Brass Fusion’s Sian Buss looks back on the strangest of years
In March 2021 the group reached a sad milestone. It is one year on from the devastating events that forced us to close our doors.
There is now good news on the horizon. With the roll-out of the vaccine programme and the government’s roadmap to lifting restrictions, there is real optimism that we will be able to resume playing this summer. As the restrictions are lifted we will have the opportunity to begin a staged return, playing initially in small groups of 6 outside, and, if everything goes to plan, we hope to see the small group expand to Brass Fusion as restrictions are lifted further. Despite this good news it must be emphasised that strict hygiene and social distancing rules still apply. We are aware that we have been here before and have had that hope snatched from us at the last minute, but this time there is genuine reason to believe it will happen.
Our last rehearsal, lots of planned events for the forthcoming year, including a big iconic music concert in Burgess Hill in April now cancelled or put on hold.
2020 was our 10th Anniversary and we had some really special events planned but unfortunately they were all put on hold for the foreseeable. Also cancelled was our tour to Belfast. Each year Brass Fusion tried to visit somewhere for a long weekend. 2018 saw us in Holland, 2019 was the Isle of Arran. The Belfast tourist attractions were very understanding and we managed to cancel all without cost. The minibus hire company turned out to be a fake business and, although we lost over £1000, it was a blessing that we hadn’t found out they didn’t exist when we actually arrived in Belfast! Our annual June Proms concert was going to be bigger and better, celebrating our anniversary with a top trumpeter from the music world as a guest soloist, but this was cancelled along with several other summer events.
The group kept in contact via zoom meetings. An online recording was talked about.
Before lockdown we had been contacted by a local musician wanting to compose a piece for the group to perform. As lockdown started and he completed the piece, we felt it was an ideal opportunity to use this original piece for our first attempt at remote recording. Born to Drive by Martyn Adams was done. A friend of Brass Fusion offered to put the recordings together along with video. We posted our finished product in June.
June saw the lockdown restrictions easing so the group managed to get together in groups of six (BF5+) under a tree on Henfield Common. It was so nice to see players in the ‘flesh’ at last. Spaced out and other safety measures in place we managed to do a few outside rehearsals. We contacted Sussex Prairies and asked if BF5+ could play in their gardens, giving the group a bit more purpose to their playing. We had three opportunities to visit the Prairies and a huge thanks to Pauline and Paul for allowing us to do so. Brass Fusion highly recommends this venue plus the cake is fantastic!!
Also, during this time, group members Martin and Sian Buss, played outside their house every Thursday for the Clap for NHS, performing some fun tunes together plus a short concert for VE Day in May They also attended the VE, VJ and Armistice services at the memorial in August and November playing Last Post.
Having got the bug for remote recordings, Brass Fusion managed to put together another piece. This time the well-known number ‘It’s Raining Men’. Good fun to do and another great editing project by our friend Ashley Carter.
During the summer Martin Buss, our lead cornet, discovered a music recording app called Acapella. This was the start of many multi track recordings done by Martin to a) keep himself playing and b) entertain fellow Facebook friends as he posted them each week. Being a lorry driver, Martin often worked away so the recordings became ‘CabCreations’.To date he has posted over 40!
Another remote recording done and this time we put together a short concert of pieces including some of Martin’s and the BF5+. A good friend compered and the whole concert was posted on our website and later sent to Red Oaks to entertain their residents.
With the outside rehearsals being reliant on the weather we put a plea out to anyone local that might have an open barn for us to use with cover in case of rain. Emma from BN5 very kindly offered us the use of her barn. This was a life saver for the group as we didn’t have to worry about ‘rain stopping play’!!
Restrictions relaxed once again for the music and arts sector and with more engagements being cancelled it was really important to keep the group playing, albeit with lots of safety protocols in place. Brass Fusion was allowed back inside as long as we were 3m apart and wore masks on entry and exit plus wiping of chairs and stands and no sharing of music. Temperatures were taken as we arrived but none of this detracted from the enjoyment of finally playing together.
The rehearsals were short lived as lockdown #2 was put in place. Once again we were back to groups of six outdoors. Luckily Christmas was approaching so we took the opportunity to entertain the village with Festive music. Playing outside of Stokes, Red Oaks and Upper Mead made the group feel like they were helping keep the spirits up in the Village.
Another remote recording was started ready to release after Christmas.
Martin also kept busy producing an advent calendar of his multi track recordings, releasing a new carol every day of December.
Full lockdown again so it was back to zoom chats and plans for the forthcoming year.
Plans to get back to our groups of six again next month, the group will once again be visiting Red Oaks in April to hopefully bring a bit of cheer to the residents (and to us!)
Hoping the guidelines go as planned we have many performances bring organised for this year. Keep an eye out on our Facebook and Website pages.
Fetes, garden parties, corporate events, weddings, bandstands, festivals, just about any occasion you might be having.
BRASS FUSION playing the music you want to hear.
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