The Harrogate Band - click to return to home page The Harrogate Band
    About   Contacts   Engagements   The Band   Contests   Recordings   Links   Local information
 

 
  About

News

Vacancies

Location

Friends

Facebook Group

Constitution

Rules

Library

Archive

 

[Archive] - Press Articles 2002


News Harrogate Advertiser, 6 September 2002

Brass band love blossoms for the fourth time

Romance has blossomed yet again within the Harrogate Band as members Nick and Helen Garrett married recently bringing the number of married couples playing in the band to four! The couple married in Thirsk this summer and the band serenaded them at the wedding with Nick playing a solo piece. Nick and Helen, who play cornets, join other married band members Steve and Catherine Morland on percussion and baritone, David and Liz Lancaster, musical director and cornet, and Rob and Katie Illsley, principal cornet and percussion.
In addition to these married couples there are also two pairs of fathers and daughters playing in the band. Stan Stockdale and daughter Lynne on tuba and flugel horn, and Dave Gall and daughter Lesley on euphonium and trombone.
President of The Harrogate Band, Michael Hymas feels there is a real family atmosphere in the group.
"I think you'll find musicians tend to marry musicians. If your hobby is music you tend to meet people who also like music. It's a hobby for both sexes and friendships spring up while playing in the band", said Michael.
The Harrogate Band is North Yorkshire's leading brass band and has recently gained promotion to the Championship Section. They will take their place with the leaders of brass bands in January 2003. They are currently rehearsing for the national finals which take place in Torquay later this month.

The Harrogate Band present a concert at St Peter's Church tomorrow (8pm) ahead of an appearance at the finals of the national championships. Choice Brass is a feast of band and audience favourites from a wide-ranging repertoire. The evening also sees the band's only performance of the national championships test piece prior to the competition. 'Leonardo' is an original work, inspired by the studies and sketches of Leonardo da Vinci, penned by local composer Phil Wilby.


News Harrogate Advertiser, 10th May 2002

A superb year packed with high points

HARROGATE Band is celebrating its best season ever, topped by promotion to the Champions' Section. AUDREY FORBES went along to a rehearsal night to see what makes this band such a resounding success.
Catherine Morland and Kate HawkinsSteve MorlandWhen you think of a brass band, images of sleepy mining town communities that revolve round the stereotypical band - usually made up of men In flat caps playing jolly ompa pa music - spring to mind. This is the picture that the movies like to paint but when I visited Harrogate Band it became clear that taking part is not something that is restricted to the older generation. Harrogate Band is made up of people of all generations from teenagers through to retirement age who come along twice a week to practice and enjoy the music. "The perception is quite different from the reality. People perceive bands as people in flat caps and old blokes. But here there is a predominance of young people. It's not all the old flat caps anymore," said Catherine Morland who plays in the band. And the band certainly have a winning combination, having been promoted to the Champions' Section after coming second in the Northern Region Championships. This features at the top of the list of highlights for the band which include playing at a flood-lit Fountains Abbey and the Royal Albert Hall - the ultimate venue for a brass band. "It was a magical experience. It's something that anyone who plays in a brass band aspires to do. It was phenomenal," recalled music director David Lancaster.
BBb bass player, Geoff TaylorThe band was formed in 1970 from a nucleus of former Harrogate Granby High School Concert Band pupils who wanted to continue their playing after leaving school and they still have a lot of involvement with local schools, playing with them in various concerts. The band still has two of its founding members and gives players the chance to explore different musical backgrounds and styles playing swing band pieces, chart music, West End musicals, marches and solo features. New players are welcome and the band attributes some of its success on its infrastructure. "If we recruit new players it becomes easier as the band grows in size and reputation," said band chairman Steve Morland. Michael HymasAlthough that said it is easy for a band to fall into the trap of recruiting lots of new players then when they leave it fails - so steady improvement is the key. The beauty of Harrogate Band is how committed the players are. It is obvious that they all socialise together from the friendly and welcoming atmosphere. "One of the things that excites me is the amateur status of the band. Nobody gets paid for playing. I think the commitment is enormous. It would be nice to have a greater local support," said Michael Hymas, president of the band.

