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[Archive] - Press Articles 2000

News Harrogate Advertiser, October 13th 2000

"Utterly compelling" band on top form in big cathedral outing

To a large and responsive audience in Ripon Cathedral, the Harrogate Band demonstrated why they are one of the district's premier music ensembles. In an impressive and hugely enjoyable concert, which truly included something for everyone, these local musicians played with style and panache. For once the audience were given a hand in the choice of programme via the band's innovative Interactive Jukebox. From a list of popular pieces the audience chose Eric Coates' Dambusters March which the band duly presented as their penultimate item.
For this special event the band was joined by trombone soloist Nick Hudson, a superlative player and master of his instrument, who gave a sparkling performance of a new work - Dick Turpin's Ride to York by Rodney Newton - before retreating offstage to play some plainsong transcriptions. This unaccompanied music made a highly effective use of the Cathedral's resonant acoustic; leaving the audience spell-bound, hardly daring to breathe.
The major work of the first half was Abstractions by the Norwegian composer Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen. This is the music the Harrogate Band will perform in the Royal Albert Hall later this month when they represent the North of England in the National Brass Band Championship Finals. On this showing they must be amongst the favourites to bring a winners' trophy back to North Yorkshire for the first time. The musical language was uncompromisingly modern, full of rhythmic energy and dissonance, but Harrogate's performance was utterly compelling.
Also included in the first half was a tribute to the late Wilfred Heaton, composer and Harrogate resident until his death earlier this year. Heaton's meditation Just As I Am is a beautiful symphonic poem in miniature which the band played with characteristic warmth of tone.
The second half was a much lighter affair beginning with a swing set which would grace the repertoire of any decent Big Band. Robert Illsley was the stylish soloist in I Know Why and So Do You before Nick Hudson rejoined the band again for a lyrical Stardust followed by Hot Toddy with Harrogate's trombone section in support.
The serious items in the second half included two transcriptions: Barber's Adagio (which sounds surprisingly well on brass!) and Ravel's ever-popular Bolero which allowed Harrogate's soloists to shine once more. This was a band on top form, with a superb soloist and a programme to send everyone home happy.

News Harrogate Advertiser, September 29th 2000

Cathedral performance for Harrogate Band

The Harrogate Band steps into the spotlight at Ripon Cathedral tomorrow night for a Gala Concert starting at 7 30 pm. Joining the local musicians will be trombone virtuoso, Nick Hudson recently returned from a concert tour of New Zealand. Hits by Hoagy Carmichael and Andrew Lloyd Webber are included in his programme. The evening will also feature items from the Big Band era, Ravel's Bolero and many other popular classics. Proceeds from the evening will help the Band, now in its 30th year, to rise to its next competition challenge. The Band are representing the North of England in London next month when they compete in the Finals of the National Brass Band Championships. Funds raised tomorrow night will be put towards the cost of the trip.

News Harrogate Advertiser, September 22nd 2000

Gala concert to feature premier brass band

A Gala Concert featuring the talented Harrogate Band takes place in Ripon Cathedral on Saturday September 30 at 7.30 pm. As well as enjoying an evening of consummate musicianship ticket holders will be helping to raise funds to help the band face their next competition challenge. The musicians travel to London in October to compete in the prestigious National Brass Band Championship Finals in the Royal Albert Hall. Bands from all around the UK will be taking part, with Harrogate representing the North of England following their victory in the Regional Championships last March. The Band, currently celebrating its 30th anniversary year, is pulling out all the stops to raise enough money to make the trip possible. The Ripon concert will also feature the brilliant trombone virtuoso Nick Hudson, principal trombonist of the Williams Fairey Band and an acclaimed solist in this country and around the world. Nick has recently released a new CD recording and has just returned from a concert tour of New Zealand. Accompanied by the Harrogate Band, Nick will explore familiar and unfamiliar repertoire, including hits by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Hoagy Carmichael. The Harrogate Band's entertaining presentation includes music from the Big Band era, the Broadway stage and Ravel's thrilling Bolero, along with other popular classics and light music. It promises to be an exciting and memorable musical occasion from the district's premier brass band.

News Dutch Newspaper, May 2000

Jubileumconcert GMK/The Harrogate Band

The Harrogate Banbd, zeer bekende topbrassband uit North of England behaalde 16x de eerste prijs in de afgelopen 5 jaar in de hoogste divisie en dit jaar neemt zij deel aan de Nat. Brass Band Championship Finals in The Royal Albert Hall te London!

