Peter Haigh - Vice President
I started playing the cornet in 1968, quite by accident. The woodwork teacher at Glossop School in Derbyshire also ran the school brass and, in a woodwork lesson one day, he challenged the class to try and get a note out of an old cornet. I was one of the few to achieve this and I went home that night with said cornet under my arm; able to make a sound on the instrument but unable to read a note of music. However there were plenty of opportunities for music lessons in the local area and by the time I left school, I was principal cornet in the school band and in local brass band, Tintwistle Band.
I continued playing after school, as my employment in air traffic control engineering took me to Bletchley in Buckinghamshire, Aberdeen, back to the Manchester area and finally to the Aldershot area with my Julie. I joined the Aldershot Brass Ensemble, as Alder Valley Brass was then known, in 1984; initially playing cornet, then moving onto the flugel horn a few years later and, finally, moving back to the cornet and becoming the principal cornet in 2003. I remained in that position, through thick and thin, until 2014 when Julie and I relocated back to Glossop in Derbyshire, for family reasons. So now, more than 35 years after leaving, and in retirement, I am back with Tintwistle Band, and still getting a kick out of playing the cornet.
During my time with Alder Valley Brass there were many contest successes (plus a few notable failures), and prestigious concert performances throughout the southeast, and on the continent, in Germany, Holland, Belgium and France. However there were two memorable occasions I would like to share with you.
The first was a memorial concert held at the Princes Hall Aldershot, in 1984, following the untimely death of George Prior, much respected trombone player and founder of the Aldershot Brass Ensemble. The final item was a piece called Resurgam, composed by Eric Ball, and conducted by Frank Renton. The emotion from the performance was overwhelming and, as the final notes of the music died away there was barely a dry eye in the auditorium.
The second was a much happier occasion, a joint concert with the 200-strong West Sussex Philharmonic Choir at Horsham, West Sussex, in 1996. After performing separate concert items in the first half, band and choir came together in the second half of the concert to perform the music Carmina Burana, composed by Carl Orff. The arrangement was unlike anything we had played before (and since) and of course only really came together when the band and choir performed together - which only happened properly in a rehearsal on the day of the concert. For many in the band at the time, myself included, that was just about the best concert played by AVB.