Something special is coming…

2024 sees the 20th anniversary of our relationship with Shepherd Group as our sponsors. Over that time we have benefitted from first class rehearsal facilities and have grown the band organisation to something we are all justifiably proud of. So we are going to be celebrating.

We have commissioned Liz Lane to compose a piece of celebratory music that represents the bands and the company who support us. We have had several workshops where Liz has worked with each band storyboarding our feelings about the band, what we get from it as players and as a band family as a whole. Liz has also been allowed to visit the Portakabin production site where she drew inspiration from the machinery used in the production of the Portakabin product lines.

On May 21st, players from each of the bands in the organisation got together in the band room for the first full run through of the piece. Liz was there to hear the work and has gone away with a couple of ideas for final tweaks. It was great to hear this come together and there are a few real surprises in store for the audience.

An image of players from all the bands looking back and waving to the camera.

This new composition will receive its premiere at the celebration concert the bands are holding at York Theatre Royal on June 29th 2024. Tickets are selling fast for this concert so you will need to head to the box office if you want to hear the performance. Tickets can be obtained via the link below.

York Theatre Royal

Liz has worked with many bands and is composer in association with Grimethorpe Colliery Band, writing music for their recent Brass in Concert set performed at the Glasshouse in Gateshead. You can find out more about Liz and her approach to composition at her website.

https://www.lizlane.co.uk

Youth band strikes Gold in Cheltenham

On March 23rd, the Youth Band headed off to Cheltenham where they took part in the National Youth Championships of Great Britain. They competed in the Yamaha Performance Section where they faced a stiff challenge from well established bands like Elland Training Band and Pembrokeshire Music Service. They performed really well and played with confidence. Those of us who were unable to get to the performance on the day were able to watch the live stream of the contest on the WOBPlay platform and the recording will be available there should you wish to catch up.

The band were unlucky not to be in the prizes on the day, but came away with a Gold Award with the judges saying their performance was “based on the most solid of banding basics”.

A solid result and a really great performance. Well done.

Latest Project Band Rehearsal

This morning the Shepherd Group Brass Band hosted their first community “Project Band” rehearsal of 2024, opening our doors to over 40 local brass players. Led by expert MD Richard Wilton, and members of the Shepherd Group Senior Band, the rehearsal focussed on original competition repertoire for brass band, putting the spotlight on Peter Yorke’s The Ship Builders Suite and Goff Richards’ Hollywood! Thanks to everyone for coming down… See you again in February!!!

Christmas kicked off in style.

The weekend of the 9th and 10th of December saw the Senior Band kick off Christmas in real style. First of all a small group of players headed off to Bishopthorpe Club on December 9th to play carols at the annual Lollipop Christmas Party.

Lollipop is a charity supporting d/Deaf children and their parents and offers them a social environment where they can get together. The band have joined with the NCEM I Can Play programme over the last year to offer places in Brass Roots where d/Deaf children can take up playing a brass instrument. We are so excited to be part of this initiative and many members of the band have started learinig to sign using BSL as part of this. More on that Later!

December 10th saw the senior band head to the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall at the University of York where we put on three performances of The Snowman live. We were pleased to welcome Buffy Breakwell who accompanied us on the Grand Piano and Sophie Sylvester who provided stunning vocals in the iconic Walking in the Air. Thanks also have to go to York Concerts who partnered with us on both this and the recent Cory concerts and withouth whom we would have found this much harder to do.

We couldn’t just leave things there though and we added in a couple of extra pieces, the first was Into the Unknown from the film Frozen II and then we introduced something really new for the band. As we move into 2024, we are going to build on the work we have done with Lollipop and I can play and we are making our concerts more inclusive for our d/Deaf friends. The first step here is going to be the introduction of signing at our concerts. With this in mind our Principal Cornet player Sean Chandler, who is himself d/Deaf, taught the audience the BSL words for Merry Christmas Everyone having first explained the challenges faced in selecting the correct cutlery.

The feedback we have had was that the audience participation in this number was a real highlight for everyone who was there, and Sean has confessed he was quite choked up to see the players in the band not only getting involved in the signing themselves, but also giving a round of applause using signing at the end of the piece.

Sean teaching the signing for Merry Christmas Everyone

Thanks to Jenni Chandler for ther video clip.

Vacancy for Soprano Cornet

Are you a Soprano Cornet player looking for a new challenge? We are on the lookout for someone to come and join us. We have a sensible mix of concerts and contests including thr Senior Cup in May and the Leicester Open in November. We also have collaborations with Cory Band and Grimethorpe Colliery Band over the next few months and will also be performing our popular version of The Snowman along with the original film in the run up to Christmas.

The band is renowned for our organisation with 5 bands under the Shepherd Group banner. We also enjoy first class rehearsal failities on the outskirts of York.

If this looks to be a challenge you would like to step up to, then please get in touch with the Senior Band MD Richard Wilton.

Grace Pratt Memorial Concert

As many followers of the bands will be aware, Grace Pratt passed away earleier this year.

Grace is Mikes mother and banding was in her blood from an early age. Grace was a very talented cornet player herself and after marrying Ted Pratt her family could not fail to become brass players themselves.

