Westhoughton Community Network

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Wingates Band

'The Cost of Coal' - Fraternity

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Wingates Band Return to Banding Elite with Fraternity

In a busy period, and soon after the announcement of the financial troubles facing the band, with thankfully the community and supporters rallying round them - including the WCN fundraising entertainment and variety evening at The Bethel - Brass Band Aid (14th October), local singers and entertainers showing their support, and able to make a donation of £200 to the band - Wingates Brass Band invited the local community to see them rehearse in Westhoughton.

Wingates Band 'The Cost of Coal' - Open Rehearsal 2 Sept 17.With the Band achieving 2nd place at the 'Grand Shield Contest' at Blackpool Winter Gardens (13th May 2017), it was invited to compete in the British Open at the Symphony Hall, Birmingham on the 9th September 2017. Andy MacDonald also won the prestigious award for Best Soloist. The hard work of the band was paying off as it returned to the Brass Band world elite by qualifying for the once again for the British Open after a 16-year absence.

So in preparation for the 'British Open', the Band were to rehearse the specially composed piece 'Fraternity' in Westhoughton, giving a free concert in two parts: a Memorial feature and prayer in Ditchfield Gardens; followed by the Open Rehearsal and Test Piece Performance in St. Bartholomew's Church (2nd September 2017). The piece, 'The Cost of Coal - Fraternity', being particularly significant given the coal mining disaster theme and Wingates Band's own involvement in the Pretoria mining explosion in 1910, in which it lost several players in the tragedy.

Fraternity Narrative

The musical narrative sets the scene, tells the tale and recalls the aftermath. It comprises seven linked sections that open mysteriously with cold timbres evoking an early morning trek to the pit head before building in anxiety and industry as the miners first descend the shaft before starting their shift of work - from the light above to the dark below to extract the coal.

The catastrophe is ignited by a fractured, frenzied forcefulness, the prelude to which is the ghostly on-rush of air through instruments; life or death a matter of luck as the explosion devastates the underground passages that lead from the coal face to the pit head.

The solemn task of bringing out the dead leads to a bleak paean of reflection before the piece ends in uplifting fashion in the form of a 'Fraternity Prayer' that pays tribute to those lost.

Composer Thierry Deleruyelle hoped bands would be able to identify with something within the piece. It was a heartfelt request that found resonance given the historic association many bands have to heavy industry and coal mining in particular all over Europe.

Getting to the finals marked a tremendous achievement for Wingates Band. The 17-minute piece played by each of the 17 brass bands in the competition (the top bands in the country) and judged according to performance, expression and technical ability.

The band gave a creditable performance of 'Fraternity' at The British Open in Birmingham in September (9th), and confirmed Wingates Brass Band's return to elite of brass bands - Wingates Band had reached the Top 25 worldwide.

Wingates Band 'The Best of British' Concert - St. Bart's 21 Oct 17.Fortunately, though not out of the woods, the band's situation stabilised with local support and the boost of a Supporters' Club drive. The band returned home to Westhoughton, with a 'Best of British' with a Last Night at the Proms Finale (Saturday, 21st October), Wingates Band performing to a full St. Bartholomew's Church, giving the supportive audience a fantastic evening of great music, accomplished playing, fun and musical insights from Band Musical Director, Paul Andrews.

There followed the traditional Christmas concerts, one at St. John's Wingates (7th December), and the final concert of the year, with many attending as members of the new Supporters' Club, taking place on a wintry night at the majestic Victoria Hall in Bolton (9th December), supported by the Warrington Mail Voice Choir.

The band were out an about 'busking' in Bolton and Westhoughton over Christmas providing some festive cheer and Christmassy tunes. The support of the local community at this time is greatly appreciated.

WCN website content, September 2017.

Contact Information

Band Manager - Sue MacDonald: 07966 364530 | Email

Musical Director - Andrea Price: 07401 549449 | Email

Treasurer and Administrator - Joy Mooney: 07720 441592 | Email

Visit Wingates Band website for latest news and concert information.

Wingates Brass Band
The Band Hall
Wingates Square
BL5 3P

Registered Charity No. 1097122

Page last updated: 1/9/23.

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