The Harrogate Band was formed in April 1970 from a nucleus of former Harrogate Granby High School Concert Band pupils who wanted to continue their playing after leaving the school. It was the first brass band in Harrogate since the original Harrogate Silver Prize Band folded in 1956. The Band's first conductor, Neil Richmond, led it to success at its first contest in November 1970 at York - the first of many contest successes over the last 30 years.
By September 1971 there was a full Band of over 25 players, and it had started to purchase its own instruments. Concerts that first year included the first of a regular series of concerts in the Valley Gardens in Harrogate. Neil Richmond was followed as musical director by John Higginson, Peter Littlewood, Peter Wells, David Lancaster, Roy Waite and Craig Ratcliffe. Each stamped his character on the band and continued its musical development in his own manner. Under their tutelage the band has risen up the sections to the Championship Section in the North of England. It currently competes in the 1st Section nationally. A strong administration underpins the band's musical endeavours - an essential adjunct for any aspiring or successful organisation.
See also: Historical information about earlier bands in Harrogate
The Band has, over the years, established itself as the premier brass band in the local area. It performs over 30 concert engagements each year and enters around 5 contests. The Band has been involved in a wide range of engagements over the years, including joint concerts with choirs, commercial functions, garden parties, fetes, weddings, church services, carol concerts and carol playing in the town, small groups of players, fanfare trumpets, sporting events, agricultural shows, radio broadcasts, marches and processions, charity concerts, massed band concerts and many others! It currently has over 1200 sets of music in its library.
Many players have passed through the Band since 1970, but one original member, Andrew Jackson, still plays with the Band from time to time. The players are all amateur musicians, as are the great majority of all British brass band members. Their dedication to the band and music is as firm as work, family and other commitments allow - which enables the band to develop its team playing strength and quality.
Details of players past and present can be seen at The Band.
The Band has undertaken seven overseas concert tours. It has travelled to Bergen in Norway as the guests of Sandvikens Ungdomskorps in 1977 and 1984, hosting their trip to Harrogate in 1975. It has also been to Bad Hersfeld in Germany as the guests of the Stadt Musikverein Band (SMV) in 1981, 1986 and 1990, and hosted SMV's trips to Harrogate in 1982, 1987 and 1993. Then followed a tour to Prague in the Czech Republic in 1996. It also hosted a visit of the Gerwens Muziekkorps (GMK) Band, from Nuenen in The Netherlands, in October 1998 and visited GMK in Holland in May/June 2000. A tour to the Rhineland in Germany in 2003 was most recently followed by a concert tour in Belgium and Holland in 2007.
The Band loves contesting and is successful in many of the contests it enters. It has qualified for and competed in the National Brass Band Championship Finals three years running 2002, 2001, 2000, and previously also achieved that honour in 1985, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1996 and 2011. The Band became North of England Region Champions (1st Section) in 2001, 2011 and 2013. Full contest results can be found here.
The Band is a self-supporting organisation - its funds come from engagement fees, fund-raising activities and membership subscription.
The Band is grateful to the Hymas family for sponsorship of its bandroom.
The band has a formal Constitution and set of Rules, both of which are available for reference here.
The Band is a member of the British Federation of Brass Bands and the Yorkshire & Humberside Brass Band Association.