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A Christmas Gift
Knaresborough residents were treated to a surprise Christmas treat Sunday night as The Harrogate Brass Band visited their number one fan Helen Easton.

The band played carols outside Helen's house where neighbours joined in. Afterwards the players enjoyed drinks and cake.

Helen said: "Honoured, humbled and completely thrilled to have received a private carol concert from the wonderful Harrogate Band tonight! Thank you!".

Helen: 3rd from the right

Every year the Band bestow their Christmas Gift on a special supporter and friend and play carols round their house.


Thank you

Thank you very much for donating to the Band when we've played Christmas Carols in Marks and Spencer. We rely on the income we raise through people generously donating money.

The money we use supports the Band and in turn we use this to help the Royal British Legion, Christian Aid, Harrogate Easier Living Project, Barnardos, Harrogate Homeless Project, Starbeck Methodist Church, St Paul's Church Shadwell raise funds. Every pound you give we probably triple for good causes. We also make a donation to Marks and Spencer's store charity.

The staff at Marks and Spencer are always very kind and look after us really well.


Charity Christmas Concert

"Feeling gloriously festive after the most wonderful concert by Harrogate Band at Trinity Methodist Church last night. A mix of brass classics with some festive favourites, it was both uplifting and great fun! We were delighted to bring along some clients and volunteers to enjoy the performance. Huge thanks to the Band for their continued support raising awareness of socially isolated older people across the district." - Lizzie, Harrogate Easier Living Project

Despite being known as a wealthy area there is a real issue in Harrogate with social isolation particularly amongst the elderly with low incomes.

All throughout the year we support the HELP (Harrogate Easy Living Project) by promoting volunteering through our concert programmes and providing tickets for their clients. We also give our time for free to perform at a Christmas Concert at the wonderful Trinity Methodist Church, Harrogate where HELP bring some of their clients and volunteers and promote volunteering.

Our second half included contemporary music for brass at Christmas including Philip Harper's Yule Dance and loads of fun music. The audience were able to vote for their favourite carol and were treated to our flugel player, Craig Buchan, singing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and we changed out of our uniforms into more festive gear!

If you'd like to support people in the Harrogate District by taking them out to concerts and other activities then please contact HELP.


Brass at RAF Menwith Hill

We supported the Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at RAF Menwith Hill by playing carols and background Christmas music. Marketing Manager, Vicky Gray, was delighted with our support: "Thanks again for playing at our family event, you help make it really special."


Proms @ the Swan

"Great concert, super choice of music and lovely afternoon tea..the band is going from strength to strength!" – Anne Lancaster.
"Fabulous afternoon. Thank you so much!" – Jude Jones.
"Laura was wonderful, the Band were brilliant. Thank you, we'll be back in June and next year of course!" - Jan Taylor.

We had so many people complimenting us after we'd finished our latest concert at the Swan Hotel, Harrogate that it was hard getting out of the door to leave!

As usual we ensured there was contemporary music specifically written for brass band in the programme and so we included Darren Shaw's Guardian of My Soul which the audience really appreciated.
Our guest singer Laura Jackson was so brilliant to work with and we loved performing with her. The variety of pieces we sang with her showed what a versatile singer she is; And All that Jazz, There's a Fine Fine Line, Jerusalem, Skyfall!


The Trumpet Shall Sound!

Imagine four choral societies, four professional singer soloists, a cellist, an organist, harpsichordist and two trumpet players packed into a church performing one of the greatest pieces of choral music ever written.

That was the scene for Holy Trinity Church, Knaresborough, where our principal cornet player, Nick Garrett, and our former principal cornet player Andrew Jackson both played their trumpets in this amazing performance of Handel's Messiah.

About £5000 was raised for the Harrogate Homeless Project.

"Just a note to thank you so much for once again playing for us yesterday in the Nidderdale Messiah.   You are a great friend to the event and we very much appreciate all your time both in coming on the day and practicing beforehand. The feedback we have had has been excellent and, although I don't yet know how much money we have raised, hopefully it will be a good enough sum to ensure that some of the homeless of Harrogate and district have a better future." - Jane Burniston - Chairman, Nidderdale Messiah

It was great to be involved in such a brilliant event. If you'd like to sing in the Messiah next year then check out for more information.


Festive Ales

The Winter Gardens Wetherspoons in Harrogate asked us to play Christmas Carols for their customers to kick off their festive season. We were only too happy to oblige. There were loads of great comments from people and requests for carols.

As it was so early in the season we kept it quite gentle to start with before jollying it up towards the end.

In times past The Winter Gardens was part of a municipal spa complex which included a music salon. The Band used to perform there regularly so it was really interesting to come back.

Have a look out for us in Harrogate and Leeds as we entertain folk with more Carols this year.


Acts of Remembrance

Plenty of brass bands up and down the country serve their community by playing hymn tunes and marching at Remembrance Sunday events.

We took part in two acts of remembrance last Sunday. The Tewit Youth Band and ourselves played at the cenotaph in Harrogate town centre. We marched and then played hymn tunes and Elgar's Nimrod for the laying of the wreaths. 

After this we went to Stonefall Cemetery where there is a Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery. The service there is led by the Rotary Club. We led the congregation in the hymn O God Our Help in Ages Past and again played during the laying of the wreaths. 

It's a very calm, reflective and peaceful place. Looking at the row upon row of graves makes you think and reflect on the sacrifice people made for peace in Europe, especially those who weren't even from this continent.

Our principal cornet player, Nick Garrett, sounded the Last Post and Reveille. 

After the short service we played a hymn tune at the grave of F.S Taylor a Canadian Airman who died in a training exercise in Yorkshire preparing for combat in World War II. This continues a tradition started a few years ago when his family contacted the band.


Firecracker at Rudding Park
"I just wanted to say a huge thank you on behalf of The Angels for your part in this weekend's event. The ball was a great success, raising just under £300,000 for Barnardo's. The band was a great success and we hope you all enjoyed it too. Please thank the rest of your wonderful team on our behalf. We look forward to working together again soon. Many thanks, Holly"

The Annual Firecracker Ball is a huge occasion which we were thrilled to take part in. This years theme was the circus and we provided circus themed music for the start and background music whilst guests were dining.

During our performance circus performers entertained people which was pleasantly distracting for the players! We had a brilliant time and had loads of great comments from guests.

Our lovely soprano cornet player Liz happened to be the official photographer for the Ball and although we missed her fab playing she took some great shots of the Band as well as the act that followed us, All Saints.


Mayor Presents Sash To Harrogate Band
The Harrogate Band have been honoured by Councillor Nick Brown, the Mayor of the Borough of Harrogate and former Mayor Councillor Nigel Simms for their services to the district. Gareth Gibbs, Vice President and Drum Major of the award winning brass band, was presented with the Sash in recognition of the band's success since its establishment in 1970.

The Harrogate Band are one of North Yorkshire's premier brass bands with strong community links who provide music for a variety of occasions including fetes, church services, carol concerts, sporting events, agricultural shoes, marches, processions and charity concerts. The band performs over 30 concert engagements each year both nationally and internationally – having visited Norway, Germany, the Czech Republic, Belgium and Holland. Over the last 46 years, the Harrogate Band has competed in a wide variety of competitions including the National Brass Band Championship Finals and was named North of England Regional Champions (1st Section) in 2001, 2011 and 2013.

The Sash was paid for out of the Mayor's charity fund by Councillor Nigel Simms during his mayoral year. The sash will be worn for the first time at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday (13 November 2016).

Councillor Nick Brown, Mayor of the Borough of Harrogate said: "It is a real honour to present the Sash to the Harrogate Band in recognition of their work. The band have entertained so many people over the last four decades, with their spellbinding performances and their talent has rightly been recognised through their success in a wide range of competitions, most notably in the National Brass Band Championships. They are quite simply standard bearers for brass music."

Councillor Nigel Simms said: "The Sash is a great way of recognising the contribution the Harrogate Band has brought to the people of the Harrogate district and I, as well as the whole community, will look forward to enjoying their performances in the future."

Gareth Gibbs, Vice President and Drum Major of the Harrogate Band said: "Sashes are traditionally awarded for bands to follow and to announce their arrival. It is a great honour to receive the Sash from the Mayor on behalf of the Harrogate district and have our contribution to the community recognised in this way."

News report courtesy of The Harrogate Informer


Concert for Christian Aid

"Thank you to all concerned for making last evening's Band Concert such a success. A lot of effort was expended, but rewarded with a joyful occasion and with generous results for Christian Aid." – David Wells, Christian Aid.

Thanks to generous match funding from the European Union on ticket sales we helped raise thousands of pounds for Christian Aid's work in some of the countries in Africa where people are suffering from natural disasters. Our concert was well received.

We ran our popular Juke Box where audience members pay a pound to vote for a piece of music we perform in the second half out of a choice of three. This year, The Great Escape won the most number of votes and we were delighted to play it.

The concert featured numbers from Musical Theatre including, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, I Dreamed a Dream, Circle of Life and Wicked. As usual with this type of concert our percussion team were kept busy ably lead by Vincent Ashby-Smith (pictured).


GP Conference

Haymarket Media Group booked us to play at the annual GP Conference being held in the Harrogate International Centre.

We performed in reception as GP's arrived and on stage as delegates took their seats for the inaugural speech.

People always enjoy a bit of light relief in the hubbub of a conference and we proved a welcome diversion with plenty of GP's saying how much they liked our playing.

Afterwards we had a coffee and had a look round the conference stalls which showed the latest techniques and technology in primary healthcare. There were healthy snacks and exercise machines which made us smile.


Computer Science Conference

York University booked us for their Computer Science Conference which was held in the fabulous National Railway Museum.

We had a great time performing background music whilst guests milled about checking out the steam engines and then we performed more background music whilst they had their conference dinner on one of the platforms.

Conferences are always good fun for us to perform at as we are able to show people who would never hear brass music in Britain what we can do.

We always get great comments from people at conferences and this time a number of Malaysian delegates came up to us to say how much they enjoyed our performance.


British Legion Concert

Bramhope Rugby Club was the venue for our concert in aid of the vital work by the British Legion.

Organiser David Marshall was full of praise for our performance, "You've done it again, another wonderful programme of music, well done."

The concert was special for us as our good friend and supporter Ollie Davies said farewell to us before spending a very long stint on military service in the navy. Ollie is Chief Petty Officer on a warship and has followed us when onshore for a number of years.

At the end of the concert he presented us with a picture he had specially commissioned highlighting the good times he's had with the Band.

We wish Ollie and all his crew a safe time at sea.


Happygate Festival

Just walking home and we had the absolute delight of hearing you play in the Valley Gardens. That really made my day. I absolutely loved the rhythms and the unique way of putting on the show. You could have played all day for me but a bit tough on you. Thank you for making a sunny day even sunnier. You are a very talented bunch. – Joan Dodds.

Joan heard us performing in the Valley Gardens, Harrogate, at the inaugural community arts festival, Happygate. The festival was an extravaganza of local musicians performing a variety of style including, jazz, reggae, ska, rock, funk there was also belly dancing, poetry and loads of fun activities for kids and families.

We performed three outstanding flashmob performances choreographed and arranged by the band's percussionist and self-styled creative director, Ed Dennis.

The audience loved it and so did we.

Follow us on Facebook to find out when Happygate is on again.


The Great Yorkshire Show

We love the Great Yorkshire Show!

Performing on the Bandstand throughout the day we kept the crowds entertained at Yorkshire's busiest agricultural show.

It's a great event for players as during the breaks we get to see the animals and sample food from the wonderful selection of stalls.

The Yorkshire Agricultural Society do a fantastic job of bringing hundreds of thousands of people to Harrogate to the show, they looked after us really well.

Our cornet player Becca was interviewed by Radio York and Stray FM which she enjoyed and we met loads of supporters on the day who popped over to listen to us.

If you want to book us for your event please get in touch –


Durham Miners' Gala

"Quite honestly, you're easily the most entertaining brass band at the Gala, I watch all the bands and I always wait for Harrogate because you're the best." – Dave Tyson, GMB Union.

The Gala is a huge community and national event held to recognise the heritage of the mining industry's workforce in Durham. This was the 132nd Gala and over 100,000 people attended. See for more information on what the Gala is.

We represent the Durham mining village of Trimdon. We march in Trimdon in the morning and play a special hymn tune called Gresford outside the homes of poorly miners. Then we go into Durham, march into the centre and play a couple of party pieces on route.

The Harrogate Band prides itself on creating a special arrangement unique to the event arranged by the Band. This year our percussionist Ed Dennis arranged Bruno Mars' Locked out of Heaven which went down a storm. We'd spent weeks working on choreography and the hard work paid off.

We're no strangers to TV Documentaries (last year we took part in one by Grayson Perry), this time we were filmed by a Spanish TV crew. They were really friendly and we showed them a great time. Plenty of our friends came along for the day on the bus and had a great time. If you'd like to join us on this unique event please get in touch but be prepared to leave the Bandroom at 5am!


Bandstand Extravaganza

"Wow! No other brass band does a performance like this! Brilliant!" - Marcus Aisborough.

Wetherby Bandstand holds a brass band concert every Sunday during summer which is free. We marched up to the Bandstand and then performed Bruno Mars' Locked out of Heaven and Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 stood in front which we'd choreographed, before moving into more 'traditional concert' mode on the Bandstand. 

No band does that at Wetherby Bandstand and we were delighted that the audience enjoyed it. This year we were again part of the excellent Yorkshire Festival.

Our guest musical director Leigh Baker was delighted with the performance, "That's what I love about this Band, they're a really happy bunch willing to go the extra mile to entertain the audience!"

A huge thanks to the lovely Mary Gray, the good folk at the excellent Wetherby Bandstand Trust and Leeds City Council who do so much to keep brass music free every summer weekend. We're looking forward to returning to Wetherby Bandstand July 2nd 2017.

Follow us on Facebook to stay in touch with us and find out what we'll be doing next time.


Twenty Years of Harrogate Band on the web
Many of our players weren't born in 1996 but those that remember it may recall:
  • The birth of Dolly the Sheep
  • The Spice Girls release Wannabe
  • The Harrogate Band launched one the earliest brass band websites
At the time just over 4% of the UK had access to the internet, of course there were no smart phones, no social media and the web was mainly used by tech savvy people, banks and students.

Gavin Holman, creator of the website, recalls the early drive to get a website: "At the time I was a computer manager at the British Library, we had just launched our prototype website Portico (or 'online information server' as we called it) in 1995. Around the same time a local initiative in Harrogate led to the launch of the Harrogate Online project. It was clear that this new technology was an exciting way to provide access to information across the world. Following my initial designs of the Band's first webpage, Harrogate Online agreed to host the pages. [in fact the descendents of that organisation are still hosting the website today]"

Images of the first site were sadly destroyed in a fire at Gavin's home but by luck some were found recently in the Band's library. Click the image on the left to see an early "front page" from 1997. Also some archived snapshots can be found archived online at Internet Archive (1) and Internet Archive (2).
A full printout of the first pages is contained in this PDF document.

The early web really just featured a few basic pages and a "guestbook" where visitors could leave comments, and was written using HTML. The first comment we received was from David Lee, Epsom & Ewell Band, who were also early adopters on the web. Although the internet has exploded over the last two decades and many additional software technologies have become available, the basic structure and premise of websites remains very much the same.

David Lancaster who was Musical Director of the Band at the time recalls: "In the beginning it started off as a little bit of an experiment, it was pretty exciting for those of us who loved technology and brass bands. Over time it became one of the outstanding band websites."

Steve Morland was chairman at the time: "It's incredible to think that it was twenty years ago! The band were very indeed very early adopters, particularly within our field, and the site secured us reputation, publicity and new jobs from the outset. I clearly remember the message board printouts which were pinned on the noticeboard for those many members who, at that time, weren't on the internet!"

Before he became Engagement Secretary, Nick Garrett played in the Band in 1997 in between years away at University. "I remember using dial-up at University and posting to the Band's Guestpage, Gavin would then print it out and players would read my messages during the break!"

As with many amateur sites the challenge is now how to keep up with different platforms and how to integrate social media. The key, thinks Nick, is to have a good strategy for what you're trying to achieve. "The website is primarily for new business and basic information, facebook's for fans and twitter is for shaping perception. We need to up our game on video sharing sites like youtube as this where potential clients will see and hear what we do. So the aim now is not just about keeping a website and social media updated it's thinking about how to get great content onto the right platform to suit the audience whether that's potential players, potential clients or followers."

As he started the whole website off, it seems fitting to give the site creator and still the architect of the site, Gavin Holman, the last word: "The Band's website has grown over the years and had several facelifts along the way, but still remains the primary shop window for the band and its presence in the world. Being one of the first bands on the web, together with the awards the site accrued in its first five years, gave us a much wider profile than similar bands, and led to a number of prestigious and unique engagements. That continues to this day, reinforced by the Band's reputation for excellent music and innovative programming.

From a personal perspective the website introduced me to many new friends and colleagues worldwide and, with the development of the IBEW, an offshoot from the website's early "links" pages, and subsequent research and historical initiatives, this led to my participation in major brass band development and history events across the world and an academic role far beyond my IT professional life." See: for some results of this work.


Conference Entertainment
"What a fantastic Band you have here in Harrogate!" - Pat Downer, National Chairman, Trefoil Guild

"Brilliant! Thank you very much, you were a great success!" - Georgia Bashford, Events Organiser, Venture Abroad.

We had a wonderful time entertaining the national ex girl guides group the Trefoil Guild who had their national conference in Harrogate. Performing for the first time in The Holiday Inn, Harrogate, we put on a show where the 330 strong audience got to sing, waive their flags and clap along to our selection of music from Harrogate and Yorkshire.

Not only that but Catherine, Charlotte, Izzie and Helen in the Band introduced some of our music and told the Guild members about their favourite Guide and Brownie experiences which went down a treat.

Izzie, a 17 year old Girl Guide and percussionist with the Band, told them about the Guide trip she is going on in July to Madagascar and after the concert members of the Guild very kindly spontaneously donated money for her trip!

If you're looking for great conference entertainment in Harrogate then get in touch.


Swans Songs and Scones
"Felicity and the Band were superb, I love brass music you were great! I've booked for November!" - June Adams

"Great choice of music again! I come every year and you always do a great job." - Brian Smith

"I came because my Grandad needed someone to help him, I didn't expect to enjoy it as brass bands aren't really my thing but I really enjoyed it! I'll be looking for an excuse to come again. - Stephen Smith

The audience at the Old Swan Hotel Harrogate thoroughly enjoyed our Songs from Stage and Screen concert with singer Felicity Day.

Felicity is a music student at York St John University and made a wonderful debut with the Band singing classics such as, Over the Rainbow, Get Happy and Can't Help Loving That Man.

The audience enjoyed afternoon tea and really appreciated Felicity's wonderful singing. We love working with singers and performers, it's a key part of what makes us so successful.

If you like great music, brass bands, afternoon tea and singing then come along to our Proms at the Swan Concert 27th November, Old Swan Hotel Harrogate, 3pm to 5pm. It's bound to be popular so make sure you book your tickets by contacting the hotel on: 01423 500055.


Paul's Mate Gary's Wedding
Our bass trombone player, Paul Davies, went on a stag-do recently where they canoed down the river Wye dressed as members of The Village People.

Thankfully the Band didn't have to dress like this when playing at Paul's mate Gary's wedding at the Peacock pub in Leeds.

Gary was delighted with the Band: "Absolutely brilliant guys! Thank you so much, loads of great music and we really enjoyed it!"

Weddings are always good fun for the players as we like to play popular music and because Gary was a sports fan we were able to play The Great Escape and World in Union which he loved. Seeing as there were local and international guests we put on a bit of a Yorkshire theme which went down really well. Plus we always enjoy checking out guests outfits!

Gary was an absolute star as he arranged food for us afterwards. All brass musicians build up an appetite when playing. Thanks Gary!


Pies & Peas
"What can I say? You've done it again! Another fantastic performance from the Band. Thank you once again and see you next year!" - Brian Watson, St Paul's Church, Shadwell

After another brilliant concert in St Paul's Church Shadwell we joined the audience and trooped down to the village hall for a hearty pie and peas supper. It's a fine tradition they have here in Shadwell and the players are only too delighted to have a feed after an energetic concert.

Craig Buchan our indefatigable assistant musical director did a great job of leading us in the concert. Keri Graham performed brilliantly with her first ever solo with the Band playing Ennio Morricone's Gabriel's Oboe.

Our final piece was Edward Gregson's Laudate Dominum which is based on the hymn tune of the same name (Oh Praise ye the Lord). Craig decided that it would be a great idea to involve the audience and so they sang the hymn tune accompanied by the band before we played the final piece to show how Gregson constructed the music. It was a great success.

"That was brilliant, I loved Laudate Dominum, what a fantastic piece of music and what a great idea to sing the hymn tune beforehand. I certainly got a lot more out of it!" – Anne Clough

"I didn't expect to turn up to a brass band concert and sing a hymn tune, I'm not particularly religious, but I surprised myself and enjoyed it. A good idea really as I was able to engage with the piece better." – Dave Smythe

We're back next May at Shadwell, follow us on facebook to find out when and you never know, you might have to sing!


Buxton Contest
"That was a good result for the Band against strong competition." - David Lancaster, guest musical director.

Third place in a competition always seems a bit disappointing. A case of nearly but not quite. We had a great day out in Buxton and it was great to welcome back former players Rob and Lynne Illsley on principal cornet and flugel horn.

Our performance was commended by the judge who praised our stylish and musical playing.


Grayson Perry Documentary
We were delighted that the first programme of Grayson Perry's documentary series featured our good friends at Trimdon Grange. We perform at the Durham Miners' Gala every year for the Trimdon Grange community and it was extra special filming the documentary. Seeing Grayson Perry's artwork in Durham Cathedral and also performing Gresford there was magical.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook and let us know what you think.


Starbeck Success
"May I express on behalf of all the members of Starbeck Methodist Church our heartfelt thanks for providing us with a memorable Concert of Brass Band Music. I am sure it was evident to you that by the response of every member of the audience they all without exception enjoyed every minute of your performance." - Keith Nowell, Starbeck Methodist Church We love playing in Starbeck, the church was full and the audience were warm and welcoming as always. It was a pleasure to raise money for the church which does so much to support people in our community.

David Lancaster one of our former musical directors and a good friend of the band took us for the concert and true to form he selected a concert programme that inspired, delighted and informed.

We performed some brilliant original contemporary music for brass including Thomas Wilson's Sinfionetta and Edward Gregson's Prelude for an Occasion.

We'll be back at Starbeck next year, keep a look out on facebook and our website to find out when.


Yorkshire Champions
For the first time ever we performed with the world's most famous brass band and we helped them become Yorkshire Champions!

Before a major competition brass bands like to take part in a special rehearsal called an Open Rehearsal. This is where an audience are invited to listen to a performance of a competition piece to prepare a Band for performing under pressure.

Thanks to our conductor and former player, Dave Smith, playing for the Black Dyke Band we were given the opportunity to perform our competition piece alongside the Black Dyke Band at their Open Rehearsal in Ossett Town Hall last Friday.

Nick Childs the conductor of the Black Dyke Band gave the audience a fabulous introduction to Dave Smith and ourselves and we performed our competition piece Essay by Edward Gregson. Black Dyke performed their piece Philip Sparke's exciting Cambridge Variations. They were fabulous and we sensed they were going to win.

We found it pretty nerve racking performing in front of such amazing players which was good preparation for us!

The following day the Black Dyke Band went on to win their competition and were crowned champions of Yorkshire.

We're taking part in our competition this Saturday.


Prize for Julian
We were delighted that our soprano cornet player Julian Holling was awarded the prize for the best soprano player at our latest competition. The Band were competing against seven other brass bands at the Brass at the Guild competition at the Guildhall in Preston. All the competing bands were ranked above us and we came a creditable 5th.

The music we performed was Edward Gregson's Essay and the judge decided that Julian had performed brilliantly and awarded him this special prize.

Our conductor for this competition was Leigh Baker, the resident conductor of the Brighouse and Rastrick Band, he praised the band for our hard work in the build up to the competition and was very pleased that Julian won the best soprano player prize.

Julian, who by day job is a software designer and developer, was absolutely delighted to win: "I've thoroughly enjoyed rehearsing this piece with Leigh Baker, he's really encouraged me and all the players in the Band to believe in ourselves and enjoy performing."

We'll be competing again in March at the North of England Championships in Durham where we'll be performing Essay once again.



A Christmas Gift
Knaresborough residents were treated to a surprise Christmas treat as we visited our much loved supporter and former player, Roy Fletcher. The band played carols outside his house where neighbours also joined in with his wife Frieda. Afterwards the players enjoyed a cup of tea and had a chance to catch up with Roy on his playing exploits over the years.

Roy said: "It's made my Christmas, I can't thank the Band enough. Brass music has been so important to my life it's been wonderful to listen to the carols."

"A Christmas Gift", it's an idea we came up with in August and one we'll be repeating for friends and longstanding supporters of the band each year. The Band chooses a longstanding supporter and friend of the Band to perform carols for each year at their home. This year was the turn of Roy Fletcher who retired from the Band 9 years ago and is in his 80's. Roy played in brass bands most of his life all over Yorkshire. Some of his fondest memories are of playing on Christmas Day in Huddersfield, getting up at 8am and walking across the town to play carols, not something we do these days!

Our chairman, Catherine Morland, said: "Roy is a great friend of the Band. He's served brass bands for so many years and is a much loved supporter of ours. It was an absolute delight to play carols for Roy, Frieda and their neighbours, definitely one of my Christmas highlights as they enjoyed it so much."


Helpful Christmas Concert
"Many thanks for a wonderful concert last night. It was really enjoyable and got everyone in a festive spirit!" - Jenny Godfrey, Trinity Methodist Church

We gave our first Christmas Concert in the wonderful Trinity Methodist Church Harrogate. It was to support the work of the church and to launch our association and support for the Harrogate Easier Living Project (HELP) charity.

We were conducted by Guest Musical Director Nathan Wake who produced an entertaining programme of Christmas music as well as a few brilliant non-Christmassy numbers like Song and Dance by Phillip Sparke and Vitae Aeternum by Paul Lovatt-Cooper.

The Band's players dressed up in Christmas gear for the second half and had a lot of fun. The programme included a euphonium duet from Catherine Morland and Jen Murray called Babe in a Manger which the audience loved.

We raised awareness for our chosen charity, HELP, and raised some cash for them from our popular Carol Juke Box where the audience pay per vote for a Christmas carol for us to perform in the second half. Once in Royal David's City won closely followed by Hail Smiling Morn.

We finished the concert with White Christmas which went down a treat.


Triumvirate of Talent
The Band is delighted to announce it has appointed three talented musical directors to lead it in its 2016 competitions.

Leigh Baker will conduct the Band at Preston's Brass at the Guild, David Smith will take them at the North of England Championships in Durham and David Lancaster will herald the band's return to the Buxton Brass Band Festival contest.

Catherine Morland, Chairman, said: "All three have been carefully selected over the last two months to ensure we have a great blend of talent, experience and skill to motivate, inspire and improve all the players."

The Band will advertise for a new musical director in April.

Leigh Baker is the resident conductor at Brighouse and Rastrick and has conducted a variety of musical ensembles over the last twenty years. He is also a celebrated composer and arranger. The Band memorably performed his arrangement of Libertango in Leeds city centre as part of the Cultural Olympiad with live dancers in a series of memorable flashmob performances.

David Smith is a former principal cornet player of the Band and the former conductor of the Tewit Youth Band. He has taken South Milford at the first section areas and is a cornet player with the Black Dyke Band.

David Lancaster is a highly experienced conductor, brilliant composer and close friend of the Band having led them from the 4th section to the Championship in short amount of time. His legacy at the Band shines through in their championing of contemporary original music for brass and dedication to performing pieces that feature percussion. He is much in demand as a lecturer and composer and is concluding doctoral studies at the University of York. He heads up the Dance, Drama, Media and Music department at the University of York St John.


Opening Doors Family Christmas Concert
We're delighted to partner with the Harrogate Easier Living Project's service called Opening Doors. This is a fantastic service which recruits volunteers who accompany and befriend people who are socially isolated in the Harrogate area to social events.

The aim is to reduce loneliness and isolation for the elderly, disabled and those with a sensory impairment.

We offer free tickets to volunteers and their service users to our concerts and we promote the much needed volunteering in our concert programmes. We've also put our friends at Trinity Methodist Church in touch with the project so they can offer their lunch clubs to people from the service.

Our commitment to support the Opening Doors Service is set out in our four pledges which we are launching at our Christmas Concert on 4th December at Trinity Methodist Church. We are waiving our fee so the maximum money goes to the church's work and to Opening Doors.

Come along to the concert to support Opening Doors service and Trinity Methodist's church work.

Trinity Methodist Church, near the Prince of Wales Roundabout - Friday 4th December, 7:30pm
Tickets: £6 - Ring Lynda Dale: 01423 562816, or email

Our 4 Pledges are:
  1. Free tickets for Opening Doors volunteers and service users to our concerts
  2. Promote volunteering for Opening Doors in our concert programmes
  3. Perform for people who use Harrogate Easier Living Project's services
  4. Encourage other musical and artistic groups in Harrogate to follow our lead
Click here to find out more about the Opening Doors Service. If you sign up to be a volunteer we'll offer you free tickets to our concerts.


Hotel Delight
"That was the first time we've heard the band and you were simply wonderful! Thank you! A brilliant performance!"
- Mr and Mrs Harrison.
Our latest concert at The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, was a huge success judging by the standing ovation and the lovely comments we had from people afterwards.

One member of the audience even personally thanked our three percussionists at the end she enjoyed watching them so much which made our lead percussionist Vincent Ashby-Smith very happy!

Fortified by a sumptuous afternoon tea the audience sang along to our Last Night of the Proms set at the end of the concert. Before that, they heard contemporary original music for brass, traditional marches and hymn tunes, brilliant solos and some TV and film music.

The evening ended with I'll Walk with God, our tribute to concert goers and musicians in the recent Paris attacks.

We love performing at the hotel and are delighted to be returning next year on Sunday 5th June 2016, 3pm to 5pm for our Songs from Stage and Screen concert. See our engagements section for more details.


New Players
David and Jen Murray have joined us on trombone and euphonium.

Both used to play for Becontree Brass before they moved up to Harrogate. They are really experienced brass band players and we're delighted they've joined.

As we had a full trombone section Charlotte King, our second trombone player, volunteered to move on to tenor horn.

Catherine Morland, Band Chairman, commented:
"David and Jen have a wealth of experience and are very good players. They will undoubtedly improve our performances in concerts and competitions. I was very pleased that Charlotte volunteered to move onto another instrument to accommodate this, it shows we have dedicated, committed people in the Band."
David and Jen have played at a number of concerts and events with us already including Leeds Light Night, Concert for Christian Aid and our Last Night of the Proms Concert at the Old Swan Hotel.

They're now about to experience their first taste of Christmas with us including our Family Christmas Concert on 4th December at Trinity Methodist Church, Harrogate.


Acts of Remembrance
We took part in two acts of remembrance last Sunday. The Tewit Youth Band and ourselves played at the cenotaph in Harrogate town centre. We marched and then played hymn tunes and Elgar's Nimrod for the laying of the wreaths.

After this we went to Stonefall Cemetery where there is a Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery. The service there is led by the Rotary Club. We led the congregation in the hymn O God Our Help in Ages Past and again played during the laying of the wreaths.

It's a very calm, reflective and peaceful place. Looking at the row upon row of graves makes you think and reflect on the sacrifice people made for peace in Europe, especially those who weren't even from these isles.

Our principal cornet player sounded the Last Post and Reveille.

After the short service we played There is a Green Hill Far Far Away at the grave of a Canadian Airman who died in a training exercise in Yorkshire preparing for combat in World War II.


Brass Aid
Our annual Concert for Christian Aid raised over £500 which will benefit development projects in Ethiopia. We were hosted by Ripon Churches Together's Christian Aid Committee in Holy Trinity Church Ripon.

Our concert was well received with Paul Gareth Davies taking the limelight performing Wandrin' Star on bass trombone.

We also said farewell to Geoff Stuber our fantastic 2nd Cornet player. Geoff's been with the Band for just over a year and has had to move because of work. We'll miss him!

We finished the concert with Paul Lovatt-Cooper's Vitae Aeternum (life eternal) which features reworkings of old hymn tunes, just right for this venue and audience.


Winter Gardens Beer Festival
It's a long time since we've played in the Winter Gardens, Harrogate. We used to perform there regularly as part of the Harrogate Festival when it was a concert venue. These days it's a rather fine Wetherspoons pub. We were playing as part of their charity beer festival.

As it was for charity we waived our fee, had some beer and enjoyed a great night! A couple of punters had a nice surprise as band members played happy birthday to help them with their celebrations!

We went down a storm in Wetherspoons and have been invited back over Christmas.


Leeds Light Night
"We loved you guys! Please come back!" @lightnightleeds
"Thank you! Thought the band was great, my favourite highlight from Light Night" - Karen Gourlay - Leeds College of Music
"Putting a smile on lots of faces" - Paul Napier - Director of Digital Newsbrand Products, Johnston Press
"Love a good #flashmob especially when they're #drummers involved." - Tracey Payne - drumming fan.
"Had a great, if hectic, night with friends from @HgateBrassBand entertaining the crowds @LightNightLeeds" - Steve Morland

Light Night is an annual multi-arts and light festival which takes over Leeds City Centre on one Friday night in October.

In its 11th year the city came alive with spectacular light projections, exhibitions, installations, film, dance, theatre and street performances and this year, a flash-mob brass band (that was us by the way!). The players loved performing three flash-mobs in Briggate with around 250 people crowding round us for each performance.

We had people dancing and singing along to popular classics like, Delilah, Take on Me, Nine to Five, and we had the crowd spellbound as we also played quiet reflective music.

The stars of show were our fantastic percussion team as usual; this time bolstered by Henry and Helen Mills, good friends of the Band who got the crowds going. We were joined by a breakdancer at one point who was so good that some of us stopped playing just to watch him!

Check out our Facebook page for more photos and videos of the night!

See also: Light Night (


Wedding March
"We both just wanted to say a MASSIVE thank you to Nick and the band for putting on an amazing performance for us and our Wedding guests! Everyone absolutely loved the band and we were so lucky that the sunshine made an appearance when they were playing. Everything was just perfect !" - Abby and Ricky Dempsey

We had a fantastic time at Abby and Ricky's special day at the Old Swan, Harrogate. They were such a lovely couple and the family and guests really appreciated our playing. Abby asked us to march up the drive of the hotel to surprise the guests. We definitely made an impact! We played music from shows and musicals on the lawn during the drinks reception. Abby's dad had asked us to play some Yorkshire tunes as well so we threw a couple of those in which went down a treat. It was good fun!

Click here if you want to book us for your special day.


Not the Last Night
"What can I say, you guys were fantastic! Thank you!!" - Events Manager, Vicky Gray.

We thought our annual Last Night of the Proms concert at Menwith Hill last year would be the last one, however we were asked to perform again this year and we were delighted to do so. Singer Carmel Wake joined us again and she led the audience in Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem and the National Anthems. We had a great time playing in front of a large friendly crowd.

We're pretty sure the fireworks at the end were amazing! Sadly we never get to see them as we're belting out Pomp and Circumstance at the time.


Farewell to Joan

Joan Hallums was a fantastic supporter of The Harrogate Band along with her husband John who used to be our Chairman.

Joan passed away this July after nearly 90 years having led a very full life dedicated to public service, her church, her community and her wonderful loving family.

Players from the Band joined with those from Ripon City Band whom Joan also supported for a wonderful service of thanksgiving in her local church in the village of Burnt Yates. The church was packed and the service was amazing. It was humbling to hear of her life and character. Many old friends and former members of the Band were at the service.

In true style Joan had picked the hymns and we were only too happy to meet her wishes.

Joan Hallums
26th July 1927 - 23rd July 2015
And in God's house for evermore
My dwelling-place shall be


VE Day Concert Success
"What a wonderful evening's entertainment your Band has provided again tonight! That was a fantastic programme. Thank you." - David Marshall, Chairman: Bramhope Royal British Legion.

The audience were delighted with our concert for the Royal British Legion as part of the Bramhope Summer Festival and we loved playing to a full house of appreciative people. We were asked to perform music to celebrate VE Day and our mixture of war time classics went down a storm with people singing a long to Glen Miller, Vera Lynn tunes and other war time favourites.

Principal Euphonium player, Catherine Morland, excelled with a solo performance of the Benedictus from Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man. Her beautiful tone had the audience spellbound it provided a lovely moment of reflection for the evening.

The players especially enjoyed performing the American march Stars and Stripes Forever by Sousa. We have four American cornet players with us making it extra special! This was played to commemorate the contribution the Americans made to achieving peace in Europe.

It being Yorkshire Day our encore was inevitably On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at which had the audience clapping and stamping their feet. David particularly liked two things we did for him to make the concert a success; we used our staging so the audience could see us; and we provided a printed colour programme explaining what the evening was about.

Keep an eye on our facebook page for more information on our forthcoming concerts.

Euphonium soloist, Catherine Morland.


Wedding Guest Takes the Helm
We love a good wedding and it was an extra delight at Natasha and Steve's when one of the guests asked to conduct the Band!

Steve and Tash's ceremony was in the lovely church at Ripley and their reception was at nearby Markington Hall. It was great fun playing on the lawn at Markington while guests milled about having their drinks listening to us and things livened up when wedding guest Chris Spreadbury, who'd travelled all the way from Devon, asked to wave the baton. He chose to conduct Soul Bossa Nova, Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem all of which made the guests cheer loudly.

Chris was a great sport and we enjoyed his company, he was an excellent conductor! Chris is involved in the brass banding scene in Devon and teaches music and performance.

If you're interested in the Band performing at your special day please see our section on Weddings.


Dolly and Ed Star at Durham
"Yes I know I say it every year but honestly - it was the best ever." Dave Gibson, Trimdon Grange Banner Association.

Our percussionist Ed Dennis arranged Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 as the party piece which we performed at Durham Miners' Gala. He also conducted the miners' hymn tune, Gresford, which we played around the ex- mining village of Trimdon for whom we perform at the Gala.

We've developed a reputation as being the band to watch at Durham which is a great accolade considering 85 bands perform there every year. The crowd loved our performances and demanded encores each time. This year was the first time Ed had arranged the piece and devised the choreography, it was great fun line dancing and playing at the same time!

Click here for one of our Durham Miners' Gala performances on the Steps

If you want to see more pictures and video of us performing at the Gala go to our facebook page for more information.