News Yorkshire Post, May 2002

Hard work pays off as band joins top brass

The Harrogate Band has gained promotion to the Championship Section - making its members the highest-ranked brass band musicians in North Yorkshire. Their success follows a runner-up position in the First Section at the North of England Brass Band Championships in Darlington. It means the band - formed 32 years ago for school-leavers by its first musical director Neil Richmond - has a third successive invitation to the National Championships to be held in Torquay in September.
Chairman Steve Morland said: "This is such an exciting time to belong to The Harrogate Band. The band has worked very hard over the last few years and has now earned the opportunity to compete at the highest level. It is a huge challenge but I'm confident the band will respond with characteristic commitment and enthusiasm."
The band is now led by David Lancaster, who was ecstatic at the promotion. "The band responded really well to the pressures of the contest and summoned up an impressive performance. "We were all delighted with the result and are honoured to be representing the North of England in the National Finals once again. Harrogate deserves a Championship Section brass band, and now it will have one." Mr Lancaster also won the brass band category for his composition Cuba in a new competition organised by the Leeds University Music School in conjunction with world-famous Black Dyke Band. His work was one of 72 received for judging in the competition which Dr Philip Wilby of the university's music department described as an exceptionally high standard.
The band also won the North of England trophy for Best Percussion Section - claiming the John Hallums Trophy, which was donated by the Harrogate Band to the North of England Championships in memory of its former chairman. Already this year the band has welcomed guests from the United States, made a recording and appeared on Yorkshire Television's Heartbeat. During the summer the band will take part in a range of events from traditional music to a groundbreaking collaboration with a local rock group, plus an appearance in a forthcoming episode of Emmerdale.
News Harrogate Advertiser, 26 April 2002

Congratulations must also go to the Harrogate Band who have been promoted to the highest level in their field and now represent the district through 2003 as Championship Section entrants. The new ranking was confirmed at the North of England Brass Band Championships in Darlington, where the Harrogate Band finished runners-up in the First Section, gaining them a third successive invitation to the National Brass Band Championships to be held in September.
A consistent run of top finishes means that they are now promoted to the very highest level of banding in the land and become the first ever musical group in the district ever to reach the highest level in their field. The Harrogate Band will now be competing at the same level as prestigious names such as Black Dyke, Grimethorpe Colliery and Brighouse and Rastrick. The Harrogate Band have engagements around the country in the coming months and are also featured in a forthcoming episode of Emmerdale.
News Harrogate Advertiser, 19th April 2002

The Band that's simply champion

The Harrogate district will for the first time ever have its own Championship Section band in 2003. This news was confirmed at the North of England Brass Band Championships in Darlington, where The Harrogate Band finished runners-up in the First Section, gaining them a third consecutive invitation to the National Brass Band Championships, to be held this September in Torquay. A consistent run of top finishes by the band means that they are now promoted to the very highest level of banding in the land, and become the first musical group in the district ever to reach the highest level in their field. Their new position will also see them performing throughout 2003 as the highest-ranked band in North Yorkshire.
It's the latest chapter in the band's 32-year history, which has modest roots as a group formed for school-leavers by its first Musical Director Neil Richmond. Steady growth and success has seen the band move ahead and in the last nine years scale the five British leagues to reach the top. Chairman Steve Morland spoke of the band's delight at achieving its greatest success: "This is such an exciting time to belong to The Harrogate Band. The band has worked very hard over the last few years and have now earned the opportunity to compete at the very highest level. It's a huge challenge but I'm confident that the band will respond with characteristic commitment and enthusiasm."
The result was also testimony to the unrelenting efforts and inspiring leadership of Musical Director David Lancaster, who was understandably ecstatic at the news: "The band responded really well to the pressures of the contest and summoned up an impressive performance. We were all delighted with the result and are honoured to be representing the North of England in the National Finals once again. Harrogate deserves a Championship Section brass band, and now it will have one".
David Lancaster himself was the recipient of good news too, when he was announced winner of the brass band category for his work Cuba in a new competition organised by the Leeds University Music School in conjunction with world-famous Black Dyke Band. His work was one of 72 received for judging in the competition which, according to Dr Philip Wilby, "were of exceptionally high standard making the judging very difficult".
Other recent winners in the band were the percussion section who won the North of England trophy for "Best Percussion Section". Their prize was the John Hallums Trophy which was donated by The Harrogate Band to the North of England Championships in memory of their former chairman, and the band members took great delight in taking it home.
The band's year got off to a flying start with a succession of concerts, contests and events. The band has not only welcomed guests from the USA, and made a recording, but also put in a popular appearance on YTV's 'Heart-beat'. Their most recent concert was 'Limbs for Life', where Harrogate Soroptomists invited the Band to give a concert in aid the charity supporting casualties of anti-personnel landmines. A wide range of musical pieces from the Band were very nicely contrasted by their guest artists in the concert, The Four Degrees - a talented barbershop quartet from the University College of York St John.
There is no let-up in their forthcoming efforts, which will see the band feature around the county in a wide range of events from traditional guise to a groundbreaking collaboration with a local rock group, plus an appearance by members of the band in a forthcoming appearance on ITV's 'Emmerdale'.
News Harrogate Advertiser, April 2002

