Prize-winners at Butlins Mineworkers' Contest

Virtuosi GUS Band returns from busy weekend contesting at Butlins Mineworkers' Contest in Skegness.

24 Jan 2011

Chris 'Uncle Sam' Jeans

The band experienced the very highs and lows of this unique contest in which all bands compete in a set test piece contest on the Saturday, then the Championship Section bands compete in an entertainment contest on the Sunday. This is the pinnacle of the weekend, for which an audience of over 2000 people flocked to the 'Centre Stage' venue in eager anticipation of entertainment from some of the country's finest bands, battling to win the £7000 first prize.

Having won the entertainments section, the Virtuosi GUS Band were content with a creditable third place, after the set test 'Requiems' by Darrol Barry was not so well received by the adjudicators.

For their own-choice entertainments programme, the band opened with a choreographed cross between 'When the Saints' and 'Hallelujah Chorus', seeing trombonist Chris Jeans dressed as Uncle Sam, and the rest of the band standing and playing the entire piece from memory. Chris then also featured in a Michael Bublé-style rendition of 'Cry Me a River', complete with special lighting effects. The band's Composer and Arranger in Residence, Andrew Wainwright, provided the arrangement and projected images for John Rutter's 'Distant Land', a lovely piece inspired by the work of Nelson Mandela. The quick 'Comedian's Gallop' preceded the grand closing number - the finale from Saint Saens' Organ Symphony.

During the prize ceremony, radio presenter Frank Renton commented that the Organ Symphony was a tour de force for any band and the Virtuosi GUS Band had played his arrangement "beautifully". The cheque for £2000 will be a welcome sight for the band's treasurer and the band should be proud of its achievements - particularly in the entertainments section, which has eluded the band during past years.

Band Manager Mike Smith commented:

"I am particularly pleased with the band performance and result on the Sunday, which has been the result of some careful planning over many months. Although we left our best performance of the set test in the bandroom, I am sure that we will combine success on both days in the not too distant future. This result consolidates the band's continuous improvement under John Berryman's patient guidance".