Grayson Perry
We were delighted to take part in the formation of Turner Prize winning artist Grayson Perry's latest art work during the annual Durham Miners' Gala. A TV documentary team commissioned by Channel Four were filming Grayson Perry and our performance at the Gala.

Grayson had chosen the theme of masculinity for his latest creation and was investigating this theme in the context of the role of men in the North East. The Miners' Gala provided an interesting focal point for his enquiry. He has an interest in folk art especially the huge woven mineworkers banners.

He told us he was fascinated by the way our music made an emotional connection between the banner and the local community.

He marched with us and even played with our percussion team during one of our performances!

It's not the first time we've worked with international artists, we had a successful collaboration with the animators the Quay Brothers in 2011 for the Cultural Olympiad.

We'll be back in Durham in early 2016 to film the unveiling of Grayson's new artwork. Keep an eye on our facebook site for when the TV documentary will be out.


Richard III Memorial Service
"Hello Nick
A quick message just to say how much we appreciated your playing at our Yorkshire Branch event in York last Thursday. The Committee has had lots of messages from members passing on their thanks and saying how much the playing of the Last Post contributed to the atmosphere we wanted.
With all good wishes – Angela Moreton"

What a unique honour it was to be asked to perform at the memorial service for an English King!

Cornet player Nick Garrett sounded The Last Post at the start of a very special memorial service in York for Richard III.

Richard's remains were discovered in Leicester and he was re-buried there in March 2015. As he was the last King of the House of York this raised a storm of protest from many history fans and supporters of Richard, especially those in Yorkshire where he was hugely influential.

The Yorkshire Branch of the Richard III Society, led by Angela Moreton, decided to hold a special ceremony in York for those that weren't able to see Richard's reburial at Leicester. The Society wanted to reflect his military background at the start of the service and so they commissioned us to play the Last Post.

The ceremony was packed and included people from all around the country including writer and historian Phillipa Langley MBE. She'd been a driving force in the discovery of Richard and has co-authored an excellent book on how the team found him. She's working on a screenplay of his life which should revise opinions on a controversial monarch.


Bandstand Surprise
"I have to say...that I have just one word for that. Brilliant. Simply Brilliant!" Joan Derby. Joan and her husband had driven 30 miles from South Yorkshire especially to hear us perform by the river at Wetherby Bandstand.

Being The Harrogate Band it was a performance with a twist – we marched up to the Bandstand and then performed an upbeat piece of music stood in front which we'd choreographed, before moving into more 'traditional concert' mode on the Bandstand.

No band had ever done that before and we were delighted that the audience enjoyed it despite the dire weather. Have a look at a video of our march here.

A huge thanks to the lovely Mary Gray, the good folk at the excellent Wetherby Bandstand Trust and Leeds City Council who do so much to keep brass music free every summer weekend. We're looking forward to returning to Wetherby Bandstand next year. Keep an eye on our facebook page to find out when.


Stage and Screen Success
"Absolutely fantastic, the Band and Laura were superb!" - David Mason.

David wasn't the only guest who loved our sell out concert at The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate. Plenty of people came up to us afterwards saying they enjoyed the afternoon which included a sumptuous afternoon tea.

We played a mixture of film music and musicals including some numbers where we accompanied singer Laura Jackson. Her voice was sublime, the audience particularly loved her performance of "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables.

As well as the more well known numbers like Harry Potter and Memory we also played an arrangement from a Salvation Army musical called They Shall Come from the East which meant the Band had to sing at the start! We finished with music from the West End hit, Wicked, with Laura singing as she does on our latest CD, Tea for Two. The audience loved it.

Here's some testimonials from the concert:
"Just a note to say thank you to you, Craig and the band for the entertainment at our event on Sunday. We received some great feedback from our guests on the day … Thanks once again for a great event!" - Gemma Risebero, Sales Manager, The Old Swan Hotel.
"I've just been speaking to our Opening Doors client Susan who came with volunteer Jane to the concert at the Old Swan yesterday. She was absolutely delighted to be there and thoroughly enjoyed both the music and the afternoon tea. She wanted me to thank you on her behalf and said that it was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon – and certainly something she wouldn't normally get to do." - Lizzie Hughes, Project Development Worker, Harrogate Easier Living Project.


Life Membership for Daniel
The Band were delighted to award Life Membership to Daniel Dickinson our principal trombone player. He's played in the band continuously for over 18 years and during that time has made a special contribution to the life of our organisation.

He's unfailingly kind, loyal and helpful and has stuck with the Band through the good times and the tough times. He's served on our committee and volunteers to do things like the time we needed someone to drive a van all the way to the Pyrenees for our concert tour. As a trombone player he's always at the front of the Band whenever we march and he always looks brilliant, well turned out and marches correctly. We've won prizes for deportment thanks to him.

Daniel was awarded his Life Membership at our concert in the Old Swan in front of his mum and dad, his wife Georgina and his young kids Amy and Lucas. Cornet player, Nick Garrett, read out a testimonial and presented Daniel with his Life Membership certificate.


Tea for Two - the Band's new CD recording
The inspiration behind this recording was an attempt to crystalize what we think makes a classic brass band concert. The aim was to put in everything you'd expect from a concert which seeks to entertain, inspire, inform and delight.

The selection from the world of Musicals is an unashamed reflection of audience favourites which also happen to be loved by the players who clearly enjoy the singing of Laura Jackson here returning for her second recording with the Band.

A typical brass band concert has music that follows the old wedding rhyme; Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Peter Graham's arrangement of Dear Lord and Father (Repton) says something about the heritage of brass banding and taps into the emotional resonance many have for the classic sound of a brass band from down the ages. Something new can be found from Paul Lovatt-Cooper's dazzling Enchanted Kingdom which will be new to many and yet fits in so well to concert programmes due its accessibility. Plenty of pieces are 'borrowed' but that's nothing to be ashamed of, it's a strength of the brass band movement that in the space of a two hour concert you can hear pieces as diverse as the latest West End musical (Wicked) to a classical favourite (The Force of Destiny). Invariably the act of borrowing renders a piece so far from its original that it takes on a life of its own like "In the Hall of the Mountain King". Whilst the Blues don't get a specific musical reference there's a delightful nod to the jazz era with Tea for Two.

For details of the tracks and how to order the CD, see the Recordings page


Farewell to John Cooper
"An outstanding contribution to the life of our Band." - Catherine Morland, Chairman.

John Cooper, our cornet player, is leaving us to work in South Korea. John's been a brilliant member of the Band since 2010. In that time he's served on the Band's committee, brought three other players to the Band and has made huge progress as a player in a short amount of time. It's with great sadness that we see him go and we wish him and his family all the best.

John worked as a school music teacher for the US Air Force at a base near Harrogate. He played trumpet in his home state of Oklahoma and played cornet for the first time in a brass band with ourselves. At his last concert in Leeds earlier in May, where he was publically thanked by Musical Director Craig Buchan, he said: "I've loved every minute of being a member of this fantastic Band. You're a truly great bunch of people. You made me feel so welcome from the get go. I've loved the music and the competitions and all the fun. Thank you!"

We hope at some point we'll see John again! We'll really miss him.


Well done, Keri !
"Very honoured and proud to be awarded the Dave Smith trophy for 'most improved player of the year' at Harrogate Band this evening. Thanks Craig Buchan! What a fantastic banding year for me!!"

What a great year it's been for our star baritone player, Keri Graham! Keri won the David Smith Trophy for our 'most improved player of the year'. Our President and founder of the Band, Neil Richmond, presented the trophy to Keri.

David Smith is a former cornet player of the Band who joined aged 17 and rose through the ranks to be our principal cornet player at just 19 years old. He's conducted the Tewit Youth Band and he continues to play for the world famous Black Dyke Band. David said: "That's fantastic news! Well done Keri, all the best people have won that! You deserve it, so congratulations! Trust me, the hard work does pay off eventually!"

Catherine Morland, Chairman, said: "Keri's made a fantastic contribution to the Band all year. She deserves this award because she's improved so much especially when she stepped up to play first baritone at our major competition."

Well done Keri!


Harrogate Freedom Parade
Over 850 Junior Soldiers from the Army Foundation College marched through the streets of Harrogate to exercise their right to the Freedom of the Borough. Headed by the Harrogate Band and Tewit Youth Band, the soldiers paraded through the town to the council offices in Crescent Gardens. The parade also marked the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day.

The Army Foundation College's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Oz Lane, Her Majesty's Deputy Lieutenant, Brigadier Nigel Wood, and the Mayor of the Borough of Harrogate, Councillor Jim Clark, took the salute.

See a video of the march past here -


Shadwell Church
"That was the best one ever! Thank you once again!" - Brian Watson, St Paul's Church.

What a brilliant night we had at St Paul's Church, Shadwell! It was our seventh year at this delightful Leeds church and every time we perform here the audience love it and are so friendly. It was the first time here for our new musical director, Craig Buchan, who thoroughly enjoyed himself.

"I chose the theme Sacred and Secular for this concert as I wanted to connect to the mixture of tastes in the audience and also to showcase the variety of pieces we can perform. The Band played really well and I was so pleased to receive so many lovely comments from people saying how much they enjoyed it."

It was great catching up with old friends in the audience and best of all we raised much needed funds for the upkeep of St Paul's.


Youth Band Launched
The development of our future players has started thanks to the efforts of our talented and entrepreneurial trombone player Charlotte King!

Baby Band is a fantastic concept, it offers pre-school music sensory classes for children aged 3 months to 4 years based in North Leeds. Music, both creating it and listening to it, is shown to be critical to child development:

There is a growing body of work looking at how music making affects the brain. Many studies have shown how learning music uses similar processes as learning sounds and patterns, which in turn can aid in the development of language and reading. Crucially, further studies have shown that if structured and long term music making is provided at an early stage (i.e. pre-school) then these benefits are even greater (Anvari et al., 2002, Gromko, 2005).

Baby Band provides a fun environment for pre-school kids to express themselves and develop using innovative play techniques combined with music.

Charlotte, who has a studied child development at Leeds Metropolitan University, said: "I love working with kids in this age group, they're so creative and they're brilliant at making music! I've been wanting to combine my child development skills with my passion for music for sometime. Baby Band is very exciting!"

We're always after players so we wish Charlotte and Baby Band every success!

Each session lasts 40 minutes. The first class is free then you can book a block of 10 classes for £55. To find out more ring Charlotte 07789005477, email her

Visit her Facebook page -


Areas Result
We came last at the 2015 North of England Brass Band Championships, Championship Section (the top tier of brass banding). Despite a fantastic effort from all our players we didn't manage to reproduce on stage what we were capable of in the rehearsal room.

Our conductor, Craig Buchan, was proud of what the players achieved: "All of our players have improved through playing this piece, which is what contesting is all about. There's been so much individual and collective effort from the Band which has made us stronger."

Four players were performing in a brass band contest for the first time. Ewan, Jeff, Spencer and James all had a great time. Five of our players, Cliff, Catherine, Kirsty, Joel and Keri had all stepped up positions to ensure we could enter the competition and were playing principal parts for the first time at a contest. They were all brilliant and have gained valuable experience.

It's not put us off contesting, we'll be back next year!

picture courtesy of


Starbeck Success
"That was fantastic, I loved all of it. Brilliant!" - Roy Fletcher.

Roy's a good friend of ours and he had a wonderful time at our latest concert with our wonderful neighbours The Knaresborough Silver Band. Both bands entertained the audience with a mixture of upbeat and serious music. Some were arrangements of popular music and some were original contemporary music for brass band. It was a great concert thanks to the variety on show.

Liz Trickett, solo horn player for Knaresborough Silver Band, played fantastically in her solo, One Day in Your Life. Catherine Morland, our principal euphonium player, wowed the audience with her beautiful sound in Paul Lovatt-Cooper's Fire in the Blood. The players joined together at the end for Tritsh Tratsch Polka and the audience loved it. So did we!

Stay in touch with us on our Facebook page and on Twitter to find out when we'll be performing with Knaresborough Silver Band again.

Harrogate Band Facebook Group Harrogate Band Twitter

Principal Euphonium Player, Catherine Morland.


James Shepherd signs for Harrogate
We're delighted to announce that James Shepherd has joined us on solo cornet.

James told us: "It's very exciting to be playing for this excellent band. People have been very friendly, I love the sound the band makes and I'm really looking forward to the next contest and set of concerts."

It's not the first time someone called James Shepherd has played for the Band. His namesake is a brass band legend who played principal cornet for Black Dyke Mills Band and formed his own brass group that toured the world. James Shepherd or Jim Shepherd as he is known played for the Band a number of years ago at our main competition when we played Wagner's Rienzi.

As James is new to brass banding he was unaware of his famous namesake but has taken the comparison in his stride!


Viking invasion
A British player who plys his trade in Norway will be helping us out for our latest competition. Eikanger Bjørsvik's Principal cornet player David Morton will be appearing for us at the North of England regional contest. 

There's an established tradition of British style brass banding in Norway and some fabulous bands such as Eikanger. It marks an exciting change for our Band as we're now a Geneva sponsored band and are welcoming David as the launch of our involvement with Geneva artists. Geneva are a British instrument manufacturer who have supplied the Band with a set of cornets.

He is looking forward to playing The Torchbearer and returning to his ´home´ Regionals for the first time in fifteen years. "I can't wait to meet the players and take part in the contest. I was born in Durham and my father and best friend are playing with competing bands, so it will be great to meet up with them and see some old faces. I know the piece well from my Fodens days and have great memories from our 2nd place Nationals performance." David is a musician who lives in Bergen and has previously played for Fodens and other top bands, before moving to Norway in 2011.

Catherine Morland our Chairman said: "We're delighted to welcome David Morton to help us put in a great performance at the Regionals. It's a new move for us involving someone of his calibre. We want to build a relationship with gifted players to encourage our own through mentoring, tutoring, workshops and masterclasses, it's very exciting."


Birthday Music
"That was fantastic, thank you so much for your brilliant music." - Elizabeth Ashby-Smith.

We performed at the birthday celebrations of Elizabeth and her husband Michael who are the parents of our percussion superstar, Vincent.

They're huge supporters of the Band and we were delighted to provide two sets of entertaining music in the breaks between a ceilidh in Kettlesing Village Hall.

We decided to experiment and try out a new formation, standing in a V shape with Vince's drum kit in the centre. It certainly added a lot more energy to our playing! Putting Vince's drums in the middle showed off his brilliant percussion playing and because it was in front of all his family he certainly didn't hold back! There were some superb drum solos especially in Sing Sing Sing!



Crowning achievement
"That was wonderful, there were plenty of people commenting on how good you sounded!" - Michael Dark, Conference Organiser.

A small group of us played at a drinks reception hosted by Crown Paints at the Majestic Hotel, Harrogate. They had asked us to play a mixture of Christmas Carols and other pieces and we were only too happy to oblige.

Guests milled around chatting and drinking and breaking off to applaud us. They particularly liked O Holy Night and March from The Great Escape. It's a good job we're versatile and enjoy performing a wide range of music to suit all tastes!


BAFTA Winners
Fans will remember that last year we appeared on Christmas Day BBC 1 performing on Old Jack's Boat Christmas Special, a fantastic show from CBeebies starring Bernard Cribbens.

Well a couple of weeks ago the show won a BAFTA! Have a look at the message we received from Paul Honey the composer:
Hi Nick
Hope this email reaches you! I thought I'd just let you and band know that a couple of weeks ago the Old Jack's Boat Christmas episode won a BAFTA for best Live Action Pre School Programme. The band was a really big part of the programme, so I'm sure Dominic, the producer, would join me in saying thank you for your wonderful playing at the end of the show.
Anyway, hope you're keeping well and have a good Christmas!
All the best

Producer Dominic Holland had told the BBC that if he was going to do a Christmas special he wanted snow and a brass band!

We loved recording the music and filming the show and we're thrilled to be recognised this way.


Carols in-store and online
Fans of The Harrogate Band put requests for their favourite carols on our Facebook site following our campaign to attract people to hear us perform carols in Marks and Spencer in Harrogate. In an unexpected twist the campaign, which reached over 5,700 people, attracted attention of fans from around the country who couldn't get to M&S but still wanted their favourite carol playing despite not being able to hear it.

Here's the message our friend Rachel Miller left us:
"Sweet Chiming Christmas Bells please, no other Band plays it as well as Harrogate do!"
The Band have filmed themselves playing the carols requested on Facebook and will have them published them on their You Tube site by the week before Christmas ready to share with fans like Rachel.

Events and Concerts manager Nick Garrett said:
"This is a great way to share Christmas joy with our supporters around the country. We're very grateful to the brilliant friendly staff at M&S who have let us play carols in their fantastic shops."

Christmas Carols in M&S


A Night of Musicals
"You were absolutely amazing! Thank you all! Every member of The Harrogate Band has made these concerts a success. The audience loved it.!" - Helen Mills, Harrogate Operatic Players. "We had a really great evening,each and everyone of you were fantastic!" - Ruth Greenwood, audience member.

We performed as guests of the talented Harrogate Operatic Players for A Night of Musicals. All three shows were in front of packed audiences at The Majestic Hotel, Harrogate. Our players loved accompanying the singers and even joined in the singing in South Pacific!

There was a lot of work involved to make the show a success including putting the programme together, rehearsing with the singers, a technical rehearsal with the sound engineers and special arrangements of the music were made to ensure the brass accompaniment worked. The collaboration was hard work but really rewarding. We played in every piece and performed a couple on our own, 42nd Street and Circle of Life.

Working with the Harrogate Operatic Players fulfilled one of our ambitions to take brass band playing to new audiences and we took the opportunity to do just that.

If you love musicals then come and see us in June at The Old Swan Hotel.


Farewell to Craig Ratcliffe
It's with great sadness that we say goodbye to our friend and Musical Director Craig Ratcliffe who has given so much to the Band and remains a good friend of the players. The Band has enjoyed a period of rapid success and improvement under his baton.

Craig played euphonium, served on the committee, took on the role of Bandmaster all whilst conducting the Tewit Youth Band. He then become our musical director and won many contests with the Band notably his first major competition as musical director where the Band came first and qualified for the National Finals.

Audiences have been delighted with the entertainment and integrity that Craig brought to our concerts. This has been enhanced by a new found enjoyment, appreciation and dedication to marching.

The profile of the Band has improved especially after Craig's drive to reconnect the Band with Harrogate's twin town, Luchon, take part in the civic Remembrance Day parade and perform at the Harrogate International Festival.

Craig understood our audiences, he connected with them and also challenged them. His dedication to original contemporary brass music continued the legacy of previous musical directors and he brought the Band and music to life. He loved a challenge and worked so well with our clients.

The Band's assistant musical director, Craig Buchan, will be leading rehearsals until a replacement musical director is appointed by the Band's committee.

If you're interested in becoming the musical director of our fantastic band please get in touch with Nick Garrett -, 07753 167190


Around the World Success
"That was fantastic! I loved it" - Margaret Potter.

It was a real pleasure performing at The Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate for our final concert of the Autumn. We took the audience on a journey around the world. Spain, America, Ireland were all represented by various pieces.

Our principal euphonium player Catherine Morland performed You Raise Me Up! which the audience loved. There were people singing along, we're not sure if they were Westlife fans or Secret Garden afficionados! After a Last Night of the Proms finale we finished with a piece from back home - On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at! The audience thoroughly enjoyed it and rose to their feet to applaud.

We'll be back at the Old Swan next June to perform a concert featuring Songs from Stage and Screen.

Principal Euphonium Player, Catherine Morland.


Three acts of Remembrance

"What a difference to the Remembrance Day Service having the Harrogate Band playing, very moving listening to the music from a first class band, thank you." - Sheila Atkinson.

The Tewit Youth Band and ourselves were invited by the Mayor of Harrogate to perform at the cenotaph in Harrogate. This is the first time the bands have done so and one of the few occasions our players have marched in Harrogate town centre.

We were also invited by the Rotary Club of Harrogate Brigantes to lead a special ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery in Harrogate where 1,010 war casualties are buried. Two thirds of the burials are Canadian airmen, there are 23 servicemen from the First World War and one of the graves is for an unidentified RAF pilot. We accompanied the hymn singing, played reflective music during the laying of the wreaths and sounded the Last Post and Rouse. The Band as usual gave its services for free.

After the service we played the hymn tune There is a Green Hill Far Far Away at the graveside of a young Canadian Airman who died in the 2nd World War. Keith Graham, one of our players, had been in touch with Maureen and Jim Bradbury relatives of the airman from Kelowna, BC, Canada who came to see us here last year. Keith placed a crucifix and poppy on Flying Officer FS Taylor's grave and we honoured his memory.

It was a particularly poignant end to a day of reflection.

Our Vice President Gareth Gibbs honouring Flying Officer FS Taylor of the Royal Canadian Airforce Pilot who died June 1943 aged 26.


Soroptimists International Conference

"Thank you so much for your wonderful performance! You've really made our conference special!" - Pat Shore, Soroptimists International opening ceremony leader.

It was very proud day for the Band as we performed on stage at the Harrogate International Centre in front of over 1,300 delegates attending the 80th Soroptimists International Conference. It was a proud day for Pat Shore as well as she was welcoming the conference to her home town of Harrogate. We were delighted to help her provide a distinctive Yorkshire welcome to all the guests.

The theme of the conference was "Women Leading Change Together" and included a celebration of all the fantastic project work this leading women's organisation does throughout the world. The evening was very special indeed as delegates from all around the world paraded their country's flags and presented them to Margaret Olroyd, President of the UK branch of Soroptimists International.

The flags (from Anguilla to Zimbabwe) were paraded by Soroptimist International and Yorkshire members to us playing 'World in Union' from Holst's Jupiter from the Planets Suite. We then followed this with Akademische Festfanfare by Peter Graham as the opening fanfare once the flags of were established.

After the opening speeches we were back on stage to provide a mini concert featuring music from all around the world superbly compered by our hard-working musical director, Craig Ratcliffe. Whilst we couldn't include every country represented in the room that night we received rapturous applause for every piece. It was a really warm, relaxed and supportive atmosphere in the International Centre, it was very special and we enjoyed it hugely.

Band Chairwoman Catherine Morland was delighted to be supporting the occasion: "We perform a number of times throughout the year at conferences and events and what made this one special was the fact that people were here representing their country and all the amazing voluntary work they do to make the world a better place. I'm so proud our Band had an important part to play in ensuring the worldwide work of the Soroptimists is celebrated here in Harrogate."

Go to to find out more about their work and for our local club.


New Geneva Cornets make concert debut

Big smiles were on the faces of our cornet players as nine brand new Geneva cornets made their concert debut. The players have had the new cornets for a couple of weeks now and are really enjoying playing on them.

"It's great for the sound of the Band." said Musical Director, Craig Ratcliffe. "The overall quality of tone has improved instantly and you can hear the positive effect they've had on both tuning and intonation."

Front row cornet player Nick Garrett said, "I've recently been playing on my own personal cornet a Sovereign 928, which I've always considered the best cornet for front row work however I've really taken to the Geneva, it's great for the shift work you put in as a front row player, plays beautifully all the way up the register and gives me great control when playing solos."


Malcolm Arnold - March: "Overseas"

"That was a fantastic piece of music, well played!" - Sue Smith. Sue had heard our premiere of a fabulous piece called March: "Overseas" by celebrated English composer Sir Malcolm Arnold CBE (1921-2006).

Our founder and President, Neil Richmond, is a huge fan of the music of Malcolm Arnold and is a regular at events held by the Malcolm Arnold Festival. Neil is also a very good arranger of music and specially arranged this brilliant march for us as Malcolm Arnold originally wrote it for military band.

Malcolm Arnold was a great composer of light music and this march has a great tune which is certainly very whistleable. We enjoyed playing it! The original piece was commissioned by the British Government for a trade fair in New York and was written in 1960. We were delighted to be performing it in public for the first time at our Concert for Christian Aid in Holy Trinity Church.

"It's important that we continue to expand the brass band reportoire and bring new music and arrangements to audiences. This is a great coup for the Band and it's thanks to Neil's passion for Malcolm Arnold that we are able to bring this fantastic music into our concerts." - Craig Ratcliffe, Musical Director.


Fundraising Concert a Success

"Thank you so much for a wonderful evening!" - Michael Montgomery, Ripon Churches Together Christian Aid Committee. Our concert raised over £800 for Christian Aid which will be spent supporting Christian Aid's partner organisations delivering projects in Kenya. We were delighted to take part and support the committee's efforts.

There was plenty of fun and excitement in the concert particularly as we put on our popular "Juke Box" where the audience gets to vote for a piece of music we perform in the second half. This year they voted for Kalinka closely followed by The British Legion March, fans of The Archers were disappointed as Barwick Green came last.

The trombone trio "Blades of Toledo" was hit as was "Amazonia" from Peter Graham's Windows of the World, Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld was also well received showing that the audience appreciated the blend of contemporary and traditional music.


Entertainment Success

"What a great result!" We were placed 3rd in the top (Championship) section in our latest competition. This entertainment contest was a great test for the Band having been recently promoted to the top flight of brass banding. We were delighted with the result.

There were a number of firsts for us; Kirsty Norman played flugel for us for the first time at a contest, she played beautifully, especially at the start of the slow melody Hine e Hine; Catherine Morland did a great job on principal euphonium at a contest for the first time as did Eddie Fearnley who recently moved from playing B Flat Bass to 2nd euphonium..

Sadly it was the last time Nathan Wake on soprano cornet would play for the Band. Nathan's been a wonderful member of our group for over 6 six years and is another successful 'graduate' of the Tewit Youth Band who's played for us.

We played: "Amazonia" from Peter Graham's Windows of the World; Hine e Hine (a beautiful New Zealand melody); The Entry of the Gladiators march; and finished with Circle of Life from the Lion King. The audience loved our musical trip around the world and we had many people coming up to us afterwards to say how much they enjoyed our programme.

The adjudicator Kevin Wadsworth, said our performance was stylish and full of life, and was the most entertaining of the day.


Les Mackown

Les was a great servant to the Band over many years, a founder member and an all round lovely man.

He was laid to rest at Stonefall Cemetary accompanied by hymn tunes performed by a small group of players. Les' family paid tributes and his son Trevor referred to Les' contribution to Band which included playing the tenor horn serving on the committee and being our secretary and latterly our librarian.

Many players had fond memories of Les sitting in the corner of the bandroom during a rehearsal sellotaping bits of music together when he was librarian. The sellotape always seemed to tear when we were playing really quietly and Les would look up with a twinkle in his eye!

We played Abide with Me as the coffin came in, The Day Thou Gavest was the congregational hymn and we also played Eternal Father Strong to Save as the service closed to recognise his national service in the Royal Navy.


Top Brass delighted by Top Brass

"What a fantastic performance! Thank you guys, that was brilliant!" - Base Commander. "Wow! You were amazing again! And thank you so much!" - Vicky Gray: Marketing Manager, Menwith Hill.

Our latest Last Night of the Proms concert at RAF Menwith Hill went down a treat with the audience. Every year the RAF base hosts this concert and invites people from the surrounding community as well as Menwith Hill employees to come and hear The Harrogate Band perform. It's a wonderful occasion. We performed a set which featured music from all around the world which went down really well. Our soloists, Nathan Wake on Soprano Cornet, and Vincent Ashby-Smith on percussion did great as did our fantastic trombone section who performed the trombone trio, Blades of Toledo.

Carmel Wake did a great job singing our last night of the Proms finale and the audience joined in with gusto.

If you like Last Night of the Proms then see our engagements section for our Proms @ the Swan Concert at the Old Swan in Harrogate on Sunday 16th Novembers


Fête des Fleurs - Bagnères de Luchon

The Band spent a marvellous few days enjoying the hospitality of and entertaining the people of Luchon, Harrogate's twin town in the south of France, deep in the Pyrenees. We were invited to take part in their annual Fête des Fleurs, a three-day festival culminating in a huge parade through the town with floats constructed from 500,000 flowers, and led by many musical groups and dancers from as far away as Bulgaria, Croatia and Colombia.

It is fair to say that the Harrogate Band were the hit of the event, providing outstanding marching under the leadership of Gareth Gibbs, and musical concerts under our MD, Craig Ratcliffe.

Check out our video here for a few highlights of the tour. More details to follow.

Click here for our press release before departure

Click here for news from the Mayor of Harrogate from his visit to Luchon over the weekend.

See our Facebook Page for more pictures and "behind the scenes" footage!


British Legion Triumph - "That was absolutely fantastic! What a brilliant concert, you're an excellent band." -- David Marshall, Bramhope British Legion. Our debut concert in Bramhope was very well received by a packed audience at Bramhope Rugby Club.

We played music to commemorate the First World War and you could hear people singing along to Pack up Your Troubles and It's a Long Way to Tipperary. Our programme also included a wide variety of music including Catherine Morland's euphonium solo You Raise Me Up and Nathan Wake's soprano cornet solo When the Saints.

Our trombone section featured the rather excellent Steve Jones who has just graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music. Steve used to play for us and it was great to have him back. He joined Charlotte and Paul for the flashy vibrant trombone trio the Blades of Toledo which the audience loved.

The biggest cheer was for our fantastic percussion team of Vincent Ashby-Smith, Joel Graham and guest player, Tom Knowles. They played Leroy Anderson's Sandpaper Ballet where they performed using real sandpaper! Joel Graham raised a laugh by nearly dropping his but he recovered well. Our Vice President and drum major Gareth Gibbs barked out some orders for us for our encore piece, it had to be the British Legion March which went down a storm.

We were delighted to support the British Legion, they do great work with people who really need their support particularly in the area of mental health and physical disablement. We hope to entertain the good people of Bramhope again.


Durham Miners' Gala - "Thank you very much for putting on such a good show we can't tell you how much we appreciate it!" - Matty Gibson, Trimdon Grange Banner Association.

Matty, his brother and his Dad were among the fine folk of the Association who carried their Banner proudly aloft through Trimdon and the fine cathedral city of Durham with us leading the way. Vice President Gareth Gibbs led us as we marched.

We played the special miners' hymn tune Gresford and our party piece was "Take on Me". You can see us performing it here in front of the famous County Hotel in Durham.

The day was a great success with the crowds loving our performances. We had a great time and a huge thanks to our friends and supporters who had loads of fun. Davey Gibson from the Association thanked our former chairman Ketih Graham for all his hard work as Chairman supporting the Band to perform ath the Gala.

Check out our Facebook Page here for more pictures of the wonderful day.


Tour to Luchon - We're off to Harrogate's twin town which is a delightful spa town in the French Pyrenees. Despite the two towns having been twinned since 1952 it'll be the first time we've been. We're flying out 22nd August and coming back 25th August.

Le Tour Legacy - Our visit is thanks to a fantastic advocate of the twinning, former Harrogate headteacher, Dennis Richards. Dennis hosted the Mayor of Luchon's visit to Harrogate for the Tour de France. The mayor was very impressed by the town's commitment to Luchon and is looking forward to the Band coming over. The Band are keen to build a legacy from the success of Le Grand Depart.

Fête des Fleurs - We'll be performing at Luchon's annual Flower Festival. This is a massive four day celebration with parades, music by groups from all over Europe and firework displays. Musical Director Craig Ratcliffe says: "We're taking the performance style we've developed from doing Durham Miners' Gala and using it in the Festival where we need to perform a few pieces at set times at various points around the town. There'll be musical groups from all around Europe there and being a competitive bunch we want to be the best!"

Click here to see a news article on our forthcoming tour.

Invitation - if you fancy coming on tour with us please get in touch, previous players and friends of the Band are especially welcome. It's going to be great fun!

Catherine Morland, 07779 320606,


Harrogate International Festival Concert - "I'm so impressed by you guys! That was very special!" - Dr Frank Ticheli. Dr Ticheli was the guest composer for our concert organised by KI Concerts in The Royal Hall with the Los Gatos band from California, USA and our local community choir The Fisher Singers. The concert, which was part of the Harrogate International Festival, was a huge success particularly because people appreciated the variety and quality of music performed. Dr Ticheli was delighted to hear a British brass band. He's a celebrated windband and choral composer in the USA and it was a pleasure to perform his music to a UK audience.

For our part of the concert we played Peter Graham's Academic Festival Fanfare, Star Trek into Darkness by Michael Giacchino, the trombone trio Blades of Toledo by Trevor Sharpe and Louis Prima's Sing Sing Sing. They all went down a storm especially our star player Vincent Ashby Smith's electrifying drum solo in the middle of Sing Sing Sing.

We followed this with Dr Ticheli's music which we performed with the Los Gatos Concert Band.
  • Joy Revisited was composed for his daughter. The exuberance shone through with great interplay between the woodwind of the Los Gatos wind orchestra and the sonorous brass of The Harrogate Band.
  • Rest, written in memoriam for a friend's son, was a beautifully melancholic and ultimately uplifting piece. It reminded us of Eric Whitacre's Sleep.
  • Vesuvius was a fiery finale with plenty of volcanic fury and anger. A brilliant piece for a brass band and wind orchestra to combine.
Dr Ticheli is now discussing with us the possibility of having his music arranged for brass band in the UK which would be an entirely new medium for him. We thoroughly enjoyed our return to the Harrogate International Festival and look forward to continue bringing exciting music by living composers to our audiences.


Fanfares and Hymns - Two players helped celebrate the centenary of the consecration of the magnificent St Wilfred's church in Harrogate. The place felt alive with the joy that it must have possessed 100 years ago when the building was dedicated.

Andrew Jackson, a founder member of the Band, and Nick Garrett, the band's acting principal cornet player, joined organist Tim Gray in performing processional fanfares and accompanying the hymn singing for a Solemn Mass in Thanksgiving for the Centenary. Tim had arranged many of the pieces specifically for the occasion and was extremely pleased with the results saying: "It sounded fantastic, thank you. Many people commented on what a wonderful performance it was."

The highlight of the evening was Edward German's Coronation March and Hymn which was written for the 1911 coronation. This was the last piece played as the choir and clergy processed out of the church.

In a change from playing his cornet Nick was asked to play his D Trumpet and B Flat Trumpet. "I don't get asked to play the trumpet very often but when I do it's a real thrill. The technique is slightly different to playing the cornet but making the adjustment is easy. Andrew is a more regular trumpet player than I am so he was really helpful."

Saint Wilfrid's Harrogate, is a Parish Church serving the Jennyfield, Killinghall Moor and Duchy areas of the town. It's a very fine Grade I listed building by the distinguished architect, Temple Moore and is well worth a visit if you're in town. It's a real gem.

Nick said: "It's an absolute delight to perform in St Wilfred's as the acoustic is brilliant for brass. It is full of space and light and is so inspiring. I was very glad the Band was asked to take part in this memorable celebration."

Click here to find out more about the Centenary and the church.

Next time we're asked to perform here we'll let you know.


Harrogate composer celebrated - We celebrated Harrogate composer Arthur Wood at the triennial Barwick in Elmet Maypole Festival.

The good folk of Barwick are rightly proud of their maypole which is the largest in the UK. Every three years they hold a brilliant festival in their Yorkshire village where the maypole is decorated and raised. It's a wonderful day out. You can see local children dancing maypole dances, taste local food and produce, watch a parade through the village, go on the funfair and a join in on a host of other activities. The Band play a major role in the celebrations by leading the parade of the Maypole Queen through the village and then playing a mini-outdoor concert by the enormous maypole. We had a great time!

The finale of our concert was played to about 500 people. We performed Arthur Woods' maypole dance, Barwick Green, which is part of his My Native Heath Suite and was written by him for the village. You may think you don't know the tune but it is better known as the theme to the BBC Radio 4 soap opera, The Archers.

Arthur Woods' family lived in Harrogate in 1882. He left school at the age of twelve and two years later became organist of St Paul's Church. By age sixteen he had become the lead flautist, pianist and deputy conductor of the Harrogate Municipal Orchestra. He became a staff composer for Boosey & Hawkes for whom he wrote many orchestral suites and single works, many related to his upbringing. These include Three Dale Dances, the Yorkshire Moors Suite, A Lancashire Clog Dance and My Native Heath, from which his most famous piece came.

We've recorded his Three Dale Dances on our Made in Harrogate CD which you can order here.

The Band are very grateful to the wonderful people on the Maypole Festival committee for giving us the opportunity to perform for them. A special thanks go to Dawn and Claire who looked after us so well. And thank you to the people of Barwick-in-Elmet who keep this wonderful maypole tradition alive.

Have a look at this video to find out what it's all about.

Here is a video of the Band playing "The Great Escape" as the parade continues past the maypole.


New Chair - Catherine Morland was elected the new Chair of the Band at the 44th AGM today. Keith Graham, who has led the administration of the Band for the past 7 years, was thanked for his sterling leadership and guidance over that time.

The new honorary post of Vice President was awarded to Gareth Gibbs, who has been a good supporter of the Band and, in particular, tutored us in our marching skills, enabling us to win several deportment prizes over recent years.

In his new role, he was delighted to present the two annual awards of the band. The David Smith Trophy, for the most improved player of the year, went to Catherine Morland. Catherine had worked hard all year putting in hours of practice. She'd also had lessons paid for by the Band. Musical Director Craig Ratcliffe said that her hard work had paid off and she'd made brilliant progress moving from baritone to euphonium. The Band Trophy for the Player of the Year was awarded to cornet player Nick Garrett. Craig said that his approach to tackling the hardest piece the band has ever performed, St Magnus, showed huge dedication and determination.

Thanks were also expressed to the Committee members, Chris Wake (Library), Joel Graham (Bandroom), Linda Graham (Property), Keri Graham (Uniforms), Ron Morland (Transport) and Cliff Smith (Minutes).


Shining in Shadwell - We were back again at St Paul's Church Shadwell for a cosy concert followed by a lovely pie and pea supper. What a brilliant bunch of people they are! They loved our playing, especially euphonium player Catherine Morland's solo, You Raise me Up and Paul Gareth Davies' playing of In the Hall of the Mountain King on bass trombone.

"That was the best concert we've ever had here!" said Brian Watson the concert organiser from St Paul's. Money raised from the concert will go towards the upkeep of St Pauls and we're invited back next year so look out for news of when this will be.


Stars at Starbeck - "May I express on behalf of all the members of Starbeck Methodist Church our heartfelt thanks for providing us with a memorable evening of music making.

There was obviously a very clear commitment from all band members providing an excellent evening of music making." – Keith Nowell, Starbeck Methodist Church.

Keith wasn't alone in telling us how excellent the standard of playing was. There were some brilliant solos including Lynne Illsley's performance of Concerto de Aranjuez on the flugel horn and Soprano cornet player Nathan Wake's dazzling jazz solo When the Saints.

