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.
Parc & Dare Band
Originally formed as the Cwmparc Temperance Drum and Fife Band in 1893, the band went all brass a year later to become the Cwmparc Silver Band. They later began receiving financial support from the Ocean Coal Company who operated the Parc and the Dare collieries in the locality, and the Parc & Dare Workmen's Silver Band was subsequently born.
It is proudly noted that much of the band's early funding came from the miners working at the collieries who each contributed one penny per week from their own wages.
With the contraction of the UK mining industry came the closure of the two collieries, and the band's main source of financial support subsequently ceased. Since that time the band has been dependant wholly on its own resourcefulness to support itself through concert engagements and competition success. The continuation of the band has also been further assured through the adoption of a policy of training young people in the art of brass playing through the Parc & Dare Junior Band.
Building on its enthusiastic, outward looking policies, the Parc & Dare Band has become one of the leading combinations in the banding world. Its success in competition is legendary with literally dozens of Championship first prizes to its credit. These successes include being the National Representative for Wales on over twenty occasions, attaining the title of Champion Band of Wales on no less than fourteen occasions, and representing the country at the European Championships four times (being placed fourth twice).
In recent years the band was pronounced Champion First Section Band of Wales in both 2004 and 2005, this landmark achievement of winning the title in two consecutive years making Parc & Dare only the second band in the history of the contest to achieve the unique status of Double Champions. In 2004 the band was also proclaimed Runner-Up Champion Band in the Championship Section of the Welsh League and Runner-Up Champion First Section Band of Great Britain. The band's success continues into 2006 with the band again attaining the right to represent Wales at the Finals of the National Championships of Great Britain at London's Royal Albert Hall this October following their third prize placing at the 2006 Welsh Regional Championships.
In addition to its success in competition the band also has a unique record in terms of its appearances on television and radio. On radio the band has amassed over 250 broadcasts on BBC Radio Two, Radio Three, Radio Four, Radio Wales and Radio Cymru, while on television the band has featured in numerous programmes for both the BBC and S4C: appearing most recently on “Songs of Praise”, in the much-acclaimed BBC drama “A Light in the Valleys” and, in June 2005, on S4C's “Wedi 7” magazine programme.
In competition on radio and television the band has also been pronounced BBC Television “Best of Brass” finalists on numerous occasions and twice won the title “BBC Radio Wales Band of the Year”. Parc & Dare also performed and recorded the soundtrack for ITV Wales' “Old Scores”, sequel to the much-loved Welsh classic “Grand Slam” in 1993 and, earlier this year, recorded a number of tracks for an album by Dawson Smith, inspired by the characters and stories in the 'Welsh' Books Of Alexander Cordell.
In addition to all of this Parc & Dare has been the focus of countless journal and press articles and, through its busy concert schedule, has performed in literally hundreds of events all over the country ranging from local charitable events to concerts at the most prestigious venues, including St. David's Hall, the Millennium Stadium and Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, and the Royal Festival and Royal Albert Halls, London.
Renowned for its unique and innovative artistic outlook and programming, Parc & Dare has in the last year created and toured the groundbreaking film music and live imagery show “Brass Tracks”, and performed alongside artists as diverse as the Band of Her Majesty's Grenadier Guards and the Russian Cossack State Dance Company. The band hosts its own event, the Welsh Brass Arts Festival, at the Parc & Dare Theatre in June each year, which has featured numerous acclaimed guest artists including Royal Harpist Catrin Finch, trumpet soloist James Watson, “the world's favourite Phantom” Peter Karrie, BBC Young Brass Musician of the Year David Childs, Channel 4 television's “Operatunity” winner Denise Leigh, BBC Presenter and opera star Beverley Humphreys, plus various leading bands and choirs. More information on the Welsh Brass Arts Festival can be found at www.brassbands.co.uk/festival.htm
The Parc & Dare Band will continue to live up to its reputation as musical ambassadors of the Rhondda, and of Wales. Following appearances abroad in Switzerland in 1988 and the Hamburg Police Show in October 2002, the band were delighted to appear in the Nova Scotia International Tattoo in Halifax, Canada in July 2004, representing Wales as a nation for the first time in this the largest indoor show of its kind in the world. Such was the response to the band's performance that Parc & Dare was invited to perform again at the Tattoo in 2005 and returned for a third consecutive year this July. The band has also this year twinned with the Stadtorchester of the city of Ravensburg, Germany and welcomed the seventy strong wind orchestra to Wales and Rhondda Cynon Taf for the first time this June and now look forward to visiting Ravensburg in the near future.
