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!!!
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.
Thanks to Jenni Chandler for ther video clip.
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.
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.
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.
The Museum is now home to the famous Concrete Cows and of course there were the obligatory poses posted on social media.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
It is a few years since the Senior Band released their last Christmas CD and we are asked at every concert when the next one is coming out. We can answer that now and our new Christmas CD will be out in time for Christmas 2023. What that means for the band is that we need to record the music and this weekend saw us head down to All Saints RC School to lay down the tracks.
We welcomed Sharon Greenfield back for the recording, Sharon was our Flugelhorn player for many years and when we asked for a horn player to cover a seat, Sharon stepped in and made the 7 hour journey up from her home in Devon to help us out. That’s dedication!
It does feel odd recording Christmas music while most of the band are sitting in shorts and T shirts, but some players really got into he spirit of the session and got out their Christmas shirts.
The first days recording went well and the work rate was extremely high.
The percussion crew figured out there was a time lapse running and set about choreographing their own little stop motion video. Such ingenuity!
Keep a look out for the details of the CD release date and also look out for the band’s earlier CD content being made available for streaming over a range of streaming platforms in the near future. In the meantime, here’s an outtake from the recording session and a short teaser of what’s coming up.
Light Up A Life is an event our bands have been proud to be part of for many years in York. This year is no different and Sunday saw our Youth Band heading off to Selby Abbey where they performed to a packed audience in aid of St Leonards Hospice. This really is one of the most important performances of the year for the Youth Band and they were superb as they always are.
On December 10th, the Senior Band took on a new Christmas Challenge at St Andrews Church in Bishopthorpe when they performed the live soundtrack to a showing Raymond Briggs’ animated film “The Snowman”. This was a new experience for the band, playing film music is a very different performance to a concert performance and the build up to this has been quite intense.
The band was joined by Buffy Breakwell who played keyboards with us and Sophie Sylvester who provided the vocals for the iconic song “Walking in the Air”. Everyone in the band was really impressed with the professionalism and superb musical ability of both our guests for the day. We can only hope this will not be our last collaboration.
We could have sold the tickets for this ten times over so next year we will be back to do it all over again. Watch this space!
That wasn’t the only thing we did on the day though!
In the interval between performances, the band went along to Bishopthorpe Sports and Social Club to play Christmas Carols for the Lollipop children’s Christmas party. Lollipop is a charity for D/deaf children and their families in York and the band’s Principal Cornet player Sean Chandler is involved in making music with the children the charity works with.
When Sean asked if a few players could go, the whole band said yes. Playing “Away in a Manger” with a choir signing the words was such a powerful moment.
If you want to know more about Lollipop and want to support their work, check out their website.