To top it all we helped raise money for the work of the church in the Starbeck community. We're at Starbeck again in March 2015. Check out our Engagements section for more details


Ripley Success - We loved performing in a joint concert with our friends the Knaresborough Silver Band at the Ripley Star Club between Harrogate and Ripon.

It was exciting playing at a new venue and was a perfect opportunity for us to perform our competition piece, St Magnus, for the North of England Area Championships in March.

We had many people in the audience come up to us afterwards to thank us for playing and despite St Magnus being one for the brass band afficionado people really appreciated the fantastic music. Musical Director Craig Ratcliffe explained the origins of the piece and how it was constructed and gave the audience plenty of context. That's something he's brilliant at. Every concert we do you'll get great compering.

The concert finished with both bands joining force to play the march Castell Coch.


Yorkshire Wedding - Our former principal cornet player, David Smith, was married to the delightful Sarah Joy in Selby Abbey.

Dave, or 'Baby Dave' as was known in the Band, is still held in great affection by the players so a group of us went and performed with Sarah's band, the very friendly South Milford Brass, in the Abbey for his wedding. It sounded absolutely brilliant! David's father, Cliff, is our tenor horn player. He had a break from playing as he had more important duties!

The couple are actively involved in brass banding in Harrogate as they both conduct bands as part of the Tewit Youth Band. David has a prize named in his honour for our most improved player award and also very kindly helps us out every now and then.

We'd like to thank David and Sarah and wish them every happiness in their life together. We'd also like to thank the good folk at South Milford Brass for being so welcoming and helpful.



Christmas Boost - The Band would like to thank all those people who gave so generously to us over Christmas when we played in Marks and Spencers - Thank you! And thank you to the lovely staff in those stores who were so friendly and helpful. We raised over £4,000 which will continue to keep the Band going. Just to put that in context a brand new tuba costs £8,327 and we have four of them! Raising money this way means we can continue to support good causes all throughout the year.
Last year we helped: Christian Aid, Harrogate Round Table, The British Legion, Starbeck Methodist Church, Pateley Bridge Methodist Church. They all benefited from us helping them raise much needed money and raise their profile. We offer special rates to these organisations so they can put more profits from their events to good use.
Last October Ripon Churches Together organised a fantastic Concert for Christian Aid. Over 200 people came to see us and they raised over £1000 for Christian Aid. Everyone had a great time at the concert and we loved performing at it. Roy Freeman, Chair of Ripon Churches Together Christian Aid Committee, was delighted with the result: "Do please come again next year! What a fantastic concert and thank you so much for helping us raise this money. With the situation in Syria this year this money is much needed and will be put to good use very quickly. Thank you."
Without people supporting the Band we wouldn't be able to do this so thank you! And before we forget! There's something else to consider: Could you afford to spend £8,327 on a tuba? - Thought not! By giving so generously you've enabled us to keep it free for people to join the Band, there's no financial barrier as we pay for your instrument. We think that's brilliant and if you put money in our collecting tin this year that means you are too!


Old Jack's Boat Christmas Special - "Can I say a big thank you and well done for Christmas, Captain Jack. It was a perfect story and had me in tears by the end of it!", so said Sarah a fan of the CBeebies hit show, Old Jack's Boat. The show, titled The Christmas Quest, finished with The Harrogate Band accompanying Bernard Cribbens and the cast in a beautiful Christmas song.

We recorded the special song back in July and a group of players took part in the filming in Staithes in September. The show was aired on CBeebies on 19th December and is being shown on Christmas Day on BBC1 at 9:40am. The series is unique for CBeebies in that the BBC Philarmonic record the music for it. However, not even the BBC Phil could create the warm, beautiful sound of a brass band at Christmas and that's why we were asked to take part.

Our former flugel player, Emily Larwood, helped us record the music and was invited by the BBC production team to work on the set in Staithes and take part in the shoot. Emily is studying set design at University.

If you want to see us on the show you can catch up on the BBC iplayer. The Band would like to thank the Series Producer; Dominic Macdonald, Production Manager; Derek Drennan, Writer; Russell T Davies, 2nd Assistant Director; Jo Harrison, all the production team, crew and the contracts team in Salford.


Christmas fun at Meanwood - A standing ovation was how we knew that our annual Christmas concert was a huge success. We were performing for The Oddfellows branch in Leeds and were at a new location this year, Meanwood Working Mens Club. The lodge leader thanked Musical Director Craig Ratcliffe and the players afterwards saying, "You've been absolutely wonderful, we've so enjoyed your playing. Thank you".

It was a fun night for the audience and the players had a great time. We performed a mixture of entertaining Christmas music and popular classics mixed in with a few more reflective pieces. Principal trombone player Daniel Dickinson was applauded for managing to stay on stage (he fell off it a few years ago) and he also delighted the audience with his solo, When a Child is Born.

If you missed us this year go to the Engagements section to find out where you can hear us perform.


Wedding Brass Band - Former trombone player and now friend of the Band, Steve Whitwham, got a shock on his wedding day. His wife-to-be, Natalie, had booked the Band as a special surprise present for him. We crept in to the drinks reception room whilst the ceremony was taking place then started playing as soon Steve and his new bride walked in to have their champaign. He loved it!

It wasn't long before Steve was joining in and what was really was special was having his brother Ian playing as well. Ian is also former band member and has been playing Euphonium professionally for many years. This was the first time the two brothers performed together for over 15 years.

It was great being back at our favourite Harrogate hotel, The Old Swan. The guests loved our playing at the drinks reception as there was something for everyone; classical arrangements; big band; swing; popular classics and a few traditional Yorkshire brass band pieces as well.

If you want to book us for your wedding then have a look at our "What we can do" section for some ideas and then give our Events and Concerts manager a call.


World Champion Whistler - Our concert with the World Champion Whistler, David Morris, was a huge success. Here are some comments from people who came to see us: "Absolutely brilliant! You should do this again." "For me, O Magnum Mysterium was your stand-out piece. The control in the quiet playing was superb." "I had no idea what to expect from [David Morris], what a surprise, he was excellent! Never thought a brass band could accompany a whistler but it was great!" "Thank you so much, we've had a wonderful afternoon!"

We had a great time entertaining a full house at The Old Swan Hotel. Guests were treated to a sumptuous afternoon tea which the players could only gaze at longingly as they played. World Champion Whistler David Morris was a hit with the audience. We accompanied him performing Trumpet Triplets, Czardas, Bring Him Home and Sunshine of Your Smile all of which showed off various aspects of his considerable technique. The second half of the concert finished with a Last Night of the Proms finale. Here we were joined by the excellent singer, Carmel Wake. Carmel was an absolute delight and the audience loved her singing of Rule Britannia and Jerusalem.

Musical Director, Craig Ratcliffe, was pleased with the performance, telling the players, "That was one of the best concerts we've done. I thoroughly enjoyed it and the standard of playing was excellent. The audience loved our performance and David and Carmel were brilliant."

Seventeen year old Percussionist, Joel Graham, was presented with his award for "Player of the Year" by local MP Andrew Jones. His award came on back of the hard work and dedication Joel had shown over the last year.

  • Click here for newspaper report


    Act of Remembrance - We were invited by the Rotary Club of Harrogate Brigantes to lead a special ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery in Harrogate where 1,010 war casualties are buried.

    Here's what Maureen and Jim Bradbury, visitors from Canada, emailed to us: Good day. I would like to express how much my husband and I appreciated the Harrogate Band's playing at the recent Remembrance Service at Stonefall Cemetery. Your selection of music both before and during the ceremony was most appropriate to the occasion, and the performance of the band itself was nuanced, balanced and harmonious. We are visiting Britain from Canada, and travelled up to Harrogate especially for the service, as my uncle is one of the Commonwealth airmen buried at Stonefall. The band made a major contribution to what was, for us, a very meaningful experience. Thank you to all the band members for contributing their time and talents on that bright and sunny Sunday.
    Maureen & Jim Bradbury, Kelowna, BC, Canada

    Two thirds of the burials are Canadian airmen, there are 23 servicemen from the First World War and one of the graves is for an unidentified RAF pilot. We accompanied the hymn singing, played reflective music during the laying of the wreaths and sounded the Last Post and Reville. The Band as usual gave its services for free.


    Coronation More money raised for charity - "Tonight was fantastic hearing you at Holy Trinity Church, you choose a lovely mix of music. Thank you." So said audience member Sue Hill who loved our latest concert in Ripon featuring music from the Queen's Jubilee.

    We were guests of the Ripon Churches Together Christian Aid Committee. Over £900 was raised for Christian Aid thanks to tickets sales and a pre-concert meal.

    Ripon Christian Aid Committee chairman Roy Freeman said; "Yet again you've performed a brilliant concert! A huge thanks to the players and all our helpers." The Band also ran its Jukebox where audience members get to vote for a piece of music to be played in the second half of the concert. The choices were; Abide with Me; The Dambusters March and The Flintstones. Against our predictions The Dambusters won! As each vote costs a pound another £68 was raised. The money will support Christian Aid's work in bringing an end to poverty around the world. Programme: RAF March Past, Jubilee Prelude, My Love is like a Red Red Rose, Jubilation, Out of Africa, Sparkling Diamonds, Pastime with Good Company, Crown Imperial, Fanfare and Flying Theme from E.T., A Bugs Life, The Acrobat, The Dambusters, O Magnum Mysterium, South Pacific, Pines of Rome

  • Click here for newspaper report


    Go Gareth! - "Huge thanks to all the Band for supporting me. It was greatly appreciated and made me feel very proud."

    That was the message from our Drum Major, Gareth Gibbs, who recently completed a charity walk called "Walk on Wales" in aid of Combat Stress. As a former Welsh Guardsman Gareth was proud to take part in the six day team walk which on the Lly^n Peninsular between Whistling Sands and Shell Island.

    Combat Stress was established in 1919 and is the UK's leading charity that specialises in the treatment and support of British Armed Forces Veterans who have mental health problems. Right now, they're supporting over 5,000 Veterans aged from 20 to 101. Mental ill-health affects ex-Service men and women of all ages and Combat Stress provides a vital lifeline for them and their families.

    We were delighted to support Gareth and donate money to Combat Stress -


    8's OUR FAVOURITE NUMBER! - We're celebrating because we came eighth at the first section National Finals performing Gavin Higgins' wonderful music Fanfares and Love Songs. The band was number 8 in the programme and was also drawn to play number 8.

    To a non brass-bander that may not seem like a right lot to shout about but considering we were competing against 16 of the best first section bands in the UK and most pundits were saying we'd come in the bottom six, it's flipping brilliant!

    If you're still a bit unimpressed, to use a football analogy, it's a bit like Newcastle United qualifying for Europe (thanks to our number 1 supporter Helen Easton for that one). So, thinking about the number 8 here's 8 reasons to love The Harrogate Band's national finals result.
    1. It's the best ever contest result for the Band at the National Finals
    2. We did it using all our own players and didn't leave anyone out because we thought they weren't up to it
    3. No dep players, borrowed players or ringers were used
    4. Everyone helped raise loads of money to pay for the coach and hotel by doing extra gigs
    5. The whole band has improved as a result
    6. All the players and supporters had a fun weekend and no one got arrested
    7. Many commentators including placed us higher and praised the musicality of our performance
    8. We beat loads of bands ranked above us
    Despite the adjudicators, Dr Robert Childs and Paul Holland, placing us 8th, the press cognoscenti generally fancied us in 4th or 5th position following our performance: Their "live feed" notes were:
    • 4 Bars Rest - It's been a frustrating contest at times but the best performance for us was left to the very end. For us it's Foresters Brass 2000 from Newtongrange and Staffordshire with Tylorstown, Harrogate and Freckleton occupying the remaining places. [Harrogate notes: 1. The fanfares have a good sense of style and the faster music sparkles. This is enjoyable stuff. 2. There's a rich vein of expression here that flows nicely and gives the melodic lines a sense of space and shape. It just loses way as it gets almost too quiet at one point and the final bass note doesn't quite speak clearly. Plenty of good playing on show here though. 3. Again this bubbles along so well and there is a spirit about the playing that the music so badly needs. Dynamics are kept well under control and although there are momentary lapses and the momentum is maintained to the final flourish. Overall. One or two scrappy moments along the way but a performance of real spirit. Star player Principal cornet]
    • British Bandsman - Harrogate Band gives us a good one before the break. All in place and some exciting and dynamic playing. Excellent! BB Prediction 1. Foresters Brass 2. Newtongrange 3. Staffordshire 4. Harrogate 5. Filton 6. Kidlington
    • Brass Band World - Harrogate up next with a long way to go home afterwards!! A performance of real merit from Harrogate takes us into the comfort break. Our top six 1. Foresters 2. Newtongrange 3. Staffordshire 4. Tylorstown 5. Harrogate 6. Freckleton



    Craig Ratcliffe Fanfare for Pateley - "That was absolutely fantastic, we thoroughly enjoyed your performance and best of luck next weekend."

    We had a warm welcome at Pateley Bridge Methodist Church last Saturday where a full house heard our latest concert which included a performance of Fanfares and Lovesongs, our competition piece for the National Finals. Gavin Higgins' exciting piece was very well received by the enthusiastic audience.

    It was the first time we had played it live in front of an audience and musical director Craig Ratcliffe was pleased with the performance. "It was the best we've played it. It's great to perform it in front of an audience because you learn so much. So many people in the audience came up to me in the interval saying how much they enjoyed it. We're looking forward to taking it to the contest stage."

    The rest of the programme featured solos from flugel horn player Lynne Illsley, principal trombonist Dan Dickinson and soprano cornet player Nathan Wake. We performed our winning pieces from the recent Hardraw Scar entertainment contest; the American quick-march, The Waltonian; the miners' hymn tune, Gresford; and Respighi'sThe March from the Pines of Rome which was our grand finale.

    The full programme was: Fanfare and Flying Theme from ET, Crown Imperial, Flowerdale, Appalachian Mountain Folk Song Suite, When She Loved Me from Toy Story 2, Fanfares and Lovesongs, The Waltonian, Out of Africa, The Acrobat, Til I Hear You Sing, Gresford, A Bugs Life, South Pacific, March from the Pines of Rome


    Neil Richmond trophy Contemporary Music Prize - We're the proud sponsors of The Neil Richmond Trophy for the Hardraw Scar Entertainment Contest. The trophy is named after our President and founder and was commissioned in celebration of our 40th Anniversary in 2010.

    The trophy is for the Band that gives the best performance of an original piece music for brass band which has been written in the last 40 years.

    We're donating £100 for the winning band.

    We've prided ourselves on performing original contemporary music for brass in our concerts, introducing new music to our audiences is something we take great pride in doing. We believe brass bands of all sections should support living composers and encourage original writing.

    We're looking forward to going to Hardraw and hearing some brilliant contemporary music. Support our composers! For more information on the contest, see our engagements section


    Brass in the Garden - We had a wonderful day entertaining visitors to the fabulous RHS Harlow Carr gardens in Harrogate, the best garden in Yorkshire. Dubbed by Soprano Cornet player, Nathan Wake, as "the classiest ever brass band park gig" we played four mini concerts throughout the day and managed to dodge the rain showers. The sound of the band follows folk as they walk around the gardens making it an ideal place to enjoy the flowers and plants and listen to our entertaining popular music.

    The audience loved our performances and there were plenty who sat on their picnic rugs and deck chairs and listened to us throughout the day. This was the third and last time we will have performed at RHS Harlow Carr this year and we've enjoyed every single moment.

  • Click here for newspaper review


    BBC recording - Composer and arranger Paul Honey came to Harrogate to listen to us recording his latest work for the CBeebies TV show Old Jack's Boat. Paul had written the theme tune for the show, now recording its second series, and was asked by the BBC to arrange a special version of his music for the 2013 Old Jack's Boat Christmas Special. It was Paul's first composition for brass band and he was delighted with the results: "That was perfect, thank you so much, you've really hit the right tone!"

    Musical Director, Craig Ratcliffe, said: "Paul's composition will work really well. Together we've created a warm sweet sound which will create a magical opening for the Christmas Special".

    The special tune starts with a jaunty solo played by the Band's euphonium star, Andrew Hodge, who recently became a grandfather. "My grandkids will be too young to watch the programme, but I'll definitely be recording it for them to watch when they're older. It's been very exciting recording this for the BBC!"

    We're looking forward to September where we'll be travelling up to Staithes to film the episode with Bernard Cribbens and the rest of the cast.

  • Click here for newspaper review

    See also: Paul Honey's website and Old Jack's Boat.


    Top Band for the top Banner - "That was the best day out I've ever had! You were amazing!" said Neil Cole, a proud supporter of the Band. We had a fantastic time performing at Durham Miners' Gala where our marching and performances were cheered by thousands of people.

    Durham Miners' Gala is a great North East tradition that dates back to 1871, where special banners representing mining villages in Durham are paraded through the city accompanied by a brass band. Around 100,000 people attend and it is one of the biggest political meetings in Europe due to the trade union movement and its association with the mining industry.

    There are many brass bands at the Gala all representing villages, communities and organisations. Once again we represented the village of Trimdon Grange, for the 129th Gala, and marched in front of their banner. It was a great honour for us.

    As well as marching we performed "Walking on Sunshine" as an entertainment piece. This went down a storm especially because of our choreography and the outstanding improvised solo playing by cornet player, Nathan Wake. Musical Director Craig Ratcliffe had again prepared and choreographed the Band really well so we could represent the Trimdon Grange Banner with pride. We also, as did every band, played Gresford, the special miners' hymn tune.

    In the words of Dave Gibson the organiser and our friend at Trimdon Grange; "We have the top banner and we have the top band, that's Harrogate Band" - that's a great testament to our hard work and preparation.

    As one of the first bands into the city, and the last band out in the afternoon, Harrogate Band is always regarded as something special and we strive to live up to the expectations of our hosts from Trimdon Grange and the multitudes lining the streets of the city. This year we were not allowed to move on from the "Steps" on our return until we had played an encore.

    See the Band's Media page for some videos of the day, and previous years, and also see the Trimdon Grange Facebook page for many photos of the events.

    See also the Guardian news report about the Gala.


    Blooming Marvellous - "That was simply wonderful, thank you!" said a beaming RHS Harlow Carr regular, Rachel Linton, following our latest performance at Yorkshire's beautiful Royal Horticultural Society garden. She wasn't the only one and it was a tough job leaving the garden as there were that many wanting to chat to us saying how much they enjoyed our playing.
    We were the first group to perform by the lake and it was a huge success as picnicers and folk just having a chilled out evening were treated to a laid back concert of easy listening classics such as Hello Dolly! and Can You Feel the Love Tonight from the Lion King. Some in the audience weren't so laid back and started to dance along which is probably a first for Harlow Carr!
    They were clearly music lovers around the lake as the Waltz from the Jazz Suite no 2 by Shostakovich and English Folk Song Suite by Ralph Vaughan Williams were recognised and received loud applause.
    We're back at the gardens on Thursday 25th July, 6pm to 8pm, if you fancy some relaxing evening entertainment and are a Member. If you're not a Member we're performing for Music in the Garden in August, 11am to 4pm, where you'll be able to hear us as you walk around.

    See for information on visiting and joining this fantastic venue for a great family day out and come and listen to us!

    Photo courtesy of Eileen Young and Dave Hanvey


    Great Yorkshire Show - Sunshine and sheep were the overiding memories from our fabulous day at The Great Yorkshire Show. We entertained the crowd from the bandstand playing a variety of popular tunes including Yorkshire's unofficial national anthem, On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at.

    Shaun the sheep certainly enjoyed our performance. Sadly the good folk at the Yorkshire Agricultural Society don't give out prizes for dancing lambs but Shaun received the solid backing of the crowd as he strutted his stuff.


    Down by the Riverside - The Harrogate Band entertained a packed crowd down by the riverside in Wetherby last Sunday afternoon as guests of the Wetherby Bandstand Riverside Trust. Musical Director, Craig Ratcliffe, was delighted with the turnout and response from the crowd. "The Wetherby Bandstand Trust and Leeds City Council do a fantastic job in promoting and organising the summer concerts at this wonderful bandstand. I was the first person ever to perform on this Bandstand so it's very special coming here. The audience were wonderful and they really enjoyed our music, we love performing here."

    Soprano cornet player Nathan Wake and principal trombonist Dan Dickinson featured as soloists with particular appreciation for Dan's solo coming from a canine friend who couldn't stop barking along to his solo!

    Yet again a fan had travelled all the way from Belgium to hear the band perform. Harrogate Band fan Adele Roy lives in Leuven, Belgium, and first heard the Band three years ago in Ripon whilst she was on a caravan tour. Seeing from the Band's website that it was their last summer concert she came to the UK especially on this weekend to catch their performance.

    Our programme included: Fire in the Blood by Paul Lovatt-Cooper; Samum by Carl Robrech arranged by Billy Dawson; O Magnum Mysterium by Morten Lauridsen arranged by Phillip Littlemore; Appalachian Mountain Folk Song Suite by James Curnow


    Jaguars galore - The Band played in the company of several hundred Jaguars at Newby Hall. Entertaining the many members and friends of the Jaguar Enthusiasts' Club which was holding its annual Northern Meeting. Amongst the many models, old and new, were several cars and owners from the Russian Jaguar Club.


    Band marches on - The Band have continued their winning streak and have now won first prize for their marching at the Morley March and Hymn Tune contest held today. Determined to put on an excellent marching display the Band enlisted the help of former Welsh guardsman and Harrogate local Gareth Gibbs who drilled the Band and led them in the march.


    Music from Stage and Screen - A standing ovation rounded off another successful concert at The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate. The audience enjoyed a variety of music with some inspired choices from Musical Director, Craig Ratcliffe. Of course, as it was at The Old Swan Hotel, the afternoon tea of scones and sandwiches went down well and the audience even enjoyed some singing from the men of the Band.

    "We always come to this concert, it was amazing! We're looking forward to coming in November for Last Night of the Proms" said audience member Sarah Roberts.

    As you'd expect we love performing in front of a full house and our soloists, Rob Illsley, Nathan Wake and Lynne Illsley were given tremendous applause from the enthusiastic audience.

    And it was lovely to be able to say thank you to two stalwarts of the Band, Sue and Ron Morland. Ron's our transport manager and Sue has recently retired as our librarian after many many years of dedicated service. They were both awarded honorary life membership of the Band, the first time this has been given to people who don't play instruments. A great honour, richly deserved!

    Look out for our return to The Old Swan in November where you can hear us perform with World Champion Whislter, David Morris. See our Engagements section for more details.


    Gavin Higgins Fanfares and Love Songs - We're delighted that our competition piece for the National Finals in September will be Gavin Higgins' 2009 composition, Fanfares and Love Songs. In three movements the piece combines brilliant fanfares with luminescent interludes of lyricism - from an opening section of elaborate fanfare structures through to a haunting second movement of emotional beauty and a dancing finale.

    Our Musical Director, Craig Ratcliffe, says, "It's a sensational piece of writing from an audacious talent. Whilst Gavin comes from a brass band background his musical influences are very diverse. It really suits our ethos of championing new music, Gavin's piece is tremendously exciting to perform and we're looking forward to getting stuck in to rehearsing it."

    At thirty years of age, Gavin Higgins is one of the brightest stars amongst a flourishing generation of talented young composers currently writing for brass band. He graduated from the Royal College of Music and is the first ever Music Fellow to the Rambert Dance Company. For more information, see:


    Radio 3's musical map of Britain - The excellent team at BBC Radio 3 are producing a musical map of Britain.

    There are pins in the map which create a picture of this country's great musical heritage. To their credit the Breakfast team have opened up the map to brass bands which has created some controvosy amongst the listenership of the station. Clearly there's still a way to go to convince some people that brass bands make a meaningful contribution to our cultural life!

    We're delighted that the late great Harrogate composer, Wilfred Heaton, features on the map. Heaton was a Salvationist who wrote some the most beautiful music ever composed for brass band. We've recorded his music on our CD, Made In Harrogate.

    Go onto the map and tune in to BBC Radio 3's breakfast show to find out more about the map.

    If you'd like a CD of music that's made in Harrogate featuring Wilfred Heaton and other composers connected with Harrogate then click here.


    West Yorkshire Playhouse performance - We had great fun at the Transform My Leeds My City festival curated by those wonderfully creative folk at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

    The Band were the finale to a specially devised performance all about Leeds Market in times gone by. Drawn from the words of the people who work in, shop in and remember it, this new verbatim production told of the big stories and even bigger characters held within its walls.

    Players performed outside the theatre in the late evening drawing in and welcoming the audience who had travelled up from the theatrical performance in the actual Market itself. We then marched through the theatre foyer through the audience and onto a specially constructed bandstand set up inside with deck chairs and grass where we performed a couple of numbers.

    There'll be many groups performing on the special bandstand over the course of the festival and we were proud to be the first and the only brass band to do so!


    Harrogate flooded with success - The flood doors to success have literally opened for the hard working Harrogate Band.

    It was not just musical hard work that paid off for the Harrogate Band after they won the First Section Area title as well as the awards for "Best Basses" and "Best Percussion" at the North of England Regional Championships in Darlington this year.

    In the past 18 months the band has suffered no less than four floods in their bandroom - taking six months to fully dry out and be in a fit state to be redecorated. The musical success has therefore also come from hard physical graft then, according to Chairman Keith Graham.

    "Our bandroom is situated in the basement of a former dairy, and is surrounded by drains, gullies and sumps designed to keep the room cool." "These became overwhelmed by the amount of rainwater that had been collected and water was gushing through the bandroom's floorboards. Our landlord was great in assisting us with our rather large problem. But as one drain was cleared, another one appeared to be blocked. It seemed like a never ending task. People were even coming to band rehearsal in their wellies!"

    He added: "The problem was finally traced to an unknown drain that runs through the middle of the building. When this was cleared the amount of water released flooded the street outside, much to our neighbour's annoyance!"

    Hours and hours of work to restore the bandroom were put in by band members led by 16 year old Bandroom Manager Joel Graham, and the hope is now that it is all back to normal at long last.

    Meanwhile, the victory at Darlington was tinged with sadness as the band lost two of its most popular members - Nicky Godfrey, who has moved to live and work in London and stalwart Jason Harper who has decided to take some time off to sort out a long term embouchure problem.


    North of England Champions! - Harrogate Band swept the board in the North of England Championships at the Dolphin Centre in Darlington, winning the 1st Section contest with their performance of Brass Triumphant by Gareth Wood, gaining the Les Easton Memorial Trophy.

    They also took home two instrumentalist's prizes - the Bob Dales Memorial Trophy for the best Bass Section (Ian, Gavin, Eddie and Matt); and the John Hallums Trophy, which was donated to the contest by the Harrogate Band a few years ago in memory of our past President, for the best Percussion Section (Vince, Joel, Ed and Andrew).

    As the new North of England Champions the Harrogate Band will be representing the region in the National Brass Band Championships Finals, which will be held in Cheltenham on September 22nd 2013. Review:

    The opening contest of the weekend saw David Read MBE judge five bands on Gareth Wood's 'Brass Triumphant'. Praising the contenders for their well worked efforts he eventually opted for a stylishly portrayed account from Harrogate under Craig Ratcliffe, securing them a return to the National finals for the first time since 2011. More importantly the band also regained its Championship Section status - something that wasn't lost on their MD.
    "Getting back to the top section was a primary aim for us this year, and I was delighted that we were able to do it by playing so well on stage, Craig said. "The piece was a very good test, and we came through it in a manner that showed our growing potential as a band."
    The victory also gives Harrogate a huge confidence boost too, as they start their immediate preparations for the contest year ahead. Craig added: "We're a strong band with a great rapport. This gives everyone that extra lift ahead of what are going to be some very busy months in the lead up to Cheltenham."
    The band was also helped on its way by claiming the individual prizes for best percussion and basses, which brought a depth of colour and added texture to their winning rendition of the enjoyable set work.



    Oddfellows Christmas Concert another triumph - "What a fantastic Christmas concert!", "Brilliant music, you were fantastic, loved the solos!" - Just two of the many great comments we had from the lovely audience at The Oddfellows Christmas Carol Concert held in Meanwood Methodist Church in Leeds.

    Musical Director Craig Ratcliffe was definitely in the Christmas mood and we performed a range of great music including many Christmas tunes and a couple of carols.

    Principal cornet play Rob Illsley did his bit by performing, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town dressed as the big fella. Certain adjustments had to be made to the beard but he delivered his best performance yet and it went down a storm.

    We're hoping to be back next year especially as we're fed lovely mince pies from Waitrose from the hard working organisers. Yum!


    Carols, Carols, Carols - 'Tis the season to be merry... The Band is occupied in marathon carolling sessions in the weeks before Christmas. Performances in Marks & Spencers in Pudsey, Harrogate and Leeds on successive weekends are entertaining the weary shoppers.

    A huge "thank you" on behalf of all the members of The Harrogate Band to those of you who gave money to us and to our friends in Marks and Spencers for letting us play Carols. Your kind donations will enable us to put on great concerts and raise money for all sorts of good causes in 2013.


    Success at Trinity - "I wanted to thank you and the Harrogate Band for another outstanding concert this weekend. Nathan did an excellent job as band leader and compeer and there was a great atmosphere which added to the pleasure of the music." Geoff.

    "Just a quick note to thank you and all the band for a wonderful concert last night. We've had a lot of favourably comments today about last night's concert. Many thanks again and good luck with all the rest of your Christmas engagements." Jenny.

    Two comments from the lovely organisers at Trinity Methodist Church, Harrogate, who were delighted with our latest concert there starting off our Christmas season. We were helping the church launch their special Christmas Tree weekend with an entertaining concert that contained a few Christmas sprinkles!

    Assistant musical director, Nathan Wake, stepped up to the hotspot as conductor and compere and did a great job in his debut concert with the band.

    The Band operated its famous Juke Box where the audience get to vote for a piece from a selection of three for us to perform in the second half. Each vote cost a pound and Gabriel Fauré's Pavanne won over the Floral Dance and the Dambusters March.

    We're already in the swing of a busy Christmas season.


    Proms at the Swan another success - "Another superb afternoon concert with a variety of well played music..." said reviewer Graham Peters of our concert in Harrogate's finest hotel, The Old Swan. We performed our Proms Concert in the elegant ball room and the audience were treated to a sumptuous afternoon tea of scones and sandwiches.

    Conductor Craig Ratcliffe was a huge hit with the audience with his excellent compering and encouraging the audience through the finale songs. Singer Laura Jackson, resplendent in fuschia dress and matching shoes, was a delight as always and led the singing.

    There were plenty of soloists who performed including soprano cornet player, Nathan Wake, who gave a faultless rendition of Phillip Sparke's Flowerdale and Andrew Hodge who thrilled the audience with his virtuoso performance of Czardas.

    But the soloist who deserves the most credit was principal cornet player Rob Illsley who despite suffering from a cold played The Harry James Trumpet Concerto and earned a huge cheer from the audience.

    The venue was packed as about 120 people attended and the hotel were so delighted we'll be back next year for more of the same.

  • Click here for newspaper review


    1812 raises money - "The Band were brilliant, we've had a wonderful evening and all for a good cause". So said Ripon Christian Aid Committee chairman, Roy Freeman, once we'd soaked up the applause after performing the 1812 Overture, the finale to our Concert for Christian Aid in Ripon last Saturday.

    We were delighted to raise over £750 for Christian Aid in this annual concert hosted by Holy Trinity Church, Ripon. The audience are always great here and we love performing in this fantastic church plus we get tea and biscuits before we play and at half time!

    Musical Director Craig Ratcliffe had picked a programme full of brilliant music that entertained, educated and inspired, coupled with informative and witty commentary throughout. We operated our Juke Box where the audience get to vote for their favourite piece of music which we then play in the second half. This time it was Pavanne by Gabriel Fauré which beat The Floral Dance and the Dam Busters March proving the good folk of Ripon have great taste!

    Our finale piece was Robert Childs' arrangement of the 1812 Overture and it fell to percussionist Ed Dennis to fire the cannon which he did with some style (thanks to Apple, some woofers and digital wizardry)! The audience loved it and even though our faces ached and our percussionists felt like they'd run a marathon, so did we. A great night.

    If you'd like to see us play the 1812 Overture why not come along to see us perform at the Annual David Clayman Memorial Brass Band Concert in North Leeds on November 4th. See our Engagements section for more information. It's always a great night out!

  • Click here for newspaper review

    Our programme for the evening:
    Barnum and Bailey's
    Slaughter on 10th Avenue
    Comedy Tonight
    Star Wars
    Now Thank We All Our God
    Enter the Galaxies
    The Old Chalet
    All Night Long
    Concerto for Trumpet (Harry James)
    Puttin' on the Ritz
    1812 Overture
    William Tell Overture


    Proms on the Hill celebration -
    We returned to RAF Menwith Hill for a brilliant Last Night of the Proms concert complete with a fly-past and the delightful singer, Laura Jackson.

    Each year the Menwith Hill Station community celebrates the proms with music, food and fireworks.

    A great evening was had by all and the Band were cheered loudly.

    The evening also featured a brand new solo by principal trombonist Daniel Dickinson inspired by the Simon and Garfunkel hit, "The Sound of Silence".

    Laura Jackson sings the National Anthem with the accompaniment of the Harrogate Band, under the musical direction of Craig Ratcliffe, (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Debbie Lockhart)
    Click for larger version


    The Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials - We'd have to admit that we'd never really heard much about The Landrover Burghley Horse Trials before we went for the first time on September 1st. But what a delightful surprise we had and what a simply amazing event!

    The Band were delighted to be playing in the bandstand entertaining crowds throughout the busy day. It's estimated that 170,000 people attended the event and what a fantastic time they and the Band members had. Think The Yorkshire Show but bigger and you get the idea.

    Not only did we enjoy ourselves but we had some great comments from the audience and the organisers and they've asked us to perform again next year. It was well worth the early start and a long coach ride to Stamford.

    A huge thank you from the Band goes to the lovely Sophie Nott, our contact at the event, and also to Tewit Youth Band cornet player Peter Clarke who stood in for front row player Nick Garrett, it's the first time Peter's played with the Band and we were delighted to have him with us.


    The Government Inspector - 'Where there's muck there's brass' - and this hysterically funny tale of misdeeds, misadventure and mistaken identity has plenty of both. We're delighted to be helping out the renowned professional theatre company Northern Broadsides with their latest theatre production which is Gogol's The Government Inspector.

    In a small Pennine town a flashy young stranger is mistaken for the Government Inspector. The town's unscrupulous Councillors, fearing discovery of their corrupt goings-on, do all they can to ingratiate themselves. Bribes, backhanders and brown envelopes abound and the stranger, who has an eye for a quick buck, takes full advantage with hilarious results.

    Who better to breathe life and vigour into this barmy story than Northern Broadsides, one of the country's finest and best-loved touring theatre companies. If you like your humour broad, your references topical, your heart warmed and your brass 'live', look no further than A Government Inspector. Absurdly funny, clever and strangely familiar, you'll never trust your local authority again - if you ever did that is!

    The production includes a small piece brass band on stage as part of the action and so following the unique way Northern Broadside's adapt scripts.

    Musical Director Craig Ratcliffe lent a hand to rehearsals and gave the brass playing actors a special rehearsal on some of the music they're playing and the band have loaned music and instruments to the production.

    We're sure this production of Gogol's comic masterpiece cleverly adapted by Northern Broadsides will be a huge hit.

    Adapted by Deborah McAndrew from the original play by Nikolai Gogol Directed and Composed by Conrad Nelson come and see it in Harrogate Theatre on September 7th to September 22nd.

    Read a review of the production: The Press - 17 September 2012


    Riverside triumph and farewell - Traditional banding with a twist is what we always aim for at Wetherby, here we were guests of the excellent Riverside Bandstand Trust. The audience were knowledgeable and appreciative as always and greeted the players enthusiastically. Soprano ace Nathan Wake delighted with his debut performance of Flowerdale and principal cornet player, Rob Illsley, returned from holiday with a blistering race through the Harry James Trumpet Concerto.

    This was also the last engagement for 20 year band stalwart and horn player, Liz Rochester, who leaves us on a high note for a new challenge. The Band now look forward to preparing for the prestigious Burghley Horse Trials.


    RHS Harlow Carr a huge success - "It's the most exclusive park gig I've ever done" beamed new player Simon Brown following another performance at RHS Harlow Carr. We performed out in the gardens every Thursday in July for their special members evenings and had a great time.

    Relaxed, informal yet still performing to high standards the players eased into the fragrant atmosphere of the gardens to entertain the RHS Members. And yes, we did play the Floral Dance.


    Sensational at Durham - The Durham Miner's Gala is one of the highlights of our banding year and this year was no exception. A fully choreographed performance of Lionel Ritchie's All Night Long had the crowds bopping along in excitement.

    This year was the 130th Anniversary of the pit disaster in Trimdon Grange so the Band put in an extra special effort and doubled our marching rehearsals. Nathan Wake excelled playing a mariachi-style trumpet solo just as he did on our flash-mob banding gig in Leeds in May and the players excelled themselves again with poignant renditions of the miners' hymn tune, Gresford.


    Marching Orders - We had our marching orders last Sunday as we practised parading and playing on what must be one of the only baseball pitches in Yorkshire, at RAF Menwith Hill. Last year the Band held an open rehearsal at the elementary school where band member John Cooper works as a music teacher. With the giant radomes as a backdrop the players were drilled by former Welsh Guardsman, Gareth Gibbs, in preparation for the prestigious Durham Miners' Gala in July.

    The military base also has an American bowling alley which hosted us after our strenuous practice. Here we enjoyed special moose burgers washed down with a few well earned American beers followed by the ten-pin bowling. Musical Director, Craig Ratcliffe, was delighted with the event, "The baseball pitch was ideal for us to march on, the facilities here are fantastic and we're very grateful to the people at the base for giving us special permission."


    It's a boy! - Two of the band's star players have a new addition to their family this month.

    Flugel player Lynne gave birth to William at on 23rd June at 12:40am. William weighed in 7.5lb. William's father, principal cornet player Rob was delighted, "Thanks to all our friends and family for all their messages, we're delighted".

    With the amount of brass music William's been listening to over the last nine months he won't be a surprised by the sound of the band!


    Deportment Glory - If you'd asked the Band three years ago whether we'd win a deportment prize we'd have laughed in your face but the Band now take deportment very seriously with great results. We picked up deportment prizes at Whit Friday last year and we've now won the Deportment prize at the Morley March and Hymn Tune Festival on Sunday 17th June coming top out of 17 bands.

    The players had trained hard under the excellent tutelage of former Welsh Guardsman and friend of the Band, Gareth Gibbs (right). Gareth was understandably delighted with the result, "The players have done a fantastic job, they've worked hard and it's all paid off. I'm delighted with this fantastic result."


