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Pontypool Brass Band
There is a long history of bands in Pontypool from the original Pontypool Military Band, which existed up to the 1950's and served in the first World War, to the prize winning Pontypool Silver Band which won, at its first attempt, the "Daily Mirror" Challenge Cup at Crystal Palace in the 1920's. That Band unfortunately disbanded when many players left for jobs and positions in other parts of the country following the 1926 General Strike.
The Pontypool Military band was formed around 1878 and was fortunate to have had as its conductor between 1888 and 1929, Sidney Tudor Roderick, one of the greatest musicians Pontypool has ever produced.The band went to France during the great war of 1914 - 1918 and took in the trenches along side the 2nd Battalion of the Monmouthshire Regiment. some of the band members were decorated with the D.C.M. and croix de Gueere. Mr Percy Brown was the next talented conductor who succeeded Mr.S.T. Roderick in 1929, having joined the band as a boy in 1910.Unfortunately, the band experienced increasing financial difficulties during the 1950's, which eventually led to its demise in 1957.
Pontypool Brass, which is the natural successor to this tradition, was formed in 1967 under the auspices of Gwent County Council as a youth band.
Thirty years ago all the towns within the eastern valley had a brass band except for Pontypool, until a group of musicians and supporters saw the need and so Pontypool Brass was formed. It was intended that the band would bring pleasure to audiences by public performances and that encouragement and help should be given to anyone wishing to learn to play a brass instrument.
Since those early days there have been several conductors who have brought something to the band, beginning with Con Buckley, assisted by his son Brian.They were followed by the late Colin Radford, a peripatetic music teacher, with whom the band entered their first contest in the fourth section.
Thirty years ago all the towns within the eastern valley had a brass band except for Pontypool, until a group of musicians and supporters saw the need and so Pontypool Brass was formed. It was intended that the band would bring pleasure to audiences by public performances and that encouragement and help should be given to anyone wishing to learn to play a brass instrument.Since those early days there have been several conductors who have brought something to the band, beginning with Con Buckley, assisted by his son Brian.They were followed by the late Colin Radford, a peripatetic music teacher, with whom the band entered their first contest in the fourth section.
Alun williams followed colin and under his direction the band had great success and were promoted from the fourth section up to the second section. In 1986,John Jolley, an enthusiastic musician with the previous experience conducting Blaenavon(MFP) Band, took over and consolidated Alun's work. Late in 1988 the baton was passed toLaurence Harris and the band enjoyed great success with him until other commitments forced his resignation, but not before he gained a place for the band at the national finals in london.
In 1989, Pontypool Brass celebrated its 21st anniversary by winning the Welsh Regional Challenge Shield at the National Brass Regional Championship in Swansea, thereby qualifying for a coveted place in the British Finals. A 21st anniversary concert in June 1989, with guests Parc and Dare(N.F.D.) band and Pontnewydd Male Voice Choir was yet another highlight of a very successful year for Pontypool Brass.
Andrew Hicks conducted the band in the first half of 1990 but for various reasons the band went through a difficult patch and lost many members. Andrew resigned and in October 1990 Gareth Walker became the new musical director. Over the next two years Gareth rebuilt the band, and the band once again qualified for the national finals at london. In early 1993 John Evans, a succesful cornet player who has played for many top welsh bands including parc & dare, BTM and at present(1998) The Cory Band, took over the baton. John's considerable experience meant that the band was placed in the first three prizes at every contest that year and making their second successive finals appearance, Pontypool Brass represented Wales at the national finals at the Wembley Conference Centre.
In 1994 the band had been promoted to the second section, in the first contest of that section the band came 1st and again qualified to appear at the london finals but due to a number of members leaving, the band declinded the invitation. In 1994 John Evans stood down as conductor to concentrate on his playing career. The position was filled by another well experienced euphonium player Robert Burnett. Rob has played for some of the most distinguished bands of wales, Cory, Tredegar, lewis merthyr. In the past 3 years the band has enjoyed being in the second section and is holding its own. In May 1998 the famous HARRY RAMDAM'S chain of fish & chip shop held contests thoughout the UK. Out of some 10 bands from S.Wales and England in 1st and 2nd sections the band came 2nd, this proved the band is as good as any other in 2nd or 1st sections. In 1998 the band finish 3rd in the SEWWBBA 2nd section league end of year. The first contest of 1999 resulted in the band being relegated to 3rd section (for national contests only) as a average of results from the National Qualifiers over 2 years placed us last. At the next 3 SEWBBA contests sees the band remaining in 2nd section.In september sees Rob Burnett handing the baton to Alun Williams. Alun first conducted Pontypool Brass from 1979 -1985, and during this time the Band progressed from the 4th Section to the 2nd Section. Alun was appointed Musical Director of the Band again in October 1999, and now hopes that his experience and enthusiasm will enable the Band to become successful once again on both the concert and contest stage. Due to work committments alun left the band in March, but not before coming 3rd at the welsh regional contest at Swansea.