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Player Profile: Simon Wilkins Soprano Cornet

Soprano Cornet player Simon Wilkins has one of the hardest seats in the band. As a professional singer Simon is no stranger to the stage and the spotlight, which is a good thing considering the soprano cornet seat is one of the most exposed in the band.

Simon started playing at age 13. His first instrument was the Euphonium but he moved onto trumpet after 18 months as the trumpet was lighter to carry backwards and forwards to school. This turned out to be one of the best moves he made as he became a strong and sure cornet player. His first band was Blidworth Welfare Band, a now Championship section band. During this period he was motivated and trained by Geoff Hawley who encouraged him to progress as a Soprano Cornet player, and who has been a huge inspiration and role model for Simon throughout his entire playing history.

At age 19 Simon moved to Thoresby Colliery Band where he played Repiano and 2nd cornet. It was during this time that he experienced his biggest musical achievement by playing at the Championship section National Finals with Thoresby and winning the title for the year 2000.

After this Simon continued to play Repiano cornet with Newstead Brass and then moved back onto Soprano when he joined Kirkby Colliery Band. During this period he progressed further as a Soprano player and spent time raising his two children with his wife and nurturing a good career. He has been playing with Ibstock Brick Brass for 6 years and has more than earned the nickname ‘Super Sop’. Simon is part of the Ibstock Brass Band committee and a valuable member of the team. In addition to being a great motivator and organiser, he also has great sense of humour when it comes to social media marketing!

Since his mid twenties Simon has also spent time developing his vocals and his music career, efforts that have made it possible for him to become a professional full time singer and entertainer. He now has a popular show under the name Matt Symons as well as a Robbie Williams and a Freddie Mercury Tribute show, both of which are extremely successful.

Player Profile: Principal Cornet LeeAnne Wilkins

Principal Cornet player LeeAnne Wilkins brings a wealth of experience and qualification to Ibstock Brick Brass.

LeeAnne was brought up in a mining village and in the mining brass band community. She began playing at the age of 7 under the musical instruction of Seth Appleton who she remained close to until he sadly passed away a few years ago. Her Father was a successful conductor and percussionist and her Mother a bass drum player, bringing brass banding and music into her life from a young age.

LeeAnne played with Ireland Colliery Band from junior band right up to Principal Cornet in the senior 1st section band by the age of 14. At age 16 she completed her ATCL associateship from Trinity College of London and says this is the achievement she is most proud of. During this time she was still competing both in solo contests and band contests and doing extremely well.

Since then LeeAnne has had two children, a son and a daughter, who are both now in their early teens, and is married to Simon Wilkins, who is also Ibstock’s Soprano Cornet player. She has been with the band for 6 years and has a very close friendship with one of the bands founding members Dave Wright.

On being asked what her favourite piece was, LeeAnne replied; “There are too many to choose from but my go to test piece is Essence of Time, and for slow melody I love The Lost Chord as it was the first solo piece I ever played when I was 7”. We also discovered that despite her impressive playing acumen she has never had the chance to play at the Royal Albert Hall and has said this is definitely her biggest ambition and she hopes to achieve this one day.

Bolsover Trophy Triumph

Ibstock Brick Brass were thrilled to achieve a 3rd place trophy win at Bolsover Festival of Brass this year. With a fantastic programme and some lovely solo playing, the band earned a great result on the day with a solid performance.

The opening number was the exciting and energetic Starburst by Dan Price, a piece written to evoke the vastness of space and the explosive nature of the galaxy, with its broad chords and rhythmic ostinato, a great opener that set the scene for a great programme.

Ibstock then cleared the way for the soloist of the day, Principal cornet LeeAnne Wilkins, who delivered a beautiful and lyrical rendition of Don’t Doubt Him Now by Leonard Ballantine (Arr. Craig Woodland). LeeAnne’s lovely sound and consideration for the meaning behind the melody was very appreciated by the audience.

The band then moved forward with a piece called Mid All The Traffic (Shenandoah) arranged by Leonard Ballantine. This Salvation Army hymn tune is simple yet beautiful, and was played with careful observation of dynamics and plenty of expression.

As a finale MD Dave Lea chose the Finale of Glorifico Aeternum by Dean Jones, a musical number which offers glory and thanksgiving to God. It is an exciting and metronomically precise piece where every individual part is important and must be balanced, and one which the band thoroughly enjoyed playing.