    More Ads for Band - We're featured again on the latest Plusnet Advert which is out on the Youtube here

    It features our players with those from our friends in the Knaresborough Silver Band.

    Pictured are close ups of two cornet stalwarts Linda and Keri Graham. This particular shoot took place on top of a car park in Bradford and also featured a stunt dog.

  • Click here for the Plusnet advert on Youtube


    Overworlds & Underworlds

    The band took part in Overworlds & Underworlds in Leeds.

    Here's a video clip of us rehearsing at the start of May. It's all part of the magical world of the Quay brothers, internationally acclaimed artists who transformed the city of Leeds by flooding the streets with strange and spectacular surprises; live performances of dance, film and music in Briggate, the County Arcade, Dark Arches and surrounding areas.

    We were the selected as the best brass band to be inivted to take part by Leeds Canvas - a citywide collaboration between eight of Leeds' key arts organisations: Yorkshire Dance, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Opera North, Northern Ballet, Leeds Met Gallery & Studio Theatre, Leeds City Council and Leeds Museums & Galleries.

    This amazing arts event is the first time The Harrogate Band has been involved in such a large collaborative project which is part of the Cultural Olympiad. A large number of performers were involved throughout the city centre and in the "Dark Arches" under the station, which was one of the main foci of the art project.

    Briggate - The march music we performed in and around Briggate at two different speeds was: Star Lake by Eric Ball (1903-1989). It's a Salvation Army march written over 70 years ago when the composer was a guest at Star Lake music camp in America. The other march is called Punchinello by legendary march composer, William Rimmer. This is well known to traditional brass band audiences.

    With the dancers in Briggate we performed Libertango by Piazzolla arranged by Leigh Baker. This composition by tango composer Astor Piazzolla was first recorded and published in 1974. The title is a portmanteau merging "Libertad" (Spanish for liberty) and "Tango", symbolizing Piazzolla's break from Classical Tango to Tango Nuevo. Unusually for a brass band piece it features a trumpet.

    Headrow - The music we performed whilst strolling down this busy thoroughfare was done as a call and response across the road when walking down the Headrow. This riff is from Kongolela. This is written by contemporary Norwegian brass band composer Jan Magne Førde.

    Outside WH Smith's - we performed All Night Long by Lionel Ritchie also arranged by Leigh Baker.

    Dark Arches - Sleep by Eric Whitacre arranged by Sandy Smith. A last minute addition to the programme which we turned round in 24 hours. We wanted something beautiful, haunting and contemporary and as we were performing this already it seemed appropriate.

    We wanted to choose a variety of music that included original contemporary music for brass band (Kongolela), this continues a tradition we've developed over a number of years of performing contemporary brass music to audiences. When we told the Quays we could perform Norwegian funk specifically written for brass band they were quick to request that we do it and we were only too happy to oblige. We've mixed this with traditional brass band fare with the marches we're playing, of course with a twist in that Starlake is being played at half speed by one of the bands at the same time as one performs it at the correct tempo. Although not strictly polytonal like the Quay's inspiration for the band's performance, Charles Ives' Central Park in the Dark, it does create contrasting and clashing pairings in a way its original composer Eric Ball would never have envisaged. In a strange way it fits with the Leeds approach to this in that this is a piece that will be performed by the traditional brass bands in Leeds' many parks over the summer period so we're taking a Leeds soundscape and extrapolating it right in the heart of the city. All Night Long was picked not only because it's recognisable and is incredibly fun to perform outside but it's a piece you can't listen to without moving and cleverly matches the walking pace of people bussling through the centre of Leeds. The arrangement of Eric Whitacre's Sleep was a late addition agreed on the Friday night where it was recognised that we should perform in the Dark Arches. The dissonant chords and choral nature of the work moved people greatly and vindicated the choice.



    Voices and Brass - It has been eight years since the Harrogate Band joined forces with the Harrogate Male Voice Choir, and the combined musical talents of both groups gave the audience at St Mark's Church a great evening of contrasts and harmony.

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    Songs from Shows - another success - Another hugely successful Songs from the Shows concert at The Old Swan Hotel led audiences to praise Musical Director Craig Ratcliffe's excellent choices of music plus amazing singing from chanteuse, Laura Jackson (pictured). The packed audience enjoyed tea and scones and were delighted by the players' performance and Craig's excellent compering. Look out for us returning to the Old Swan Hotel on November 18th for a fabulous Last Night of the Proms concert.

    Here's the programme: Old Man River, Salute to Sullivan, Can't Help Lovin dat man, Let's Face the Music, Puttin on the Ritz, I could have danced all night , I wanna be like You, Slaughter on 10th Avenue, Breezin Down Broadway, Hello Dolly, Comedy Tonight, I dreamed a dream, America, Bui Doi, Memory, Circle of Life.

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    Awesome at Pateley - "Awesome" was the defining word from our hosts following our latest concert at Pateley Bridge Methodist Church. For the second year running the Band presented a feast of entertainment which this time included Peter Graham's The Call of the Cossacks, Howard Snell's The Old Chalet and John Golland's Meiso featuring solo horn player Jason Harper and 1st baritone supremo Keith Graham. Bass trombone player Paul Davies entertained with the Disney classic, "I Wanna Be Like You" but it was Alasdair Simpson who won the highest acclaim from the audience with his xylophone solo, Black and White Rag. The new programme included pieces which we'll be performing at Songs from the Shows, Durham Miners' Gala and Morley March and Hymn Contest.


    42nd Annual General Meeting dubbed "a comedy hit" - Anyone wandering into the band's 42nd Annual General Meeting held at the bandroom could have mistaken it for an open mike comedy night rather than the formal occasion it has been in the past. Real ale, a buffet and a haphazard miming act contributed to a warm and congenial atmosphere where players and supporters reflected on what had been another exciting year for the band.

    Musical Director Craig Ratcliffe and Chairman Keith Graham thanked players and supporters for their dedication and support with certain players receiving special commendations for the improvements they've made to their playing. Two new committee members were elected with trombone player Charlotte King and the band's youngest member, Joel Graham, stepping up to the mark.

    The band were delighted to welcome former player, Tewit Youth Band conductor and Black Dyke player David Smith to the bandroom to present the David Smith Trophy for the most improved player which this year went to Eb bass player Ian Bristow. The Outstanding Achievement award went to 1st Baritone player and band chairman, Keith Graham, for his extraordinary dedication to attending every single engagement the band had this last year.

    The new band administration can be found here.


    Plusnet Band film again - Breakdancers, cheerleaders and a puppet dog were the stars of the latest Plusnet TV advert filming which players from the Harrogate Band and Knaresborough Silver Band took part in as the Plusnet Band.

    The two day shoot featured six breakdancers on day one and a team of cheerleaders from Basingstoke on day two with the Plusnet Band accompanying both times.

    Filming took place on top of a multi-storey car park in Bradford followed by the Ilkely Lido with its maginficent views over Ilkely Moor and the Cow and Calf Rock.

  • Click here for a preview:

    The new set of adverts will be ready in a couple of months time.


    North of England Championships result - A good performance wasn't matched by a good result at the North Of England Area Contest where we finished a disappointing 4th place not achieving the heights of winning every prize including the top one as we did last year. Although it's pleasing to note that we again performed on stage with all our own players, none borrowed and without any player receiving a penny in payment.

    Our performance simply didn't match up to what the man in the box wanted. Musical Director Craig Ratcliffe was still pleased with the band's efforts.


    Knaresborough Silver Band joint concert - "A wonderful family atmosphere!" "A delight to see the two bands performing together." "I can't believe it's never happened before!" were just some of the comments after our joint concert with our friends the Knaresborough Silver Band.

    It's amazing to think that the two bands have never performed a joint concert before and it's certainly something we'll be doing again. Both bands put on wonderfully entertaining sets and showcased their contest test pieces in front of a packed and discerning audience.

  • Click here for newspaper review


    Band to feature on the BBC - The Harrogate Band will be featured on a the new BBC 1 TV show, The Great British Countryside starring Hugh Dennis and Julia Bradbury, due to be broadcast on Thursday 23rd February.

    Filming took place at the famous Hardraw Scar waterfall near Hawes where the Band were taking part in a brass band entertainment competition.

    The series features Britain's stunning countryside with programmes on Cornwall the South Downs and the Scottish Highlands. For a country our size, Britain has the biggest variety of geology on earth, which has created not only a beautiful landscape, but also a fascinating industrial heritage, a rich history and many legends so it was no surprise when they decided to film in North Yorkshire.

    The Band can next be seen in concert at St John Fisher's Catholic High School on March 10th.

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    Starbeck Delight - A packed audience heard us perform as guests of Starbeck Methodist Church on Saturday 11th February. The concert, which included Edward Gregson's Dances and Arias, and our next Area Test Piece, Mountain Views, was well received by the enthusiastic audience.

    Musical Director Craig Ratcliffe was especially pleased with the soloists: "Jason Harper, Alasdair Simpson and Paul Davies performed fantastic stand-up solos and there were brilliant solos all around the stand especially from Catherine Morland in Dances and Arias. Mountain Views went well and this will set us up for a winning performance at the Areas in March, it actually works well in a concert."

    We ran our popular Juke Box where audience members were able to vote for a favourite piece of music, Strauss' Thunder and Lightning Polka won the vote despite the family of Soprano cornet player Nathan Waken putting their money behind the Floral Dance. Concert organisers Keith and Aline Nowell are keen for us to return next year, it's a good job because we love playing in this fantastic church!

    Our programme was: Cossack Wedding Dance (Peter Graham), Dances and Arias (Edward Gregson), An Untold Story (Peter Graham) - Tenor Horn soloist Jason Harper, Tea for Two (Youmans/Shostakovich arr Colin Randle), Doyles Lament (Peter Graham) featuring Flugel Horn player Lynne Illsley, Who Wants to Live Forever (Brian May arr. Thijs Oud), Chicken Run (J. Powell & H. Gregson-Williams arr. Sandy Smith), The Old Chalet (Howard Snell), Mountain Views (Betrand Moren), Thunder and Lightning Polka (Johann Strauss), In the Hall of Mountain King (Grieg, arr Bill Geldard) Bass Trombone Soloist Paul Davies, 42nd Street (Harry Warren arr. Jon Bennett), Black and White Rag (George Botsford arr Graham Cole) Xylophone Soloist Alasdair Simpson, Sleep (Eric Whitacre arr. Sandy Smith), The Eve of the War (Jeff Wayne arr. Steve Sykes).

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    Red Rose Smash and grab raid over the border - The players have been celebrating a great result at the Brass at the Guild Contest in Preston after playing Edward Gregson's fantastic piece, Dances and Arias. We were placed 5th by adjudicator Paul Andrews and beat several championship section bands ranked higher than us in the process. Solo Euphonium player, Andrew Hodge, put in another amazing performance playing a phenomenally tricky solo with consumate ease making it a very satisfying trip over the Pennines.

    Musical Director, Craig Ratcliffe, was delighted: "We set a realistic objective which was to put on a really good performance and not be overly concerned about the placings. It's important that we compete against really good championship section bands and keep pushing ourselves with harder pieces. The players have responded and this result is a good one for us".

    We're now going to be busy preparing for our concert in Starbeck Methodist Church and the Area Contest in March.


    North Yorkshire's Best Band - The Harrogate Band are officially the Best Band in North Yorkshire. Confirmation comes courtesy of the official rankings provided by the world-wide brass band authority Taking into account the band's various victories in contests in 2011 under young musical director Craig Ratcliffe the Band has shot up the world's brass band rankings to trounce other bands in the region.

    Thanks to a great set of engagements in the local area such as Harlow Carr Gardens, The Old Swan Hotel and many more the players are looking forward to a busy and varied 2012. There will be plenty of competing and great concerts ahead starting with a contest in Preston followed by a spectacular concert in Starbeck Methodist Church on Saturday 11th February.

    Band Chairman Keith Graham commented: "Being the best band in North Yorkshire is a great achievement by the players. We're seriously entertaining. Audiences love our performances and we'll continue to demonstrate how we deserve this accolade in our busy year ahead".

    The Band can next be seen in concert at Starbeck Methodist Church, 11th February at 7:30pm. Tickets are available on the door or in advance on 01423 887939.

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    Christmas 2008 Not any old Christmas Carols - A big thank you to all our supporters who came to see us play in Marks and Spencers Harrogate and Leeds stores. And of course for the good folk at Marks and Spencers for hosting us and allowing us to collect money for the Band. Each donation goes a long way, why? Because by supporting the Band you're helping us to help others raise thousands of pounds for charities and good causes.


    CD Latest - The Band spent last weekend recording music for their latest CD. Musical Director Craig Ratcliffe led the Band in a marathon weekend of playing, recording twenty-five tracks in just two days. The Band also fitted in a performance for Remembrance Sunday, going straight to St John Fishers Schools after the ceremony to continue recording. The CD will feature singer Laura Jackson as well as various soloists from the Band.

    Check out the website in the new year for more details on the CD.


    Remembrance Day Honour - The Band played during the service of Remembrance at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Stonefall Cemetery, Harrogate once again this year.

    Invited by the Rotary Club of Harrogate Brigantes to provide reflective music during the laying of wreaths, parade music for the marching soldiers and accompanying the hymn singing the Band were also honoured to be asked to perform the Last Post and Reveille.

    Musical Director, Craig Ratcliffe, had rehearsed the cornet section to play the Last Post and Reveille en masse and the performance went without a hitch.

    Rotary Club of Harrogate Brigantes organiser, Mike Bevington, was delighted with the Band's performance particularly as they were performing The Last Post and Reveille for the first time and the Band received many compliments from the public and military service personnel.

    Harrogate Band Chairman commented, "I was very, very proud of the players and the way they performed, the music and especially the Last Post were very moving. We're extremely grateful to the Rotary Club of Harrogate Brigantes for inviting us to perform. This is a very important occasion for the Band to appear at, we look forward to doing it again next year."


    Another North Leeds triumph - Craig Ratcliffe led the Band through another successful concert at Sinai Synagogue in Leeds, this time raising money for The Royal British Legion and B'nai B'rith charities. The Band loved playing in front of this large friendly and discerning audience. Here's what concert organiser, Carole Clayman, said to us afterwards;

    "Thank you once again for a lovely evening on Sunday, everyone as usual enjoyed the music and the whole evening passed very quickly. Don't know how much we made yet but it will be money well spent to our charities."

    We're looking forward to returning to North Leeds on December 10th at Meanwood Methodist Church for our Christmas Concert.


    FUNDRAISING SUCCESS - "Same again next year!" was the plea from Ripon Christian Aid Chairman, Roy Freeman, as the Band concluded another successful Concert for Christian Aid at Holy Trinity Church Ripon last Saturday.

    The audience loved hearing the Band accompany star singer Laura Jackson performing a popular Songs from the Shows set in the first half. And they lapped up a second half packed full of brilliantly entertaining music including a stunning solo called The Holy Well, performed by euphonium player Andrew Hodge.

    The money raised from the concert will be more than matched by a grant from the European Union and will be sent to help Christian Aid's projects in Sierra Leone. The Band were delighted to play their part and used their popular "Juke Box" concept to help raise extra funds. The audience were invited to pay a pound per vote to bid for a piece of music, from a choice of three, to be performed in the second half.

    Out of a choice of The Floral Dance, Dear Lord and Father of Mankind and Thunder and Lightening Polka the audience clearly favoured Strauss' Last Night of the Proms classic and Musical Director Craig Ratcliffe duly took the piece at lightning speed.

    Other highlights included the late Richard Burton's voice starting the second half as the audience were treated to a narration from Jeff Waynes hit The War of the Worlds immediately followed by the Band performing The Eve of the War. Alasdair Simpson and Vincent Ashby-Smith entertained as they dressed up for Kenneth Alford's xylophone duet The Two Imps and the Band finished with Paul Lovatt Cooper's exciting Enchanted Kingdom to end a great night.

    Players are now busy as ever preparing for their next concert at Sinai Synagogue in Leeds. See the engagements section for more information.

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    DAD'S ARMY - NO PANIC! - Harrogate Band performed with Harrogate Dramatic Society in the play "Dad's Army" to packed audiences at Harrogate Theatre. The Band supported the action with suitable music from the wartime era as the "Warmington-on-Sea Town Band".

    After the two organisations success with Brassed Off in 2009, another joint venture was eagerly anticipated and, despite being so soon after the Band's hectic schedule for the National Finals, it was thoroughly enjoyable and successful enterprise.

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    8's OUR FAVOURITE NUMBER! - We're celebrating because we came eighth at the first section National Finals performing Verdi's The Force of Destiny.

    To a non brass-bander that may not seem like a right lot to shout about but considering we were competing against 18 of the best first section bands in the UK and most pundits were saying we'd come in the bottom six, it's flipping brilliant!

    If you're still a bit unimpressed, to use a football analogy, it's a bit like West Brom qualifying for Europe (thanks to our number 1 supporter Helen Easton for that one). So, thinking about the number 8 here's 8 reasons to love The Harrogate Band's national finals result.
    1. It's the best ever contest result for the Band at the National Finals
    2. We did it using all our own players and didn't leave anyone out because we thought they weren't up to it
    3. No dep players, borrowed players or ringers were used
    4. Everyone helped raise loads of money to pay for the coach and hotel by doing extra gigs
    5. The whole band has improved as a result
    6. All the players and supporters had a fun weekend and no one got arrested
    7. We've perfected one of the tracks for our forthcoming CD
    8. We beat loads of bands ranked above us

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    HARDRAW CHAMPIONS - THIRD YEAR IN A ROW - Harrogate Band defended its title at the Hardraw Scar Contest, which was celebrating its 130th Anniversary, to take first place once again - for the third year running. Musical Director Craig Ratcliffe was delighted to receive the winners' shield from Brian Gibb of Theakstons Brewery. Rob Illsley won the soloist prize for his wonderful rendition of "Song and Dance", and the band also won the Best Hymn Tune prize for "Dear Lord and Father". Opening the performance with "Also Sprach Zarathustra", the programme also included the quick march "The Waltonian" and concluded with Paul Lovatt Cooper's "Enchanted Kingdom".

    Television cameras were filming at Hardraw for a forthcoming series on the geology of Britain to be broadcast in early 2012. A number of bandsmen and officials were interviewed, including our Secretary Nick Garrett, and the band's performance was also recorded. We will see what makes it to the final programme! Despite somewhat changeable weather, a great time was had by all.

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    GALA CONCERT A RESOUNDING SUCCESS - The newly refurbished Trinity Methodist Church in Harrogate resounded to the sound of The Harrogate Band recently as the Band were invited to perform the Gala Concert for the re-opening of this fantastic architectural delight and community asset.

    There was plenty of banter on stage between Musical Director Craig Ratcliffe, the Band and the audience who packed both the floor and the balcony. The high ceiling contributed to the venue being an outstanding place for acoustic performances and it is hoped the church is used for many more concerts in years to come.

    Highlights included the Band's next competition piece, La Forza Del Destino plus Paul Lovatt Cooper's Enchanted Kingdom and a beautiful arrangement of Dear Lord and Father of Mankind which was selected by the audience.

    Playing a seventeen piece programme with no less than seven original pieces of music for brass band, six composed in the last ten years showed that the Band is more than ever proving to be a force for good in bringing contemporary brass music to mainstream audiences.

    Concert organiser Jenny Godfrey was delighted with the Band's performance: "Many thanks for a brilliant concert. We're getting so much positive feedback, it's fantastic so thanks again."

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    LOCAL BRASS BANDS STAR IN TV AD - Two of the areas local brass bands joined forces recently to take part in a Yorkshire broadband company's hit TV advert.

    The Harrogate Band and the Knaresborough Silver Band were featured performing as "The Plusnet Band" playing a version of a song by The Kaiser Chiefs.

    Filmed on 15th and 16th of July by feature film director Steve Bendelack, whose credits include Mr Bean's Holiday, Little Britain and Spitting Image, the advert has been shown on primetime ITV.

    Filming took place on Ripon Bandstand which won a hard fought contest against Filey's bandstand. The film crew which included a cast of over fifty extras took over nearly all the Spa Gardens for the two days to complete the filming.

    Joanne Dixon, production manager for the TV company, was full of praise for the local players, "The players of the two bands were wonderful, really great performers. They've really made the advert."

    A spokesman from the TV company, Kream, told the bands that the ad caused meltdown in their clients call centre during it's first week on air.


    LOCAL BRASS STAR - This Sunday sees a young graduate of The Harrogate Band and the Tewit Youth Band, cornet player David Smith, star with the world famous Black Dyke Band in their concert at the Royal Hall. David has been playing for the worlds most famous brass band for a number of years now and owes his playing prowess to Harrogate's two brass bands including a stint as principal cornet of The Harrogate Band. The Black Dyke Band are on a high having recently won the English National Brass Band Championship and will go on to represent England at the European Championships in Rotterdam next May.

    As he still lives in Harrogate David retains close connections with The Harrogate Band and many of his friends in the band will be going to see him perform in the Royal Hall. The Harrogate Band's chief player trainer, Delroy Broadwaite, is especially proud of him, "David is a brilliant player. We're so proud that he's doing well with the best band in the world. It's a great reflection on the Tewit Youth Band and The Harrogate Band that we've both produced a great cornet player."

    David has an annual prize named after him at The Harrogate Band for The Most Improved Player which he will present to the winner as soon as his busy schedule allows. In the meantime he's just delighted to be performing in his home town.

    Call The Royal Hall on 01423 537230 for tickets.


    HARROGATE MAKING STRIDES - Fresh from winning two deportment prizes last Friday at the annual Whit Friday Marching competition The Harrogate Band are in prime entertainment mode for Durham Miners' Gala. Now in their 6th year at the annual "Big Meet" the band have put an extra special effort in this year to improve their marching performance. Not usually known for their deportment prowess, the players, under young new Musical Director, Craig Ratcliffe, have been practising their moves. Something that initially came as a culture shock for players.

    Nick Garrett, the Band's secretary, explained the thinking: "We've never been big on deportment, marching and how we look before. In the past we've just concentrated on our musical performance. But from listening carefully to audiences and clients we've realised that although the integrity and quality of the music is still extremely important, how you look on and off stage constitutes the majority of the audience's impression of the Band." The band have used video and photographs as training aids to show players what they look like when playing on stage and marching which has had instant results. The audience comments have been more positive as well.

    Looking forward to the Gala the Band's musical director Craig Ratcliffe is in ebullient mood: "The Gala organisers have seen videos of us on the internet and are saying we are the band to beat in the entertainment and marching stakes. We should also take the pride in our musical performance in to our marching and choreography as well. We've made real progress in marching deportment as demonstrated by the prizes at Whit Friday, I'm so pleased with the way our players have responded."

    As is always with Harrogate, their entertainment piece for the Gala is shrouded in secrecy. Most years the band play a bespoke arrangement apart from last year when they surprised with Jan Magne Ford's Kongolela, something Craig Ratcliffe was especially proud of: "We have a hard fought reputation for performing contemporary original music for brass band. Clearly playing a modern Norwegian brass band piece was a slight risk for Durham, but it's been our most entertaining set yet, audiences loved it, it proves that original brass band music can be loved by audiences."

    There are no deportment judges at the Gala but the band face the toughest judges of all their loyal clients, Trimdon Grange and the experienced Durham audience. No pressure!


    MARCH TO VICTORY - We won two deportment prizes last Friday at the annual Whit Friday Marches competitions. The competition sees hundreds of brass bands compete in 22 villages around the Saddleworth and Tameside areas.

    Determined to put on an excellent marching display the Band enlisted the help of former Welsh guardsman and Harrogate local Gareth Gibbs who drilled the Band and led them in the marches. As a result we came top at Lees-Springhead and Diggle.

    The Band's musical director, Craig Ratcliffe, was delighted with the Band's efforts, "Winning two deportment prizes was a great result for us, we've put a lot of effort in with Gareth's help. Audience members were coming up to us afterwards saying what a great band Harrogate had and how great we looked when marching."

    Performing William Rimmer's superb march, Arabian, the Band competed in seven villages, playing well in each but not quite reaching the heights of the third place which they attained six years ago at Dobcross.

    The Band had a busy weekend as not only were they performing on the Friday but they wowed a packed audience with their Last Night of the Proms concert at Starbeck Methodist Church on the Saturday. The Band can next be seen at Harlow Carr this weekend for their Taste of Summer event.

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    BANDING COUPLE CELEBRATE NEW ARRIVAL - For the Harrogate Band's principal cornet player Rob Illsley and flugel player Lynne Illsley Sunday nights rehearsal was one to remember. The banding couple were practising with the band when Lynne, who was 36 weeks pregnant, suddenly stopped playing and the couple raced to Harrogate hospital as her labour started.

    Born four weeks early, Albert Stanley Illsley arrived at 3.50am on Monday with clearly no consideration that his dad was due to play the following Friday at the Whit Friday marches competition and on Saturday evening at Starbeck Methodist Church.

    Delighted new mum Lynne is doing well and commented: "We're overjoyed at the safe arrival of baby Albert, he enjoyed listening to the band when he was inside but this time he wanted to come out! He's clearly a brass band fan!"

    Albert's parents will carry on banding, not only did they take him along to the rehearsal on Wednesday to meet the players but Rob will be playing principal cornet as usual at the march competition and the Starbeck concert this Saturday.

    Chairman Keith Graham offered the band's congratulations and joked: "We're so pleased that this lovely banding couple have had the safe delivery of baby Albert. The Band are currently looking for a trombone player so I expect him to be joining soon!"


    DESTINY BECKONS? - Are we destined for glory or cursed after finding out our latest competition piece? The Band's just found out that the music we're to perform at the brass band finals competition is an arrangement of the overture from Guiseppe Verdi's opera classic, La Forza del Destino, or The Force of Destiny.

    After sensationally winning the North of England Area Championships in March and qualifying for the brass band finals competition we've been on tenterhooks waiting for the announcement of the piece that's going to rule our lives over the next four months. Rumours that it was going to be the mythical "Return To Venus" were flying round until the announcement was made on Wednesday.

    However, Forza is an opera that many of the old school Italian singers felt was 'cursed' and brought bad luck. Luciano Pavarotti notoriously avoided the opera for this reason. There have been instances of performers suffering various catastrophe's ranging from death to stage fright. Musical Director Craig Ratcliffe commented, "Yes, I've heard those stories, but we don't have old Italian singers in the Band so the curse doesn't apply! They've probably been put on the internet by our secretary who's annoyed we're having to play an arrangement rather than something more contemporary for brass band. However, it's a phenomenal overture to perform and we're looking forward to getting to grips with the challenges it poses in our rehearsals. Although we're passionate about contemporary music specifically written for brass band what's positive about this piece is that it's something that our concert audiences will really enjoy and we're looking forward to building it into our programme."

    Since we're up against stiff competition, we're hoping to beat the curse and return victorious with silverware.

    The Band can be seen in concert at Starbeck Methodist Church this Saturday 18th June at 7:30pm. Tickets, £6/£4 available on the door.


    BAND BOWLED OVER - Three cheers for American band member John Cooper rounded off a great social night at Menwith Hill, the local American military base. As well as having loads of top secret stuff in giant golf balls we don't know about, Menwith Hill also has a very fine school bandroom where John teaches.

    The Band used this for an open rehearsal, watched by students from John's school with Musical Director Craig Ratcliffe focussing rehearsal time on our march for Whit Friday.

    The base also has an American bowling alley which hosted the Band after the open rehearsal. Here players, their friends and their families enjoyed a few well earned beers, special moose burgers and the ten pin bowling. Players who achieved the higher echelons of bowling included trombone player Danny Dickinson and bass player Ian Bristow.
    Chairman Keith Graham was delighted with the social event, "This is definitely something we'll do again, the players had a great time and the folk on the base have been very welcoming." Most notable during the night was the contrast in bowling styles personified by soprano cornet ace Nathan Wake's somewhat brutal style, countered by cornet player Keri Graham's more graceful bowling.

    Click the picture on the right for more photographs of the evening.

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    WEDDING DELIGHT - More harmony was created in the Harrogate Band last Saturday as two of its long standing members tied the knot. Cornet players Robert Illsley and Lynne Stockdale met through the Band and were married at Harrogate registry office which was followed by a honeymoon in Devon.
    In typical banding fashion they raced back from their honeymoon to attend band practice together without even time to unpack! Although they still had to endure the usual comments from players asking if they'd taken their cornets on holiday to ensure they practised. They are now getting ready for the birth of their first baby in July.
    Rob, Lynne (with bump) and the Band can be seen at Starbeck Methodist Church on Saturday 18th June at 7:30pm. Tickets, £6/£4 available on the door.

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    SONGS FROM THE SHOWS SUCCESS - Lovers of musicals had a treat as glamorous singing star, Laura Jackson and new singer, George Mulryan wowed audiences at The Old Swan Hotel Harrogate. The Band performed a Songs from the Shows concert featuring well known numbers from popular musicals both old and new and audience members were treated to afternoon tea in the hotel during the entertainment.
    Commenting on the event Laura said: "It was a great afternoon's entertainment, I loved singing music from West Side Story, Aspects of Love, Wicked, and many other fantastic musicals."
    Audiences were delighted with the concert and especially the compering by musical director Craig Ratcliffe. "It was a wonderful afternoon!" commented one audience member, "We'd brought our friends along who'd never heard a brass band perform before and they loved it!"

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    NORTH OF ENGLAND CHAMPIONS - Harrogate Band swept the board in the North of England Championships at the Dolphin Centre in Darlington, winning the 1st Section contest resoundingly with their performance of Carnaval Romain by Hector Berlioz, gaining the Les Easton Memorial Trophy. They also took home all the instrumentalist's prizes - the Bob Dales Memorial Trophy for the best Bass Section (Ian, Gavin, Eddie and Matt); the John Hallums Trophy, which was donated to the contest by the Harrogate Band a few years ago in memory of our past President, for the best Percussion Section (Vince, Alastair, Joel, Lynne, Ed and Mary); the Alan & Ann Hope Trophy for the best Trombonist (Dan). In addition there was a special prize for the best euphonium player, in recognition of the extensive solo part in the test piece, and this was also won on behalf of the Band by Andrew Hodge's superb performance.

    As the new North of England Champions the Harrogate Band will be representing the region in the National Brass Band Championships Finals, which will be held in Cheltenham on September 25th 2011.

  • Click here for British Bandsman review
  • Click here for 4barsrest review
  • Click here for newspaper report


    PATELEY BRIDGE CONCERT - A fine concert was given at Pateley Bridge Methodist Church on 12 March to a full church. As well as treating the audience to a preview of the forthcoming Regional Championships test piece, Carnaval Romain by Hector Berlioz, other music included the Bernstein's West Side Story Suite and Aaron Copland's Hoedown

  • Click here for the newspaper review


    NEW PERCUSSIVE ADDITION - The future's bright for The Harrogate Band's percussion team as the talented, multi-instrumentalist whiz kid Alasdair Simpson has joined their ranks. Alasdair, at just 17 years of age, is a pianist by training but has mastered tuned percussion over just three years as well as being an accomplished kit player for the last four. "I love playing in the Band there's never a dull moment in our percussion section! We're kept busy especially as we're performing so much lively music at the moment."
    Musical Director Craig Ratcliffe is especially pleased to see him making an impact. "He's a fantastically talented musician and a great team player. We're playing lots of exciting big band, West End and Broadway musical numbers at the moment which he's doing a great job of. His tuned percussion and kit playing is excellent, he's made a real improvement to our sound." Audiences have seen him rush around in concerts playing vibraphone, glockenspiel, xylophone and much else besides. Not content with being the band's most talented percussion player he's also been known to help out on tuba which has impressed fellow players in the Band. You can see Alasdair playing with the Band at their popular Songs from Shows concert at The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate on 17th April, 3pm. Call the hotel on 01423 500055 for tickets (£10).

  • Click here for newspaper article


    CALLING ALL CANADIANS - The Harrogate Band will be performing an arrangement of the popular Canadian melody "My Ain Folk" at its concerts throughout the year.

    My Ain Folk is a beautiful, lyrical piece of music which expresses an expats yearning for their homeland. It is also notable for being written by Canadian composer Laura Lemon (1826-1924). Laura Lemon also wrote Canadian favourites "Canada Forever!" and "Mighty Dominion". Sadly these have not been arranged for brass band yet!

    The Band has extended a warm invitation to Canadians who are resident in the UK to our 2011 concert season to hear a fantastic arrangement of this Canadian classic played by a great Yorkshire brass band.

  • Letter to the Canadian Women's Club


    BEER & ANOTHER TV APPEARANCE - With their conductor working in New York and most of their players still finishing a hard day at work The Harrogate Band pulled out all the stops to perform live on Look North at the Harrogate and District Round Table Beer Festival last Thursday. Concert Manager Nick Garrett took the call at 4:15pm on the day from the organisers asking for the Band to be ready to play live at one minute to seven. Bandmaster Nathan Wake then had the job of ringing players to get them there an hour ahead of schedule.
    "One guy was in the shower and our horn player Delroy Broadwaite was stuck in Cleckheaton, it was touch and go", said Nathan. Trombone player Danny Dickinson ended up knotting his tie seconds before the live performance but the hardest challenge fell to Vince Ashby-Smith who scrambled to assemble his entire drum kit in just five minutes.
    The Band played Colonel Bogey for the live news feed early evening and On Ilkla Moor Ba t'hat for the late evening news slot. They continued to entertain beer fans at the Saturday afternoon session.
    The Band will be performing at their popular Songs from Shows concert at The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate on 17th April, 3pm. Call the hotel on 01423 500055 for tickets (£10).


    GOODBYE HARROGATE, HELLO CHELTENHAM - The organisers of the National Brass Band Championships have decided that the Section 1 - 4 Finals will be held in Cheltenham this year, at the Racecourse, moving away from Harrogate which has been their home since 2004.

    Over the last seven years the Harrogate Band has been proud to support the National Finals by providing rehearsal facilities for 155 visiting bands over the contest weekends. Sadly, now the contest is moving to Cheltenham, we will not be doing so this year, but wish all competing bands the very best in their new venue.
    This issue has been highlighted in the local press:


    NEW ADDITION FROM OVER THE POND - The Harrogate Band's newest recruit has joined from four and half thousand miles away . John Cooper who just five months ago was living in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma in the USA is their newest cornet player. John is new to brass bands having spent his spare time in the states playing for the Tulsa Praise Orchestra Sounds of Music Big Band and the Tulsa Community Band. He's been looking forward to playing for a British style brass band for a while and is getting used to playing the cornet instead of his usual instrument the trumpet. "My musician mates in the states are seriously jealous about me playing for a British brass band, we don't really have them back home. I love it! When I told my folks back home that my next gig is playing at an afternoon tea concert in a hotel made famous by Agatha Christie they went crazy!"

    John is a music teacher at Menwith Hill and has already performed with the Band in several of their concerts. As a new member of the Band he has been assigned a mentor, Delroy Broadwaite, to help him get to grips with a new instrument, new style of music and to help him get to concerts around the country. This mentoring approach has helped previous members of the Band including David Smith who now plays for the world famous Black Dyke Band. Delroy says: "Working with John is a real pleasure, I'm helping him adjust to the ensemble playing of a British Brass band and also passing on some wisdom from my extensive time in brass banding." When asked if there were any difficulties between the Americans approach and Delroy's Yorkshire born method Delroy replied: "Frankly, no. We do have a little difficulty understanding each other at times but as I spent a few months in Canada in my youth we seem to manage ok".

    You can see John playing with the Band at their popular Songs from Shows concert at The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate on 17th April, 15:00. Call the hotel on 01423 500055. Tickets are £10.

    Click here for newspaper article


    BRASS AT THE GUILD - The Band challenged some of the country's top big name bands in a competition at the Guildhall in Preston last Sunday. After an exhilarating performance of Berlioz's Le Carnaval Romain the Band were placed 10th by the adjudicator. Considering they beat bands ranked above them this turned out to be a highly satisfying result. This was the first contest in which the Band was led by its new musical director, Craig Ratcliffe, who has been drilling the band hard since Christmas in preparation.
    Commenting on the performance he said: "I can't fault the commitment of the players. It's a deceptively tough piece of music and every player has really put the effort in. I was delighted with our performance which we put together in just four weeks. We'll now focus our efforts on our concert programme."
    The Band will be performing very different music in the Old Swan Hotel on 17th April. In a break from the more serious fare they'll be performing their entertaining Songs from the Shows set with a guest singer whilst the audience have a civilised afternoon tea. "We've been playing the same piece since Christmas so it'll be nice to give players a break and play songs from popular musicals. I'm looking forward to building an exciting programme and working with a singer. We still put the same effort in to pieces like West Side Story that we do for a competition piece."


    ESCAPE TO THE COUNTRY - We're on BBC One's Escape to the Country this Friday 4th February at 2.15pm. Originally filmed last year The Harrogate Band provided music in the town's Valley Gardens and were interviewed by Aled drawing on the theme of the town as a place where people took the waters.
    Linking the current modern brass band to the original Harrogate Temperance Band founded in the 1890's the show cheekily filmed current members enjoying certain liquid refreshments in nearby Hales Bar, something original members of the Temperance Band would certainly not have been able to do. The episode shows Aled helping a couple on a property hunt with a budget of £850,000. They need a big kitchen as a basis for their catering business.



    Craig Ratcliffe NEW MUSICAL DIRECTOR APPOINTED - Craig Ratcliffe has been appointed as the Musical Director of The Harrogate Band. His appointment comes after an extensive search for the right person who can develop and inspire the Band and bring in new ideas to entertain audiences.

    On being appointed Craig said: "This is a dream come true for me, I am absolutely delighted to be doing this job. I live in Harrogate and to conduct my 'home' band is a real honour."

    When asked what his vision for the Band was he said: "I want to ensure we're seriously entertaining whilst keeping our reputation for pioneering new music. I'm really keen to work and collaborate with other musical groups in our area to do this. We have a hugely experienced and talented set of players in the Band. We also have a fantastic reputation but that reputation exists mainly outside Harrogate. I want to show the people of Harrogate that they have a seriously entertaining and innovative band".

    Craig, 27, is a teacher of Music and Music technology at St. John Fisher Catholic High School in Harrogate and played euphonium for Yorkshire Co-operative and Pennine Brass whilst studying music at Huddersfield University. For the past 4 years, Craig has been the Band's principal euphonium player and more recently, the Assistant Musical Director and therefore knows not just the players but the local area and clients the Band performs for. His appointment comes after spending 6 successful years with the Tewit Youth Band as Musical Director.