The following in-depth history of the Parc & Dare Band was written by Ron Watkins to celebrate the band's centenary in 1993.
How Green Was My Valley.
Before the discovery of its rich seams of coal, the Rhondda was a verdant valley with just a scattering of hillside farms. The valley was thickly wooded and one of its infrequent visitors observed that a red squirrel could travel from the bottom of the valley to the top by hopping from one oak tree to another. Then in the middle of the last century the peacefulness of the rural scene was shattered for ever.
The lure of the black gold, as the coal was called, brought people flooding into the valley from the border counties, from over the Bristol Channel, from North and West Wales, and from Ireland. The population explosion was one of the largest in the western hemisphere, and could be compared with even that of the Klondyke. In 1861 the population stood at 3,305 and by 1911 it had rocketed up to 152,781. Most of the newcomers were hard workers who had been scraping a living by working on farms and saw in the Rhondda the answer to their dream for a better life for themselves and their family. One such person who made his dream come true, and who in the process became one of the first Welsh millionaires, was David Davies, who came from the small village of Llandinam in Montgomeryshire.
David Davies, who was born in 1818, was a sawyer, at first working for a local saw mill, and then working for himself by sawing up trees and selling the planks. By means of frugal expeditions and wise investment he soon owned several small businesses including a couple of slate quarries in Blaenau-ffestiniog. He was attracted to the Rhondda by the stories of its rapid development, and he leased some land from the large Crawshay Bailey Estate and in 1868 began to sink shafts in the Maendy in Ton Pentre and the Dare pit as it was to be called in Cwmparc. However they did not strike coal, and as the shafts went lower, so David Davies' capital decreased. Finally he had no money even to pay the men their weekly wage, and still there was no sign of coal. The workers held a meeting and decided that they would work for a week without pay, such was their faith in their employer. Happily they struck coal in Maendy colliery before the end of the week and then in Cwmparc. When David Davies received the news about the Dare pit in the form of a telegram, he told his manager, ' This piece of paper is worth £40,000.' His prophetic words were soon to be proved correct. The Parc and Dare pits were the cornerstones on which he built to amass his fortune.
Cwmparc is a narrow 'cwm', or valley which is an offshoot of the parent valley - the Rhondda Fawr. It is enclosed on three sides by steep hills, and along its south-west ridge runs the mountain road, the Bwlch, which links the Rhondda valley with its neighbouring Ogmore valley. The Parc River winds its tortuous course down the valley and on its right stood the Parc colliery, while a couple of hundred yards lower down was the Dare colliery. When the pits were in full swing, a constant procession of coal-laden trucks, both night and day trundled down the railway which ran along the left bank of the river. The grey, stone built houses were built close to the collieries - huddled together as if for warmth. One of the nearest of the terraced streets was Railway Terrace, or 'Tub Row' as it was called. It's nickname was derived from the habit of its occupants of leaving bath tubs out on the pavement in the evenings. Thus endangering the limbs on a dark night of unwary strangers.
Birth Of The Band.
The 1890's in the Rhondda was a decade in which the separate communities which had grown up around each pit began to achieve respectability, and with it an identity. Many of the Rhondda's chapels were built at that time. There was also a demand for entertainment. Theatres were built, and choirs and bands were formed. One such band was the Cwmparc Drum and Fife Band, which was formed in April, 1893.
Cwmparc Drum & Fife Band - A Sober Start.
The band was originally a temperance band which drew its members from the Parc and Dare collieries. Fines were imposed for drinking, which helped to increase the funds. However the band soon severed any connections with the temperance movement, they also went 'all brass', the following year changing their title to the Cwmparc Silver Band.
A Penny A Week.
When the collieries were in full production they employed approximately 3,000 men and boys. Being only a few hundred yards from each other they worked almost as one pit, with one lodge, the Parc and Dare Lodge, looking after the welfare of the miners.
Although the band received some financial support from the Ocean Coal Company, most of the money to buy instruments came from the bandsmen themselves and from friends and supporters working in the collieries, who each contributed a penny a week from their wages. When the band had collected enough money to buy their new set of instruments, the order was placed with a Tom Price of Pentre.
The bandsmen eagerly awaited their arrival from France, and when they received the glad tidings that the consignment had arrived, they ran down to Pentre to seize their instruments. The more fleet of foot arrived first and naturally took the smaller instruments like cornets, while the late arrivals had to take the larger instruments such as the horns and trombones. On this haphazard method of selection the band was formed.
