
Ryan Watkins, the band’s Musical Director, said” “The band is an important part of Hepworth and the people in the village are important to us. We want them to be able to enjoy a warm, comforting and familiar sound, especially in these difficult times”.
This is also an important community fundraising opportunity for the band at a time when traditional income generation events, grants and new sponsorship opportunities have stopped. Money raised will be used to support the trip to the National Finals as well as essential changes required to their bandroom to allow them to return to rehearsals.