    As well as working with brass bands, Craig has a huge amount of experience in many other musical fields and alongside his role as Instrumental Tuition Co-ordinator at St. John Fisher, he is happily at home working with many different types of musical group. Craig is also well recognised for his work as an Artistic Director of the International Youth Music Festival in Harrogate, and can usually be found conducting the massed band of international musicians on the finale night of the festival.

    Harrogate's Chairman, Keith Graham, is absolutely delighted with the appointment: "Craig's been our Assistant Musical Director for the last few months and in his short time in front of the Band has developed and energised our players. He's an excellent compere, has a great rapport with audiences and has bags of experience in putting on great concerts. As he's been in the Band he knows our clients very well and has already introduced new ideas to make our improve our performances. This is a great appointment and we're so pleased it's gone to a Harrogate man."

    Click here for newspaper article

    40 YEARS YOUNG FOR LOCAL BRASS BAND - There have been three brass bands in Harrogate's history prior to the current Harrogate Band which as one of the youngest brass bands in the country celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Previous brass bands in Harrogate have had their life curtailed by members going to war and lack of funding. The current Harrogate Band was founded by school teacher Neil Richmond with ex pupils from the Granby High School Concert Band who wanted to continue playing after leaving school.

    Brass bands are in competitive leagues or sections and over the years the Band has moved from the 4th to the top section. It now competes just below the top section and enjoys a good reputation in the local area and has a reputation in brass band circles for performing new music for brass band.

    Highlights over the years include tours to France, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, Belgium and Czechoslovakia. The Band has also had the opportunity to play with top musicians over the years including percussionist Simone Rebello and cornet player Alan Morrison.

    Players have also appeared numerous times on television including appearing on Emmerdale, Brides of the Bath, Heatbeat and members will be featuring in an upcoming episode of Escape to the Country in February. The players are no strangers to the stage either having appeared in two different versions of the theatrical version of the hit film Brassed Off.

    Seventeen year old Flugel horn player Emily Larwood is a recent addition to the ranks, and loves playing at concerts and competitions.

    "I love coming to band practice, the standard of playing is high, people take the music seriously but it's also good fun."

    Many players have passed through the Band since 1970, but one original member, Andrew Jackson, still plays with the Band from time to time. Ex players have gone on to play for the world famous Black Dyke Mills Band and military bands. 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.

    "It's the sheer variety of music available to brass bands that makes them so compelling!" explains Band Chairman, Keith Graham. We play all kinds of music, jazz, swing, classical, pop, rock, military and of course original brass band music." In fact, the Band is known for promoting original new music for brass band, a move started by its former musical director, David Lancaster. To commemorate it's 40th Year the Band commissioned a special trophy for the famous Hardraw Scar Contest awarded to the best performance of a piece of original music for Band written in the last 40 years. It came as no surprise that they won it, plus the prize for the best hymn tune and first prize overall.

    But it's not just competitions that the Band is involved with performing numerous engagements each year including formal concerts, weddings, commercial functions, fanfares and in this season, carolling. The Band is self-sufficient, save for generous support for their rehearsal premises by the Hymas family, and relies on engagement income to fund instruments and fees.

    Commenting on the upcoming Christmas season Keith Graham commented: "Carolling is a very important part of our year and we're grateful to Marks and Spencers in Leeds and Harrogate for allowing us to perform exclusively in their stores. People absolutely love the traditional Christmas carols played by a brass band. So many Christmas music performers have noisy backing tapes but we're authentic and our players play carols with integrity and heart, we're quality musicians and we apply to that to carolling as much as contesting."

    This Saturday the Band are looking forward to performing a Christmas concert with the Tewit Youth Band in St Peter's Church. Chairman Keith Graham explained, "We play regular popular concerts in Leeds, Kirkby Malzeard and Ripon but we would really like to perform regularly in our home town, Harrogate.

    So what about the next 40 years? Keith Graham is adamant that Harrogate's brass band will still be going strong. "Versatility and innovation are the key and that's something that's built into the Bands DNA. We'll still be entertaining people and pioneering new music in the years to come."

    Now an established part of Harrogate's cultural scene unlike its predecessors The Harrogate Band are here to stay.

    The Harrogate Band can be seen in concert Saturday 4th December at St Peter's Church, Harrogate at 19:30. Tickets, £5/£3.

    Click here for newspaper article

    Remembrance 2010 REMEMBRANCE - Once again the Band provided the music for the Harrogate Remembrance service at the Stonefall Commonwealth Cemetary. Representatives of many civic and military organisations took part in the ceremony, and a wartime DC3 Dakota flew overhead at the start of the two minute silence.

    Following the Band's performance at Remembrance Day, Rotary Club organiser Mike Bevington said it was the 'best ever' performance from the Band. He complimented the choice of music and stated how much the parade appreciated our marching music.

    The Band have of course been booked for next year.

    Click here for newspaper article

    Hardraw award HARDRAW AWARD PRESENTATION - Following the Band's success at the Hardraw Scar contest in September our Chairman, Keith Graham, was delighted to visit John North, who was our guest musical director for the contest, Hardraw award and present him with the trophy for the winning conductor. Aptly enough it is an engraved glass tankard, which was rapidly filled with an appropriate beverage and, no doubt, equally rapidly consumed!


    SUCCESS AT LEEDS FUNDRAISER - Assistant Musical Director Craig Ratcliffe led the Band at their now regular appearance in North Leeds in a concert to raise money for St Gemma's Hospice and B'nai B'rith. Charity and concert organiser Jeff Brownhut received a resounding "Yes!" when he asked the audience at the end whether they wanted the Band back next year. Players had worked hard on a new concert reportoire including Bernstein's Candide and Country Scene by Goff Richards (an original work for brass band) which the audience loved. The concert included Emily Larwood's standout flugel horn solo of Misty which is a regular concert favourite, she performed it brilliantly and the concert was a huge success.

    Don't just take our word for it however - here's what organiser Jeff Brownhut had to say afterwards:

    "It was a great night on Sunday and we have heard nothing but praise about your bands performance. You have now a big following in North Leeds! Every one of the musicians were excellent and Craig's introductions and comments were "just right". Please pass on our committee's deepest gratitude to everyone involved and also to "your supporters" who came and helped swell the attendance. Approx 250 people enjoyed the concert. We were very happy with the attendance despite a major "free" event in the community taking place a short distance away at the same time! St Gemma's Hospice and the B'nai B'rith efforts to help feed elderly people in the Ukraine will both benefit from the proceeds of the concert. Kindest regards and again thanks for a brilliant evening,


    HOLY TRINITY - "We're absolutely delighted with your performance, thanks for a brilliant concert again!"

    These were the words of the organisers at the Band's recent performance in Holy Trinity Church Ripon in a concert for Christian Aid. According to reviewer Graham Peters the band played with "creativity and verve"

    Click here to see the review of this concert

    Joel Graham accepting the winner's trophyHARDRAW SCAR CHAMPIONS - 2nd YEAR RUNNING! - The Band, under the baton of John North, fought off the competition to retain its champion's crown at the 129th Anniversary Hardraw Scar contest, in the Yorkshire Dales on Sunday. In addition to winning the overall prize and the new shield, the band took home the trophy for the best hymn tune of the day.

    A new trophy had been donated by the Harrogate Band to the contest to mark our 40th anniversary in 2010, and named the "Neil Richmond Trophy" in honour of our President, who founded the band in 1970. This tropy was to be awarded to the band playing the best performance of a piece of original brass band music composed in the last 40 years. Happily the Harrogate Band won this prize also, for its performance of Galaxies by Carl Davis, which concluded our programme.

    The band's performance started with William Walton's Spitfire Prelude, followed by a magical solo performance by Nathan Wake on soprano cornet of George Gershwin's Summertime. Next came William Rimmer's march Arabian, and William Himes' arrangement of Amazing Grace, and ending with Galaxies.

    This was the Band's 15th appearance at the Hardraw Scar Contest since 1983. The Band has won the Hardraw Scar contest three times in the last four years.

    Click here to see the review of the contest performance

    Band competing at Hardraw, 2010 Nathan Wake - soloist - at Hardraw, 2010


    Neil Richmond trophyNEIL RICHMOND TROPHY - In this year, 2010, the Harrogate Band celebrates its 40th anniversary. It was founded in 1970 by Neil Richmond. To mark this anniversary, and recognise the contribution made by Neil over the years - he is now the Band's President, we offered to sponsor a new prize at the forthcoming Hardraw Scar contest. This will be for the best performance of a piece of music originally composed for brass band within the last 40 years. This trophy will be competed for this year and continue for years to come.

    DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE - The Harrogate Band entertained a packed crowd down by the riverside in Wetherby last Sunday afternoon as guests of the Wetherby Bandstand Riverside Trust. Although there will be more bands appearing at the bandstand this was the last performance by the Harrogate Band in their set of summer engagements.
    The Band's chairman, Keith Graham, was delighted with the turnout and response from the crowd,
    "The Wetherby Bandstand Trust and Leeds City Council do a fantastic job in promoting and organising the summer concerts at this wonderful bandstand. Thankfully the dreadful weather we've been having held off and people came down and enjoyed the band's performance."
    Soprano cornet player Nathan Wake and principal trombonist Danny Dickinson featured as soloists as the crowd sat back and enjoyed an exciting programme conducted and compered by the Band's musical director, Steve Morland.
    In what was probably the biggest surprise of the afternoon the band learnt that a fan had travelled all the way from Belgium to hear the band perform. Harrogate Band fan Adele Roy lives in Leuven, Belgium, and first heard the Band last year in Ripon whilst she was on a caravan tour. Seeing from the Band's website that it was their last summer concert she came to the UK specially on this weekend to catch their final performance.
    The Band can next be seen in Holy Trinity Church Ripon on 16th October for a concert for Christian Aid at 19:30.

    GROVE HOUSE - The concept of a concert with music from stage and screen is hardly a new one and is used by all sorts of music groups to provide ready-made entertainment to audiences for whom familiarity is a comfort rather than cause for contempt. The key for any music group in preventing the format for seeming like the microwave meal for music is to ensure that they serve what the audience demands, show off the best of their performers and keep the programming as fresh as a summer fruit salad.
    As soon as the first chords of William Walton's Spitfire Prelude sounded from the bells of The Harrogate Band, the grandeur of this fine setting was Matched by the power and glory of this first-class brass band. Here was an example of imaginative programming, this arrangement suited the qualities of a brass band and made an excellent start to the proceedings. The well-manicured lawn outside the RAOB's architectural gem Grove House was a fantastic stage for the band who, as they were playing in the open air, met the challenge by producing a more weightier bass sound than I've heard from them before. It was as if someone had pressed the 'bass boost' button on the stereo and this added sonority underpinned much of the playing and gave a certain gravitas to the sound.
    This was well-used, not only in the Walton, but also in Star Wars where Paul Davies' bass trombone pumped out a menacing tone to remind us of the threats of the dark side. In antithesis to the dark force, there was plenty of light and joy to savour, in particular 17-year-old Emily Larwood's lovely flugel playing in Lloyd-Webber's I Don't Know How to Love Him, which was a particular delight. Her playing was expressive and took into account the mood of the song being both reflective and impassioned where needed. Let's hope there's more to come from this fine soloist. Earlier, another young soloist, soprano cornet player Nathan Wake, delighted the audience by performing Live and Let Die. With a clear nod to trumpeter Maynard Ferguson (surely the inspiration for his style), his playing sparkled like a Bond Martini. Indeed, his performance throughout the concert was exemplary, particularly in Oklahoma!, where he added precise delicate ornamentation to compliment ensemble playing of the highest order.
    By far the youngest star of the evening was Joel Graham in the percussion section, who played with assuredness and confidence throughout, but particularly in Somewhere from West Side Story. He proved he could handle the pressure of performing on his own and was a worthy assistant to lead percussionist Vincent Ashby-Smith, who did a great job of driving the music forward in pieces such as And All That Jazz and Singing in the Rain.
    Credit to the programming must of course go to conductor Steve Morland, whose encyclopaedic knowledge of this oeuvre surely merits some kind of qualification. Despite the familiar format through a combination of well-chosen arrangements and top quality playing from their young stars, this performance showed that familiarity breeds contentment.

    Click here to see the above review

    BIRTHDAY PROMS - 'What a great way to spend my birthday!' were the words of North Yorkshire's famous brewer, Paul Theakston, founder of The Black Sheep Brewery as he and his wife Sue and friends enjoyed the Last Night of the Proms concert hosted at Mowbray House in Kirkby Malzeard last Saturday. The evening event was to raise money for Kirkby Malzeard church and the entertainment was provided by The Harrogate Band performing for the 11th time in a row at the house.
    Major Berry, the host for the evening provided a splendid setting for audience members to have their picnics and wave their flags as the Band, assisted by singer Carmel Wake, roused spirits with a traditional Last Night of the Proms set including Land of Hope and Glory and Pomp and Circumstance.
    Harrogate Band Chairman Keith Graham commented, "When we found out we were also celebrating Paul Theakston's birthday that evening we couldn't resist playing happy birthday, it was a great evening which the players thoroughly enjoyed."
    The Harrogate Band can be seen on August 14th with a concert of music from stage and screen at Grove House at 7pm. Call 01423 533969 for details.

    ESCAPE TO THE COUNTRY - Aled Jones, presenter of the BBC TV show Escape to the Country and his early morning show on Radio 2, was in Harrogate filming a new edition of the programme. The Harrogate Band provided some music in the town's Valley Gardens and were interviewed by Aled. Filming had to be temporarily suspended to allow five band members to rush down the road to perform the penultimate fanfare from the roof of the Royal Hall, before hot footing it back to complete the session with Aled and his film crew.

    ROYAL HALL FANFARES - As part of this year's Harrogate International Festival the "Bold as Brass" initiative gave the opportunity to composers to write a fanfare for brass quintet for the Festival. A number winning entries were selected and were played on the roof of the Royal Hall in Harrogate each evening prior to the Festival concert. Tewit Youth Band provided the fanfare quintet the first week and Harrogate Band took over the baton in the second week.


    OLD SWAN SONGS - Following a successful Christmas Eve stint playing carols The Band returned to The Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate for their first full concert at the hotel that they hope will be the first of many. Performing a popular format of Songs from the Shows, the audience lapped up the music with their afternoon tea in what turned out to be a very civilised way of spending Sunday afternoon according to reviewer, Graham Peters.

    Click here to read the review


    TOWN BAND A HIT AT GALA - The Harrogate Band, Harrogate's very own brass band, one again proved to be the most popular Band at Durham's annual Miners Gala. The Gala, which has been going since 1871 and attracts 50,000 people to the city, celebrates the Durham pit villages mining heritage. Each pit village, led by a brass band, parades its unique union banner through their village and then through the main centre of Durham in what locals call 'the big meet'. The Bands play marches as they parade the banners through Durham and perform a 'party piece' outside the famous County Hotel in the centre of Durham.

    As in previous years The Harrogate Band has represented the village of Trimdon and the Trimdon organisers have crowned the Band's performance this year as 'the best ever.' Gala organiser Davey Gibson said,

    'The Harrogate Band is one of 30 brass bands from around the country that perform for the Gala and audiences routinely say they are the best and the most entertaining. Trimdon feels an enormous amount of pride when The Harrogate Band play, the people of Harrogate have a very fine group of musicians. They're great people.'

    For the Gala the Band played lively music livened by the Band's popular in-house choreographer Delroy Broadwaite who praised the Band for its entertaining style singling out Band player and Chairman, Keith Graham, for his entertaining performance.
    Click here to see part of our performance by the County Hotel, on

    Click here to see our performance at "The Steps" on

    The Band can next be seen in The Old Swan Hotel on July 18th for a concert featuring Songs from the Shows at 15:00 Call the hotel on 01423 500055 for details and at Grove House, Harrogate August 14th, 7pm for Music from Stage and Screen. 01423 533969.   <12/7/10>

    BRASSED OFF COUPLE WED - Local stars of Harrogate Dramatic Society's sell-out production of Brassed Off at Harrogate Theatre, Kelly Nevitt and Chris Brown tied the knot last weekend at Fewston Church followed by a musical reception at the Army Foundation College, Harrogate. The Harrogate Band, who provided the live band on stage for the production, turned out to perform at the reception allowing the couple to reminisce on their romantic roles in last years production.

    Kelly played the role of Gloria Mullins and Chris played the hapless Andy Barrows who falls for her during the course of the play adapted from the hit film of 1994.

    The couple were so delighted with the Band that they invited them to perform at their wedding. Chairman of the Band, Keith Graham, commented, "Chris and Kelly and all the people at the Dramatic Society were so friendly towards us I instructed our secretary to give this lovely young couple a staff discount for their wedding, the Band's players were eager to play."

    Senior Band player Delroy Broadwaite commented, "Kelly looked fantastic and Chris was absolutely immaculate, they both came over and had their picture taken with us, you couldn't meet a nicer couple."

    This is the second wedding the Band have performed at this year and there are more in the pipeline but none of them will be quite as special as this one.

    The Band can next be seen in The Old Swan Hotel on July 18th for a concert featuring Songs from the Shows at 14:00 Call the hotel on 01423 500055 for details.

    NEW PRIZE GIFT FROM HARROGATE TO HARDRAW SCAR - To celebrate their 40th Anniversary The Harrogate Band is dedicating a special prize to the famous Yorkshire Dales Hardraw Scar entertainment contest.

    The Band is keen to encourage musical directors to pick at least one piece of music that has been written specifically for brass bands for their Hardraw Scar entertainment programmes and have therefore selected a prize for the best performance of an original piece of music for brass band written in the last 40 years.

    Contest organisers, The Yorkshire and Humberside Brass Band Association, welcomed the prize as being a fantastic asset for the popular contest which this year is being held on the 12th of September with 14 bands taking part.

    Harrogate, who under their previous but one MD David Lancaster gained a reputation for innovation and supporting new composers, will be donating a trophy and prize money to the Contest.


    FIREFIGHTERS CHARITY ANNUAL CHRISTMAS CONCERT - "Another feast of entertainment" was how reviewer Graham Peters described this ever popular annual concert where the Band were joined by The Fisher Singers, The North Yorkshire Bagpipes Band, The West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Band and singer soloist, Lucy Rhodes. Click here to read the review

    2009 RETROSPECTIVE - What a year 2009 has been for The Harrogate Band! We gained a new Musical Director, several new members, regained silverware and had an acclaimed run in a theatrical production! That's not to mention the wide array of other contests and concerts which have seen the band travel across Northern England to venues including Buxton, Scarborough, Selby and Durham.

    New Faces - 2009 saw the appointment of the band's 6th Musical Director - Roy Waite. Roy studied music at Nottingham University and the Royal Academy of Music, going on to play with many of the top bands as solo cornet including: Crossley Carpet Works, Hammonds Sauce Works , Dalmellington and Desford Colliery as principal cornet. He has brought a wealth of conducting experience from Championship Section bands including Lindley, Boarshurst, Amoco, Barrow Vickers, Skipton and Mossley. As a 'modern' brass band our players come from all walks of life, and this year it has been especially refreshing to see an influx of youthful enthusiasm into the band - local recruits Nathan Wake and Luke Galloway have graduated from the excellent Tewit Youth Band, whilst Paula Roberts moved to the area from 'oop north'. Bartolomeo 'Bart' Girardi also joined us on percussion from Italy - via Leeds where he working on an EU programme as a volunteer teacher. An old face also returned, with Rob Illsley returning as Principal Cornet bringing his skill and guidance to a new look cornet section.

    Contesting - The band took part in three contests during 2009 - fewer than in recent years but each with strong results. The contesting year began in Darlington at the North of England Regional Championships, where our performance of Graham Cole's 'Pentacle' gained a creditable 5th place in the First Section. Spring saw a return to the popular Buxton Brass Band Festival, where our performance of Philip Sparke's magnificent 'Year of the Dragon' secured 4th place overall. The contesting highlight then came in September at the the Hardraw Scar contest, where the band played in the wonderful amphitheatre below the Hardraw Force waterfall to win back its trophy and become champions once again. Having won the contest in 2007, we had been pipped at the post in 2008 by the Shepherd Group Band. This year, however the tables were turned and the Harrogate Band stormed past the competition to win. In addition to winning the contest, then band also gained the prize for the best contest march of the day.

    New venues and ventures - The year saw many new venues and joint ventures for the band. June saw a joint performance in the fantastic St Wilfred's Church with the acclaimed Harrogate Choral Society, whilst the summer brought new opportunities for the band at Harlow Carr Music Festival and Bolton Abbey. A trip to the seaside appeared on the engagements list when the band was invited to perform for Unison at the Scarborough Spa complex - sadly it turned out to be a windy and rainy night in October, although this didn't stop some band members paddling!. A visit to Hampsthwaite saw the band play in front of a crammed memorial hall and one of the warmest welcomes of the year.

    Old Favourites - Once again the band represented the village of Trimdon Grange at the Durham Miners Gala, and returned to super venues and audiences at Ripon Holy Trinity Church, Sinai Synagogue, Meanwood Methodist Church, Wetherby Riverside Bandstand, Pateley Bridge Bandstand, Starbeck Methodist Church, Roundhay Park and Pannal Golf Club before closing the year at Harrogate International Centre at the North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service Christmas Carol Concert.

    Goodbyes - We said goodbye to 'baby' David Smith who moved on after several years with the band, latterly as our principal cornet. Prior to his departure however we were delighted to accompany David in his Final Performance as part of his music degree at University of York St John. David is now playing with the world famous Black Dyke Band and we wish him every success in the future.

    Brassed Off! - The highlight of the year came in early October, when the band joined forces with Harrogate Dramatic Society to present "Brassed Off" for the first time at Harrogate Theatre. Not only was the show a fantastic experience for all involved but it was also a resounding success with audiences, playing to full houses at every show. As the Harrogate Advertiser put it: "....and it is the music of the band - those familiar tunes such as the rousing Land of Hope Glory or the jubilant Floral Dance - that lifts the spirits when nothing else can. The Harrogate Band played such tunes magnificently, and proved what talented and accomplished performers they are."

    We now look forward to busy 2010 - our 40th Anniversary and to seeing our supporters at the variety of concerts and some special events that we will be staging.

    B'NAI B'RITH CONCERT - SINAI SYNAGOGUE - The annual David Clayman Memorial Concerts have become something of a landmark both in the Leeds Lodge and Leeds Jewish community's calendar. As many of you will know, David was a former popular President of the Leeds Lodge and it was decided to commemorate his untimely passing with a brass band concert some years ago. Not surprising then that the BBUK National Executive decided to go en bloc up north for a November weekend to both take the rare opportunity to socialise with our northern colleagues and to hear (and see) for themselves why brass bands are so popular in the north.

    We weren't disappointed being given an especially warm welcome by Leeds joint President Derek Levy (his co-President Tony Felston was unable to attend) and the team who organized the hospitality and the concert led by Carole Clayman and Jeff Brownhut. And, of course, we got to meet many other Leeds members. Special thanks are also due to the Melnicks, Valerie and Joe of SAUL Lodge, who sparked the initiative to get the visit going in the first place.

    Musically, it was a special evening for at this, the fifth concert in the series, we saw the debut of the award-winning Harrogate Band. If you don't associate the spa town of Harrogate with brass bands then you might also be surprised to learn that band membership includes estate agents, department store managers and academics. Whilst 'Nimrod' reminded us of Elgar's links with Harrogate, the band showed their versatility with arrangements of works by Ted Heath, Louis Armstrong, Ron Goodwin and Tchaikovsky

    There were over 400 enthusiastic people in the audience at the Siniai Synagogue Hall with the proceeds going to BBUK charities and the Leeds Jewish Welfare Board.

    LUKE WHO'S GOT HIS HANDS FULL - It takes dexterity, concentration, skill plus plenty of practice and if done properly, entertains people of all ages. Luke Galloway is an expert juggler who combines his love of juggling with his other passion, brass banding, where he says similar attributes are required. Sixteen year old Luke runs a juggling club, The Theatre of the Absurd, and is now a fully signed up member of The Harrogate Band, North Yorkshire's finest brass band, playing the tenor horn.

    The Harrogate Band players only realised Luke's other passion when he was found juggling with players' instrument stands and mutes minutes before a concert, "He's a very talented juggler," said Keith Graham, Harrogate Band Chairman, "added to that, he's a also an accomplished tenor horn player, it's great having him join the Band."

    Luke's juggling prowess is brought to bear on the twenty other participants in The Circus of the Absurd, a juggling club he runs at the HYPeR Youth Club on Tuesday evenings, where he can be found helping out aspirant jugglers of all ages by passing on tips and training them. Commenting on the similarities between his two hobbies Luke said, "You wouldn't think it but many of the things you need to be a juggler are shared with playing a musical instrument; concentration; practice; awareness of your surroundings; performing in front of an audience; controlling your nerves when performing as well as basic hand eye co-ordination."

    Luke also uses his juggling to focus his mind before appearing on stage with the Band. Keith Graham commented: "A lot of players have set routines they go through before going on stage to control their nerves, most people fidget and clean their instruments but whenever I look across at Luke he's usually found something to juggle and has a gang of players round him watching him go through one of his routines!".

    Luke commented: "It's a great way for me to relax and release the tension before I perform on stage with the Band. You need something to distract you and stop you getting nervous so I like to juggle and the players love to watch, in fact it's got to the stage now where people are routing through their instrument cases finding stuff for me to juggle just to challenge me!".

    Asked whether Luke will get to combine his two passions on stage Keith Graham said: "I'd love it if we could work Luke's juggling into one of our performances. We're always looking for opportunities to add new dimensions to our concerts to entertain audiences. I predict we'll have something for him to work on pretty soon, watch this space."

    Let's hope for Luke's sake the Band won't be expecting him to play his tenor horn and juggle at the same time, then he really would have his hands full.

    WAKEY WAKEY! - Harrogate Band has recently signed 19 year old Nathan Wake as its new star soprano cornet player.
    College student Wake started playing aged 8 and progressed through Knaresborough Silver Band and the Tewit Youth Band before trying starting out for the Harrogate Band in June. Since having been made an official member last week Wake is getting used to life in the upper tier of brass banding.
    Commenting on his recent experiences since joining the Band Wake said: "I've had a fantastic time, since joining we've won an entertainment contest and taken part in Brassed Off at Harrogate Theatre, it's been amazing! I love playing the cornet and my playing has improved so much and so quickly since I've been playing with the Band."
    Wake has benefited from a unique mentoring scheme set up by the Band to help new young players adjust to the higher demands of playing in a top section band. Music teacher and band associate, Delroy Broadwaite, acts as his Band mentor. He gives him tips and guidance in addition to the regular lessons he recieves from his cornet teacher. "Del's great" says Wake, "he offered me some great tips and advice before my first contest with the Band, it's great to have someone I can turn to for advice for playing at this level."
    Wake's made such a good debut at Harrogate he's already been asked to perform a stand up solo in the band's upcoming concerts. The Band's Chairman, Keith Graham, commented,
    "It's great having Nathan on board, he practices hard and clearly loves his banding. Most importantly to us, he's a local lad who's come to us from the Tewit Youth Band. We'd rather give a seat to a young player from a youth band than offer a position to a more experienced player from outside the area."
    Wake will be appearing with the Harrogate Band in their concert 30th October in Hampsthwaite Village Hall and at the Fire Fighter's Charity Concert 20th December.

    BRASSED OFF SUCCESS - This show could have been all about the music. Set in the mid-1990's at the time of the pit closures, it tells of one mining community's efforts to fight the sweeping changes put in place by Margaret Thatcher and continued under John Major's leadership.
    It deals not just with the closure of a pit in the fictional South Yorkshire town of Grimley, but all that went with it, from the disintegration of individuals, families and the community to the loss of the colliery band.
    It is the band that plays on throughout, that provides a beacon of hope for a community with nothing left. And it is the music of the band - those familiar tunes such as the rousing Land of Hope Glory or the jubilant Floral Dance - that lifts the spirits when nothing else can.
    The Harrogate Band played such tunes magnificently, and proved what talented and accomplished performers they are. They could have stolen the show - but instead were matched in talent by the members of the Harrogate Dramatic Society, who gave strong, believable and emotive performances.
    The whole show was a triumph which held the audience captive throughout, a feat in no small part down to the director Paul Dunstan, whose program notes reflect a passion and understanding for the play's subject which he clearly brought out in all his cast. As he says "For me, it's a fitting vehicle in which to pay tribute to Yorkshire miners and musicians during that last era when their curtain finally came down on an industry they had lived for and were prepared to die for."

    HARDRAW SCAR CHAMPIONS! - The band returned to the wonderful amphitheatre below the Hardraw Force waterfall to win back its trophy and become the Hardraw Scar champions once again. Having won the contest in 2007, it was just pipped at the post in 2008 by the Shepherd Group Band. This year, however the tables were turned and the Harrogate Band stormed past the competition to win. In addition to winning the contest, then band also gained the prize for the best contest march of the day.
    The band's conductor, Roy Waite, was delighted with the performances and the first win for the band under his baton.
    The programme commenced with James Curnow's Fanfare and Flourishes, followed by a virtuoso performance of Philip Sparke's Pantomime by euphonium soloist Craig Ratcliffe. The hymn The Day Thou Gavest, arranged by Philip Wilby led into the march Roll Away Bet by J. Ord Hume.The band completed its performance with an emotional rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone, in the arrangement by Howard Snell.
    For further pictures of the Band at Hardraw Scar see:
    Photograph by kind permission of Wendy Binns

    CONCERT FOR CHRISTIAN AID - HOLY TRINITY CHURCH, RIPON - "Another great night out thanks to the Harrogate Band" was how organisers described this fundraising concert which raised nearly £800 for Christian Aid to a full appreciative audience in Holy Trinity Church Ripon. Click here to read the review

    BAND TASTES A PIZZA ITALIAN DRUMMING When a volunteer teacher came over from Italy to work in Yorkshire he hardly expected to be taking part in a great Yorkshire musical tradition. Bartolomeo Girardi has joined North Yorkshire's premier brass band, The Harrogate Band, on their talented percussion team.

    Bartolomeo (or Bart, as he is known) is working on an EU programme as a volunteer teacher for people with disabilities, he joined The Harrogate Band in May. He had never even heard of brass bands before coming along to his first practice but once he came he found he was hooked on the unique Yorkshire brass band sound. Commenting on his foray into brass banding Bart said: "I love playing for the Band, everyone's so friendly and welcoming at Harrogate and the standard of playing is as high as the orchestras I play in back home. I had never even heard a Yorkshire brass band before I came along and I was really curious to find out more, it's been great fun".

    You might think that hailing from the country of Verdi, Puccini and Rossini would mean a slight disdain for that most traditional of Yorkshire sounds but this is where Bart has been surprised: "The Band has played pieces like The Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Verdi's Nabucco, Napoli and many other classical arrangements that I've been brought up with from back home, the popular operas sound great being played by a brass band. The other great thing is that music is an international language and I can cope ok in rehearsals, in fact, it's even easier than you might think because in music all the descriptions for how the music should be played are in Italian! so actually, everyone else is speaking my language!"

    Bart is the first Italian who has played for The Harrogate Band and he has proved a hit with the Band's players. Band supporter and percussion trainer Delroy Broadwaite has been especially impressed; "The Band play a lot of jazz and big band music which is new to Bart but he's coped really well and his language skills have really come on. He's an absolute delight to work with. His dedication and work ethic are fantastic especially when you consider that he uses a wheelchair and comes to rehearsals from Leeds using public transport. He says he's going to go back to Italy and tell them all about us so maybe he'll set up a fan-club up for us out there!"

    The Harrogate Band will be performing with The Harrogate Dramatic Society in a live production of the hit film 'Brassed Off' in Harrogate Theatre from 30th September to 3rd October.

    CONCERT WITH HARROGATE CHORAL SOCIETY - This was a great success, with both organisations delivering a polished performance to a packed audience at St Wilfrid's Church in Harrogate. Click here to read the review

    Click for larger picture APPOINTMENT OF NEW MUSICAL DIRECTOR - The Harrogate Band is delighted to announce the appointment of Roy Waite as its new Musical Director. Roy has a wealth of conducting experience and had a distinguished career playing principal cornet for a number of major brass bands.

    The Harrogate Band, North Yorkshire's finest brass band, has started rehearsals under the baton of its new musical director, Roy Waite. The Band has bid a fond farewell to its musical director of 14 years, David Lancaster who led the Band from the lower leagues of the brass band world to the top flight.

    Roy conducted the Band at the Buxton Contest earlier this year and is an enthusiastic and experienced brass band conductor with a wealth of musical experience with top flight bands including Lindley, Boarshurst, Amoco and Barrow Vickers (as professional conductor), Skipton and Mossley both of whom he took to the National Finals competition in the same year. Like many conductors Roy Waite started off as a player and has played with many of the UK's top brass bands on solo cornet including: Crossley Carpet Works Band, Hammonds Sauce Works Band, Dalmellington Band and Desford Colliery Band as principal cornet. He studied music at Nottingham University and then the Royal Academy of Music. Like many exceptional brass band players he has pursued a career as a highly successful professional trumpet player playing with orchestras and jazz bands around the country. Roy Waite also writes and arranges music for brass band continuing a theme started by the Band's former musical director David Lancaster who is a highly successful composer and arranger in his own right.

    On formally appointing Roy Waite as The Harrogate Band's Musical Director, The Band's chairman, Keith Graham commented, "Replacing a Musical Director of 14 years has been huge challenge for the Band but I feel we have found a Musical Director who understands the Harrogate ethos of entertaining audiences whilst introducing them to new and interesting works. Roy brings a wealth of experience to The Band and the passion he demonstrates in rehearsals is infectious."

    Roy spent many years as a music teacher in Lancashire where he now lives and devotes his time to consultancy work and composing and arranging. On being appointed to the Band Roy said: "The Harrogate Band doesn't conform to the traditional stereotype of a brass band, it has a reputation for innovation, entertainment and looking forward. The standard of playing is high and the sound that the players produce is superb. In an era when quality players are hard to come by and some brass bands are disappearing this Band is capable of winning prizes and I intend to ensure we fulfil that potential."

    Both Roy Waite and his predecessor David Lancaster are both from Lancashire which has caused some eyebrow raising with local supporter and proud Yorkshireman Delroy Broadwaite, "The previous conductor was from Lancashire and did his own compositions and now the new guy is from Lancashire and does his own compositions, it's taken me by surprise but it's what is best for the Band that counts."

    When asked what he made of Harrogate Roy commented. "I am delighted to play my part in the cultural life of Harrogate. When you look at the culture Harrogate has to offer it's fantastic. There are choirs, youth bands, theatre companies, orchestras, jazz bands who all play their part in making the cultural life of the area richer and more varied. Next year is the Band's 40th anniversary year, very young in brass band terms, and I hope we can partner other organisations to put on joint concerts and events to entertain audiences throughout the Harrogate area."

    The Harrogate Bands forthcoming concert programme includes Music for a Summer Evening at St Wilfrid's Church at 7.30 pm on Saturday, June 6th where they are joined by the excellent Harrogate Choral Society. The combination of the sound of choir and brass in architect Temple Moore's grade 1 listed masterpiece simply cannot be missed. Tickets are available on the door or telephone Gill Crowther, 01423 817885 for more information. The Band will also be taking part in a theatrical production of the hit film "Brassed Off" with Harrogate Amateur Dramatic Society in Harrogate Theatre in October.


    Christmas 2008 FESTIVE CARD STRIKES A HIGH NOTE - The Harrogate Band, will be sending a little Christmas cheer out to their friends and clients this Christmas. Long-time local supporter and artist, Christine Garrett, was commissioned by the band to design a Christmas card for the band to send to clients who have used the band's services over the last couple of years. The card depicts band members carolling outside the Royal Hall as the snow falls. The Band has performed at a number of concerts to raise money for the Hall, most recently at the "Fanfare for the Royal Hall" concert which raised £3000 for the Restoration Trust and they will be returning to the Royal Hall shortly to perform at the upcoming Fire Brigade Charity Concert.
    Chairman, Keith Graham, commented, "this is a great opportunity to spread a little Christmas cheer and thank those organisations that have supported us over the last few years. I think it's fitting that Christine's shown us carolling, even though we're a top section band it's an important part of banding tradition and local people like to see their band out at Christmas playing traditional carols".
    The Harrogate Band can be seen carolling in Marks and Spencers in Harrogate and Leeds over the next few weeks and in concerts in Starbeck Methodist Church and St Mark's Church Harrogate early 2009.

    Sinai Synagogue THERE'S BRASS UP NORTH - And thanks to Leeds B'nai B'rith some of it is going to help Holocaust survivors in the Ukraine, needy children in Qiryat Gat and Leeds Jewish Welfare Board.
    This fifth David Clayman annual brass band concert saw the award-winning Harrogate Band make their debut B'nai B'rith appearance to a delighted audience at Sinai Synagogue. If you don't associate the spa town of Harrogate with brass bands then you might also be surprised to learn that band membership includes estate agents, department store managers and academics. Whilst 'Nimrod' reminded us of Elgar's links with Harrogate, the band showed their versatility with arrangements of works by Ted Heath, Louis Armstrong, Ron Goodwin and Tchaikovsky.
    The evening was arranged by a B'nai B'rith team led by council members Carole Clayman and Jeff Brownhut. Our picture shows (Left to Right) Leeds B'nai B'rith joint Presidents Doreen Winer and Shirley Casdan face the music with BBUK administrators and 'volunteer' musicians Valerie and Joe Melnick from Shlomo Argov Unity Lodge.

    DAVID LANCASTER GOES OUT WITH A BANG - The final of the Kippax Entertainment Contest provided the platform for David Lancaster's last engagement with the band before taking up the baton with the Yorkshire Imperial Band. Against very stiff competition from EYMS Band and Drighlington Band, we won second place. Adjudicator Alan Morrison considered the performance "a well thought out and intelligently presented programme that was slickly presented and enjoyed by all .... provided entertainment in spades". The programme started with the band coming on stage to David Lancaster's arrangement of marches in Sousa & Co., followed by Ivar Torkangerspoll's Degroove. Principal cornetist, David Smith, then impressed Alan Morrison with Alan's own arrangement of Satchmo, which was followed by Bright Spark, an original composition by David Lancaster commissioned by Tewit Youth Band in memory of Tom Mansfield. Evelyn Glennie's A Little Prayer provided a quiet and beautiful interlude before the jungle erupted with our second soloist, Paul Davies on bass trombone, with I Wanna Be Like You, complete with monkeys and snakes on stage! The final piece was David's arrangement Happy Happy Happy ending the concert with streamers and party poppers.

