Desford Colliery Band, one of Britain’s longest-running brass bands, is marking its 120th anniversary by sending its album for peace to every world leader to mark Armistice Day. The band is using the power of music to plead for peace and unity across the world.
To commemorate the centenary of the end of World War One Where Have All the Flowers Gone? is a collection of classic peace songs interpreted for brass band and performed with all the might and majesty that continue to keep the Desford Colliery Band at the forefront of British music making.
“We wanted to strike a note for peace in these troubled times so what better way to stir the souls of men and women all over the world than with our take on a set of classic peace songs?” asks band leader Peter…
“On a very local level, lessons of peace can learned from colliery bands across the UK. Wecelebrate the power of music and the capacity of the human spirit to inspire communities to triumph against all the odds.Music more than any other medium has ability to promote international peace and emotional health and we hope our album can be seen as a celebration of unity and hope.”
From the gently unfolding melody of Pete Seeger’s meditation on mortality that inspired the album’s title, to the joyful treatment of The Beatles’ global anthem ‘All You Need Is Love’, this is music that speaks to the full gamut of human emotions.
The band is at its imperious best on versions of ‘Imagine’ John Lennon’s clarion call for international unity, the Bob Dylan protest hymn ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’, REM’s soulful ‘Everybody Hurts’ and the eternally hopeful Judy Garland standard ‘Over the Rainbow’; while sympathetic arrangements add a new dimension to familiar works such as Marvin Gaye’s matchless ‘What’s Going On’, the Kate Bush classic ‘Army Dreamers’, Elvis Costello’s plaintive ‘Shipbuilding’ and the jubilant Bob Marley hit One Love.
‘Music brings people together, it’s hugely important to us and to our community,:
says band member Darren Pearce who plays the Repiano Cornet
“At times it is our family, at times it’s our comfort. It’s at the centre of everything, our heart and soul.”
Based in the small Leicestershire town of Coalville, close to the historic mining communities of Desford and Ibstock, the band has 35 championship titles to its name and can trace its history back to 1898.
Few of its founding members, many of whom were miners, could have foreseen that just 16 years later they would have to lay down their instruments to fight “The war to end war”. Peace in 1918 brought the band back together and it won a host of gold medals before its members were needed to fight a second global conflict.
Following that hiatus it has been active ever since, winning a string of awards for its recordings and starring in the hit TV series, The Real Brassed Off.
But for all its global ambition, the message at the heart of Where Have All the Flowers Gone? comes from the lifeblood of the community that gave rise to Desford Colliery Band.
“As the title suggests the over-riding theme of the album is Peace,”
says Kenneth Talbot 3rd Cornet.
“There are no politics here – the band runs on friendship and compassion.”
Where Have All the Flowers Gone? was released on Island Records on 26 October 2018.