This week saw King’s College Brass Band (KCLBB) win multiple awards at the 2021 Corey Band Online Championship. The results were announced March 29, 2020, with KCLBB coming in 3rd place overall.
The society formed in September of 2020 as a collaboration between KCL Jazz Society and KCL Modern Music Society, and the championship was KCLBB’s first time competing at an event. The contest saw them win 5 awards, making them one of the most successful bands there. For an ensemble which has been around for less than a year, their debut performance was a major success.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic forced the competition online: competing bands weren’t able to perform live, so instead submitted a video recording of their performance. Furthermore, being unable to practice in person changed the nature of the performance. Without being able to practice together, the band’s 15 members recorded their parts separately, using a click track to keep them in time. Once the musicians were happy with their performance, they sent off the files to be edited. Jake Fletcher was responsible for editing the video; Alex Baker and Michael Tasker edited the audio. Photos that were used in the performance were taken by Oscar Eastman and the project was managed by Will Douglas.
Keeping an audience excited is difficult for many bands to do live, let alone over the internet. KCLBB overcame this problem by creating a performance more cinematic in nature than your typical Zoom call. The band’s committee took inspiration from Hollywood films such as “La La Land” (2017) and “New York, New York” (1977). The viewer goes on a journey through London, stopping off at London landmarks such as Ronnie Scott’s world-famous Jazz Club. This jazz theme continues with the pieces chosen by KCLBB: Caravan by Duke Ellington, Stardust by Hoagy Carmichael, and Putting on the Ritz by Irving Berlin were the songs performed.
On being asked about the experience of competing online, Jake Fletcher, the Creative Director of KCLBB, said: “In an online competition, all the preparation work contributes directly to the final performance. When the premiere of the performance starts, you have already played … It’s both strange and a relief”.
KCL Brass Band will be performing at the Foden’s Virtual Whit Friday Competition on May 17, 2021. They hope to begin in-person concerts in September, and are looking for new members to join.