ALDER VALLEY BRASS BAND FORMERLY

ALDERSHOT BRASS ENSEMBLE

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About Alder Valley Brass Band

The aim of the Alder Valley Brass Band is to be one of the region’s premier musical ensembles, sharing the unique spirit and beauty of British brass band music through:

 

  •     Concerts of high musical and artistic quality given in a wide range of venues,
  •     Educational and community outreach.

History

The Aldershot Brass Ensemble was founded in 1961 by George Prior, a fine musician and trombonist from the Rhondda Valley, with, as first members, his own sons and daughters. Eighteen months later the band had grown to some 22 musicians and that year adjudicator Eric Ball awarded the band its first win at an ensemble contest in the Southern Counties Championships.

1969 saw the band through to the 4th section finals of the National Championships and a 6th place overall. The following year brought a win in the 3rd section at the Reading Contest. In 1969, the band was 3rd section area champion.

 

Promotion came quickly, the band became runner up in the 2nd section area championships in 1970 and went on to achieve 3rd place in the national finals. 1973 is remembered as an outstanding year; a year in which the band won the championship sections at Hammersmith and Reading and also had a record 13 point win to take the 2nd section area championships.

 

The band's entry into the top section of contesting was marked with frequent appearances in the prize lists. In March 1978 the band was runner up in the area championship and so qualified for the top section National Finals at the Royal Albert Hall (playing music from the Arthur Bliss ballet 'Checkmate'), competing against the best bands in the land. In 1991 the band qualified once more for the Royal Albert Hall (playing Robert Simpson's 'Energy').

 

The untimely passing of George Prior came as a bitter blow to the band and the band movement.

 

1985 saw the inaugural visit to England of the Wernau Band from Germany. The visit proved a great success and there has been a series of exchanges between Aldershot and Wernau.

 

Television appearances have been a feature of the band's activities, having performed with Lennie Bennett and Jerry Stevens, the late Jimmy Edwards, the Two Ronnies (fairly sure this was 1974 or 1975) and an entire series called 'O Happy Band' with Harry Worth (1980). The composer Ronald Binge (known for the "Elizabethan Serenade" and BBC Radio's "Sailing By") recorded an LP with the band ("Aldershot Brass Ensemble" Gold Star 15-40 or Rediffusion 1500040, 1975).

 

In June 1998 the band played at the British Embassy in Brussels in the 'Showcase Britain' Festival.

 

2002 brought another appearance at the 1st Section National Finals in Torquay, but there followed a leaner period in the band's history, resulting in relegation to the second section for 2006, and fewer members and no contesting in 2007. However, fortunes soon changed with appointment of musical director Roger Burke in October 2007. Membership quickly rose and the band's return to contests in March 2008 again saw it as London & Southern Counties Area champions (second section) with an invitation to the national finals for September that year.

 

In March 2009 as second section defending titleholder at the area championships, Alder Valley narrowly missed a second successive trip to the national finals, finishing fourth of the seventeen bands. Fortune improved still further in 2010 with 3rd place at the area contest in March, yet another invitation to the National Finals, and promotion to the national contesting 1st section for 2011.

 

2011 saw the band celebrating its 50th anniversary with a gala concert, a commemorative CD and another overseas tour.

 

2012 was a busy year for Alder Valley Brass. They competed in a new contest sponsored by DFDS in Dover, where they finished as the highest placed UK non championship section band.

 

This was followed later in the year with 'Celebration 2012' - where Matthew White (principal euphonium of the Cory Band of South Wales) made a guest appearance. Matthew was BBC Radio 2 'Young Brass Soloist of the Year 2010). Many other summer outdoor engagements took place as well as the usual carols at Christmas.

In 2013 the band competed in the first section of the London and Southern Regional Finals and were successful in gaining a place at the Cheltenham Finals - this would put them in the Championship section for 2014. June saw them compete in the French Open Brass Contest in Amboise, France. The summer was also busy with National Trust events and other out door entertainment. The band also continued to help charitable organisations to raise funds e.g. Help for Heroes, where they played at Alton Assembly Rooms. Christmas followed with many carols being played at local venues - £1000 of the money raised went to the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice.

 

 

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