As a programme in whole this showed the work that Ibstock Brick Brass has put in and highlighted some exceptional solo talent. Overall this was a great success for the band who are now preparing and looking forward to attending Butlins Mineworkers Contest January 2020 in the second section.

Regionals 2017: Overview

It was a big day out this weekend for Ibstock Brick Brass who took the stage at the Regional Finals in Bedworth as a First Section band.

Since winning the Second Section Regional Finals in 2016 and competing at the National Finals last September, players have worked hard at strengthening and developing individual and ensemble skills in preparation for the First Section and have been committed and focused throughout the process.

The First Section Area test piece, Philip Sparke’s ‘Land of The Long White Cloud’ proved a challenging and enjoyable piece, with technical corners that took some work and testing tempo and dynamic requirements. This proved to be a big learning curve for many of the players, and the band as a whole and individually rallied and worked hard to get this fantastic piece stage ready.

On the whole the performance on the day was one that was a credit to the development of the band. A few slips and trips and intonation issues, which seemed to be the order of the day, caught the adjudicators attention and our performance was perhaps not as musically rounded as our competitors. The result of 14th caused some disappointment (and many debates!) however the band is proud to have taken such a big step in the right direction. and will continue to work and progress, taking on the chin the adjudicators comments and learning from each playing experience. MD Simon Willis is “proud of the work that has been done, and how the band has committed to excellent attendance at rehearsals whilst taking on board the work that is required to play at this higher level.”

The band has already committed to another busy year. Working with sponsors Ibstock Brick on opening their new site with a concert, the band will also be producing a brand new CD! With a steady schedule of concerts starting in April and contests planned for later in the year we can expect more good things from Ibstock Brick Brass in 2017.

Finals Performance: Cheltenham

Ibstock Brick Brass took to the stage this morning on a number 1 draw at the National Finals at Cheltenham.


The band performed a calm and concise performance, with commentators noting “effective ensemble” with some fine playing with assertiveness and confidence.

Star player of the day goes to Leeanne Wilkins on principal cornet, a player who is a focus of “warmth and lyricism”.

MD Simon Willis stated that the “band put in a superb performance of which they can be extremely proud”.

Road To Nationals: Update

Ibstock Brick Brass have been working solidly to perfect their rendition of Images ahead of the National Finals this coming Saturday.
Players across the board have shown a high level of attendance and commitment to both personal practice and focus at rehearsals which we are hoping will stand us in great stead once we take the stage at Cheltenham.

As a band Ibstock Brick Brass has progressed ten-fold over the past year, winning titles and trophies both in regional contests and entertainment contests, and this is down to the confidence and nerveless nature of our players and the love of performing music together as a team.

This band, regardless of results or wins, has true team sprit and this can be directly related to its success. Players always go the extra mile to help each other out and with this mindset everyone has the same goal in view: to play to the best of our ability and enjoy every moment. As our conductor expressed at last nights rehearsal, “there is no such thing as 150%, give me 100% every time”, and this is something every player will proudly do for our band and themselves.

With this in mind we would like to wish all our players, and those in competing bands, the best of luck at Cheltenham this weekend, and urge you all to take full advantage of this amazing and well deserved opportunity to make some amazing memories, savour the experience and stay true to your love of playing in this crazy world we know as brass banding.

Brand New Website!

new_websiteIbstock Brick Brass are pleased to announce that their new website is now LIVE!!

With a brand new look and easily accessible information our  followers, fans and players of the band will have immediate access to all updates and news at all times.

We would like to thank our web designer Anthony Birch for all his fantastic (and sometimes late night!) work to get things ready for Nationals weekend.

Road to Nationals

Previews and predictions have fast become available on 4barsrest.com showing stiff competition at the upcoming National Finals this weekend.

The band continues to put the final touches in place in this last week of rehearsals and are looking forward to once again showing what they are made of when they take the stage at Cheltenham this Saturday.

For full details of the history and story behind the test piece ‘Images for Brass Band’ and information about competing bands please feel free to have a look at the following link:

Previews And Predictions Nationals 2016

Ibstock Brick Brass would like to wish all players and bands taking part the best of luck!