A Christmas Offering.
The band soon got down to the serious business of practicing, under their first bandmaster, a Mr. Williams from Clydach. One of the first pieces they learned was an arrangement of a march by the bandmaster himself. On Christmas Eve the band sallied forth to demonstrate their ability. They stopped outside the residence of a well known local businessman. They proudly played their march, but there was no response. It was only when the band decided to practice their scales that the businessman came out with his Christmas offering
The first secretary was Dick Meredith, and the first president was Mr. A. S. Tallis, M. E. Practices at first were held in the Pengelli Coffee tavern, to the annoyance of some of the local residents, particularly a Doctor Barrett, who often complained about the new, not always melodic sounds which he had to put up with. The band soon moved however to the Parc and Dare Workman's Hall, where Tonic Sol-fa lessons were given by Mr. John Thomas, A.C. for which he received an annual salary of £12
There was a band contest in Pontycymmer in the late 1890's and the band decided to compete. They walked across the mountains, a distance of about six miles, with their supporters sharing carrying the instruments. Their conductor was now Mr. Treharne, a well known cornet soloist. Fate seemed to be against the band, since when they blew the first chord, the lights in the hall went out. The local P.C. helped to relight them and the visit ended on a high note with the band winning the first prize.
On The March.
In 1902 the nation was at war in South Africa with the Boers. The Seige of Mafeking was on everyone's lips and the nation held its breath until finally relief came. The band played their part by taking part in a march which was organised to raise funds for the national cause.
In The Open.
The band's performances weren't always restricted to playing in concert halls and in 1904, with the opening of the new bandstand, they were given a permanent outdoor site where they could entertain the public. The Band Pavilion as it was called was a present from the Ocean Coal Company in recognition of the band's growing stature in the musical field.
A Leap Forward
In the beginning of this century the band competed in brass band contests with undiminished enthusiasm. Their perseverance was rewarded in 1914 when they were promoted to Class A ( the equivalent of football's Premier Division). Since that time the band has always retained its place in what is nowadays called the Championship Section.
Competition was to become the life blood of the band, and in 1920 they achieved a very creditable sixth place in the World Championship Competition at Crystal Palace, in the process beating such household names as Fodens and Black Dyke. In March 1931 they secured second place at the Tonypandy Band festival. This was to prove an historic event, since it was the first time the band had competed under their new conductor, Mr. Haydn Bebb. Under his baton they went on to win numerous other prizes in various competitions throughout the country. In 1935 he was appointed full time conductor of the band. The same year also saw the formation of the junior band under the conductorship of Mr. Matt Evans. The junior band, as well as supplying members to the senior band when they became of age, were to be seen regularly at local functions, such as Church Parades on Youth Sundays.
Strife In The Coalfield.
The years between the wars had some serious and depressing aspects at home for the now flourishing brass band. They were the years of the depression. Of conflict in the coal industry. Of miners striking to protect their standard of living. Of the 1926 General Strike which started full of hope with other unions pledging support for the miners. But which ended in a few days with the railwaymen deserting the miners and going back to work. And so through that hot summer the miners stayed out. 1926 - the year when the winding wheels at the top of the Rhondda's forty six collieries stopped turning. The year when the hob-nailed boots of the Rhondda's forty thousand miners no longer beat a tattoo as they walked to work. The year when the colliery hooters fell silent. The year when the endless chain of railway wagons loaded quality Rhondda steam coal stopped rolling down to Cardiff and Barry docks. Their families suffered untold hardships. They were hungry and suffered the indignity of the soup kitchens. The coal owners predicted the strike would not last eight weeks. That the miners would be forced to accept their terms which meant a cut in the wages of those miners working in difficult seams. Most of the Rhondda coal, although among the best steam coal in the world, was often difficult to mine, and so most of the miners came into that category. In spite of the coal owners predictions the miners did not stay out for eight weeks they stayed out for nearly eight months. History records that the miners lost their struggle. They were forced to accept the coal owners conditions. But the struggle was not in vain since in a few years time a Bill was passed in Parliament guaranteeing miners a minimum wage for working in difficult seams. During these times of social strife many of the Parc and Dare Band were to be found in various parts of the country. They were the first of the buskers. But the money they were given for playing in the street did not go towards extra pocket money for them, or to buy a few pints of beer, it was sent back to their hungry families in Cwmparc.
