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Malvern Chase Brass Band
The Chase High School Brass Band was formed in 1968 by John Harris with just 14 boys. From these early beginnings the Band has gone from strength to strength and by 1988 approximately 500 members had been involved. At its peak, the Band has been able to draw upon 100 full members with a further 30 beginners under tuition.
Mr Harris ran the Band for its first 14 years until his retirement in 1983. He was ably assisted by Mr A."Ginge" Trussler until his retirement in 1982. "Ginge" was replaced by Mr Ron Ward and, on Mr Harris's retirement, Mr Ward took over the leadership and was assisted by Mr Stuart Blake, himself a former Band member.
Mr Harris continued to provide tuition for beginners each lunchtime in school and also taught Grade Examination entrants up until 1988. Mr Ward led the Band until 1996, when he retired passing the leadership of the Band over to Mr Blake. In 1998 Mr Blake himself retired, passing the job of conductor over to Mr Mike Kent-Davies, the head of the music department at the Chase High School.
The leadership and organisation of the Band was taken over by Mrs Dorinda Bilsland, backed up by other band members and an active Band committee. It is now currently conducted by Mr Gavin Arnett who took over from Mr Kent-Davis mid-July 2004. Stuart Blake is responsible for training and the junior band, with all the other day to day running being organised by the committee.
Band members enjoyed a busy round of public engagements. Throughout the summer months they played for fetes and concerts in the Park. In the weeks before Christmas there would be a hectic round of carol playing in pubs, clubs and nursing homes. Throughout the rest of the year the Band would give a number of concerts for a variety of charitable causes.
Every few years the Band would go on a concert tour to a European country, usually lasting approximately 15 days. Past tours have been: 1972 Germany, 1975 Holland, 1977 Germany, 1979 Austria, 1981 Switzerland, 1983 Germany, 1985 Austria, 1987 Germany and Belgium, 1990 Austria (Klagenfurt & Zell-am-See), 1993 Germany (Boppard on the Rhine & Biberach in the Black Forest)
Competitions were never high on the Band's priorities but bands in various age groups, together with soloists, duettists and small groups, regularly entered in the Worcestershire Schools Music Festival in March and the Cheltenham Music Festival in May. They enjoyed considerable success and won numerous cups and trophies.
Most members voluntarily entered for Grade Examinations with the Associated Examination Board and a high degree of success was achieved over the years. Many candidates achieved merits and distinctions. A few members went through the full range of grades up to grade 8.
Many band members progressed into a musical career and quite a number entered military bands like the Grenadier Guards, Royal Marines, Life Guards, Blues and Royals and the Royal Tank Regiment. In most years, the major ceremonial occasions, such as the Trooping of the Colour, sees a number of ex-Chase Bandsmen on parade.
The Senior Band rehearsed for two hours on Monday evenings. Before major events, such as competitions and tours, further rehearsals were arranged usually on a Sunday afternoon. In the past the junior band used to rehearse on a Wednesday evening for one hour and another evening used to be devoted to grade tuition when necessary.
The Chase High School (now the "Chase Technology Centre") provided accommodation for storage and rehearsals but otherwise the Band was and still is totally self sufficient. Most engagements were and still are outside school hours. In order to finance the purchase of music and instruments, repair of instruments and subsidise tours, it was necessary to raise a considerable amount of money every year.
Fund raising was coordinated by a committee of parents and was achieved in a variety of ways. A large proportion was earned by the Band itself at various engagements. The remainder was raised by fund raising functions including bazaars, jumble sales and coffee mornings. A degree of help from parents of Band members was necessary. In addition to fund raising a number of social events were organised, including skating trips, skittles evenings, etc.
The Band made three records which are no longer available. In 1976 a 12-inch L.P. was made in less than ideal conditions. In 1978 a 7-inch E.P. of carols and popular music was recorded at a professional recording studio and sold more than 1,000 copies in the following 12 months. 1980 saw the final record, 'The Malvern Hills To The Himalayas'. This featured the Chase High School Brass Band and the 900 strong Chase High School Choir. It contained two songs, 'Together Unafraid' and 'Silver Train'. Proceeds from the L.P. went towards financing the tenth and largest Commonwealth Expedition - Comex 10 - that was sponsored by the Sunday Times.
The Chase High School Brass Band has raised and is still raising a considerable amount of money for local charities. The main period of charitable fund raising has been and continues to be over the Christmas season. Many charities have benefited from the hard work by everyone involved with the Band over the years.
The band is busy most of the year round and particularly during summer months at local outdoor events and in the bandstand and during December playing Carols all over the area to raise money for a variety of charitable causes. Although the band started out as a school band, it is now more of a community band and draws members from all age groups from primary school to senior citizen.
At our 2004 Annual General Meeting the band members voted to change our name from "The Chase High School Brass Band" to the "Malvern Chase Brass Band", recognising that we are now principally a community band with strong links to the "Chase Technolgy Centre" (the present name of the school). This name change was approved by the Charity Commissioners on 22nd December 2004.