Na in 1998 Harrogate een bezoek te hebben gebracht ontvangt het Gerwens Muziek Korps de Harrogate band in het weekend van 27 mei a.s. Dit ter gelgenheid van het 40-jarig jubileumfeest van het GMK.

Tijdens dit weekend staan er uiteraard diverse feestelijkheden en uitstapjes op het programma, waaronder natuurlijk ook gezamenlijke optreden van Gerwens Muziek Korps en the Harrogate (brass) Band.

Het jubileumconcert in Nuenen vindt plaats over twee weken in het Klooster op zaterdag 27 mei. Aanvang 20.15 uur. Voor dit concert zijn kaarten à f 7,50 vanaf maandag a.s. te verkrijgen of bij Het Klooster, Keurslagerij Schmitz, kapper Werner Ulrich (Kernkwartier) te Nuenen of bij Martien Sanders te Gerwen.

Op zondag 28 mei is er een concert van the Harrogate Band tezamen me de slagwerkgroep van het GMK in het Caratconcertpaviljoen aan de Warandavijver te Helmond, aanvang 13.30 uur.

News Brass Band World, April 2000 - Stephen Jack

Dreams do come true. Just ask the Harrogate Band and their conductor David Lancaster. For a number of years they have been the "nearly" band, with good results at most contests but unable to make their mark at the Areas. Now in their 30th anniversary year it has come all right, finally taking the top honours in the Second Section.

Graced by an excellent team of soloists and led by a charismatic conductor who puts his all into his job, the result was nothing less than stunning. For many it was the best rendition of any test piece over the whole weekend, transforming Philip Harper's technically brilliant piece of writing (Sword, Jewel and Mirror) into a musical performance, sadly lacking from most bands, full of glorious sounds and utilising carefully considered mute and percussion effects.

Joining them will be GT Group Peterlee who under Tom Maddison had to be content with runners-up spot for the second year running, but gave an excellent challenge to the eventual winners.

However it has to be said that a lot of bands failed to cope with the scoring, complex rhythms and dynamics of the piece, in particular a number of over-exuberant tam-tam players who drowned out many a performance.

News Brass World International, April 2000

BWI Masthead

The Millennium Brass Band

If you're heading to the Millennium Dome in London any time this year, make sure to take a look in the Self Portrait Zone, a tribute to all things British. And since there's nothing more British than brass bands, it's fitting that a picture of a brass band should be included in the zone. And which band did they choose to represent all bands throughout Britain? None other than the Harrogate Band.

"We are very proud to have been selected for this, although it was largely by chance that the opportunity arose," said Gavin Holman, Harrogate's contest secretary and former chairman of the band.

The "chance" he is talking about was when the organisers of the Dome's exhibits wrote to U.K. companies looking for suggestions of features that are traditionally British. Harrogate band member Chris Horton works for Sam Smith's Brewery and was one of those contacted. He suggested a brass band be included and, naturally enough, he mentioned The Harrogate Band. And before you could say Y2K, a picture was taken of the band and included in the Self Portrait Zone.

"[The photograph] was taken in the newly restored Sun Pavilion in Harrogate's Valley Gardens last year, following an approach from the production company responsible for that zone in the Dome," said David Lancaster, Harrogate's musical director. "But we're really there to represent all bands, indicating their important role in British culture today and in the past."

Brass banding is indeed an important part of British culture. Brass band members are mostly volunteers who play for the enjoyment of playing, but to some, it's more than just a pastime.

"It's more than just a hobby....I thoroughly enjoy all aspects of the brass band experience," said Holman who is the computer manager at the British Library in Yorkshire. "It has multi-faceted aspects - the pleasures of performance, the pain and effort of rehearsal and practice, the beauty and invigoration of the music, the inspiration of contesting, the cameraderie of teamwork, the sense of family from the band and its supporters, the pride in giving pleasure to audiences, and overall a continual sense of achievement in a job well done."

All British brass bands are distinctive in some way or other, but Lancaster believes Harrogate success is due to its management and dedicated membership.

"The Harrogate Band is very well managed by an excellent committee and so we have a lot of good facilities - bandroom, instruments, uniforms etc - some good engagements and hopefully a lot of happy players!" said Lancaster. "We do have a fairly stable membership in comparison with many bands around us today, and that helps us to maintain musical standards and also to develop the social side to the fullest extent. I suppose that the biggest element must be that players gain pleasure from being part of a successful team - we play interesting music in some good venues and on the whole we get good contest results."