A Brighter Note.
Under the influence of Haydn Bebb, the band's repertoire increased rapidly. He also stressed the importance of sight reading, and as a result the band were able to read on sight a wide range of music which included rhapsodies, symphonies and variations arranged for brass bands. In 1939 the band won three first prizes in contests and second prize in the national Eisteddfod at Denbigh. Then the war came and brought another chapter in the band's history.
The Band Played On.
Since all the members of the band worked in the colliery, they were not eligible for call-up, and so the activities of the band carried on. However the emphasis of the band's activities shifted and their first priority was now not in competing, but in holding concerts. They were in constant demand not just throughout the Rhondda, but further afield to provide their particular brand of musical entertainment for a nation at war. It was of national importance that the nation's workers should have various kinds of entertainment so that the workers' could relax after their hard graft for the war effort. And so the Parc and Dare Band 'did their bit' to help in the struggle against Hitler's Third Reich.
It was not only in the concert halls, but also on the wireless that the band were in constant demand. By the end of the war they had been on the air no less than eighty eight times. This included several 'Music while you Work' programmes where the B.B.C. would bring their mobile unit along and record the band in the Parc Hall. The band also raised several thousand pounds for various charities. Later, in 1976, the band competed for the first time in the BBC2 Best of Brass televised competition and, prior to the competition, the band featured in an article in the Radio Times.
The Horror Of War.
The horror of war struck closer to home on the night of April 29th, 1941 when German bombers dropped incendiary and high explosive bombs on Cwmparc. There was chaos and devastation as the bombs rained down. One eye-witness described the result as a 'horse-shoe of fire' on the Bwlch mountain. No-one knows why the bombers attacked the sleepy village, although the most likely theory was that they were off target: their real target being Swansea docks. Some of the inhabitants ran down the valley in their night clothes - the miners having first put on their hob nailed boots. Others cowered in the 'cwtch-dan-stars'.
The twenty-seven victims of the bombing were buried in Treorchy cemetery later that week. By an ironic stroke of fate four of them were evacuees who had been sent to Cwmparc to escape the horror of the bombing in London. There were not enough hearses available and so they had to use some of 'Thomas and Evans' floats, suitably draped for the occasion. The procession was headed by the Parc and Dare Band who played the Dead March. It was the saddest occasion on which the band had ever played.
A Lighter Note.
Towards the end of the war competitions were in full swing again. The band competed wherever possible, travelling by bus. On most occasions they would be waiting for a solitary late-comer: usually the same person. To teach him a lesson the committee decided that at the next contest ( which happened to be in Swansea ) the bus would start and leave on time - no matter who was missing. And so it happened. The bus did leave on time - and left behind three committee members who were forced to walk home! It also recorded that a certain cornet player, being disgusted with an adjudication, and having spent too long brooding over several pints of beer in the Pengelli, on leaving the inn did throw his instrument in the river, having told the world at large what he thought of the adjudicator. And that his friend, Rhys Emrys, fetched it out.
Band uniforms which were regularly being worn to concerts and competitions finally reached the stage when they had to be replaced. For several years after the war clothing coupons were still in use and there was no possibility of the band being fitted with a complete set of uniforms - even if they could afford it. So they obtained a set of ex-police uniforms, added a little braid for decoration and wore them for several years. The uniforms still had a pocket for the police truncheon!
It was several years later when the band, who used to play at the annual garden party held in Llandinam, were presented with a set of new uniforms by Lord Davies.
In the first contest to be held in the Albert Hall after the war, the band achieved the outstanding position of third place in the National Championships. A couple of years later, Haydn Bebb left to join Enfield Band. Sadly shortly afterwards he died. Parc & Dare's record in the fifteen years he was conducting the band was a remarkable one. They appeared regularly in the Championship Band Contest of Great Britain sponsored by the Daily Herald - no small achievement since these were the twenty best bands in Britain. Closer to home they set a remarkable record by winning in 1944 every contest entered which included every competitive event open to Class A bands in Wales.
In 1957, under the baton of Harry Nuttall, a Cardiff man, just to show that it was no fluke, the band repeated this outstanding record. Harry Nuttall conducted the band until 1965, in a period when the band were kept busy with eisteddfodau, competitions, B.B.C. T.V. and concert engagements. The junior band was being moulded by Mr. Ieuan Morgan, and in 1965, while still in his early thirties, he took over the senior band.
