Newcastle University Wind Band are a brass and woodwind ensemble who play a variety of repertoire for musicians of all abilities. We had a chat with band president Alannah Healy and treasurer Laura Oddy to find out more about the band:
What sort of repertoire do you play?
Alannah: Our repertoire covers a wide range of music, we do play a lot of soundtracks and musical medleys, and obviously we have a classic Christmas collection that’s coming up.
Laura: We try to mix it up a bit so everyone can enjoy different pieces; theres some classical stuff, some more fun things like the Pirates of the Caribbean theme and other big blockbuster songs like that.
P: We have tried things like Dam Busters and Crown Imperial before, we go both ends of the spectrum depending on what the concert is really.
Got any particular favourites?
A: Our Stevie Wonder medley.
L: How to Train Your Dragon and Dam Busters.
What are your concerts like?
A:There are obviously quite a lot of us in the band; we cant just play in a bar because we wouldn’t be able to physically fit. They’re all well organised concerts, long in advance to make sure everyone can make it.
L: Last year we went to Alnwick and played at their Christmas thing, that was really good. We also work a lot with St. Thomas’s church, always supporting them at their carol concerts, and sometimes doing our own there.
A: We’ve also played at the Hancock Museum a few times – we have formal, ‘sit-down’ concerts and then things like busking outside the SU… but that was a limited set not with the whole band.
People are always surprised, the reaction we always get is ‘wind band are actually a good laugh’
What’s the social side like?
A: There’s a perception that we’re gonna be really dull, like the sports societies are the exciting ones and we’re just wind band. Over the past few years – the first social sec was 3 years ago so we’re on our 4th generation now – it has really built up to something that’s really nice. We’ve done things like theatre trips and ice skating… and of course nights out.
L: They’re the best, playing drinking games like beer pong, drunk twister and flip cup. And we do ‘battle of the sections’, going against each other… it’ll be like brass vs woodwind, and things like that.
A: Especially since it’s a smaller group, people know each other as well. The fact that we have all got to know each other, people come along and say “actually, this is quite good”.
L: They’re always surprised, like the reaction we always get is “wind band are actually a good laugh”. Windbanter has been a thing for many years [Editors note: they asked me not to include the term ‘Windbanter’ so, naturally, I did anyway].
A: (laughs) This is making us sound really sad; it is sad until your in it and you enjoy it, that’s the thing.
What’s the band like behind the scenes?
A: We like to think it’s well organised. I suppose we have to be, when you think there’s like 40-50 people in the band, we have to be organised in terms of what music we need in our folders for certain repertoire. You always need a concert to look forwards to, because otherwise people just lose interest, you need to be working towards something.
L: And even just things like needing to know which instruments are going to which concert; we need to make sure some more obscure instruments are coming a lot more.
What events do you have coming up?
L: The Christmas spectacular, we’re calling it, on the 2nd of December. A lot of the time we join up with other people for concerts, or play ones which are ‘in and out’, this one is actually completely our own – we’re the only ones playing – and its at Jesmond United Reformed Church.
A: We’ll have a raffle, refreshments, (hopefully wine). It’ll be half Christmas pieces, half things like Stevie Wonder; we’re just gonna make it fun really. Then we’ve got the University carol service that we’re playing on the 13th, which is a bit more of a formal one.
Any final words?
L: If anyone wants to join, we’re always recruiting.
A: Especially bass instruments and drummers, we always need!