    A fantastic evening's entertainment from all the bands was enjoyed by all - and the Harrogate Band is delighted to say farewell to David Lancaster in such a splendid fashion, We wish him all the very best for his future with brass bands, conducting, composing and adjudicating, and thank him for his dedication and leadership guiding the Harrogate Band over the last 14 years.

    DEPARTURE OF DAVID LANCASTER - We announce the forthcoming departure of our longstanding Musical Director, David Lancaster.

    Since taking up the post of MD in 1994, David has led the band from the 3rd Section to the Championship Section, where the band is currently competing for the 6th consecutive year. During this time both the Band and David have grown in stature and popularity, with a series of strong contest results have gained a reputation for musical excellence and innovation.

    2009 will see David and The Harrogate Band pursuing new and different challenges. David moves on to take up the post of Resident Musical Director with Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel Band and will also continue to develop his burgeoning career in Brass Band journalism. David's final engagement with the Harrogate Band will at the finals of the Kippax Band Entertainment Contest on 9th November, after which he will continue to be involved with the band on an informal basis, and of course will remain in contact with his many friends in the band. For The Harrogate Band, a busy 2009 diary beckons, along with new direction as the band works towards it's participation in the North of England Championships in March.

    Chairman Keith Graham was full of praise for David who has been an integral part of successes that the Band have enjoyed: "David's contribution to the band over the past 14 years has simply been enormous. His musical leadership has taken the group in directions and to levels that we might never otherwise have reached, and he has also worked actively throughout as a band member and friend - always involved at the very heart of everything we do. His contribution will be greatly missed, and we wish him well in his new challenges."

    David commented: "I have enjoyed enormously my time with Harrogate Band and am proud of the band's many achievements during those years; I will always be grateful for the opportunities the band has afforded me."

    The Harrogate Band thanks David for his great work with the band, and wishes him the very best for the future.

    KIPPAX CONTEST WIN - The band was in great form when it competed in the heat of the 2008 Kippax Entertainment Contest. It's programme and performance clearly impressed the adjudicator, who awarded the band first prize and a place in the final, taking place on November 9th.

    Ilkey Moor - click for larger pictureON ILKA MOOR WITH MYLEEN - On Easter Saturday the Band braved the snowy weather, to record some music for the One Show on BBC1 television. Presenter Myleen Klaas, together with her film crew were putting together a series of reports on folksongs, one of which was "On Ilka Moor". The Band was asked to provide the music of the song and play it for the programme - where else but on Ilkey Moor.

    Royal Hall - click for larger picture RE-OPENING OF THE ROYAL HALL - After some years of meticulous restoration work and fund-raising from many organisations in Harrogate, including ourselves, we were delighted to be part of the celebrations at the official re-opening of the Royal Hall, on Tuesday 22nd January 2008. In the presence of H.R.H. Prince Charles, the Harrogate Band played a concert of music to the waiting crowds and welcomed him to Harrogate and the Royal Hall. The Prince of Wales opened the Royal Hall and toured the restored building while listening to music played by the Tewit Youth Band. Following the event, the our MD, David Lancaster, was pleased to receive the following thanks from the Royal Hall Restoration Trust.
    Thank you so much for making such a wonderful contribution to the success of Tuesday's visit by the Prince of Wales. You and the Band have been so supportive of the Trust and the Royal Hall over many years, and I am hugely grateful. Please pass on my sincere thanks to all members of the band who took so much trouble to turn out on a cold January afternoon to play such an important part of what was truly a memorable and historic occasion.


    CONCERT WITH LAUDAMUS CHOIR - 17th NOVEMBER - This was the first concert appearance for The Harrogate Band since their triumph at the recent Hardraw Scar contest where they were crowned overall winners. The recently renovated Holy Trinity Church in Ripon provided the venue for a evening of Brass and Voices featuring solo and group performances of the highest standard.
    The Laudamus Youth Choir are based in Wigan, having formed in 1992 and performed at such venues as the Royal Albert Hall, Bridgewater Hall and Festival Hall. They have established a reputation for their fine performances, also having found time to host 2 national choral festivals at the Royal Northern College of Music and to record 2 successful CDs. This season has seen a significant change for the group, it being the first season to feature boys in the choir - having previously been girls only. Their firm commitment to the development of youth vocal talent remains, with over 40 members having progressed to perform with the National Youth Choir.
    Musical Director of The Laudamus Youth Choir, Deborah Catterall is a professional singer of the highest standard, and a Director of Music for the National Youth Choir. During the concert Deborah will be featured in some new song arrangements accompanied by The Harrogate Band.

    WIN AT HARDRAW - In the impressive natural amphitheatre at Hardraw Scar, just downstream from the Hardraw Force waterfall, is held the annual contest organised by the YHBBA. Harrogate Band, having drawn last, produced a winning performance for its entertainment programme and collected the top prizes for the march, hymn and overall placing.

    More new players! - The Harrogate Band's tenor horn section has been augmented with the arrival of Lisa Dunkley, formerly of Redbridge Brass, who has recently moved to Harrogate in connection with her work. Lisa has played alongside Harrogate's MD David Lancaster before, since they were both members of Alder Valley Aldershot Brass during that band's highly successful spell in the early 1990s (which included a performance at the Royal Albert Hall for the National Championships of 1991). Lisa's first contest with Harrogate was the Regional Championships at Darlington when she gave a terrific performance of Isaiah 40's notoriously difficult horn solo - some debut!

    Belgium - 'a fantastic weekend, what a great bunch of people...' that was the reaction of one of our guest players to a highly successful overseas tour which the Harrogate Band made over the Easter weekend. The musical highlights were a joint concert with Brass Band Smeermaas, celebrating their fifth anniversary, and a concert in Holland organised by the excellent St Geertrudis Fanfare Band in their magnificent band hall. Both of our host bands had organised meals for the English visitors and provided fine venues and attracted enthusiastic audiences. Soloists included principal cornet David Smith and the irrepressible Nick Garrett (soprano cornet) who brought the houses down with his 'Spanish Eyes'. Other memorable events included a river trip and tour of Maastricht and a sunny day for sightseeing - and the biggest ever bar bill - in Brussels. Night life in Leuven where we stayed (our hotel was across the road from the titanic Stella Artois brewery) was so good that several players only arrived back at the hotel in time for breakfast on departure day: a good time was certainly had by all!

    Fanfare for the Royal Hall - Restoration work on Harrogate's famous Royal Hall continues apace, and the Harrogate Band contributed to the fundraising efforts by contributing to a 'Fanfare for the Royal Hall' in which five of Harrogate's bands took part, alongside St Andrews Players' Choral Ensemble. The audience at the International Centre was large and enthusiastic, and clearly appreciated the wide range of musical styles on offer. Harrogate Band concluded the evening with a rousing performance which included David Lancaster's 'Rich Heritage' march, Kevin Norbury's 'Hallelujah Parade' and a recreation of the famous Two Ronnies' 'Bandsmen' sketch, with percussionists Steve Morland and Andrew Whitaker singing and playing the lead roles!

    Darlington - Robert Redhead's 'Isaiah 40' proved a stern but very enjoyable test for the Championship Section bands in this year's round of Regional Championships. Harrogate's team were delighted with their performance at Darlington, particularly in the light of the many personnel changes in recent months. However the 'new-look' band was impressive on its first contest outing and did enough to retain Harrogate's position in the Championship Section in 2008. MD David Lancaster said that 'the players all gave 100 per cent today and apart from one or two slips towards the close, the performance was exactly as we had prepared it. I was particularly pleased with the input of our new members, some of whom had not contested at this level previously but without exception they have risen to the challenge'.

    Royal Hall - click for larger pictureFanfare for the Royal Hall - The restoration of Harrogate's Royal Hall at a cost of some eight and a half million pounds is now well under way, but fundraising continues in order that the renovation can include authentic decoration of the Hall and the re-opening of the upper gallery. The this end The Harrogate Band is joining forces with several other musical groups for the Harrogate District to present a 'Fanfare for the Royal Hall' which will take place in the Harrogate International Centre on Sunday 25th March at 7.30 pm. Other groups taking part are Knaresborough Silver Band, Tewit Youth Band, Harrogate and Skipton Music Centre Area Band, White Rose Concert Band and singers from St Andrews' Players who will each present a 20-minute programme. Since the Hall is scheduled to re-open in December 2007 this could be one of the last major opportunities to contribute to the fundraising; Tickets £10, Children under 16, £5, from 01423 537230. A rich and varied programme of entertaining music is guaranteed!

    New Faces - Over the last month the band has seen a number of changes of personnel with many new players making their debut with the band over the Christmas period. Mark Beardsell and Helen Kendall have joined the band on cornets and Vincent Ashby-Smith has joined the band's busy percussion section! Craig Ratcliffe has filled the solo euphonium position, whilst two current players have moved within the band: Nick Garrett to soprano cornet and David Smith has moved up one place into the principal cornet seat. Other new signings are expected shortly as the band gears up for a busy year ahead which will include a European tour and a new CD recording in addition to the usual round of concerts and contests.

    Starbeck ChapelStarbeck Concert - The Harrogate Band played to a packed house at Starbeck Methodist Church on Saturday 13 January in a concert which marked the re-opening of the church following extensive renovation. In their first concert of the year the band featured David Smith and Lynne Stockdale as soloists and Keith Graham and Catherine Morland delighted the audience with their baritone duet Me and My Shadow. Unusually the concert also included a percussion quartet: Howard Snell's arrangement of The Clock and Dresden Figures by Albert Ketelby. During the concert Chairman Keith presented a bouquet to Liz Lancaster to mark her 'retirement' after serving as the band's General Secretary for several years. The large and enthusiastic audience was fulsome in it's appreciation of the band's performance and we look forward to a return to Starbeck in the not-too-distant future.

    Dan and George - click for larger pictureDaniel and Georgina - The Harrogate Band has played at a number of band members' weddings in recent years and was delighted to play for the occasion of solo trombonist Dan Dickinson's marriage to Georgina in Osmotherley in December. The bride entered to the sound of 'Elsa's Procession to the Minster' and during the signing of the register the band accompanied Dan's cousin Victoria who gave a sensitive rendition of 'Over the Rainbow'. The music the couple had chosen to accompany their leaving the church had been a closely-guarded secret but everyone seemed to enjoy the moment as the band broke into an upbeat performance of 'Sing, Sing, Sing' sending everyone out with a smile on their faces! The band members send their very best wishes to Dan and Georgina for the years ahead.


    click for larger pictureCENTRE STAGE WITH ALAN MORRISON - It isn't often that The Harrogate Band has the opportunity to perform on the stage of the town's impressive Victorian theatre, so when the chance arose the band was keen to make the most of it! Joining forces with cornet virtuoso Alan Morrison - the band presented a varied programme of popular classics alongside original band music, with a contrast in the second half where both band and soloist used the space and resources of the theatre to present a specially selected programme. Click here to read a review of the concert.

    WHIT FRIDAY - The band enjoyed a second visit to the Whit Friday march contests in Saddleworth where they played William Rimmer's classic march The Black Knight. click for larger picturePerhaps owing to the spell of good weather there seemed to be many more bands in attendance than last year and so Harrogate only managed to compete in 5 events. The best result was a highly creditable fourth place at Denshaw - on average the band's results were significantly higher than last year.

    LANCASTER CATHEDRAL - click for larger pictureA long coach journey over the Pennines was the prelude to a concert which the band gave at Lancaster Cathedral last month, the final concert in the inaugural concert season at the Cathedral. The programme included Die Zauberflote and Ave Verum Corpus to mark the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth and 'Shine as the Light' by Peter Graham. Featured soloists were David Smith (cornet) and Adrian Lowes (euphonium) whilst Steve Morland and Andrew Whitaker joined forces (in costume!) for the xylophone duet 'The Two Imps'. The knowledgeable audience included members of a number of local bands and they must have been quite impressed as Harrogate sold a record number of CDs at this concert! Hopefully it won't be too long before the band has the opportunity to make a return visit.

    RIPON ROTARY - The impressive setting of Holy Trinity Church in Ripon was the magnificent venue for a concert which the band gave in aid of Yorkshire Cancer Relief. In tribute to the organisers, Ripon Rotary Club, Harrogate opened the second half of the concert with Peter Graham's new march 'Celebrate Rotary', composed to mark the 100th anniversary of the Rotarian movement. The concert was well received by a large and enthusiastic audience and raised nearly £900 towards cancer care.

    Blackpool Winter GardensBESIDE THE SEASIDE - The Spring Festival, held in Blackpool's Winter Gardens, is one of the premiere brass band contests today. It arose from the ashes of the Belle Vue Spring Festival when Manchester's famous amusement park closed for the last time; the contest remains a battleground for bands in the Championship Section, the elite of the brass band movement. Harrogate took part in the Senior Trophy class against some very strong bands from as far afield as Cornwall, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in addition to several from Lancashire, Yorkshire and the North East. Playing the set testpiece 'The Essence of Time' by Peter Graham, the band gave a spirited and well shaped performance which earned them sixth place out of twenty bands, a highly creditable result which goes some way to make up for the band's disappointing result at Darlington earlier this year.

    Harrogate International Youth Music Festival Jazz Night - The Harrogate International Youth Music Festival takes place each year at Easter, attracting bands from all around the world who present concerts alongside Harrogate's own excellent youth bands all around the Harrogate District. This year, numbers of visiting bands had fallen slightly, possibly due to the London bombings last summer and the unstable situation in Iraq, so Festival Director Sharon Canavar invited the (slightly less youthful) Harrogate Band to contribute to one of the concerts. Of course many Harrogate players had played in the Festival during their own schooldays and cornet player Andrew Jackson had participated in the very first HIYMF back in the 1970s. The event chosen was the popular Jazz and Swing Evening held at the Crown Hotel, and the band presented a short set from their new 'Swing!' CD, which drew a warm and appreciative response from the large audience. Although doubly out of place playing swing music in a youth festival, the Harrogate Band continues to seek out new audiences and opportunities in a continuing effort to popularise brass band music in the wider community.

    IATEFLIATEFL - The Harrogate Band had the honour of introducing the brass band to an international audience when we played for the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language in April. The concert, held in Harrogate's International Centre was a relaxed and informal affair, with band members able to chat to the audience during the interval; most European countries were represented, including those from Eastern Europe, along with delegates from the USA, Africa and the Middle East, many of whom were listening to a brass band for the first time.

    MUSICAL DIRECTOR'S AWARD - Each year at the Annual General Meeting of the band the MD makes a presentation to the player who he considers had made the greatest improvement during the previous year. In 2006 the award was presented to cornet player David Smith who has given several highly accomplished performances during the year, deputising for principal cornet player Robert Illsley on a number of occasions. David was previously a member of St Aidan's School Concert Band and the Tewit Youth Band, joining Harrogate with his father Cliff some three years ago. Congratulations David!

    RADIO 4 BROADCAST - The Harrogate Band made a brief "appearance" in the Broadcasting House programme on Radio 4 this Sunday (5th March) as part of the weekly quiz. An extract from The Harrogate Songbook, which can be found on the Made in Harrogate CD, was played together with other sounds to illustrate the town of Harrogate - such as Betty's tea room, Betty Lupton's Ladle Laikers, and the Turkish Baths. The first sound heard is that of some music representing Ming the Merciless - a reference to the new Liberal Party leader and the party Conference being held in the town this weekend! The broadcast quiz can be heard here - bhhb.mp3.

    NEW MARIMBA MUSIC - Composer Damien Harron has teamed up with David Lancaster and the Harrogate Band to produce a brand new marimba work for the band. The Band commissioned a new work for marimba and band by Damien, who is well known as one of the four multi-talented percussionists in the award-winning Backbeat ensemble, and is also an exciting and innovative composer in his own right. The band is thrilled with the new piece and looking forward to its first performance when Simone Rebello will be the soloist, in Ripon Cathedral on February 26th.
    Entitled Along Those Lines it is a rhythmically driven piece that combines the energetic, percussive tones of the marimba, (which plays almost constantly) with a succession of broader melodic phrases in the band parts. It's a challenging piece for soloist and band but we're confident that the audience will respond favourably to its rhythmic energy and drive - in places it's quite funky!
    The band selected Damien to compose for them because they wanted to find a composer from outside of the mainstream band movement, and someone who really understood the full potential of the marimba. When Simone Rebello introduced David Lancaster to Damien's music he was immediately convinced. Simone will play Along Those Lines on forthcoming overseas tours, and Damien is to provide the band with a 2-player version of the marimba part so the work is assured of many performances all around the world.

    Click here for more details and to orderSWING! - The Band's latest CD, Swing! is now available. The Harrogate Band has chosen a broad selection of jazz and swing music, centred around the classics of Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Benny Goodman and Ted Heath but also exploring the more modern sounds of Brubeck, Kenton and Abdullah Ibrahim.
    Brass bands and big bands are from very different musical traditions: the heritage of the traditional British brass band draws largely upon European classical and military music whereas the big band whose swing music became popular in the 30's and 40's were descended from Afro-American jazz and blues. But there are similarities too: both were originally the music of working class peoples and both have survived and continued to evolve and develop in spite of changing fashions and the dominance of pop and rock music.
    The modern brass band is eclectic in its approach and takes its repertoire from a wide range of musical styles. A typical concert might include marches, solos and serious original band music alongside classical transcriptions, music from stage, screen or television and all kinds of popular styles. This recording is very different: here the Harrogate Band is attempting to cross a musical boundary and in doing so create something quite new, neither one thing nor another but hopefully incorporating the best of both.
    The Harrogate Band's previous four recordings have each met with great success and we are sure that this one will provide as much pleasure for the listener as we had producing it.
    For further details, or to order CDs please see the recordings page

    THE YEAR AHEAD - The Harrogate Band has a tremendous year in prospect as it looks forward to a series of exciting concert and contest opportunities. On 14th January the band is close to home in Starbeck where the Methodist Church is celebrating its 75th birthday and has invited the Band to present a concert to begin the celebrations. February sees the Band travel south as far as Yeovil where it will take part in the prestigious Entertainment Contest alongside a dozen or more of the country's leading bands. On 26th February the band will return to Ripon Cathedral to present an afternoon concert with percussion virtuoso Simone Rebello in which the programme will include the first performance of a new work for marimba and brass band by Damian Herron alongside popular favourites chosen to suit the glorious acoustics of the Cathedral. March sees the Band in action in the regional round of the National Brass Band Championships in Darlington when Harrogate will be hoping to improve on last year's best ever fifth place in the Championship Section. In April the band will perform for a conference at Harrogate's International Centre and in May we make a return visit to the Spring Festival competition held at Blackpool's Winter Gardens followed later in the month by a concert in Holy Trinity Church in Ripon for the first time. In June the Band crosses the Pennines once more for a concert in Lancaster Cathedral as part of a prestigious new concert series, then in July we take up an invitation to present a concert in Harrogate Theatre - a great opportunity to play in this marvellous venue and the evening is sure to bring out not only a high standard of performance but also an exciting visual presentation. This isn't the complete picture of the Band's spring schedule by any means but it certainly promises to be an exciting and busy time which reflects the extent to which the Band is now in demand.
    Please find full details of these concerts including ticket availability in the 'Engagements' section of our website.


    TROMBONE VACANCY - It is not often that the The Harrogate Band has a vacancy to fill since we enjoy a relatively stable membership compared to many bands at present. However long-term member Steve Whitwam has decided to take a break from playing in order to concentrate on gaining professional qualifications so we find ourselves on the lookout for a trombonist to take his place. Anyone interested in joining the band in this capacity should contact Musical Director David Lancaster or Chairman Steve Morland (contact details below) to arrange a date to attend a rehearsal. Be assured of a warm welcome and a great musical and social experience!

    CONGRATULATIONS! - to percussionist Iain Wilson who tied the knot with his fiancé Jill on 30th December in the village of Greta Bridge near to Barnard Castle. The band was delighted to play during the service - and to party until late in the evening! Guests at the wedding included players from some of Iain's former bands, notably from Spennymoor Town Band, and all seemed to enjoy our contribution: La Rejouissance for the entry of the bride, Irish Tune from County Derry and Fauré's Pavane for the signing of the register and Sparkling Diamonds after the ceremony. The band send all best wishes to Iain and Jill, currently on honeymoon in the far east.

    CHRISTMAS CONCERTS - The Harrogate Band was even more busy than usual in the weeks before Christmas with no fewer than three major concerts all of which were new venues for the band and all well attended by large and enthusiastic audiences. First stop was Pateley Bridge where David Smith moved up to principal cornet to deputise for Robert Illsley - he gave a fine performance in the top chair including a stylish solo Love on the Rocks. The audience was treated to a big band selection featuring music from our new 'Swing!' CD and some appropriate seasonal music including David Lancaster's arrangement of the Sans Day Carol and Leroy Anderson's Christmas Festival. Next stop was the Mart Theatre in Skipton - the band's first performance in Skipton for over ten years and hopefully not the last. The venue is totally unique - by day it serves as a busy cattle market but in the evening it can become a cosy concert venue which has already attracted a number of star performers in its first season. Soloists included Robert Illsley (cornet), Lynne Stockdale (flugel) and Adrian Lowes who gave a sparking performance of James Curnow's Rhapsody for Euphonium. The final concert was closer to home: St Mark's Church in Harrogate is a fine concert venue and we shared the evening with our good friends the Tewit Youth Band who performed the first half of the programme. Harrogate's contribution included Saint-Seans' exciting Bacchanale, Duke Ellington's Caravan and a fully costumed performance of Kenneth Alford's The Two Imps featuring duettists Steve Morland and Andrew Whitaker on xylophone. Both bands were greeted by rapturous response from the audience and the evening ended our Christmas season on a high note. The Band has won many new admirers all around the region over the past few weeks and hopefully we'll have the opportunity to return to Pateley Bridge and Skipton in the near future.

    WHIT FRIDAY CD - As previously reported, The Harrogate Band made it's first visit to the Whit Friday march contests in Lancashire earlier this year and came back with more than just a trophy: all the performances at Delph Contest were recorded and have been issued on a new CD on the Doyen label, and of course Harrogate's performance of William Rimmer's march Arabian has been included. The recording also features performances from such famous bands as Black Dyke, Fodens, Besses o' th' Barn and YBS, and it goes a long way to capture the unique atmosphere of Whit Friday. Copies are available from good record shops or from

    BAR LINES - Keith Graham, the most accomplished, experienced and respected First Baritone player in the Band, has collected together a few musings from his ale-enriched colleagues. The results can be seen here in "Bar Lines".

    LIGHTING UP THE TOWN - The Harrogate Band certainly provided a memorable evening for the audience which filled St John's Church, Bilton, recently. The concert had been organised by the ladies of Harrogate Soroptomists in order to raise money to pay for the town's Christmas lights. The Band began with the rousing O Fortuna from Carmina Burana and included in their programme a wide range of music, from Londonderry Air to a new arrangement of the march from Things to Come by Sir Arthur Bliss. The Band featured a number of soloists too, notably Adrian Lowes who dazzled the audience with his rendition of Rhapsody for Euphonium by James Curnow, and Jo Campbell whose brilliant playing of Queen of the Night's Aria from The Magic Flute anticipated the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth next year. The first half ended with a musical magic carpet ride which explored the exotic sounds of the middle east, including Duke Ellington's Caravan, The Sheik of Araby (featuring principal cornet player Robert Illsley), The Wedding by Abdullah Ibrahim (with Lynne Stockdale on flugel) and to end the first half: Bacchanale from Samson and Delilah by Saint-Saens.
    In the second half the band accompanied guest soloist Laura Jackson, whose lovely voice was hear in three contrasting songs: Over the Rainbow, Somewhere from West Side Story and Rusalka's Song to the Moon by Dvorak. The second half also included a selection of music from the band's recently recorded 'Swing' CD and concert ended with the lively Can-Can. The warm reaction from the appreciative audience drew an expected encore from the band: Sing, Sing, Sing which not only featured the band's percussion section but also some stylish (?) dancing from the cornets!
    So a good night was had by all, and the Band and audience can feel that that they've made a valuable contribution to the Christmas Lights appeal.

    GETTING INTO THE SWING - Following on from the Variety Show on the Friday evening, the remainder of the weekend was devoted to recording the Band's forthcoming CD. Following on from the success of "Made in Harrogate", their new recording sees the band turn to a Big Band style, including a wide range of Swing and Jazz numbers, including some arrangements never previously recorded. The CD is scheduled for release in time for Christmas.

    The Royal Hall, HarrogateVARIETY SHOW - The Band had a busy weekend recently, starting with an appearance in "The Tom O'Connor Variety Show". This Spectacular variety show took place in Harrogate's International Centre, and saw the band sharing billing with Shahid Malik, Andy Eastwood, and the SLP Showstoppers along with the star of the show, Tom O'Connor. The one-night only event was arranged in aid of the Royal Hall Restoration Trust which is working towards restoring Harrogate's magnificent Royal Hall which has faithfully served the people of Harrogate and the surrounding district in many different roles over 100 years, but is currently closed and in need of considerable restoration. The Royal Hall, known originally known as The Kursaal, dates from a time when Harrogate was a popular spa resort with its own professional orchestras and bands, so it seems natural that one of Harrogate's leading groups took part in this event. In fact the Band was one of the last performers in the Royal Hall prior to its closure, in a special concert to raise funds for the appeal.

    HORN VACANCY - North Yorkshire's Championship Section band has a vacancy for a capable 1st horn player. This is a rare opportunity for a reliable, committed and ambitious player to join a friendly and dedicated band who enjoy their playing at a high level. The band has a full calendar of events, including Wilkinsons and Yeovil contests, lots of good concerts and a CD recording. Our enthusiastic team enjoys full rehearsals, excellent facilities and a wide range of quality music. Please contact MD David Lancaster 01423 522643 or email

    Old picture of Harrogate Band - click for large versionA PIECE OF HISTORY - The Band has recently been given an early photograph of one of the original Harrogate Bands. Thought to be that of Harrogate Temperance Prize Band from around the 1890s, not long after that band was formed. The picture shows the full band outside a large tent - possibly at one of the various shows or galas at the time. Anyone with any further information about this picture, or with any similar material from local bands of earlier days is requested to contact Gavin Holman

    Crowds and banners in DurhamBIG MEETING - The Band took part in the Durham Miners' Gala - the "Big Meeting" - where around 40 bands from the north-east parade through Durham City heading the various miners' organisations and their banners. After a very early start from Harrogate and refreshed on arrival at Trimdon Grange with bacon sandwiches, the band marched through the villages of Trimdon Grange and Kelloe before tackling the long march through Durham itself. En route the band entertained the dignitaries on the balcony of the County Hotel with a rousing performance of Sing, Sing, Sing before marching off to the Racecourse meeting field to enjoy a rest in the sunshine. Later in the afternoon the process was followed in reverse, leaving the band extremely tired, hot and bothered, but having thoroughly enjoyed a unique occasion. For a superb set of photographs of the event, featuring the Harrogate Band, see Grange Photography.

    BRASS BAND PODCAST - The Harrogate Band features in the latest (5th June) "podcast" of brass band music. This is a 20 minute weekly broadcast of music and news in MP3 format available on the internet. The podcasts have been live since February, and well known bands from around the world have been featured each week. Links: Harrogate Band Podcast, Brass Band Podcast home, Brass Band Podcast upcoming.

    WHIT FRIDAY - Each year on Whit Friday bands from all around the UK (and sometimes further afield) travel to the Saddleworth and Tameside districts around Oldham to take part in the much celebrated Whit Friday 'Quickstep' march contests. The bands travel by coach from one village to the next and upon arrival at each location march a short distance to the arena then play a contest march to the assembled crowd before rushing back to the coach and on to the next village and so on. Brass Bands of all grades take part, from the very best championship bands (Black Dyke, Fodens and YBS were all taking part this year) to the youngest school band, but it is more like a festival than a seriously competitive event and the atmosphere is like nothing else on earth! The Harrogate Band attended for the first time this year, playing William Rimmer's strangely neglected march Arabian. We received many favourable comments for our six performances and were delighted to win third prize at Dobcross, (just behind winners Brighouse and Rastrick and second place Dobcross Silver) and to finish in the top ten at Scouthead and Uppermill contests - not a bad debut at all!
    For photos of the Band at Whit Friday see: (Dobcross), (Uppermill), and the three pictures Denshaw 1, Denshaw 2, and Denshaw 3

    BUXTON TO BLACKPOOL - The band was delighted to receive an invitation to compete in the Spring Festival at Blackpool this year for the first time: this contest was regarded by the band as the next step in our progress in the Championship Section. From an early draw (playing immediately after the eventual winners, Alliance Brass from London), the band gave a confident and well-shaped performance of Gregson's Connotations, with good playing from all the soloists. We were rewarded with 9th place out of 20 bands, therefore in the top half of the results and well clear of the dreaded 'relegation zone'! The band clearly enjoyed the day out in Blackpool and look forward to a return visit next year by which time we hope to ready to challenge for the top prizes.
    A week earlier the Harrogate Band travelled to Buxton to defend our title of High Peak champions won in 2004. This year we had to make do with fourth place but gained some valuable experience performing Connotations in preparation for Blackpool.

    Awards for AllAWARD FOR MARIMBA - We are pleased to announce that we have been awarded a grant through the Awards for All scheme. The money is to be used to purchase a marimba for the band's percussion section and to commission a new piece of music for marimba and band which will receive its first performance at a concert in Ripon Cathedral next spring. Musical Director David Lancaster is in negotiation with several composers regarding the project and the rest of the band is wondering how to extend the bandroom in order to accommodate the marimba! Thanks must be extended to the band's treasurer Ian Bristow who wrote and submitted the application on the band's behalf.

    NORTH OF ENGLAND CHAMPIONSHIPS - The Band are delighted with their 5th place gained in the Championship Section of the North of England Championships in Darlington - just two places away from qualifying for the National Finals in the Royal Albert Hall. Wagner's Overture to Rienzi was an excellent test piece which demanded great stamina from the bands.

    BLACKPOOL HERE WE COME! - After two or three years 'waiting in the wings' we are pleased to announce that The Harrogate Band has been invited to compete in the Senior Trophy section at this year's Spring Festival, held each year in the Winter Gardens at Blackpool. It is a very exciting contest attended by Championship section bands from all around the UK and competition is fierce! The test piece for this year's event is Connotations by Edward Gregson, Principal of the Royal Northern College of Music and a composer of some of the finest band music of the last few decades. According to MD David Lancaster "it is a challenging piece which the band will really enjoy rehearsing". The contest will take place on Saturday May 7th.

    SOMERSET WEEKEND - The Yeovil Entertainments Contest is traditionally the first event in the year's contest calendar and many of the top bands are invited to take part. This year The Harrogate Band were invited to compete, another sure sign of the Band's growing reputation and national stature, and in spite of the long distances involved we did not hesitate in accepting the invitation. Each band presented a 25-minute programme of music and ours was: Africa! (D. Lancaster), Hello Dolly (cornet solo), Orient Express (P. Sparke), Swedish Folk Song (arr. P. Graham) and Halleluiah Parade (K. Norbury). Particularly impressive were the flamboyant percussion playing in Africa! and Robert Illsley's fine impression of Louis Armstrong in Hello Dolly. Adjudicator Colin Hardy praised the band for its "solid performance with much to commend" and Harrogate members were generally satisfied with the 9th place: quite an achievement amongst such impressive competition and enough to qualify for a return invitation next year! Naturally Band members took full advantage of a weekend away and a good time was had by all!

    Jim ShepherdJIM SHEPHERD SIGNS UP - Rehearsals for this year's North of England Regional Championship have been significantly enhanced by the arrival of Jim Shepherd into Harrogate's cornet section. A 'legend' amongst cornet players, Jim was for many years the principal cornet player of the Black Dyke Mills Band before forming his own Jim Shepherd Versatile Brass ensemble. Oddly enough the test piece for this contest is the overture to Wagner's opera Rienzi which was Jim's first contest piece with Black Dyke way back in 1962! Band and conductor are enjoying working alongside Jim and benefiting from his experience and encouragement.


    Merry Christmas (ambigram) click for larger versionBEST WISHES - The Band wishes all its friends and supporters a joyful Christmas and good prospects for the New Year. 2004 has been another good year for the Band with many highlights, not least of which is the 10th anniversary of the inspired leadership of our Musical Director, David Lancaster. To all those who have supported the Band, enjoyed our music and visited our website - thank you!

    HB ForumNEW ONLINE DISCUSSION FORUM - The Band now has an online discussion forum, open to all friends and supporters. You are invited to join the forum and contribute to topics being discussed, or start your own topics. Joining merely consists of providing a username and your email address, then the initial password will be sent to you. Any suggestions for the forum or comments about the Band and its activities are welcome. Even if you do not wish to join the forum, you can leave comments in the guest book provided. The forum can be found at

    MALTON MIXED FEELINGS - After a thrilling mini-concert in the Malton Brass 2004 Entertainments Contest, which had the audience largely in agreement that our performance was the best of the day, it was disappointing to only be placed 4th. The Band, and MD David Lancaster, were all delighted with our playing and a thoroughly enjoyable time was had by all.

    SOLO CORNET VACANCY - From the end of November we will have a vacancy for a first class solo cornet player, ideally to play assistant principal. This is a rare opportunity for a reliable, committed and ambitious player to join this friendly and enthusiastic band at a very exciting time. The Harrogate Band's plans for early 2005 include the Yeovil Entertainments Contest, a CD recording and a serious assault on the North of England Championships! Our enthusiastic team enjoys good rehearsals and a wide range of quality engagements throughout the year. Come along to hear us at Malton and St Helens contests in the coming weeks. Please contact MD David Lancaster, 01423 522643 or email

    NEW PHOTO GALLERY - This online picture album for the Harrogate Band has recently been set up. As yet there are but a few photographs available, but more will be added as they become available, are transferred or are scanned! Any contributions from members or friends who have pictures are more than welcome. Please also feel free to leave any comments in the gallery.

    Click to enlarge - Ripon CathedralBRASS IN THE CATHEDRAL - Our Gala Concert held in Ripon Cathedral was a great success. The Band, together with guests Ripon Grammar School Big Band, delighted the audience with performances ranging across the musical spectrum and included solos from Harrogate's Principal Cornet, Robert Illsley and Saxophonist Rachel from the Ripon Big Band. The event also celebrated the 10th anniversary of MD David Lancaster's association with the Band. For further pictures and programme details of the concert click here.
    The Band would like to thanks its programme sponsors: Daleside Brewery, Lishman Sidwell Campbell & Price accountants, Chocolatiers (The Arcade, Ripon), Arrow Readydrive, M.D. Walton Carpets & Beds, ABC Music, Fineprint, Hutchinson & Buchanan solicitors, and Albert Hymas Ltd.

    BRASSED OFF! - York Theatre Royal's production of Brassed Off, based on the famous film of the "Grimley Colliery Band" and its struggles with its local pit closure, was a great hit with audiences and the Band alike. One of the most successful shows in that theatre for some years had its music provided by the Harrogate Band together with the Shepherd Group Band, who shared the performances over the three weeks of the run. The Band members played the parts of players in the Grimley Colliery Band on stage in various scenes in musical and supporting roles, and also provided off-stage music for the production.

    NATIONAL FINALS IN HARROGATE - As with all major events and particularly contests, there is a need for many people to help make the event run smoothly. Members of the Harrogate Band were on hand over the weekend of the National Championships at the Harrogate International Conference Centre. In addition to assisting with stewarding duties, the Band also provided two rehearsal facilities for visiting bands - which 22 of the bands took advantage of! Congratulations to the winners of all the sections - and we look forward to the return of the contest to Harrogate in 2005.

    Click to enlarge - Castle HowardCASTLE HOWARD BY FLOODLIGHT - One of our more unusual engagements took place at Castle Howard when we were asked to play for the departing guests at a private party. Arranged on the lawn in front of the main entrance, after we'd set up and had some refreshments, we awaited the end of the party. As with all such events the timing was somewhat awry and it was well past midnight when our fanfare trumpeters finally got the signal to lead the guests, in an impromptu triple canon, out onto the terrace to be greeted by the band's performance.

    David ChildsHARROGATE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL - Our concert for the Festival, with our guest David Childs, delighted the large audience who attended. Click to enlarge - EuphonothonDavid, of course, was superb with his rendition of Philip Wilby's Euphonium Concerto and various "showcase" items, and the programme of alternating British and Russian music was clearly enjoyed by all. We were also pleased to be able to help Joe Symonds with his Lands End to John O'Groats Euphonothon when he joined us to play Rule Britannia. Click here for a review of the concert

    Click to enlarge - Presentation to Les MackownLES MACKOWN - Les Mackown, a founder member of the Harrogate Band in 1970, recently retired from his post as Band Librarian. A tenor horn player with the band as well as its Secretary for many years, Les was one of the bedrocks upon which the band relied and he was very influential in the development of the band in the first two decades of its existence. In recent years Les has taken a less prominent role, but has continued to give a great deal of support to the band. We are sorry that he has retired from active work with the band but were delighted, at the Band's concert at the Wetherby Riverside Bandstand, to be able to present him with a few gifts and mementoes to mark his retirement and honour his support for the Band.

    Click to enlarge - Mr PunchBUPA HOSPITAL FETE - Mr Punch was on hand to keep the children amused with his band of helpers and many enthusiastic sideshows and games. Plus of course the main entertainment given by the Harrogate Band! Despite glowering skies, the odd light shower and a less than seasonal chill, a good time was had by all, and the band was even presented with a cake to take away at the end!

    Click to enlarge - HLC HeadmistressHARROGATE LADIES COLLEGE CENTENARY - The Band was delighted to help Harrogate Ladies College celebrate its centenary in July. Together with the Harrogate Male Voice Choir a splendid joint concert was given in a large marquee in the grounds of the college. Fortified by a pre-concert "hog roast" the Band and Choir demonstrated the best of Harrogate music making to a large and appreciative audience.

    HARROGATE INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL - For the first time the Band has been invited to perform as part of the Harrogate International Festival. This world-class festival attracts many international orchestras, soloists, ensembles and stars each year and we are delighted to participate. In previous years the Band has performed as part of the "Festival Fringe". The concert will take place on Wednesday 4th August and will feature guest artist David Childs, the internationally acclaimed euphonium soloist. David will also be starring in one of the BBC Promenade concerts at the Royal Albert Hall on 2nd September. The theme for the concert will be Russian and British Music. For the programme, click here, and for more details and for tickets see the Harrogate International Festival website.