Change Of Conductor
Ieuan Morgan started as an instrumentalist with the Parc & Dare Junior Band, and then joined the senior band where at seventeen he became principal euphonium player. He attended the Cardiff College of Music and Drama and studied euphonium under the renowned Aaron Trotman. He formed the famous Treorchy Secondary School Band in 1953 which later became the Treorchy Comprehensive School Band and which came to be regarded in band circles as one of the most successful school bands in Britain. At the Albert Hall, in the Butlin's Youth Championships of Great Britain they won first prize on three occasions, second prize five times, and one third prize. This emphasis on young players had been the focal point of Ieuan's career in both the School Band and in Parc & Dare. When he started as conductor Parc & Dare in 1965 he incorporated many of the school band into the senior band. The result was that the Parc & Dare Band was the youngest band competing in Section A.
During his twenty years as Musical Director the band won every major competition in Wales. They won the National Eisteddfod on many occasions, including a hat-trick of wins, 1976, 1977, and 1978, being the only band in Wales ever to have achieve this. They had been Welsh League Champions many times, gaining a hat-trick in 1975, 1976 and 1977; a hat-trick of wins at the Miner's Gala, Cardiff; Prize Winners National Finals, Blackpool; B.B.C. Best of Brass Champions 1981 and Runners-up in 1979 and 1980. Ieuan conducted the band in hundreds of concerts, over 150 broadcasts, and many television appearances. In 1984 he was awarded the Iles Medal, presented by the worshipful Company of Musicians of the City of London. This medal is awarded annually to outstanding brass band musicians. Ieuan was only the second Welshman ever to be so honoured but his greatest honour came the following year when he attended a ceremony in Buckingham Palace to receive an M.B.E. All bandsman who have been associated with Ieuan over the years would agree that never was an award given to a more deserving person.
'See What The Boys In The Back-Room Will Have.'
While the players in a band receive all the plaudits, no band could survive without the back-room boys, the unsung heroes whose selfless dedication to the band week-in and week-out help to provide the back-up which a busy band such as Parc & Dare needs. Once such stalwart was Don Humphreys who was on the committee from 1948-1970. The collieries closed in the mid-1960's and the penny a week contribution from the two thousand or so members of the two lodges vanished too. The committee were faced with the daunting task of finding funds to keep the band running. They decided to hold a weekly draw, and it became the band's only regular source of income until they obtained sponsorship in 1985.
It was a tradition with the Parc & Dare Band that many of the players introduced their sons to the musical discipline of band playing. Over the years there have been many such father and son combinations in the band, together with various uncles. Such family connections were the Higgon family, where the father and two sons played; the Thomas's where the three brothers, Ivor, Ceirion and Gwei were all playing at the same time; and the Coombes family where the father and no less than four of his sons were in the band. In 1978 Ieuan Morgan's two sons, Kevin and Gregory were playing; Philip Morgan and his son, Jonathon; Tommy Eveson and his three sons Garry, Chris and Tommy; Mal Pickin and his son, Michael - in fact over half the band had another relative playing; which could well be a record in banding circles.
'Get Your Hair Cut!'
In 1984 the band were invited to appear on the television., a role which they accepted with alacrity. They starred in an episode of the successful 'District Nurse' series starring Nerys Hughes, for which they had to dress up as working men from the thirties. A slight problem arose when the band were told they would have to have a haircut in accordance with the period - a short back-and-sides. The band received an allowance from the B.B.C. to go to the local barber. One member, Mal Pickin, turned up for rehearsal only to be told be the producer that his haircut wasn't short enough. To the ribald comments of the other members of the band, he was told to get it cut again and given the extra chop on the set.
Some Are Born Bandsmen, Some Achieve It, And Some Have It Thrust Upon Them.
Griff Higgon belonged to the latter category. When he was a teenager, he and a few of his friends were playing cards on the mountain above Cwmparc. There was nothing wrong in that, since the boys would spend much of their leisure time on sunny days on the mountains, away from the grit and grime of the coal busy valley. What they were doing wrong was the fact that they were gambling. The valley in those days was strictly non-conformist. And the non-conformists were strictly against 'the devil's cards', as they were called. The chapel deacons, who ruled the valleys with a rod of iron under the covers of their bible, saw to it that the law upheld the chapels. Sp when a policeman saw young Higgon and his friends gambling, they ran for their lives, knowing that the wrath of the chapel, the law, and their parents was pursuing them. By chance the Parc & Dare Band were practicing in the bandroom. Griff, seeing a chance of escape from the clutches of the law, dived through the door. He was rather nonplussed to find that he had become the focus of attention of twenty-eight bandsmen and the conductor. "Have you come to join the band?" asked the conductor. "Oh, yes sir," stammered young Higgon. And join the band he did. And become one of their longest playing members. Staying for no less than forty years!