Don't forget our band!

We all join with you in your lead article last Friday congratulating Harrogate Town on their promotion to the Unibond Premier Division and congratulate them on their successes and achievements. We also join in with the congratulations to the Harrogate Rugby Club in achieving fourth in the National Division One which is the third level in the Rugby Union hierarchy. I congratulate them on their success but would remind you that there is an organisation in the town that has reached the highest level in its field.
This is The Harrogate Band who, following their sucess last month, will be promoted to the championship section in January 2003. Under musical director David Lancaster the band has risen from the fourth section in 1991 to the highest level next year when they will be competing with the likes of Black Dyke, Grimethorpe Colliery and Brighouse and Rastrick.
Michael Hymas, President of the Harrogate Band
News The Conductor, April 2002

Dr Philip Wilby with The Harrogate Band

The music of local composers

Arguably, the success of convention weekends is totally evaluated by the 'feel good factor' with which one returns home. To enhance this, it is essential that the final session is memorable and stimulating. On this occasion the Association selected a 'winner' in the stimulation stakes! The title of the session was "The Music of Local Composers" (in the Harrogate area) with Dr Wilby and the Harrogate Band conducted by David Lancaster.

It is always interesting to hear composers talking about their music. A prominent 'local' composer is Dr Philip Wilby, so it was natural that he should begin the session. He started by referring to his suite The Seasons and the problems that emerged while composing it. Firstly, he quickly dispelled the idea that the work illustrates the seasons as Vivaldi attempted in his work with the same title. As Dr Wilby said, "How can you describe four seasons in three movements?" He then explained that his intention was to describe our emotions as we progress through the seasons and the three movement suite form was suitable for this.

Dr Wilby raised the question of the relationship between the composer and the band during rehearsal and performance. The term he used was 'Symbiosis' between the interdependent features of the creative and performing processes. He said he welcomed thoughts on this because the problem of writing interesting parts for 'second' players is accentuated when writing for lower section bands. Dr Wilby then began to offer a number of solutions! The first example was a demonstration of several qualities of drum roll that feature prominently in this piece. Dr Wilby described these as a 'poetic' way of dealing with what otherwise may be a repetitive sound.

Regarding 'second' parts he highlighted the difficulties of tuning chords in extreme keys that require second and third valve fingering. As an example he gave the tonic chord of G flat major from The Seasons scored for second and third cornets and soprano. The general opinion was that good listening skills were essential in these situations.

The comments made by Dr Wilby reminded me of when I started playing in a band. We survived on a musical diet of Fantasias by J A Greenwood and other similar pieces. We enjoyed them because everyone was playing almost all the time! Dr Wilby displayed a more sophisticated approach to the problem of making music interesting for the less experienced players. But, at no point did he suggest that composers should 'write down' for them. His solutions were musically integrated into the piece and were as essential to the performance as the 'solo' parts, possessing an educational dimension that can be exploited by the conductor.

Dr Wilby then commented on his piece Atlantic, for which he supplied examples from the score. This was written for the Tomra Brass Band, who are based in a shipbuilding community in Norway and draw players from the local population. The piece is arranged as a Concerto Grosso, that is, a work for several solo players, who are surrounded by a larger group who support the musical argument, provide antiphonal musical opportunities, and on occasion overwhelm the solo group in climatic outbursts. It is written for two 'bands', the division in the score being marked by the percussion. Consequently, the visual impact is similar to an orchestral symphonic score. It was explained that the manuscript paper had to be designed before the scoring could be done. It was composed in 2001 and recently used in Norway as a test piece. From the tantalising snippets we heard, this piece promises to become widely popular. This part of the session was concluded by a performance of The Seasons.

