From its heyday as a Victorian seaside resort there have always been bands and music associated with Weston super Mare. Indeed in the 19th century and into the 20th century it could boast a professional band called ‘Moggs Prize Band’. However the decline from these halcyon days meant that the amateur status returned under different partonage.
The Royal British Legion supported a band for many years but upon its demise in 1963, Weston Silver Band was formed as a completely independent organisation. This band continues today, with a few name changes on the way, as Weston Brass. The band has remained true to its traditions and in recognition of our aims and objectives with regard to education we received Charity Status.
In the grand scheme of things, Weston Brass are a relatively young band compared to many others. The first Musical Director in 1963 was Tom Shearman, a music teacher, and the band quickly established themselves as a dedicated and enthusiastic band. After 5 years at the helm, Tom passed on the baton to a young David Fisher. David came from a military background and the band improved greatly over the next 10 years or so, gaining entry to the National finals in 1972. Under his direction, the band were promoted to the 3rd section and also brought home various pieces of silverware from the many contests entered during this period. David also spent a second even more successful period as MD in the mid-80s.
Throughout this time (and for some years afterwards) the band performed during the summer at the now demolished Rozel Music Gardens on Weston’s sea front. From the end of May until September every year the band gave concerts on three out of four Sunday afternoons and evenings (i.e. 6 concerts within 15 days, or 30 concerts in 4/5 months!). This was no mean feat as we had 6 completely different programmes of music!
Since then the band has continued with fluctuating success under the directorship of several conductors:–
Stan Brown. Well renowned Stan will be remembered not only for his wealth of brass band knowledge and experience, but for his witticisms, terrible jokes and mis-pronunciation of musical terms (e.g. ‘cantabile’ was ‘canter-byle’), all with his very Welsh accent! R.I.P Stan.
Howard Brill, an ex-RAF musician with a wealth of experience.
Bob Pullen, another ex-RAF musician whose wife and 3 children were all members too!
John Bryant, a serving RAF musician! Apart from his years as MD, where (amongst other successes) we gained an creditable 4th place in the 3rd section National Finals in London in 1989. John, now retired from the RAF, continues to be one of the stalwarts of the band and plays cornet. His talent for arranging music is well known and we probably don’t perform a concert without at least one or two of his arrangements in the programme!
Pete Vann brought much enthusiasm to the band in his short reign as MD.
Rob Morgan, yet another ex-RAF musician who continued to take the band with all the professionalism, enthusiasm and exemplary training of HM Forces bandsmen.
Bill Stagg, amazingly another ex-RAF musician! Probably best remembered for his heart-felt and loving expletives – so much so that he was presented with a leaving gift of cufflinks engraved with expletives! All good humoured fun of course, and appreciatively received!
Trudi Jenkins, the first of our only two lady conductors to date. Trudi steered us to a great 2nd place at the SWBBA Contest in 1997. Trudi now occasionally brilliantly deps for us on Baritone.
Dave Tilling, a very well respected true brass bandman in every respect. Dave was MD right through the first period when we were in the 1st section, achieving very respectable results at every contest. He also brought his entire family along as players. His enthusiasm did overwhelm him sometimes, on one occasion he ended up in Casualty after he stabbed the baton right through his hand! Ouch! This incident actually national news and was reported in the Times newspaper!
Peter Nutt, having played on the front row for over 2 decades, Peter took himself off to university to do a music degree, majoring in conducting. In 2003, when the band found themselves bereft of a musical director, Peter was the obvious choice and took over the role with much zeal.
Joanne Sykes, our second lady conductor who unfortunately, living a long distance from Weston with her world renowned tuba-playing and conducting maestro husband Steve Sykes, found the travelling too much and sadly was not with us for long.
Tony Osborne, our Musical Director for six years from 2009, hails from deepest Somerset and has a prestigious background of playing cornet and soprano with some of the finest bands in the South West before turning his hand to conducting (no pun intended!). During the six years Tony very quickly guided the band back up to the 2nd Section and led us to winning positions in several contests!
Bryn James, Bryn hails from the Forest of Dean and came to us with an extremely successful string of contest successes under his belt as Musical Director with other bands. He successfully led us to six podium places out of 10 contests in his three years at the helm. This included several 1st places, but the most prestigious was a 2nd place at the Area Championships in 2016, meaning promotion straight back into the 2nd Section after only one year in the 3rd section- a fantastic record!
Ceri Thomas, is as Welsh as they come! Ceri joined us as Musical Director in January 2018 and comes laden with a wealth of brass band experience as a player, conductor and adjudicator. A passionate rugby fan, Ceri can, when not brass banding, be found cheering on The Ospreys and attends as many games as banding allows.
Carl Whiteoak, hailing from Manchester, Carl started his musical career at Moston and Beswick Band on cornet at the age of 10. He quickly moved onto tuba where he remained until joining the Army at age 17 as a musician in the First Royal Tank Regiment. Having returned to civilian life in his early 20s Carl re-joined Moston & Beswick, where he eventually moved from tuba to solo trombone. His first appointment as a Musical Director was at Besses Boys Band, where he took the band to their first contest success in over 13 years and continued this successful run throughout his tenure. He took over as our MD in September 2018 and it was with a great deal of soul searching that Carl sadly stepped away from conducting the band in September 2019 due to work and family commitments. During his 12 months with us, we very much enjoyed his enthusiasm, dedication and passion for all things brass. The band improved greatly under his leadership.
Lewis Wilkinson is the youngest Musical Director we have had and, at the tender age of 24, came to us with an already impressive proven musical background. Being a native of Northumbria, Lewis studied for a Masters Degree in Conducting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, from where he travelled twice a week to lead our rehearsals. We were very lucky to have him as he was already in great demand across Wales and the South West of England. Following the completion of his Masters Degree during the Covid-19 pandemic, Lewis chose to return to Durham. We were extremely sad to lose him as, pre-Covid, our future under his direction was very bright indeed.
Ian Dickinson was appointed Musical Director post-covid-19 lockdown in 2021. Ian is no stranger to the band, having played with us back in the 1970’s! He has a very impressive playing history, being the Flugel star of the much missed Sun Life Band, who reached world renowned success during his time with them. Ian turned his hand to conducting and was Musical Director with several other successful bands in the west country, inspiring them with his quality of musicianship and wealth of knowledge. He is already proving his credentials by steering us to 2nd place at the 2021 Wychavon Festival of Brass competition! Long may it continue.