    RIPON CATHEDRAL GALA CONCERT - Look out for news about our annual Gala Concert in Ripon Cathedral. This year we will be marking the occasion of David Lancaster's tenth year as Musical Director of the Band. David will be choosing a special programme reflecting upon some of the highlights of the last ten years and including some music specially composed and arranged for this concert - it promises to be a wonderful occasion of favourites old and new, in a most spectacular setting. More details on the Engagements page in due course.

    75th IN THE UK - BUT WHO'S COUNTING? - The June world rankings table for brass bands, compiled by, shows Harrogate Band in the top 100 for the first time. At position 97 the band actually ranks 75th if you exclude some 22 overseas bands above us. The table is produced from results in contests throughout the year and, although clearly we have a little way to go to challenge the leaders, we are nonetheless delighted that this achievement can be added to those marking the Band's continuous progress.

    Harrogate International Conference CentreREHEARSALS FOR NATIONAL FINALS IN HARROGATE - This year the National Brass Band Championships for sections 1-4 will be held at the International Conference Centre in Harrogate on the weekend of 11-12 September 2004. The Harrogate Band will be assisting with the organisation of the event and also are offering their band room for competing bands to use for rehearsals. See the BOOKING page for details of the available dates/times. Any one wishing further information or wanting to book a rehearsal should contact Gavin Holman (

    FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY! - In a reprise of our successful joint concert, Thank You for the Music, earlier this year - with a few programme changes, the Band and the Harrogate St Andrews Players raised over £2000 for the Harrogate Theatre Forward Appeal. The song and dance of the Players was equally matched by some deft and jazzy footwork by the band in some choreographed numbers such as Kongolea and Swing, Swing, Swing.

    Presentation of cheque to MRI AppealTHANK YOU FOR THE MONEY! - We were delighted to be able to present a cheque for £1,140 to the Harrogate Hospital MRI Scanner Appeal. This was raised by the "Thank You for the Music" concert earlier this year in memory of Michael Hymas, President of both the Harrogate Band and the Harrogate St Andrews Players. Members of both groups joined Mary Hymas to present the cheque to the Appeal.

    David Lancaster with Trophy - Buxton 2004HIGH PEAK HONOURS - A triumphant Band has returned from a gloriously sunny day's contesting in Buxton having beaten the competition to win the Championship Section. Not only that, but the trophy for the best soloist was awarded to Rachel Higginson, the Band's flugel player, for her exquisite solo work in our chosen test piece, Tallis Variations by Philip Sparke.

    TEWIT BAND WANT CONDUCTOR - The local youth band in Harrogate, Tewit Youth Band are looking for a new Musical Director. Malcolm Dibb, who has led the band for many years, is retiring from the position. Applicants must be committed and hard-working - someone who believes banding should be fun and enjoys working with young people. Rehearsals are on Wednesday evenings 7-9pm. Anyone interested please contact David Austin, TYB chairman, on 01423 866816.

    Wetherby Racecourse websiteRACING AT WETHERBY - An unusually sunny and warm day provided an enjoyable backdrop to the Band's concert for the racegoers at Wetherby. It would have largely passed without note were it not for the unexpected launch into the air of an adjacent tethered inflatable "radio" which advertised a local station. This huge object suddenly lifted off the ground, broke its moorings and, after floating around the bandstand, went sailing off on the wind until it was caught a couple of hundred yards away. Only the Band's sheer professionalism allowed it to keep on playing at the same time as corpsing with laughter at what was happening around it!

    FLUGEL PLAYER WANTED - Owing to work relocation The Harrogate Band have a vacancy for a top class flugel player. This is a rare opportunity to join this highly committed and well-managed Championship Section band with an exciting year ahead. The next few months include high profile concerts in Harrogate Theatre, the Harrogate International Festival - with a world class soloist, a professional production of Brassed Off and a major concert in Ripon Cathedral featuring a world premiere performance. Since it would be possible to fill this position from within the current membership if necessary, we would also be interested to hear from a capable front row cornet player. Contact David Lancaster - e-mail:

    ROYAL HALL RESTORATION - PRINT OFFER - This is your chance to own a limited edition print of Harrogate's unique Royal Hall. The Royal Hall, HarrogateOriginally named the Kursaal when it was built, the Royal Hall needs urgent repairs to renovate it and allow it to re-open for concerts and shows as it has been doing for the last 100 years. The Harrogate Band held a concert in the Hall in 2001 to raise funds, and we are pleased to be able to support the artist Simon Balme in his contribution to the fund raising effort. For a larger image of the print and details of how to order a copy, please see the Royal Hall Print page.

    HALF A MILLION, AND ONWARD - These days, as the web has matured, counters and statistics of website usage are usually regarded as passé or of little relevance. However, we cannot let this particular milestone pass without briefly mentioning that this website for the Harrogate Band, incorporating the IBEW (Internet Bandsman's Everything Within) has since, its launch in June 1996, attracted over 500,000 visitors. To all those who have landed awhile on these pages - thank you and we hope you will return often!

    NORTH OF ENGLAND CHAMPIONSHIPS - Our second year competing in this event in the Championship Section delivered a good sixth place, which also maintains our position in this section for 2005. The test piece, Tristan Encounters by Martin Ellerby is a set of variations on Richard Wagner's Tristan and Isolde and is a significant test for the band overall as well as individual players. The band has thoroughly enjoyed working with the music over the last few weeks and, despite slight disappointment at not getting a place or two higher, are pleased that the adjudicator thought one variation was "magical"! said: "Harrogate made a good impression in the prelude and opening variations. The solos were all nicely shaped and played well, although there was a risk of them being overpowered by some over-enthusiastic accompaniments - particularly on the back row cornet bench. This, we thought, was one of the steadiest readings of the day in terms of tempo, but it did allow the detail of the quick stuff to come through. For us though, there wasn't enough made of the quieter dynamics and this may have cost them a point or two."
    Brass Band World said: "... and finally to the [North of England] region's fashion guru David Lancaster and his Harrogate team. They will be disappointed with sixth, but you can't say they didn't put their heart and soul into it. They improve every year, are capable of holding their own in the highest company, and their time will come."

    Thanks for the Music!THANK YOU FOR THE MUSIC! - The Harrogate Band and Harrogate St Andrews Players gave two concerts at the Majestic Hotel, dedicated to the memory of our late President, Michael Hymas, (hence the title: Thank You for the Music) and featured many of the pieces he enjoyed the most. The concerts also raised money for the Harrogate Hospital MRI Scanner Appeal. For full details of the programme and this tribute to Michael, see the Thank You for the Music! page.

    Filming at Ripley - click to enlarge the pictureBRIDES IN THE BATH - The Harrogate Band has another TV role in this drama, starring Martin Kemp, about George Joseph Smith who married three wealthy women and then drowned them in their baths. Playing the part of an army band, and filmed at Ripley Castle earlier this year, the programme was broadcast on ITV1, on New Year's Eve. Click here for a selection of pictures from the filming at Ripley.


    CHRISTMAS IS COMING - We know that is obvious! However this is not just a reminder that December 25th is Christmas is Coming - CDrapidly approaching, but the launch of the Band's new CD of the same name. Christmas is Coming is an ideal present to give or keep! It contains a mixture of seasonal music, carols and arrangements, with the icing on this particular Christmas cake being the vocal contributions of Lucy Rhodes (BBC Radio2 Young Chorister of the Year), who is a particular friend of the Band. The CD costs £10 and is available from any Band member, at our engagements or by post - for further details, sound samples of some of the tracks, or how to place orders see the Recordings page.

    ST HELENS DISAPPOINTMENT - For once the band was not drawn number 1 in a contest - playing 10 of 12 - from an original field of 17, the Band's performance of Exodus by Eric Ball unfortunately failed to inspire the adjudicator, David Read. The Wilkinson Northern Open Championships this year had asked all competing bands to select an own-choice test piece by Eric Ball, in honour of the centenary of his birth. As a result the day was a feast of some of the best of writing for brass bands.

    WINNERS AT MALTON - With a performance that had the adjudicator, Roy Sparkes, David Lancaster clasping the winners' trophy at Maltonsearching for second and third place bands from the very start, Harrogate Band took the top prize at the Malton Brass 2003 Entertainment Contest. In addition the Band's Principal Cornet player, Robert Illsley, was awarded the "best soloist" trophy for his performance of Hello Dolly. Other items in the Band's programme were La Mourisque by Susato, Shostakovich's Festive Overture, All Around the World by Alexander Owen, 'Mid All the Traffic and the jazzy, New Orleans style of Hallelujah Parade. For some pictures from this event - see the Malton Contest page

    Neil RichmondPRESIDENTIAL APPOINTMENT - We are delighted to announce the appointment of Neil Richmond as our Honorary President. Neil is well known locally as a dedicated teacher and conductor, and has been involved with the Band since the very beginning, as it was he who in 1970 formed the band from former Granby School Band players who wished to continue their playing after leaving school. Neil was the Band's first Musical Director, and quickly led it to success at its first contest in November 1970 at York - the first of many contest successes over the last 33 years. Neil handed over the reins to John Higginson in the late 1970s, but maintained a high local profile as he continued his renowned work with Granby High School Concert Band, helping to launch the musical careers of many youngsters, several of whom have moved on to The Harrogate Band over the years. Neil has retained his links with the Band throughout, and since his retirement from teaching has been able to add further value to our activities - particularly via his research into local music. This work formed the basis of our Made in Harrogate concert, held in aid of the Royal Hall restoration, and also the CD of the same name. His arrangements of the pieces unearthed, some featured on the CD, have been received with great interest from the band, who are forever on the lookout for new and interesting material. In inviting Neil to be our Honorary President, The Harrogate Band recognises not only Neil's continuing support, but more significantly the immense contribution made to the band and it's members past and present through it's founding and formative years.

    STAGE AND SCREEN - A feast of music from films, television, musicals and opera delighted a crowded St Peter's Church in Harrogate. From the sublime such as Silent Worship from Handel's Ptolemy to the (not quite) ridiculous The Simpsons theme tune, via a whole range of show music from the likes of Gershwin, Berlin, Bernstein and John Williams. Claire CaveThe Band was delighted to welcome guest soprano vocalist Claire Cave who sang several songs accompanied by Katie Illsley on the piano. Solo items by various members of the band were featured during the concert - in particular Jo Campbell's appearance as James Bond in her soprano cornet solo performance of Live and Let Die was excellent. A double act of Rachel Higginson (flugel) and MD David Lancaster re-enacted the scene from Brassed Off where Gloria arrives at the band rehearsal and, unrehearsed, plays the Adagio from Rodrigo's Concerto d'Aranjuez. Rachel's rendition was, of course, wonderful - but it has to be said that the duo's acting was a little on the hammy side! We were also very pleased to see Leighton Rich in the audience. The founder of Harrogate's Tewit Youth Band, Leighton had for many years conducted the very successful Hampshire County Youth Brass Band.

    Dragon Music PublishingLAUNCH OF DRAGON MUSIC PUBLISHING - This new website gives details of original brass band music and arrangements by the Musical Director of the Harrogate Band, David Lancaster, and other composers and arrangers associated with the Band. A wide selection of music for all tastes and occasions, and to suite bands of various abilities, can be ordered from the website. Samples of the music and scores can be played online.

    Christmas is Coming - CDMADE IN AUGUST - The band assembled at St John Fisher Church in Harrogate at the end of August, some wearing "Santa Claus" hats, one even sporting musical carol socks, and accompanied by a supply of mince pies and Christmas cake. All of this strange behaviour is partially explained by the fact that we were there to record a new CD of Christmas music. Christmas is Coming will be available well in advance of the festive season and will be an ideal present to give or keep! The CD contains a mixture of seasonal music, carols and arrangements, with the icing on this particular Christmas cake being the vocal contribtions of Lucy Rhodes (BBC Radio2 Young Chorister of the Year), who braved the rather cool environment in the church to record several songs and carols. Further details, including how to place advance orders, can be found on the Recordings page.

    Friends of the Harrogate BandFRIENDS OF THE HARROGATE BAND - This new group has been set up for those supporters of the band who wish to be kept up to date with what the band is up to, and also for those who would like to support the band in any of the many ways that can help us.Further details, including how to register your interest in joining, can be found on the Friends of the Harrogate Band page.

    Two Rivers ChoraleTWIN RIVERS OF SONG AND BRASS - We were delighted to join the Two Rivers Chorale, from Anoka, Minnesota, at the Sun Pavilion for part of their concert tour of the UK. This setting, in the midst of the Valley Gardens, on a warm summer's evening, was perfect for the blend of programmes from the band and choir. As the music floated out of the open doors and across the Gardens it attracted people out for an evening's stroll to stop and enjoy the concert.

    Daniel Dickinson & Steve Morland - click to enlargeWHEN THE BAND JOINED THE ARMY - Our most recent foray into the world of television came as extras in a new drama currently being filmed by YTV. Set in 1914 it stars Martin Kemp as the serial killer George Joseph Smith, perpetrator of the 'Brides in the Bath' murders.. A selection of the more "youthful" looking members of the band were engaged to play the part of an army band. The weather was hot during the filming at Ripley Castle and the heavy WW1 uniforms were not the best outfits to keep cool in! We look forward to seeing the finished product when it is screened later in the year. Click here for a selection of pictures from the day at Ripley.

    Bay Area ChorusBAY AREA CHORUS - The Band shared the stage at the Galtres Centre in Easingwold with the Bay Area Chorus from Houston, Texas. Their vocal clarity and sensitive performance of a range of spiritual and folk songs were a joy to listen to. The Band's performance in the first half of the concert covered a wide range of items from the furious Czardas by Strauss to the beautifully contemplative Irish Blessing, with a number of American compositions in homage to our Texan guests. A very warm welcome from the people of Easingwold made for a thoroughly enjoyable evening for all.

    Ian Bristow presenting the instruments to Ian McCandlishINSTRUMENTS FOR TEWIT - A number of surplus brass instruments belonging to the Band were recently donated to Tewit Youth Band in Harrogate. Tewit Youth Band, led by Malcolm Dibb, not only provide a high standard of musicianship, but also have a strong teaching tradition in their Junior and Training bands. Ian Bristow, pictured here, took great pleasure in presenting the instruments on behalf of the Harrogate Band to Ian McCandlish, musical director of the Tewit Youth Junior Band.

    Click for a larger picture of the whole family !LATEST ARRIVAL IN THE BAND - Congratulations to Catherine and Steve Morland on the birth of their second son, Elliott Miles, on 3rd April.

    BUXTON & GLOSSOP - This year's competition at the Buxton Brass Festival Contest was particularly strong with the bands in the Championship section playing a wide range of own choice test pieces to a very high standard. In the sauna-like atmosphere of the Pavilion Gardens we managed to gain fifth place with our performance of Cloudcatcher Fells - a very acceptable achievement. We had to request an early draw to play so that we could get away in time to play a concert at the Glossop Band Club. To a small but enthusiastic audience, the band displayed its concert skills with a selection of items covering many styles of music.

    RHINELAND TOUR - Easter saw the band visiting Germany on a concert tour in the Rhineland. Based at St Goarshausen near to the Lorely Rock in the Rhine Gorge, we spent a week visiting the nearby towns, sights and attractions, sampling the local food and beverages, and of course, playing music! Four concerts were given in Bad Bertrich, Bad Ems, Roes and Bad Schwalbach, to enthusiastic audiences who were clearly impressed by the range of repertoire, standard of playing and accomplished solo items. For further details of the tour see the Rhineland 2003 page.

    FRONT ROW CORNET SOUGHT - Owing to an unexpected change of plans, The Harrogate Band requires a front row cornet player. The Band is an active, friendly group with high quality engagements and good facilities. We don't normally advertise to recruit members but in this instance we've decided to look further afield to find the right player to help the Band progress and succeed at the highest level. We'd be delighted to hear from anyone interested in this position - please e-mail:

    NORTH OF ENGLAND CHAMPIONSHIPS - For the first time the Band competed in the Championship Section in these qualifying championships for the National Finals. Arrayed against us were the top bands in the North of England, playing Prague by Judith Bingham - a contempory piece of music that many found difficult to like. We did, however, come to appreciate the musical qualities of the piece and the picture the composer was depicting of the history and culture of that city. A solid performance gained the band a respectable 6th position - assuring our stay in the Championship section for 2004.

    Augustana College Symphonic BandAUGUSTANA IN RIPON - Ripon Cathedral resounded with the joint performances of the Harrogate Band and the Augustana College Symphonic Band. This wind band, from Rock Island, Illinois, visited the area during its UK tour. The Augustana Band, which was one of the first US collegiate wind band to tour in Europe, performed a selection of music by Holst, Grainger, Sparke and others, following the Harrogate Band's performance of alternating American and British music.

    Michael Hymas
    Michael HymasIt was with sadness we learned of the sudden death of Michael Hymas, President of the Harrogate Band, on Sunday 9th February. A long-time patron of the Band and other organisations in Harrogate, his friendship and guidance is greatly missed.

    RUSH TO ROCHDALE - The Band arrived at Wardle High School at the very last minute, just in time to take the stage as last band to compete in the top section of the Rochdale Contest. A mistake by our coach company delivered our transport an hour late, just as we had given up and were all piling into cars to cross the Pennines. Unfortunately, despite a good performance of Cloudcatcher Fells by John McCabe, and very appreciative comments from members of the audience, the adjudicator failed to place us - well, he had had a long day..... We have to thank Lana Clough and her contest officials for all their help and tolerance - they couldn't have been more helpful and accommodating in the circumstances!

    HAPPY NEW YEAR - Very best wishes from the Band to all our friends and supporters. 2003 marks the promotion to the Championship Section for the Band, and with it a range of new challenges and opportunities. We hope to see many of you over the year at our concerts and other events.


    Click for larger picture FIRE BRIGADE CHARITY CONCERT - The Band's annual fund-raiser for the Fire Brigade Benevolent Fund raised over £3000 for the charity. In addition to the St Aidan's School Choir, who performed a selection of carols, we were delighted to welcome Lucy Rhodes, BBC Radio 2 Young Choirgirl of the Year 2002, to sing with us again. Once again she captivated the audience in the Harrogate International Centre and helped to make the evening a great success.

    MADE IN HARROGATE - THE RECORDING - The Band's latest CD is available at last. Recorded earlier this year it is an unique collection of music by Harrogate composers, arrangers and others associated with the town. The programme for this recording arose from a concert held in November 2001 in the Royal Hall, Harrogate, to raise funds for the restoration of that fine and unique Victorian building. In its early years the Royal Hall - originally called the Kursaal - was very much the main focus of musical entertainment for residents and visitors to the spa treatments in Harrogate. For further details of the CD, and how to order copies, see the RECORDINGS page.

    Television BIG NIGHT - A further TV appearance by the Band brightened up the early Sunday tea-time slot on Yorkshire Television. "Big Night" was a half-hour documentary following the Band's preparations during the summer of 2001 for the National Championship Finals in Preston and concluding with the day of the contest itself. Following the Band's appearance on "Heartbeat" earlier this year, one of the Band's cornet players, Neil Davidson, was invited back to film another episode in the series for YTV.

    The Ripon JewelLucy Rhodes LUCY IN THE NAVE WITH JEWELS - It is hard to imagine a better way to start the celebrations for the Christmas season - the Band's gala concert "Festive Brass and Voices" brought together the combined talents of the Harrogate Band, York St John Chamber Choir and our guest soloist Lucy Rhodes - the BBC Radio 2 Young Chorister 2002. Add a programme of music to delight a wide range of musical tastes, a near-capacity audience in the splendour of Ripon Cathedral, the premier performance of a new work by David Lancaster, Ripon Jewel and, finally, the not inconsiderable attraction of free tasting of the beer of that name produced by Daleside Brewery, it all added up to a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Lucy demonstrated beautifully those skills and qualities that won her the BBC competition. Her performance of a number of seasonal items, accompanied by the Band and Choir, was magical. York St John Chamber Choir provided a first half selection of Christmas music and followed that with some songs from Gershwin, Porter and Kosma. The Band's programme included The Kingdom Triumphant by Eric Ball - which was particularly effective in the Cathedral setting - and Peter Graham's Cartoon Music whose comical effects were a great hit with the audience - especially when the MD "shot" the bass trombonist, who played his death scene most convincingly. (See full programme from this concert)

    St Michael's Hospice LIGHT UP A LIFE - The Band's first Christmas engagement took them to St Michael's Hospice for the annual "Light up a Life" service. In a fine December evening, totally contrary to the weather forecast of driving rain, a large crowd celebrated the work of the Hospice at Crimple House, with the magnificent vista of the Crimple Valley and its viaduct as a backdrop.

    MaltonPIPPED AT MALTON - Runners-up by one point in a strong field of the other top bands in the Yorkshire & Humberside Association area. Malton Brass 2002 proved once again the magnet for a good entry of bands and a wide selection of entertainment programmes. We were narrowly pipped at the post by Drighlington Band, but our performance was clearly enjoyed by adjudicator Roy Roe. Congratulations to all the band, particularly cornet soloist Rob Illsley for his rendition of Love on the Rocks and the percussion quartet for their multi-instrumental versatility in Cartoon Music. America by Neil Diamond, the march Arabian, Gaelic Blessing and the finale from The Year of the Dragon completed our programme.

    The Majestic HotelMAJESTIC BRASS - the big band sound featured at the Majestic Hotel in our latest concert. Music from the 30s, 40s and 50s, classic swing numbers and modern interpretations of earlier pieces provided a change to the traditional brass band programme. Performers and composers whose contributions to the genre were highlighted included Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, Neil Hefti, Count Basie, Ted Heath, Frank Sinatra and Neil Diamond. (See full programme from this concert)

    Leonardo - detail of sketchHARROGATE DOUBLE - National Finals 2001 - drawn band number one, placed last. National Finals 2002 - drawn band number one, placed last! A disappointing result, given the band's good on-stage performance and very positive feedback from various listeners - even the composer himself. However we acquitted ourselves well and had an excellent weekend's banding, representing the North of England region, in the sunny resort of Torquay. Congratulations to the winners - Staffordshire Band - Leonardo is a stiff test and the competition was strong.

    CHOICE BRASS - A departure from the normal programming for a concert was a great hit with the audience in St Peter's Church, Harrogate. Instead of the musical director selection the music, the pieces were chosen by individual band members. A wide range of musical tastes were catered for, ranging from classical (Procession of the Sirdar, Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring, Polotsvian Dances) to popular (With You I'm Born Again, New York New York, Puttin' On The Ritz) and several others.
    The Band Jukebox was in operation during the second half, where the audience themselves chose an item. In this instance there was a tie for first place and the Band played both the Post Horn Galop and Nimrod. The audience were treated to the first public performance by the Band of the test piece for the National Brass Band Championship Finals later in the month - Leonardo by local composer Philip Wilby. All proceeds from this concert will be going to assist the band in its trip to Torquay for the Finals. (See full programme from this concert)

    BARBEQUE TREASURE - The Band's Annual Treasure Hunt was held around the streets of Harrogate. Taking in the more salubrious and verdant parts of the town and, to the disappointment of at least one team, not passing a single pub, a most enjoyable and puzzling afternoon concluded with a barbeque held in the grounds of our President's home. Many thanks to Michael and Mary for hosting the barbeque and to David and Liz for setting the hunt. Congratulations to Gavin and his family on their stupendous victory - their "prize" is to set the trail for 2003. Anyone who fancies an afternoon clue hunting in Harrogate next year should contact the band!

    A SUMMER AFTERNOON IN THE PARK - In glorious hot, sunny weather, in a pleasant corner of the park, we entertained visitors enjoying the delights of Golden Acre Park at Bramhope. It is nine years since we last played there and the park is well worth a visit with its lake, gardens and woodlands - even if there is not a band playing!

    Nidderdale Brass - click for larger imageNIDDERDALE BRASS - The band was very pleased once again to participate in the Nidderdale Festival with a concert at the Joe Longster Bandstand in Pateley Bridge. At last the weather smiled on us and the audience, and a splendid afternoon's music was enjoyed by all. Due to some of our members being on holiday we were grateful to other players who filled the vacant seats. On 2nd Trombone was Arthur Layfield, conductor of the Summerbridge & Dacre Silver Prize Band and ex-member of the original Harrogate Silver Band, who has recently published a book celebrating the centenary of that band. It is filled with pictures and reminiscences of Nidderdale bands over the last 100 years and can be obtained from Arthur. For details email 

    The happy coupleHELEN & NICK - All our congratulations and best wishes to band cornetists Helen and Nick Garrett on their wedding. The band was delighted to provide music for the service at St Mary's church in Thirsk and to join the bride and groom for the celebrations later. The band joins inOne of the highlights was the processional music chosen by Helen - Elsa's Procession to the Minster from Lohengrin by Wagner - the timing of band and bride were impeccable and the sound absolutely magnificent! (see also the article in the local newspaper)

    Askham Bryan College websiteAGRICULTURE v. FOOTBALL - A popular open day at the local agricultural college at Askham Bryan was rather overshadowed by the England world cup match on the same day. The band entertained the rather meagre audience that only started to pick up later in the afternoon. A wide range of attractions was available - not least of course ourselves - and we look forward to the opportunity to perform there another year without the competition of soccer.

    SINGING IN THE RAIN - It is not inappropriate that this piece of music was the second item in our concert in the Harrogate Valley Gardens. A small audience braved the flaming June drizzle and downpours to listen to the concert. A wedding reception in the Sun Pavilion, up-slope from the Bandstand, had a more enjoyable (at least dry) position to enjoy the band's performance!

    MG carsMG DALES RALLY - A wet, cold, early Sunday morning found the band entertaining the arrival of members of the MG Owners' Club as they gathered for the start of their Dales Run. Unfortunately the weather probably kept the more elderly cars away - there were none of a pre-1960 vintage - however we sent them on their way with a variety of rousing and suitably "Yorkshire" melodies.

    HIGH PEAK PERFORMANCE - A very strong field of Championship and 1st Section Bands were arrayed against Harrogate at the Buxton Brass Band Festival. Amidst the splendid backdrop of the Pavilion Gardens and Opera House, in glorious Spring weather, the band gave a strong and spirited performance of their chosen test piece - Spectrum by Gilbert Vinter, to win fourth place. Spectrum is one of Vinter's finest works and consists of seven distinct sections each representing a colour of the spectrum, from fiery red through to brooding purple. Excellent performances by Glossop Old Band (Whitsun Wakes) and Towcester Studio Band (Tallis Variations) won them 1st/2nd placings.
    4barsrest quote:
    Spectrum" (Gilbert Vinter) is extremely 'colourful' music and drawn 4th David Lancaster took Harrogate Band in a very good performance where all the musical colours were well depicted. Having taken 2nd in the 1st section at the North East Regionals they certainly endorsed their current form at this contest taking 4th place with 187 points.


    TORQUAY HERE WE COME!! - The Harrogate Band will be representing the North of England Region in the National Brass Band Championship Finals in Torquay in September. Second place in the Northern Region First Section Championships held in Darlington assured the band's invitation to the Finals for the third year in a row. A winning performance of George Lloyd's Royal Parks narrowly missed gaining the band a hat trick of Champions trophies and we had to settle for runners-up to winners Gateshead Brass. Another, great pleasure was the award of the trophy for "Best Percussion Section" to Katie Illsley and Steve Morland. This is the John Hallums Trophy which was donated by the Harrogate Band to the Northern Region Championships in John's memory in 2001. Our excellent result in this contest assures our promotion to the Championship Section for 2003 - a first for the Band and a superb achievement for all the players, but particularly thanks to the inspiring leadership of MD David Lancaster.
    4barsrest quote: What a good scrap this was. Three performances in particular caught the fancy of adjudicator Roy Roe, and to be fair, there was a strong case for each of them to be given the top spot, as all of them had full command of the Lloyd work and all gave quality performances. .................... Harrogate and David Lancaster who showed what a good quality outfit they are with a committed and very musical performance that possibly didn't quite have the depth and breadth of tone and sound of the winners, but nonetheless a fine rendition of the Lloyd work. Last year's winners have plenty of quality about them and will also go to Torquay as strong contenders.

    LIMBS FOR LIFE CONCERT Soroptomist International of Harrogate - Harrogate Soroptomists invited the Band to give this concert in aid of Limbs for Life, a charity supporting casualties of anti-personnel landmines. A wide range of musical pieces from the Band were very nicely contrasted by our guest artists in the concert, The Four Degrees - a talented barbershop quartet from the University College of York St John.

    BRASS BAND CONDUCTORS CONVENTION - The Band gave an illustrated concert in Wetherby for the National Association of Brass Band Conductors Annual Convention, concluding a weekend of discussions, talks and music. National Association of Brass Band ConductorsPhilip Wilby introduced his works The Seasons, played by the band, and his most recent test piece Atlantic. Three additional works by Harrogate based composers were played by the band and were discussed by Neil Richmond who related their place in the musical history of Harrogate. Following an illustrated talk on Early Harrogate Bands by Gavin Holman, further pieces linked to Harrogate were introduced by David Lancaster and the Band.
    Click here for an article from "The Conductor", describing the event

    David LancasterCOMPOSITION WIN - David Lancaster recently won the brass band category for his work Cuba in a new competition organised by the Leeds University Music School in conjunction with Black Dyke Band, The British Trombone Society and The Society for the Promotion of New Music. His score was one of 72 received for judging in the competition which, according to Philip Wilby, "were of exceptionally high standard making the judging very difficult". Well done David!   <1/2/2002>

    Concordia University Music EnsemblesAMERICAN GUESTS FROM CONCORDIA - Our first concert of 2002 was held with the Concordia University Wind Ensemble from Wisconsin, conducted by Dr Louis Menchaca, who were in the UK for a concert tour. The audience thoroughly enjoyed a varied programme of contrasting styles, illustrating the combined musical heritage of both bands.   <19/1/2002>


    Fireman in vintage uniformEnsemble - click for larger pictureFIRE SERVICES - A capacity audience in the Royal Hall enjoyed a seasonal concert by the band and the St Aidan's Choir. A brass quintet serenaded people as they arrived at the door and then moved into the Hall to join the main band in the first carol. Over £3,000 was raised for the Fire Services National Benevolent Fund   <24/12/2001>

    Happy ChristmasCHRISTMAS GREETINGS - In this holiday season, as we perform Christmas concerts and carols in and around Harrogate, we would like to wish all our friends and supporters a Happy Christmas and very best wishes for the New Year. 2001 has been a particularly notable and enjoyable year for the Band, one which we hope to surpass in 2002.   <10/12/2001>

    St Andrew's Day ThistleSCOTTISH CELEBRATION - St. Andrew's Day may have passed unnoticed by most English Bands but the Harrogate Band, along with the talented Tewit Youth Band and the highly professional James Stretton Brass Quintet marked this occasion with a joint concert - almost a mini brass festival - in the prestigious setting of Harrogate Ladies' College. The bands combined in several pieces with a Scottish theme: Skirl, Jamie's Patrol and Highland Cathedral, featuring the bagpipes of Christopher Small.
    The groups' individual items were more varied in style and included works by Peter Graham, Arthur Butterworth and Malcolm Arnold, alongside lighter fare from Robbie Williams and Neil Diamond. All three sets of players were well received by the enthusiastic audience and many of the performers expressed the wish that this should become an annual event possibly celebrating St. George, St. Patrick and St. David in the future!
    Harrogate Band were joined for this concert by Brian Winter, principal cornet of the Ransomes Band, stepping in at short notice deputise for Robert Illsley who had been rushed in to hospital earlier in the week and emerged minus appendix. Brian did a wonderful job and thankfully Robert is making a speedy recovery!
    The concert concluded with a rousing performance of Wilfred Heaton's march Le Tricot Rouge, originally penned for the Tewit Youth Band and included in Harrogate's recent 'Made in Harrogate' concert.   <2/12/2001>

    STARS OF THE SMALL SCREEN - Ten Harrogate players and conductor David Lancaster have recently made the big break into media stardom when they performed in an episode of Yorkshire TV's popular Heartbeat programme as the "Ashfordly & Aidensfield Brass Band". Although sworn to secrecy regarding the content of the programme, we The Band on location - Click for larger picturecan reveal that the players spent two arduous days on location around Yorkshire, recording a number of pieces and acting a key role in several scenes in the drama.
    The opportunity to take part was a very exciting one for the band, however it did pose a number of problems. Music needed to be specially arranged, players needed to be available during the daytime on both Monday and Tuesday and the producer specifically requested that a number of the performers should be 'middle aged men'. However the production team and Yorkshire TV's Head of Music Sue Clarke declared themselves to be entirely satisfied with the group's performance and the players found the whole experience not only fascinating but highly enjoyable.
    Having already completed a documentary for Yorkshire TV this year, who can predict where Harrogate Band's bid for television stardom will take them next?   <2/12/2001>

    Starbeck ChapelRETURN TO STARBECK - A warm and appreciative audience welcomed the Band to the Starbeck Methodist Church for its first concert in the village for over 8 years. A wide range of music was played which was clearly enjoyed by those who attended. Despite missing its key bass trombonist, Ian Bristow, the band commenced its programme with vigour and style. During the second or third piece in the programme Ian arrived and quietly joined the band on the stage. The reason for his late arrival, which was gleefully communicated to the audience after the interval, was due to him mistakenly awaiting the rest of the band at the Gracious Street Methodist Church in Knaresborough, three miles away, until he realised his error!   <20/11/2001>

    MADE IN HARROGATE - The Harrogate Royal Hall Restoration fund received a welcome boost on Friday the 9th of November, when the Harrogate Band gave a special performance in the hall itself. Made in Harrogate was the title of the concert, which comprised purely of work by musicians who have had links with the town. Prominent in the programme was the work of local composers such as Wilfred Heaton, Phillip Wilby, Ernest Farrar, Delius, Finzi, the band's Musical Director David Lancaster, and other composers who have either lived in the area or have been regular visitors. One such person was Edward Elgar, who came to Harrogate every year to 'take the waters', and whose second symphony had its provincial premiere in the town.

    The Kursaal in 1906 -click for larger pictureIn addition, the concert featured compositions and arrangements by the band's own members, plus band founder and prominent local musician Neil Richmond. Neil's research into local music was central to this event, and his arrangements of some of the pieces unearthed were heard on the night. The range of music provided something for everyone, from old to new, classical to modern, plus some light-hearted moments along the way.
    The Royal Hall, originally known as The Kursaal, dates from a time when Harrogate was a popular spa resort with its own professional orchestras and bands, so it seems natural that one of Harrogate's leading groups drew on that wealth of history to stage this event.
    The Harrogate Band is grateful to Harrogate International Centre, who have donated the venue free of charge - this ensured that all proceeds from the evening go directly toward assuring the future of Harrogate's elegant Edwardian concert hall.

    The music featured in the concert will also be the focus of the band's next CD, Made in Harrogate, which is scheduled for release in early summer 2002.   <18/10/2001>

    Wansbeck FestivalWANSBECK WIN - A convincing and enjoyable performance of a 25 minute entertainment programme gained the band first place at the Wansbeck Brass Band Contest at Newbiggin by the Sea. Despite the sauna-like conditions on stage the band shook off any trace of despondency of the Nationals result and bounced back with a vengeance in their first visit to Northumberland. The programme opened with Degroove by Idar Torskangerpoll, followed by Royal Border Bridge one of the three movements of Arthur Butterworth's Three Impressions for Brass. Robert Illsley then delighted the audience with his scintillating Concerto for Trumpet by Harry James, which won well earned cheers in response. A quieter reflection with Wilfred Heaton's sublime meditation Just As I Am preceded the finale Macarthur Park by Jim Webb. The contest is organised as part of the Wansbeck Festival and is a popular event for bands and audiences alike

    NATIONAL BRASS BAND CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS - On the weekend of 22/23 September, the Harrogate Band together with 67 other bands from across the country competed in the "Nationals" contest. Preston Guild Hall - click for larger pictureOver 1,800 players converged on the Preston Guild Hall in their bids to become National Champions. We would like to congratulate all the winners - particularly Asda Stocksbridge Band, who became 1st Section National Champions (soundly beating Harrogate Band in the process!). Although our performance did not meet with the adjudicators' full approval (when does any?), we were pleased with our rendition of Malcolm Arnold's Fantasy for Brass Band - a super test piece both to play and listen to.

    click for larger pictureLYNNE'S BIG DAY - Many congratulations and best wishes to Lynne Stockdale and Matthew Stobbart who were married on 15th September. Lynne has played with the band since she was very young, brought along by her father Stan (then the band's 1st euphonium). click for larger pictureThe band was delighted to be invited to share in her wedding by playing at the service in Knaresborough and the reception. The NMTV film crew filmed the event as part of their schedule of appointments with the band and its players.

    THE BIG NIGHT - Harrogate Band is being filmed during its preparations for the National Finals at Preston by a television crew from NMTV. They are making a half-hour programme for Yorkshire TV in a series called "A Grand Night Out" which follows Yorkshire people getting ready for a big event. The crew will be with the band on the bus and during the contest in Preston.

    CALL TO BRASS PLAYERS IN THE AREA - We invite you to join Thirsk RBL Band and other players on Saturday 29th September for the March Against Cancer. This is being held in and around Thirsk, North Yorkshire from 3pm, to raise money for Northern Cancer Charities. The march is around four miles long with 2 stops en route, then on to a free barbeque. (Bring your own drinks - meet at the Millgate carpark in Thirsk). If you can come along to boost numbers please contact Libby Bell at or tel: 01845-524797

    NEW RECRUIT TO THE BAND? - click for larger pictureMany congratulations and best wishes to Katie and Rob Illsley on the birth of their daughter Bethan Kate on Friday 24th August. With her lineage we expect her to be pushing her dad for the top seat in a very few years time! Further details and pictures can be found at Rob's website.

    click for the Fountains Abbey websiteCASCADE OF MUSIC AT FOUNTAINS - A glorious summer evening welcomed the audience with their picnics in the cloister at Fountains Abbey for the concert last Friday. The acoustic was ideal for the event and the packed cloister reverberated with the strains of a wide selection of music ranging from the grand operatic Elsa's Procession to the Minster from Wagner's Lohengrin to the poignant Heroic Elegy by Ernest Farrar, from the contemporary, quirky and local march Le Tricot Rouge to several internationally famous pieces from stage and screen.
    Click for larger versionA delegation of Japanese tourism representatives were in the audience, being hosted by the National Trust as part of the drive to win back overseas tourists to Britain. This event was a marvellous experience for audience and band alike, and one which we very much hope to repeat in the future.

    HARROGATE BAND OFFLINE - We are glad to be online again following a few days when our website was unavailable. Our host, Harrogate Online, had some server problems and it took a little longer than expected to restore the Band's website. Our thanks to Vital Online for getting get us back in service and also, especially, for their continuing support of the Band's website.