Indeed they do get good contest results. Just recently the Harrogate Band was named the Second Section North of England Regional Champions and will be heading to Royal Albert Hall in October compete in the National Brass Band Championship Finals.

"In essence we are not so different from many of our colleague bands around the country," stated Holman. "But we do constantly aim to improve not just our playing standard but our overall competency - our profile in the community, the range and scope of our repertoire, our involvement with other musical groups and organisations. We can provide consistent quality performances and our administration and organisation works well to support the playing activities."

And what does the band hope for the future?

"Many more years of success, I hope!" said Lancaster. "I would like to see the band improve its national grading, although competitions are not the only important criteria in measuring the band's success. If we can continue to build our playing strength it will enable us to tackle more difficult music and possibly develop our focus on contemporary music and newly commissioned works. The quality of our engagements is improving all the time and this is possibly the biggest indication of our improvement and the status we are accorded. I hope that the future will be a successful continuation of the good work we're doing at present."

News Harrogate Advertiser, 31st March 2000

Best in the North!

The Harrogate Band achieved their greatest ever competition success at the weekend when they were named North of England Champions at the prestigious regional brass band finals. Their outstanding performance has earned them an invitation to the Royal Albert Hall in October for the Millennium National Championships, plus promotion to the first section from next year. Like the football league, promotion to "division one" in the brass band world means the local musicians are on a par with the finest in the land.

In a record-breaking year, musical director David Lancaster has taken the band to a first place win at every contest they have entered, as well as performing a range of popular concerts. Of the latest triumph he said: "The Band has worked so hard towards this result. Our appearance at the Royal Albert Hall and our promotion are both challenges we will relish."

Chairman and musician Steve Morland spoke of his delight at representing Harrogate on a national scale. "We will proudly carry the name of Harrogate and its musical reputation to London this October", he said.

Plans for special 30th anniversary celebrations are now under way, but if any former players still haven't got back in touch, it's not too late! Steve Morland would be delighted to hear from past members or potential new players interested in joining the Harrogate Band at this exciting time.

News Harrogate Advertiser, February 18th 2000

Band's brass victory

The Harrogate Band's newest supporter has inspired the local musicians to victory in the brass band heartlands of Rochdale. Two-year old Daniel Lancaster, son of musical director David, was on hand to wish the band luck with their first challenge on the other side of the Pennines. The illustrious Rochdale contest was held in the gothic style town hall where a strong field of distinguished brass bands had every intention of scooping the top prize.

Not only did the Harrogate Band surpass them all in performance to win the coveted first place, they also earned high praise from the adjudicator on the day.

Daniel loves dressing up in his own miniature version of the Band's new uniform and can't wait until he is old enough to play a brass instrument. And he knows just where to go for lessons.

The Harrogate Band runs its own Brass Class which provides instruments and tuition for anyone interested in learning to play, with the aim of one day joining the successful main ensemble.

Daniel is hoping his presence will prove just as lucky when the Harrogate Band enter their next contest in Darlington on March 19th to find the North of England champions.

News Harrogate Advertiser, January 28th 2000

Band tunes up for big year

The year 2000 is set to be a very special one for the Harrogate Band - it's their 30th anniversary and a series of reunion events are planned to celebrate this milestone. A gala concert, reunion evening and a foreign tour are part of the programme but before final arrangements are made, organisers are keen to contact as many former members of the Harrogate Band as possible.

Every one of the musical line-up over the past 30 years can take pride in the success of the Harrogate Band today. If you are a former player then chairman Steve Morland would like to hear from you. Contact him on Harrogate 526746 or email

The award winning musical ensemble first came together in 1970. Those first players were former pupils at Granby High School and were seeking a new outlet for their musical talents. Soon the nucleus of the band was formed and within a matter of months they were performing concerts and winning local contests.

In the three decades that followed the band grew in size and stature and were invited to participate at the National Championships on five occasions. They have also taken part in a number of foreign tours. Only last month musical director David Lancaster had the pleasure of leading the musicians to a second successive win at the Hartlepool Brass Band Contest, bringing the tally to five wins over the last seven years of the competition.

Further success over the last two years at the Yorkshire and Humberside Brass Band Association's Annual Contest has seen the Harrogate Band promoted to the championship section this year, where they join some of the best in the country, including the Grimethorpe Colliery Band.

The Harrogate Band is always looking for new brass and percussion players to join their ranks, either as experienced musicians or through the "Brass Class", as learners. Tuition and intruments are made available to members of the Brass Class. Anyone interested in joining them can contact David Lancaster on Ripon 608211.