The whole Shepherd Group Brass Band organisation wanted to pay their own tribute to Grace, someone who supported us through the years and who was a face we all looked out for in our concerts. The best tribute we can think of is to play the music she loved while raising fund for York Against Cancer, her chosen charity.

The concert will take place at 7:30 pm on September 29th 2023 at York Salvation Army Citadel and will feature the Shepherd Group Concert Band conducted of course by her son Mike and the Shepherd Group Senior Band. The music will be a celebration of Grace’s life and a reflection on the lives of those we have lost in recent years.

Tickets for this concert are avaialble via our Eventbrite page.

Concert Band Smoking in the Smoke!

The weekend of the 1st and 2nd of July saw the concert band heading back down to London where they played on the bandstand in Regents Park. It turned out to be quite the weekend! As usual we had Erwin as our driver in a brand new coach, well 3 weeks old anyway, and he really was magnificent. Totally safe driving and giving us a verbal guided tour as we travelled through the capital and we saw just about every spectator entering Lords for the second test as we drove past the ground.

However the day before we got to our first job at Milton Keynes. It was supposed to be a birthday celebration for the museum and that is what they had originally booked us for but they moved it forward a week or so which meant that it was just an ordinary day there. Anyway although the “crowds” were just about in double figures we played our set and were truly appreciated by those there. Possibly 15 to 20 spectators but we raised £137. The Art of Rough Banding again came to the fore as the Bandstand wasn’t big enough and we therefore played in a slightly larger tent/marquee. Refreshment was provided at half time and the Band really started to become a family. A great start to our mini-tour.

Happy smiling faces on several players in a marquee

The Museum is now home to the famous Concrete Cows and of course there were the obligatory poses posted on social media.

Mike and Scott meet the concrete cows.

The next stage of the journey was on to our hotel in Watford. Everyone arrived safely but the computer at the Premiere Inn was misbehaving and our key cards were unable to be issued immediately. While waiting for the computer to be fixed, the band headed to the bar for a drink before sitting outside in the sunshine. Everything was relaxed until Mike said “is that a fire over the road?” We watched it for a short time and then when it started to get a little bit more serious Mike went into the hotel and told the staff about it who rang 999 and called the Fire Brigade. The band had a grandstand view of the fire service putting out the fire until the keycards were ready and the fire was well down. Once everyone was settled in, some of the band went into Watford for a meal and drinks. This was an excellent bonding evening for those who went and everyone eventually ended up back at the hotel bar for a couple of nightcaps only to see that the Fire Brigade had returned as the fire had broken out again. 

A fire opposite the band hotel in Watford.

Next morning everyone was up and after breakfast headed off to Regent’s Park.  We set up on the lovely bandstand with the weather warm but a little windy and prepared to play. This bandstand is of course sadly the site of an IRA bombing back in July 1982, where a bomb was planted under the bandstand killing 7 musicians of the Royal Green Jackets.

Memorial plaque for the 7 bandsmen killed in the IRA bombing in 1982.

We were joined by 4 other players for the day; Kate Lock, who had travelled down from Oxford that morning, Janey who had been part of The Youth Band triumph the day previously, a lady called Annie who knew Audrey and had played with us at the same concert in 2022. We were also joined by an old friend of Ken Stamp who had played with Rowntrees Band a long time ago and now lived in London. It’s nice to see the Shepherd Group Family still holds former players under its wings.

Trombone section in Regents Park

The concert was 2 great halves of typical Concert Band Music. The crowd was bigger that last year although the weather wasn’t as nice. The support and repose from the audience was exceptional. Applause, singing and dancing along to many pieces and at the very end a huge round of loud applause and cheering. A really positive response which was really well appreciated by the players on the stand. Mike has now been given a new nickname by the concert organiser, he’s Yorkshire’s Freddie Mercury. You have to wonder whether telling him this was a good idea; what could he possibly end up wearing at the JoRo concert this Christmas?

Euphs and Baris in Regents Park

The Chairman of The Music Festival, Mark Elliot, spoke with David Gregg both at the end of the concert and in a ‘phone conversation this morning and both times he said he would like us back next year as well. To paraphrase his words “ your music is great, it’s just what our audience wants and our band is quite unique in its presentation of it”. Let’s hope he keeps his word.

Want to join our Cornet team?

If you are cornet player looking for the opportunity to join our friendly Championship Section Band, then give us a call. We have a space in the team with the position being open to discussion and negotiation. We have some great jobs in the pipeline for the next few months including collaborations with Cory Band and Grimethorpe along with a live performance of the Snowman before Christmas.

If you fancy looking into joining us and want more information, then get in touch with our MD Richard Wilton for a discussion in confidence.

Christmas CD Wrapped Up

After spending a rather warm couple of days at All Saints School on Nunnery Lane, the senior band completed recording the music for our new Christmas CD which will be out in time for the Christmas Gala concerts in December.

Here are a few photos of what we got up to on the day. I’m sure you will agree the choreography from the percussion section is of the highest order!

Our thanks have to go out to Keith and George from Music House Productions for their work on setting up and recording, to Bronte Wilkinson, Kate Ironton, James Stockdale and of course Sharon “7 hours” Greenfield for filling in a few spaces we had.