Neil Richmond then talked about composers having connections with Harrogate district. Neil is well known locally as a dedicated teacher and conductor. Now retired, he has assisted the Harrogate Band and David Lancaster in researching the topic and arranging the resultant music. The first name raised was that of Ernest Farrar. He studied at Durham and Dresden in the early years of the last century before being appointed organist at Christ Church, Harrogate. He was also active in local orchestras. Regrettably he was killed in World War I. One of his works, Heroic Elegy, written whilst he was serving in the army, had been performed only once. The score was discovered in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and arranged for brass hand by Neil Richmond. The work includes the Agincourt Song, later used by Walton in his music for the film Henry V and shows that, had Farrar survived, he would probably have become an important 20th century composer.

Another local composer was Arthur Wood of Three Dale Dances fame. It seems that he wrote two suites of dances, making Six Dale Dances in all! While in Harrogate he played second flute in the Municipal Orchestra, which apparently was of a commendably high standard.

Perhaps the most famous composer with Harrogate connections is Gerald Finzi. He moved to Harrogate with his family to escape the Zeppelin raids on London in 1915 and studied with Ernest Farrar for a short time. An arrangement of the introduction to his work Dies Natalis was performed. It was originally written for strings; the success of this arrangement by Neil Richmond may encourage someone to arrange his Romance for String Orchestra for brass band.

Then followed an illustrated talk by a member of the Harrogate Band, Gavin Holman, about bands in Harrogate. Music was very important to the commercial health of the town when visitors 'took the waters'. The musical day began at 7.3Oam! Those who have tasted the spring water of Harrogate will readily understand that it is advisable to stay out of doors after doing so! To enhance the promenading experience, professional musicians took to their instruments morning, noon and night (sorry about the pun!) This talk was expertly given and far removed from the normal band history lesson.

The Harrogate Band concluded the afternoon by playing three works. The first of these was Wilfred Heaton's march Tricot Rouge, followed by The Royal Border Bridge from Arthur Butterworth's Three Impressions for Brass, and concluded with a march written by David Lancaster, Dragon Parade, named after a street in Harrogate. David is modest about his music, but this march could well become part of the standard repertoire.

Thank you to everyone who made this memorable afternoon possible. The Harrogate Band played to the high standard we have come to expect, showing musical sensitivity and understanding of the music they performed. A special thank you to Philip Wilby for his contribution, and to Neil Richmond and David Lancaster for sharing with us the results of their research and commitment into a fascinating topic that continues to enrich the whole brass band movement.

Ron Darwin


News Harrogate Advertiser, 25 January 2002

An award-winning website has turned members of the Harrogate Band into television stars. 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. The chance came following YTV's perusal of the band's website which has twice won Best Brass Band site on the internet and contains a vast amount of information, accessed by some 250,000 enthusiasts world-wide. The players spent two days on location around Yorkshire, recording a number of pieces and acting a key role in several scenes in the drama.
In addition to this the Harrogate Band was recently filmed during its preparations for the 2001 National Brass Band Championship Finals. The material is to be used in a half-hour series called 'A Grand Night Out' which follows Yorkshire people getting ready for a big event. The crew not only followed preparations for the event but also tracked the progress of two other big events in the band - the wedding of band member Lynne Stockdale, whose father also plays with the band, and the birth of Bethan Illsley, daughter of members Robert and Katie. The production crew worked with the band over several weeks, and travelled with them to the competition. Both films have yet to be broadcast.
News Harrogate Advertiser, 25 January 2002

Busy Year For Town's Band

2002 will continue for The Harrogate Band with a packed schedule. February sees the band make its debut at the prestigious Durham association contest, a real hotbed of competition, before heading into the studio to cut their latest CD, 'Made in Harrogate'. That recording will predominantly feature music associated with Harrogate or by local composers, and will contribute to the Royal Hall Restoration Fund to which the band has already contributed over £2000.
The early part of the year will also see the band feature in two TV programmes, a YTV documentary about the group, plus a forthcoming episode of 'Heartbeat' which features a number of band members masquerading as the local band throughout the story. March will see the band defend it's title at the North of England Championships, followed in April with defence or their Yorkshire and Humberside title.
The remainder of the year will see the band feature around the county in a wide range of events. Not only will they perform a recital of local music for National conductors association's annual conference, but are also planning two contrasting collaborations - firstly a Gershwin event, the centrepiece of which will be a performance of 'Rhapsody in Blue' with concert pianist, and secondly a groundbreaking rock collaboration with a local group! The band will of course be seen in more traditional guise at indoor and outdoor venues such as Wetherby, Ripon, Pateley Bridge and Leeds - always a hit with local audiences.


