This page is part of an archive of historical details from existing or defunct brass band websites. This is being maintained to provide a record of this information in the event of a band folding, its website disappearing or other loss of the historical record. Where possible, and appropriate, the information cached will be updated from time to time - and any corrections or updates are welcome.
North Powys Youth Band 1970 – 2012
The North Powys Youth Band (formerly the Montgomeryshire County Youth Band) was formed at a one day Course held at Newtown High School in October 1970. The course was headed by the then County Music Organiser for Montgomeryshire, the late Eric Jones, together with Gordon Tune BEM who later became its principal conductor, the late Harry Leach MM who was conductor of Newtown Silver Band at that time, David Wilson from the Montgomery County Primary School Band and John Bennett , Alan Breeze and David Pugh, members of Newtown Silver Band whom Eric had persuaded to help out.
They were faced with a motley collection of instruments, some borrowed from Newtown Silver Band, some from extinct town bands, some in high pitch and some in low pitch.
There were about 30 youngsters from the various schools in the former County of Montgomeryshire, all budding musicians and raring to go. The staff spent much of the first day trying to get Mozart's March from the Marriage of Figaro sound something like the original score.
40 years on the North Powys Youth Band is still going strong.
Shortly after the bands inception two full time brass peripatetic teachers were appointed. First Reg Mitchell followed by Ron Cox and Eddie Poole as percussion tutor. In 1973 the late Elwyn Goodwin joined the band as the band's 'Roadie'. John Bennett by now had been asked by Eric to become the band's honorary secretary/ treasurer responsible for some of the administration.
Within a short time new instruments and stand banners were purchased under the Montgomeryshire name. These were eventually changed to reflect the new name of North Powys.
It was in 1974 upon the reorganisation of the counties in Wales that the band became known as the North Powys County Youth Band and it was still run under the Powys County Council Education Authority. In those days rehearsals were held every Friday evening and Saturday mornings during term time, with 2 or 3-day courses taking place during most school holidays.
In March 1975 Eric was tragically killed in a road accident just prior to the band's first tour to Canada.
During the 70s and 80s and indeed right up to the present time, the band has played at many prestigious events and carried out many tours in the UK and Europe. It has also completed four tours to Alberta, Canada – in 1975, 1981, 1986 and 1989 where the highlight was playing at the world famous Calgary Stampede. Many friendships were formed with members of the Calgary Youth Orchestra and its Principal Conductor Frank Simpson.
The Band has played at the Royal Albert Hall, together with 1,000 Mixed Voices, where the Band received a standing ovation and was conducted on this occasion by the late John Peleg-Williams, Music Advisor for Powys. They have played on an ocean going liner full of Americans off Llandudno Pier – a memorable occasion, and wherever it has been the Band has conducted itself in an exemplary manner and been true ambassadors for Wales.
On March 31st 1974 the Band performed at the Albert Hall, Llandrindod Wells in the Fanfare to Powys Concert to welcome the new unitary authority.
A concert many years ago at Gregynog Hall, together with the Youth Orchestra, was a memorable occasion in many ways. The concert was on the lawns and the finale was the 1812 Overture. Eric had organised the Army to provide the smoke effects towards the end of the music and Gordon Tune was asked to help out on bass drum, as there is a very demanding percussion part in the music. As the finale approached and the music reached a grand crescendo with Gordon beating the drum with his considerable strength, the head suddenly flew off the beater and ended up in the violin section. Gordon carried on as if nothing had happened. At the same time the breeze sprang up and blew over the smoke canisters and suddenly conductor and players disappeared behind a pall of bright pink smoke. When the smoke cleared and the final notes played the whole band had turned a pretty pink colour – even their hair was pink.
For the first 23 years of its existence the Education Authority met the costs of the North Powys County Youth Band. Less than three weeks before the end of the 1992/93 financial year the Education Authority confirmed that, due to the transfer of funds to schools under LMS, finance would not be available to maintain the Band or Orchestra.
Both were immediately under threat of closure. Fortunately the Friends Groups in both Band and Orchestra began to lobby the Education Authority to retain funding for a further year, and a small group of parents drew up a Business Plan for survival without Local Authority funding.
The Business Plan was put into effect with the co-operation of the five High Schools in North Powys and this then became known as the North Powys Youth Music Management Group, responsible for the Band and Orchestra.
Fortunately this initiative has prospered and despite many setbacks is still flourishing today under its new title the North Powys Youth Music Trust, with County Councillor Simon Baynes as its present Chairman. Other Chairmen have been John Beale, Bob Davies, John Bennett and Julie Turner.
In 1993 Gordon Tune retired as Musical Director and was succeeded by Mike Denny with Justin Brookes as tutor to the Training Band, or 'B' Band as it was known then. Reg, Ron and Eddie also retired in 1993 and Neil Vaughan was appointed as percussion tutor and Mark Parry as brass tutor and they are still with the Trust today.
In 1995 Steve Pritchard-Jones was appointed Musical Director with Helen Pryce as tutor of the Training Band.
It was during this time that John Bennett from Montgomery, came back as co-ordinator of the Youth Band, having left some few years previously due to other commitments with Newtown Silver Band. He eventually retired in 2003.
Helen Pryce was succeeded by Aiden Hassan as tutor of the Training Band and he later became the Musical Director of the Orchestra.
When Steve Pritchard-Jones retired as Musical Director in 2005 he was succeeded by the present Musical Director Steve Edwards with Philip Pryce as conductor of the Training Band and Mark Parry still with the Brass Blowers. During the past 40 years the band has had six Musical Directors – the late Eric Jones, Gordon Tune BEM, Alun Morris, Mike Denny, Steve Pritchard-Jones and now Steve Edwards.
During the 40 years the band has been in existence many young people have enjoyed the pleasures of making music – lots have gone on to pursue a musical career – very successfully in many cases, having followed careers in the Services – HM Welsh Guards Band, HM Irish Guards Band, Royal Welsh Fusiliers Band, Royal Regiment of Wales Band, Royal Army Ordinance Corps Band, Parachute Regiment Band, Light Infantry Bands and Royal Marines Band including some who have played on the Royal Yacht Brittania.
Many have joined some of the top Orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, the Bilbao Orchestra in Spain and the Royal Opera House, and lots still play with their local bands and orchestras.
Many youngsters have had the privilege of playing with the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, National Youth Brass Band of Wales, the European Youth Brass Band and Orchestra and a large number are now qualified music teachers all over the UK and abroad
During recent years the band has competed at Salford University at the National Youth Band Championships of Great Britain and at the Gwent Music Festival where each time it has acquitted itself well. The band has also produced several records. It still performs at various events and the members are good ambassadors for North Powys and Wales. All this would not be possible without the care and dedication of the teaching staff, voluntary helpers, friends and parents who do so much work behind the scenes - and of course the young people themselves.
John Bennett, Cllr Beryl Vaughan and Christine Walton have all been previous Chairmen of the Friends of the North Powys Youth Band and they did so much for the Band in the first forty years. The Band thanks all the committee members and friends, and those people who have played such a major part in promoting and furthering the best interests of the North Powys Youth Band over the years.