First Christmas concert with Chichester City Band's new musical director

Chichester City Band are offering a cocktail of festive favourites, audience carols and much more on Saturday, December 11 at 7.30pm at St Paul’s Church, Churchside, Chichester.

Thursday, 9th December 2021, 7:05 am
Chichester City Band

It will be their first Christmas concert under their new musical director Alfie Hughes who stepped in to start rehearsing with them in July and who was confirmed as MD this autumn.

For Alfie, it has been a happy return to a band she has long enjoyed an association with.

“I was a member of the band for 22 years before, from when I met my husband in the band when I was about 21 or 22. It was about 1988 or 89 when I joined the band and the band were in the fourth section when I became a player. It is like football league tables! They got into the first section and then I left about ten years ago.”

At that point there were new people in the band and there was a slight musical disagreement: “I felt a little bit awkward so I left but I have always helped the band out over the years, just the odd concert here and there and then in July they asked me if I would do a few rehearsals because their conductor was not available. The previous guy had left and they had a gap. It was a little bit of a shock for me. I have not conducted a lot over the years.”

But now she is delighted to be back as the band emerges from the pandemic: “We weren’t able to do a lot really. Performing outside was the only thing that we could do but in small groups and so we managed to rehearse outdoors in groups of six last year which was what you were allowed. And then when I took over in July this year and we started rehearsing, I could only rehearse half the band at a time and then three metres apart because of the circulation of air from the instruments. It was a little bit awkward. We had to rehearse twice a week and I just cut the band in half!

“And then we got back together again properly a month or so before the contest in September. We did OK. We came about halfway down and we were pleased with that. On the stage we felt we had played to the best of our ability and that the band had worked hard. I was learning with them as well and we learned the piece together and they definitely played it well on the day. We felt it went well.”

It’s also a question of getting back into playing: “If you’re not playing regularly then you get to the point where you can only play for a few minutes. You have to be able to play really for two hours. It’s a question of stamina and if you’re not building up your stamina, it can take you months to get back. Some of the members had not played really for more than a year. It’s something that you have to keep rehearsing as regularly as possible.”

But Alfie is pleased with the progress so far and looking forward to the Christmas concert. Tickets will be available on the day or you can get them in advance through the band’s Facebook page. As for next year the next big competition will be in March but they will also be doing a local contest before that.

Alfie holds a foundation degree in instrumental and vocal teaching and subsequently obtained a BMus degree from Chichester University in 2010. Alfie continues to enjoy playing and has been a member of Bournemouth Concert Brass since 2010, firstly playing solo tenor horn, then principal cornet and currently flugel horn.