    FEATURE IN ONLINE BRASS BAND MAGAZINE - A profile of the Harrogate Band has just been published by . This new internet based magazine provides a range of articles, news features, results and reviews.

    Ron Eastwood
    We are sad to report the death of Ron Eastwood, a former member of the band. For many years Ron was the band's bass trombonist - an instrument he took up in his 50s. He was an accomplished pianist and did not need any prompting to play and entertain others whenever a piano was in a room. Joining the band in 1980, Ron retired from playing in 1996 due to ill health. One of his treasured memories was from 1985 when the Harrogate Band swept the board at the YHBBA annual contest at Tadcaster, winning all the prizes in its section and returning laden with trophies. To complete his joy his first grandson was born that very same day. Ron selected two of his favourite pieces to be played at his funeral - Handel Parker's wonderful hymn Deep Harmony and TJ Powell's march Castel Coch - one of the winning pieces in 1985.

    MUCH ADO ABOUT HADHAM - The Band made the long journey south to pay a return visit to the village of Much Hadham, Hertfordshire on 23 June to present a concert in the lovely setting of St Andrew's Church. Harrogate first played there in 1998 during the celebrations held to mark the centenary of Henry Moore's birth - the Yorkshire-born sculptor had made his home there - and the band were pleased to accept the invitation to return. The first half of the concert included Arthur Wood's Three Dale Dances - once very well know but seldom heard today - music by Philip Wilby and Ernest Farrar and solos from Keith Graham (baritone) and Steve Morland (percussion). It concluded with Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral, and such was the audience's enthusiasm that the band's entire stock of CD's was sold out within minutes during the interval - well done Georgina! The second half was a much lighter affair comprising music from the stage and screen, including many popular favourites. As the band left Much Hadham, all the talk seemed to be of a third visit to this picturesque village, in the not-too-distant future.

    After a memorable night (!) in the Moat House, Harlow, the Band travelled north again via Peterborough where a second concert awaited as part of the popular Peterborough Festival. Following a warm greeting from the Mayor and Mayoress of Peterborough and the Japanese Cultural Attaché, the band gave a performance in glorious weather in the shade of a huge willow tree. The audience was a large and appreciative one and the band clearly enjoyed playing in this perfect setting. On return to Harrogate, both Band and supporters agreed that it had been a fine weekend with two very well-received concerts and plenty of opportunities to relax together. Special thanks go to our guest for the weekend Clive Dickinson, soprano player from Besses o'th Barn Band, deputising for Andrew Jackson who was unavailable.

    YORKSHIRE CHALLENGE MAKES IT A HAT TRICK! - The Harrogate Band scooped the top prize of £750 last month in the inaugural Nostell Priory Yorkshire Brass Band Challenge, bringing about a 'hat trick' of contest successes in 2001. In spite of a small entry of bands, the organisers (the AMI Laser Restoration Sharlston Band) were keen for the contest to go ahead in order to help establish the event for future years. The competition took place in the grounds of the newly restored Priory - a superb setting for such an event. Trophies were presented to the winning bands by Lord and Lady St. Oswald of Nostell Priory. Harrogate's programme for the event included Wilfred Heaton's march Le Tricot Rouge, Barry Gott's Lightwalk and the finale from Year of the Dragon, plus solo features from Robert Illsley (cornet) and Steve Morland (xylophone and tuba!).

    Stan Stockdale (Bb Bass) in Ripon CathedralHOUSTON - WE HAVE NO PROBLEMS! - A uniquely enjoyable concert was held in Ripon Cathedral with the Houston Choral Society, directed by Betty Devine. The Choir, on a 10 day tour of the UK, sang beautifully in the resonant acoustic of the Cathedral, with pieces sacred, spiritual and popular. The Band contributed with a first half that included Overture - Force of Destiny, Cortege from Mlada, Elsa's Procession to the Minster, and what is probably only the second ever public performance of Ernest Farrar's Heroic Elegy. This piece was composed shortly before Farrar's death at the Battle of the Somme, and only given a single airing by the Harrogate Symphony Orchestra. It has been resurrected and arranged by Neil Richmond, the founder musical director of the Band, and is a moving and poignant piece, dedicated to "Soldiers" which weaves the "Agincourt Song" theme through its music. Rob Illsley and team in Ripon CathedralA second half of mainly popular, show pieces culminated with a joint rendition with the Choir of Gustav Holst's A Festival Chime and the Band serenading our Texan visitors with a performance of Stars and Stripes Forever under the baton of Betty Devine herself. Proceeds from the concert went to St Anne's Shelter and Housing Charity.

    YORKSHIRE & HUMBERSIDE CHAMPIONS! - A new format to the Yorkshire and Humberside Brass Band Association's annual contest in Scarborough was welcomed by all participating bands. Harrogate continued their run of success with a convincing, if slender, win over stiff competition in the Premier "A" section. The performance of our chosen programme of the hymn tune Stella, march Bramwyn and test piece "Year of the Dragon" persuaded the adjudicator to award the band the first prize, even if the final movement of Year of the Dragon was a little hurried! In all we gathered FOUR trophies to add to our bulging cabinet - including the prize for best trombone (Daniel Dickinson) and the day's "best conductor". Full results can be found on the YHBBA website.

    SUMMER CONCERT SEASON - A wide and varied selection of concerts are being given by the Band this summer. To help you find our playing venues, we have added maps to our list of engagements.

    NORTHERN CHAMPIONS AGAIN! - In our first foray into the First Section Championships the Band has triumphed for the second year in a row to become the Northern Regional Champions. The music, Eric Ball's "The Undaunted", was enjoyed thoroughly by the band and our interpretation of the piece pleased the adjudicator, Mal Brownbill who, like many others, was puzzled by the fact that it was not an established part of the Bass Section Extraordinary! - Peter Wells, Stan Stockdale, Geoff Taylor, Gavin HolmanDave Colecontest and concert repertoire - it really is an excellent example of Eric Ball's lyrical work. To cap a great day's contesting, the band also took home the trophy for the "Best Bass Section" - quite probably the first time this section of the band has won such an honour! The celebrations were tinged with sadness as we bade farewell to Dave Cole, our bandmaster, who has been a completely dedicated player, a tireless worker and a great friend to all in the band over the last 17 years. His work takes him to Kidderminster, where we are sure he will soon find another band!

    30th ANNIVERSARY CONCERT - To conclude the celebrations of our 30th anniversary year we presented a special joint concert with the Granby High School Concert Band on 10th March at Granby High School. Former players in the HGS Concert Band were responsible for the formation of the Harrogate Band back in 1970. The concert included pieces chosen and conducted by the Band's previous Musical Directors (Neil Richmond, John Higginson and Peter Wells); Dragon Parade - a piece specially composed for the band's 30th anniversary; a short musical tribute to John Hallums; a nostalgic reminder of music from the 1970's when The Harrogate Band was very young!; and of course a performance by the Granby High School Band themselves. A musical tribute to the memory of John Hallums followed the announcement of the donation of a trophy in his name to be awarded at the Northern Region Championships. We were especially pleased that Joan Hallums, together with her daughter Catherine and several other family members were able to attend the concert.
    the band in action Neil Richmond, Peter Wells, David Lancaster and John Higginson Joan Hallums with the John Hallums Trophy

    EXCELLENT RESULT AT ROCHDALE - Our first contest of the new (true) millennium pitted the band against a very strong combined contingent of eleven bands from the Championship and 1st Sections. Year of the Dragon won us fifth place which, against such competition, was a very good achievement. Congratulations to the contest organisers - their last minute rearrangements worked perfectly and produced a very enjoyable event.

    NEW YEAR, NEW CHALLENGES - 2001 sees the band promoted into the First Section of the National Brass Band Championships for the first time in its 30-year history. This step represents a huge challenge for the Band, but we are working hard and are determined to continue the run of successes which the band has enjoyed over the last few years. Gemma Pitt has recently joined Harrogate's horn section from the Vernon Building Society (Poynton) Band, and the playing strength of the band has been further boosted by the arrival of Precious Lowe and Helen Worley, with Nick Garrett also making a most welcome return to the cornet ranks.
    Concert engagements also figure large in the Band's plans for the New Year with bookings already arranged both locally (including a concert at Fountains Abbey in August) and as far afield as Hertfordshire and the Peterborough Festival. A new CD recording is also planned, with the band hoping to enter the recording studio in the early autumn.

    John Hallums
    John Hallums died in hospital on the 9th January, aged 81, following a short illness.
    Always a brass band enthusiast - though never a player - John was involved at the formation of The Harrogate Band in 1970 and subsequently became its chairman, a position he held for 16 years. He was an active committee member of the Bradford and District, Harrogate and Yorkshire and Humberside Brass Band Associations and was one of the many 'unseen workers' of the brass band world. John's chairmanship of The Harrogate Band covered the tenure of five conductors and spanned a period of steady musical and economic progress. He was still an active member of the Band in his 80's and participated in the Band's millennium tour of Holland.
    An ensemble from the Band provided a fitting musical tribute at John's funeral, and the standard of the Dunkirk Veterans' Association was lowered as the Last Post was sounded.
    He is survived by his wife Joan, his two children and four grandchildren.

    NEW MILLENNIUM GREETINGS - It seems no time at all since our new uniforms had just had their first outing and the Y2K celebrations were yet to come. We wish all our friends and supporters the very best for a thoroughly enjoyable 2001 - the true start of the third millennium!. Thank you to all of you who continue to support the band in person and through this web site.


    FIRE BRIGADE CHRISTMAS CONCERT - Another memorable concert was given in the Royal Hall in aid of the Fire Services Benevolent Fund. This year the band shared the stage with the choir from St Aidans' School in Harrogate and formed the highlight of the festive season for many in the audience and the band.

    HARTLEPOOL HONOURS AGAIN! - Second place in the First Section at the Hartlepool Borough Brass Band Contest was a great achievement for the Band. We fought off stiff competition from seasoned residents of this section in a close competition which the adjudicator, Alan Exeley, judged to be of high standard. The Band had entered the First Section, rather than the Second Section which was held the previous weekend, due to a clash with a long standing concert engagement (which in the event was cancelled at the last minute). Nevertheless, our own-choice test piece, Year of the Dragon by Philip Sparke, not only pleased the audience and the adjudicator, but also is very popular with the Band. Daniel Dickinson (Solo Trombone) receiving the trophy from the Mayor of Hartlepool (click to enlarge)The contest at Hartlepool was brought to a close with an excellent concert by the Ever Ready Band in lieu of the Championship Section contest which was abandoned due to a number of withdrawals. Another superb result in what is our most successful and enjoyable competition - over the eight years of the contest's history the Band has won 5 first places, 2 seconds and 1 third - never being out of the prizes - and on two of those occasions playing in a section above our national grading.

    A FIRST AT THE GRAMMAR SCHOOL - The Band visited the Harrogate Grammar School for the first time to play in a joint concert with the school's concert bands and musical groups. A highly enjoyable evening was spent and we were all very impressed with the verve and proficiency of the school musicians. Two of our leading cornet players, Neil Cole and Karen Shore, are fairly recent ex-Grammarians and we hope this event will be the first of many similar and that closer links are maintained between us.

    NORTH EAST COMMUNIGATE - We are pleased to participate in a new internet gateway for community organisations in the North East. The North East Communigate is a portal web service providing easily built webpages for groups in the area and also links from these to existing websites where appropriate. The Harrogate Band's presence can be found here (somewhat basic at present).

    NO PRIZE THIS TIME! - Our performance in the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 21st October (drawn 12th of 17 bands) was, we felt, a good one and we were confident of a good result as we left the stage. Unfortunately the adjudicators disagreed and we ended up in 11th position - a disappointing result. However, the band is not despondent - a very enjoyable weekend was had by all players and supporters alike who mixed the wealth of music making and bandsmen at the RAH with more traditional London entertainments. Our congratulations to Oldham Brass 97 who won the Second Section Championship Finals - we look forward to meeting them in 2001 in the First Section!
    Royal Albert Hall 2000

    The band at the Royal Albert Hall. Click to see a larger versions.

    FINAL PREPARATIONS FOR THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS - The Band is hard at work rehearsing the test piece for the National Brass Band Championships Final in the Royal Albert Hall on the morning of Saturday 21 October. The music for Second Section bands is Abstractions by Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen. The three movements provide visual impressions recreated as music, abstract representations of a motif - Aurora Borealis; Rocks; and Seascape. Rehearsals in a number of contrasting locations will be held in the final week and include a joint concert with the Yorkshire Champions (4th Section) Wetherby Silver Band, who will be competing themselves in the RAH on the morning of Sunday 22nd October. Good luck to all bands concerned!

    30th ANNIVERSARY GALA CONCERT - This took place in Ripon Cathedral on 30th September. We were delighted to welcome our guest soloist, Nick Hudson, regarded by many as the country's leading trombonist. A truly superb evening of music delighted the audience, particularly the excellent musicianship of Nick Hudson, whose command of the instrument thrilled his listeners. The programme included works by Ravel, Bernstein, Samuel Barber, Rodney Newton and a tribute to Wilfred Heaton, the Harrogate-based composer who died earlier this year. There was also plenty of lighter music including the world premiere of Jungle Music by David Lancaster in which the whole band (briefly) became percussionists, and some new big band arrangements. We also ran our Interactive Band Jukebox in which members of the audience helped to shape the content of the programme in the second half. All proceeds of the evening go towards our Albert Hall 2000 fund. Many thanks to all who supported the evening.

    The pictures below are from the concert. Click them to view larger versions.
    David Lancaster and Nick HudsonNick Hudson in actionThe trombone team

    NETHERLANDS CONCERT TOUR - The Band had an excellent week's music making and experiencing the culture and sights of Noord-Brabant and Limburg provinces of the Netherlands. The tour started with a weekend spent with the Gerwens Muziekkorps (GMK) Band in Gerwen and Nuenen, the highlight of which was our joint concert with GMK in Nuenen. The obligatory tour of a nearby brewery made a very welcome start to the weekend. Near hurricane winds on the Sunday caused us to abandon plans for our final concert with GMK, but did not dampen our enjoyment of their hospitality! The second part of the week was based around a stay at the Het Meerdal Center Parc which provided many pursuits and distractions for the Band between musical excursions. Once again a planned concert was abandoned, for different reasons this time, but we managed to replace it with a visit to Maastricht and a subsequent concert in the nearby town of Valkenburg. Our final concert destination was Roermond - with a beautiful bandstand setting in the town square by the local church. Despite the problems we had getting the coach to the venue, as most of the access roads were being dug up, the concert was a great success in the best weather we had of the whole week.

    DOMAIN NAME - This website now has its own "domain name" web address,, which has already been in use for the last couple of months. The original web address will continue to work in addition to the new one. Similarly the Internet Bandsman's Everything Within is now accessible via Many thanks to Harrogate Online once more for their continuing support of this web site.

    BUXTON AND SCARBOROUGH - Recent contest outings have kept the band busy over the last few weeks. A trip to the Buxton Brass Band Festival resulted in a disappointing fifth placing. However the band played much more convincingly at the YHBBA Annual contest in Scarborough, competing for the first time in the Premier Section. We achieved one first place and two second places against keen competition. The adjudicator, Derek Broadbent, expressed his opinion that we were very close to taking first place overall. Maybe next year!

    A NEW BAND MEMBER!! - We are delighted to announce the birth of Luke Morland to Catherine and Steve. Our warmest congratulations and best wishes to the proud parents. A very welcome addition to the Morland clan who already play a major role in the band - Steve (Chairman, percussion), Catherine (Public Relations, baritone), Sue (Secretary) and Ron (transport etc..) - though it may be a few years yet before Luke can help shift his dad's kit around! In the meantime, you can read his own opening address here.

    E-ZINE FEATURE - The Band features in the April 2000 edition of the online brass music magazine Brass World International. The article, entitled The Millennium Brass Band, reports our pictorial presence in the Millennium Dome and describes the success of the Band through interviews with David Lancaster and Gavin Holman.

    THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL - HERE WE COME! - The Band has become the Second Section North of England Regional Champions by winning first place in the contest held at Darlington on 19th March. A convincing performance of the test piece, Sword, Jewel and Mirror by Philip Harper, persuaded the adjudicator, Gary Cutt, to award Harrogate the honour in the face of stiff competition. Many, in fact, thought it was the best rendition of any test piece over the whole weekend. This piece of music refers to the sacred treasures of Japan and depicts dreams of the three objects between the opening and closing sunset and sunrise movements. The influences of Japanese music are strongly represented in the piece, which includes vocal passages for the band to add to the colour of the music! This win qualifies the band to compete in the National Brass Band Championship Finals, which will be held in the Royal Albert Hall over the weekend of 20-22 October 2000. This will be the Band's sixth appearance at the National Finals since 1985.
    The pictures below show the Champion Band in action. Click them to view larger versions.
    Harrogate Band at Darlington, 2000Harrogate Band at Darlington, 2000

    Nuenen, The NetherlandsINVITATION TO JOIN US ON OUR DUTCH TOUR - The Band is visiting the Netherlands from Friday 26th May to Saturday 3rd June, and has some places available. Players or non-players are welcome. We will be travelling overseas from Hull to Rotterdam. The first few days will be spent with the GMK Band in Nuenen, then on to Het Meerdal (Center Parc) for the remainder of the visit. Concerts will be performed in various locations during the week. For further details please get in touch with any of the band contacts.

    The Band's Self Portrait in the Millennium DomeMILLENNIUM DOME SELF PORTRAIT - An image of the Band is now resident within the Self Portrait Zone in the Millennium Dome. This zone is a celebration of all things British - objects, places, people, attitudes, sounds, tastes - expressed through the views and perceptions of ordinary British people. The Band is proud to be representing the brass band community in this way.

    TRIUMPH AT ROCHDALE CONTEST - The Band made its first contest foray across the Pennines to challenge brethren in Lancastrian bands at the Town Hall in Rochdale in a day of lashing rain. The competition was stiff, with good performances from all the other seven bands in the second section, but adjudicator Lloyd Landry awarded Harrogate first prize for our excellent rendition of James Curnow's Trittico for Brass Band. The venue was a glorious example of Victorian gothic decoration and made a superb setting - despite its echoing acoustic qualities.

    INTERNET OSCARS - We have just received another "Oscar" award for this web site, as a result of the second annual vote for sites nominated by the brass band movement throughout the world via the Internet . This year we share the title "Best Non - Commercially Produced Band Website of the Year" with the Whitburn Band who polled an equal number of votes. Congratulations to Whitburn and the other Oscar winners, and many thanks again to all who helped us achieve this!

    HARROGATE THEATRE CENTENARY - On January 13th the Band was pleased to open the celebrations at the Harrogate Theatre, 100 years since the first opening night. The events of the evening closely followed those of the original with performances from various dramatic and musical groups. A packed theatre enjoyed a wide range of entertainments to commemorate this important occasion. Click on this image for a view of the commemorative programme. (177 K)


    CHRISTMAS GREETINGS EN ROUTE FOR THE YEAR 2000 - As we occupy ourselves with our Christmas concerts and carol playing in and around Harrogate, we would like to wish all our friends and supporters a Happy Christmas and good fortune in the coming year. Special greetings to all the new friends we have made through this website - we have particularly enjoyed your messages and comments.

    HARTLEPOOL CHAMPIONS AGAIN! - For the second year running the Band has been awarded first place in the Second Section at the Hartlepool Borough Contest (the Borough Council in Hartlepool have now taken on the sponsorship of this contest following the withdrawal of the original sponsors, Camerons Brewery). The Band gave an excellent performance of its own choice test piece - Trittico for Brass Band by James Curnow - an exacting and challenging selection, but one which the band, audience and adjudicator, Colin Hardy, enjoyed. The Hartlepool contest, now in its seventh year, is a firm favourite with the Harrogate Band - not surprising given our record of wins: 5 first places, one second and one third!

    Daniel Lancaster modelling the new uniformUNIFORMS FUND COMPLETED - Thanks to the sterling efforts of many band members and supporters, particularly Jason Harper and David Lancaster, we have raised the money required to obtain new uniforms for the band. The "new look" Harrogate Band will be launched at the Fire Brigades Charity Christmas Concert in the Royal Hall, Harrogate on December 19th. Click here for details of the fundraising.
    Daniel Lancaster can be seen here modelling the new look with his father, David.

    PROMOTION TO CHAMPIONSHIP SECTION! - Following the Band's success over the last two years in the Yorkshire and Humberside Brass Band Association's Annual Contest, the Association has promoted the Harrogate Band to the Championship Section for the year 2000. The Band will still play in the Second Section for contests adhering to the national grading scheme, but looks forward to the challenge of competing at the higher level in the Association contests.

    OPEN REHEARSAL ON 10th NOVEMBER - The Harrogate Band is holding an open rehearsal at 7.45 p.m. and invites any players who would like to join us in working through various pieces. Visitors and players are always welcome at the band, but this event is intended to provide an social and informal opportunity to welcome other players and friends in the district, to find out more about the band - particularly those younger players who may not have much experience of playing in a full brass band. Anyone interested should contact David Lancaster or Gavin Holman (to ensure we have sufficient music!). Details of how to reach the Bandroom are found here.

    OSCARS TIME AGAIN - This website has received two nominations for the Internet "Brass Oscars" 1999, for the "Best Non-Commercially Produced Band Website of the Year" and the "Most Entertaining Band Website". We won two OSCARS last year (1998), so please visit the BRASS OSCARS website to see and visit the nominated sites in the seven different categories. Then cast your votes (for the Harrogate Band of course!) The closing date for votes is 31st December 1999.

    GALA CONCERT WITH ALAN MORRISON - A large and appreciative audience packed Ripon Cathedral for the Band's Gala Concert to help complete the fund raising for the new uniforms. Alan Morrison, the world renowned cornet soloist and Principal Cornet with the JJB Leyland Band, was our guest soloist, performing six pieces to the acclaim of the listeners. The programme also included music from the hit show "Lord of the Dance", James Curnow's Trittico, and Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture.

    WIDNES CANCELLED! - LET'S HAVE A DALES TOUR INSTEAD - To the Band's great disappointment, the Widnes Open Brass Championship had to be cancelled following a large number of last minute withdrawals. Our first contesting foray across the Pennines was not to be - and we would surely have won with our sparkling rendition of James Curnow's Trittico! Not to be daunted, or waste a perfectly good coach booking, and with swift organisation by David Gall, we ventured forth instead on a tour of the Yorkshire Dales. Three open air concerts were given to very appreciative audiences in Leyburn, Reeth and Hawes. The day was completed by a non-competing visit to the Hardraw Scar Brass Band Contest (which the Band had decided to pass on this year in favour of pastures new in Widnes!) A very enjoyable day's touring and concerts which I'm sure we will repeat in the future.

    BOROUGHBRIDGE PROMS - As an alternative to the Royal Albert Hall event the Harrogate Band provided the people of Boroughbridge with their own "Last Night of the Proms" style concert. A rousing success in all aspects, the concert was greatly enjoyed by an enthusiastic audience. The first half followed fairly traditional concert lines and included solos from Robert Illsley playing Alan Morrison's Buster Strikes Back, David Gall with Monti's Czardas, and David Lancaster with the Post Horn Galop. The second half was a celebration of the century with a piece of music from each decade - 1990s, Cry of the Celts, 1980s, Goff Richards' Pastorale, 1970s, Star Wars, 1960s, Ticket to Ride, 1950s, Bernstein's Somewhere, 1940s, The Way You Look Tonight, 1930s, The Continental, 1920s, Puttin' On The Ritz, 1910s, Jerusalem, 1900s, Pomp & Circumstance (Land of Hope and Glory). The concert ended with an encore of "An Irish Blessing" a beautifully evocative air.

    END-TO-END SUCCESS! - Jason Harper has completed his gruelling cycle ride from Land's End to John O'Groats to raise money for our Uniforms 2000 Fund. Supported by Dave Cole, he covered the 900 mile route in eight days and was actually cycling for 58 hours - an average of over 15 miles per hour. Jason had trained hard for this event and made excellent time, beating his own estimate of 10 days for the journey. All our congratulations and thanks to Jason on his achievement and to Dave for providing the motor support together with the Band trailer containing spares and supplies. Well done both! Click the photo on the right for some further pictures of their achievment!
    Jason has a cornet for sale. It is a Yamaha Maestro Cornet, lacquered. Only used for eight months before being put away. In very good condition. 500 pounds - or nearest offer. Telephone Jason on +44 (0) 1423 887186 or +44 (0) 7977-215155. Note: the illustration is not that of the cornet for sale!

    UNIFORMS "2000" - The Harrogate Band needs new uniforms! The current burgundy-coloured blazers have served the Band well for many years but are now reaching the end of their useful lives. To buy smart new uniforms for all thirty-five players (with a few spares) will cost the Band in the region of £6000. Fundraising has started in earnest, with three events already completed and more planned, including a sponsored bicycle ride from Lands End to John O'Groats by our Flugel Horn player, Jason Harper. Please see our Uniforms 2000 page for further details. Any help, or offers will be gratefully received.

    MILLENNIUM DOME - Visitors to the Millennium Dome will see life-size photographs of The Harrogate Band in the Self Portrait Zone representing the important role that brass bands play in Britain's culture. The band was chosen after organisers of the Dome's exhibits wrote to companies throughout the UK requesting suggestions for features they regarded as traditionally British.

    Chris Horton, baritone player with the band, works for Sam Smith's Brewery and was one of those contacted. He proposed a brass band and, naturally enough, he mentioned The Harrogate Band as a possible contender. A photo-shoot was arranged in the Sun Pavilion in Harrogate's Valley Gardens to provide the images that will be used in "a multi-dimensional way" in the Dome.

    The Band feels honoured to represent the brass band movement and the thousands of other brass band players throughout the country in the UK's main celebration of the new millennium.

    SWEEPING SCARBOROUGH SUCCESS - The Band won first prize in all three contests within the First Section at the Yorkshire and Humberside Brass Band Association's Annual Contest in Scarborough on 18th April. It took first place, by a margin of five points in the hymn tune, playing Eric Ball's arrangement of Jesu Meine Freude, the march trophy was gained by a sparkling rendition of Eric Ball's march Star Lake, and the selection prize, with a convincing lead of three points, was won with another superb rendition of Philip Sparke's Land of the Long White Cloud. The day was thoroughly rounded off by the presentation to Musical Director David Lancaster of the "Conductors' Cup" for the conductor of the band gaining the highest aggregate score of the whole day!

    LECTURE RECITAL - On 10 April the Band gave a lecture recital to the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres who were holding their Annual Study Weekend at the University College of Ripon & York St John. David Lancaster presented "The World of the Brass Band", a history of the brass band movement illustrated with readings from band members and performances by the band. The lecture was a great success and was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience and band alike. In roughly chronological order, and to illustrate the various styles, technical aspects and range of brass bands, the pieces played were: Brilliant - J Ord Hume, Die Zauberflote - Mozart arr. Rimmer, Labour and Love - Percy Fletcher, Elegy (Downland Suite) - John Ireland, Star Lake - Eric Ball, Elegy (Entertainments) - Gilbert Vinter, I Wish I Knew - Billy Taylor arr Chris Horton, Ticket to Ride - Lennon and McCartney arr. Alan Fernie, Vitae Lux - F Anaes arr. Aagaard Nilsen, Land of the Long White Cloud - Philip Sparke.

    NORTHERN REGION CHAMPIONSHIPS - These were held at Darlington on Sunday 21 March, with 53 bands competing for a chance to attend the National Finals in Nottingham in September and the Championship Section Final in London in October. The test piece in the Second Section was Symphonic Suite by Leighton Lucas - a very interesting and enjoyable piece to play. The Harrogate Band was pleased and confident in its performance as it left the contest stage and was convinced that it would be placed among the prizewinners, but disappointingly was only awarded 6th place out of the 11 competing bands.

    CONCERT AT ST. PETER'S - Audiences in Harrogate have been able to enjoy a feast of band music in recent weeks, including a visit to the Royal Halls by the Black Dyke Band, the local school bands in the annual Competitive Music Festival (won this year by Tewit Youth Band) and The Harrogate Band who entertained a large and enthusiastic audience at St. Peter's Church, helping to raise money for the church's organ restoration fund.
    The highlights of the band's programme included three excellent soloists: principal cornet Robert Illsley dazzled the audience with his exuberant and stylish rendition of Harry James' Trumpet Concerto, David Gall gave a demonstration of virtuoso technique in Monti's Czardas and Jason Harper showed off the lyrical voice of the flugel horn in a haunting arrangement of a Scottish folksong entitled Mull of the Cool Bens. Cornet and horn sections were also featured in Trumpet Blues and Cantabile and Vivaldi's Winter respectively.
    The most weighty musical items were provided by Leighton Lucas' fine Symphonic Suite which was given a robust and well-shaped performance in anticipation of the forthcoming regional competition and a sprightly overture to Zauberflote in William Rimmer's arrangement. The Harrogate Band also included a rare performance of the lovely Elegy from Gilbert Vinter's suite Entertainments in their programme. The band were clearly in good form and the acoustics at St Peter's allowed the audience to savour their rich tone.
    Since the evening was all about raising money to support the church organ, MD David Lancaster selected Ray Farr's arrangement of Bach's Toccata in D minor to conclude the programme.

    JOHN HALLUMS' 80TH BIRTHDAY PARTY - The recently restored Sun Pavilion in Harrogate provided a suitably spectacular setting in which to celebrate John Hallums' 80th birthday, and The Harrogate Band provided a short programme to begin the evening's entertainment. John is almost a founder member of the band and has served as chairman and committee member for many years and continues to dedicate much time and effort to support the band and it seemed fitting that so many former players and supporters were in the audience.
    The evening also included a presentation to John from the band, and a few well-chosen pieces played by John's four grandchildren, one of whom - Ashley - is a member of Harrogate's training band, The Brass Class. The only note of sadness was that John's wife Joan was unable to be present, having recently undergone a major hip operation.
    The band - in relaxed mood and clearly enjoying the occasion - played several light pieces to get the party under way before demonstrating their skills (!) on the dance floor. Many thanks to John for inviting the band to his special event and for all the support over the last 29 years.

    INTERNET OSCARS - We are proud to be the recipients of the first BRASS OSCAR 1998 for the "Best Non-Commercially Produced Band Website of the Year". Congratulations to the other Oscar winners (Black Dyke Band, SCABA, Brass Band World). For further details of the awards, and plans for the 1999 awards, see the Internet Brass Oscars site hosted by Andy Wooler.
    Our thanks must go, in true Oscar winners' style, to everyone who voted for our site. There are over 400 brass band websites in existence at present, and there is a wonderful range of styles with a huge amount of information about the bands, good ideas, advice, history, fun, music, pictures and, of course, the bandsmen themselves. Although brass bands on the Internet are still in their relative infancy, there are a large number of dedicated individuals who have crafted the websites and promoted the cause and awareness of the brass band movement way beyond their normal audiences. These we also salute and we urge you to visit their sites for a flavour of the rich variety of brass banding across the world. The Internet Bandsman's Everything Within, or the Brass Band Webringcan provide your starting point in a journey around the brass band web.


    SITE SEARCHES AND TRANSLATIONS - You can now search this site for specific phrases or words. See the search box near the end of this page, or follow the SEARCH link.
    In addition you can translate pages into one of five languages using Altavista's "Babelfish" converter. The translations, performed by software, are not 100% accurate, so use them advisedly, and there is a limit to the amount of text translated in each request. Go to the search page for more details or use the country flags table for this page below

    FIRE BRIGADE CONCERT - Over £4,000 was raised by the Fire Services Benevolent Fund Charity Christmas Concert which took place in the Royal Hall in December to a packed audience. With the Harrogate Band were the City of York Pipe Band, St Aidans Chamber Choir and the Studio 3 Dance Workshop providing an excellent mix of musical and terpsichorean styles. Traditional carols from the choir, band and audience were interspersed with a number of other pieces from the Harrogate Band, traditional bagpipe music and a stirring selection of Irish dancing from Lord of the Dance. An arrangement for brass band and bagpipes of Highland Cathedral, by David Lancaster, was particularly appreciated by the audience. This was the second year since the revival of this concert, and we look forward to an even more successful event in 1999.

    TRIUMPH IN HARTLEPOOL - The Band's most decisive contest win was gained at the Cameron's Brass Band Championships at Hartlepool. Competing officially in the Second Section for the first time, playing (and thoroughly enjoying) Land of the Long White Cloud by Philip Sparke, we trounced the competition by a clear five points. The adjudicator, Ian Craddock, was full of praise for our performance - an unusual occurrence for any band! This particular contest, now in its sixth year, has gained in popularity with bands in the North of England - and it has always been a favourite of ours, and not just because of our continuing successes each year!

    EXCELLENT MUSIC - The University College of Ripon and York St John echoed the sounds of The Harrogate Band and the College Concert Band in November as they provided a joint concert of serious band music to an appreciative audience. The UCRYSJ Band performed Philip Sparke's Yorkshire Overture, Festive Piece, by Clare Grundman, and Malcolm Arnold's Padstow Lifeboat. The Harrogate Band followed with works by two local, but world famous, brass composers - Wilfred Heaton, Victory for Me, and Philip Wilby, Dacre Banks. This was followed by Robert Eaves' Rhapsody for Eb Soprano Cornet, immaculately performed by Andrew Jackson, and the premiere of Claro Toccata by David Lancaster - a complex and highly charged piece with delicate opportunities for lyrical playing by euphonium and flugel soloists. The concert concluded with a performance of Philip Sparke's Land of the Long White Cloud.

    CHANGE OF PRINCIPALS - The Band was sorry to see our Principal Cornet player, Sadie Snowden, leave recently. Sadie had led the cornet section and the whole band in many successful concerts and contests. We wish her all the best and hope to see her back with us in the not too distant future. We are very pleased now to welcome back Rob Illsley to The Harrogate Band. Rob, who held the Principal's seat prior to Sadie, has returned after a period playing with Brent Brass.

    DUTCH VISITORS - An excellent weekend was enjoyed by all concerned when the Gerwens Muziekkorps (GMK) Band, from Neunen in The Netherlands, visited Harrogate in October. Staying with members of the Harrogate Band they had an opportunity to sample the delights of Harrogate and York and perform two concerts. The first of these was at West Park United Reform Church, where the audience were treated first to a mini concert by their ten-strong percussion section, then to a wide selection of numbers from the whole concert band. The Harrogate Band had opened the evening with a short session before handing over to their guests. A rousing barn dance and supper rounded off the next day. On the Monday the students and staff of the University College of Ripon and York St John were delighted with the second concert from GMK, which finished just in time for them to depart for the evening ferry back to Holland.
    Click the picture to see further/enlarged pictures.

    SCULPTURED SOUNDS - The Band had a very successful and enjoyable trip to Perry Green in Hertfordshire in June to provide music for the Henry Moore Centenary Celebrations at the Henry Moore Foundation Open Day. A commemorative service was held at the local church where both Moore and his wife are buried, followed by a concert at the Foundation, which now occupies the house and grounds of Henry Moore's former home. Surrounded by many examples of the sculptor's work - from massive architectural pieces to small and intimate studio works, drawings and fabrics - the band entertained several thousand people who had come to see the work of the Yorkshire-born sculptor. The Open Day, held in glorious sunshine, was an event thoroughly enjoyed by the public, the band and the Foundation themselves. Our thanks go to the Foundation for the invitation - which resulted from the Foundation's visit to this website. We look forward to being invited back for the 200th anniversary!

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    CLEAN SWEEP - Three First Prizes and Trophies were won in the Yorkshire and Humberside Brass Band Association's Annual Contest, First Section, at Scarborough in May. Wonderful! Marvellous! you might think - but the band, although being pleased at the awards, was also very disappointed. All the other bands in the first section had withdrawn and we had agreed with the organisers to compete in the Championship section and to be judged with them. However our status was communicated to the adjudicator and we were judged as the only first section band! What is the point of preparing a piece for contest then not being able to compete?!! Nevertheless, both the adjudicator and audience liked the performance, and we are sure that, had we been allowed to compete fairly in the contest, we would have surprised one or two of the other bands in that section.

    REGIONAL CHALLENGE - The Band's first contest in the Second Section was the Northern Region Championships at Darlington. We were very pleased to be awarded third place - particularly as the adjudicator admitted he could not really separate places two and three. Unfortunately this also meant that we missed representing our home town in the Harrogate National Finals in September! (Nevertheless we were there, cheering on our brethren and friends in the contest - and supported the organisation in a number of ways, including providing our bandroom to competing bands for rehearsals).

    IT WAS US! - We have recently received an Arts Council award from the National Lottery which has enabled the Band to purchase a full set of new instruments and a trailer to help in their transport. These instruments, which are already proving to be a significant benefit to the musical sound of the band, were sorely needed and will give us a welcome boost to the quality of our music. The process of obtaining the grant from the Arts Council was a fairly long one, taking in all about a year, from the preparation of the submission to the final award. However, we were very pleased with the support and advice given by the staff at the Arts Council. Our thanks must also go particularly to Michael Hymas, the Band's President, whose financial assistance has facilitated the partnership funding required for the grant.


    NEW CD RECORDING - The Band's new CD recording, Come Follow The Harrogate Band, is now available. This was released at the joint concert before Christmas with the Tewit Youth Band, the other fully brass band in Harrogate. A most enjoyable evening was had by all concerned, culminating in three pieces played by the joint bands.

    FIRE BRIGADE CONCERT - The charity concert for the Fire Brigade Service, in the Royal Hall in Harrogate, was also a great success. Over £3,000 was raised for the Fire Services Benevelant Fund, by the Band together with singers from St Andrew's Players, the York City Pipers and dancers from Studio Three Workshop who once again provided a wonderful visual dimension to Riverdance.

    GOOD CAMERONS RESULT - The Band competed in the Second section at the Camerons Brewery contest at Hartlepool at the end of November. Although we did not officially become promoted to the 2nd section until January 1998, we were allowed to compete in the higher section there. Playing Philip Sparke's Celtic Suite the Band gained third place in a strong section of 12 bands - a very good result!!

    RIPON - SECOND PLACE WINNERS! - A feast of brass was thoroughly enjoyed by a large audience at the Ripon Festival Brass Band Entertainment Contest in Ripon Cathedral on 31st May. The Harrogate Band clinched 2nd place after winning overall, but dropping points on a time penalty due to the extended audience applause! Nonetheless the highlight of the evening was agreed to be our performance of Riverdance with the "surprise" support of nine talented dancers from the Studio Three Dance Workshop in Knaresborough. The national press picked up the story from the lead article in the Harrogate Advertiser, and articles subsequently appeared in a number of the daily newspapers - ranging from the Sun to the Daily Telegraph!