Campbeltown Brass: Scottish champions

Conductor Stephanie Kennedy and some members of Campbeltown Brass celebrating their triumph at the Scottish Regional Championships – most players had to begin the long return journey to Campbeltown on the bus before the results were announced.
Conductor Stephanie Kennedy and some members of Campbeltown Brass celebrating their triumph at the Scottish Regional Championships – most players had to begin the long return journey to Campbeltown on the bus before the results were announced.

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Campbeltown Brass celebrated its return to competitive performing for the first time in two years by becoming Scottish champions.

The band was judged to be the ‘clear winner’ in the second section at last weekend’s Scottish Brass Band Association’s Scottish Regional Championships at Perth Concert Hall, one of the first major competitions to be held since the beginning of the Covid pandemic.

The band’s soprano cornet player also won the championship’s best instrumentalist award.

This means Campbeltown Brass, which has players as young as 12, will represent Scotland at the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain finals at Cheltenham in September and is now eligible for promotion to the first section.

Adjudicator John Doyle said the band’s performance on Saturday ‘had everything’, adding that it was ‘very simple’ but ‘the devil was in the detail’.

Much of the band’s success has been attributed to conductor Stephanie Kennedy – formerly Mitchell – for her dedication to helping the band maintain its high standards.

‘I am absolutely delighted with the band’s result,’ said Mrs Kennedy. ‘I was so proud of everyone as I could feel the enjoyment coming from all the players when we were on stage.

‘It was such an overwhelming feeling when we were named the winning band as there has been so much hard work and effort put in by everyone.’

Band member Katrina Barr said: ‘All credit to Stephanie, her level of commitment to Campbeltown Brass is amazing.’

She added: ‘Everyone in the band is really proud of one another, and the work that we put in.

‘It’s not just one player who makes the band, it really was a team effort on the day, on one of the most challenging stages any of us has ever played.’

All bands have faced a particularly challenging couple of years, with Covid restrictions having a huge impact on their ability to practise and perform together.

Mrs Kennedy was quick to set up virtual banding early in the pandemic, when performers were not permitted to meet physically. This proved so successful that she was approached by other bands asking for advice on organising their own virtual sessions.

When restrictions relaxed, band members were then allowed to meet, providing they maintained a two-metre distance.

And although distancing has now been scrapped for some activities including sports, musicians still have to maintain a one-metre distance, even during competitions, adding another level of difficulty and making Campbeltown Brass’s success even more impressive.

The band is now gearing up for a busy year of fundraising to raise the estimated £8,000 required for the trip to Cheltenham. With a round-trip of almost 1,000 miles, Campbeltown Brass will be the furthest travelled band at the competition.

Keep an eye out for more information on the upcoming events, including a concert, a raffle, a silent disco and various pancake teas and coffee mornings.