Band And Choir.
Side by side with the most successful Rhondda brass bands there has always been the great tradition of male voice choirs, such as Treorchy, Pendyrus and Cambrian. One of Ieuan Morgan's lasting achievements is that he was instrumental in getting the band and the Treorchy Male Choir for an annual Easter concert in the Park + Dare Theatre.
History records that Ieuan persuaded John Hayden Davies, the famous conductor of the choir, that a joint concert was bound to be a success and provide much needed funds for the band and choir. However they sold very few advance tickets and when the day of the concert loomed there were still 500 tickets unsold. The story was a happy ending though and all the tickets were sold. The annual Good Friday concert has now become an institution in Treorchy and the band and the world famous Treorchy Male Choir continue to perform to capacity crowds each year (see the Events itinerary for further details)
The Parc & Dare Band is not only renowned in Britain, but the band's fame has spread throughout Europe and now even the rest of the world. The band has appeared in several European Brass Band Championships, representing Wales at the highest level of brass band competition. To reach this pinnacle the band first has to become Welsh Champions which then entitles them to appear at the European Championships where they not only compete with the best bands from England and Scotland, but also with the best from Norway, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, etc. On their appearances at the European Championships the band achieved the extremely creditable position of fourth on two occasions. A highlight of these appearances was the competition held in Lucerne, Switzerland, where the band not only gained one of the creditable fourth placings, but also made many friends in the small village of Gersau, which is located on the banks of Lake Lucerne at the foot of Mount Rigi.
Congratulations On The Occasion Of The Band's Centenary
'I still follow the fortunes of the band with affection. I am delighted to see so many young payers in the band at the moment and because of this I am sure that the Parc & Dare Band will continue to be an exciting and interesting music-making force in the brass band world.'
'The band has seen its personnel change somewhat and emerged with a talented team of younger players blended with experienced bandsmen. The responsibility of maintaining the healthy tradition of banding sustained for so long by Parc & dare now rests safely in the hands of a band built for the future and long may this continue. I wish everyone great success for the exciting years to come.'
Nigel C. Taken
'I immediately felt at home when I met the band at the first rehearsal, and have enjoyed my relationship with them ever since. My contact with the banding movement will remain strictly limited, but I hope to continue my relationship with the Parc & Dare Band . I am proud to be associated with them, congratulate them on their fine history and wish them every success as they move into their next century.'
'The band worked hard to achieve its success in the contest field. The band was always well supported and deserved the reputation of an overall excellent and solid sound in all its broadcasting and concert work. The band's consistency in competition has earned it a place in the top bands in Wales. My congratulations to the Parc & Dare Band on its Centenary and I wish them success and happiness in music making in the future.'
'On my appointment as resident conductor of the band, the first thing that entered my head was the band's history and reputation. Decades of music making at the highest level and national recognition combined with the thoughts of those whose footsteps I was following in, made it a daunting task indeed. I consoled myself with the fact that I had played with the ban, and was accepted as one of them, because the band had always prided itself on its own sense of special identity.
Talk about bands often focuses on conductors, so on this occasion I feel the players should be saluted, for a band is only as good as each of its players, each one contributes and each one counts. To have to spend ten to fifteen hours a week with people in sometimes intense situations, calls for a lot of give and take, and although bandsmen can be as stubborn as a troop of donkeys with arthritis, they are long suffering and tolerant.
I know whose parrot has died or whose garden shed fell down (just as he was leaving for practice) and all the other flotsam and jetsam of their lives. Being aware of these things is important, because making music involves feeling and emotions and anything that affects a player can also affect his playing, therefore an understanding of what makes each player 'tick is essential. With the pressure of their jobs, families, mortgages and all the other stresses of the world I am always amazed at the standard they constantly achieve. They are all different, but what they all share is a love for the band and a commitment to ensure its continuation and success, hopefully for another hundred years.
There are good practices and bad practices, people have to work or just cannot be there, but a full rehearsal, when the band is on form, and the resulting sound sends me home feeling a very proud and privileged person indeed. So to all the bandsmen I say "you are fine people, a wonderful band and I offer you my heartfelt thanks".'