News ? 2002

Exciting Year Ahead for The Harrogate Band - From Stars and Stripes to TV Stars!

2002 promises to be an exciting and challenging year for The Harrogate Band, with their first major performance of the year taking place on January 18th at Harrogate's Crown Hotel. The Band plays host to the Concordia University Wind Ensemble from Wisconsin USA in an event which promises to be a musical extravaganza! This 80 piece instrumental ensemble from the university performs sacred and classical music from the standard wind repertoire from such composers as Reed, Hoist, and Copland. The group embarks on a 10-day tour each January, and 2002 sees them travelling to the UK. The ensemble is directed by Dr. Louis A. Menchaca, Director and Professor of Trumpet at Faculty at Concordia University where, since 1992, he has guided all aspects of the Instrumental Music Program. Under his guidance the Wind Ensemble has gained regional, national, and international renown. The Concordia University Wind Ensemble will of course share the stage with reigning North of England Champions The Harrogate Band under the baton of David Lancaster. The performance commences at 7.30 pm in the Crown Hotel Ballroom. Tickets are £5.00 for Adults, £3.00 for Concessions, and available on the door. For further information please contact Sharon on 020 7870 8551.
2002 will continue for The Harrogate Band with a packed schedule. February sees the band make its debut at the prestigious Durham association contest, a real hotbed of competition, before heading into the studio to cut their latest CD, 'Made in Harrogate'. That recording will predominantly feature music associated with Harrogate or by local composers, and will contribute to the Royal Hall Restoration Fund to which the band has already contributed over £2000.
The early part of the year will also see the band feature in two TV programmes, a YTV documentary about the group, plus a forthcoming episode of 'Heartbeat' which features a number of band members masquerading as the local band throughout the story. March will see the band defend it's title at the North of England Championships, followed in April with defence or their Yorkshire and Humberside title.
The remainder of the year will see the band feature around the county in a wide range of events. Not only will they perform a recital of local music for National conductors association's annual conference, but are also planning two contrasting collaborations - firstly a Gershwin event, the centrepiece of which will be a performance of 'Rhapsody in Blue' with concert pianist, and secondly a groundbreaking rock collaboration with a local group! The band will of course be seen in more traditional guise at indoor and outdoor venues such as Wetherby, Ripon, Pateley Bridge and Leeds - always a hit with local audiences.
After making 2001 the most successful in year their 31-year history, with promotion to the 1st division of competition yet still achieving an unprecedented set of four titles, the band are now looking forward and working hard towards making 2002 even more successful!


News Harrogate Herald, 4th January 2002

Strike up the band

An American wind ensemble will be joining forces with the Harrogate Band to perform a musical extravaganza at the Crown Hotel Ballroom later this month. The well-reputed Concordia University Symphonic Wind Ensemble will deliver meaningful, communicative and expressive music from "Westminster Carol" to "American Salute" on January 18th. As a viable and reputable music ensemble on the Concordia University campus, the group are now well known in the surrounding community and the greater Milwaukee area. This ensemble, described as being committed to a high standard of instrumental performance and literature, has also toured and performed in over 25 states across the USA. A broad range of resources and publishers is enlisted to help the group find music for sacred literature as well as for interpreting the fine secular works in the repertoire. As Professor of Music at the university, Dr Louis A Menchaca will conduct the ensemble, after guiding all aspects of the instrumental music programme since 1992. Dr Menchaca was nominated by his students to Who's Who Among American Teachers, and it is thanks to him the ensemble has gained local, regional and national recognition.
The Harrogate Band will be conducted by David Lancaster in the musical performance on Friday 18th Januaryat 7.30pm. Tickets are available at the door at £5 for adults and £3 concessions.