Features

On The Town

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With brass bands on the decline nationally, local residents are lucky to have a thriving ensemble. Tim Sullivan reports on a special concert and album launch by Redbridge Brass in Aldersbrook this month

A recent article in The Times highlighted the plight of brass bands across the country. Many are suffering from the effects of reduced funding and increased running costs and are in danger of closing after many decades of entertaining, supporting and educating their local communities.

Having been a member of the brass band fraternity since 1967, I can fully understand the feeling of loss these band members must be experiencing. Growing up in a brass band family teaches you so much about teamwork, discipline and problem-solving when facing the many technical challenges demanded by the increasingly complex music being composed for bands today.

I am pleased to report that Redbridge Brass, a band of which I am a founding member, is bucking the trend and is thriving by undertaking new ventures, such as performing the live soundtrack to The Snowman to sell-out audiences in Aldersbrook and welcoming passengers boarding the Epping and Ongar Railway at Christmas with jolly festive favourites.

Redbridge Brass has become a formidable force in the brass band world, gaining numerous accolades. We have claimed the London and Southern Counties Championship title an impressive 14 times and graced the iconic stage of the Royal Albert Hall 18 times for the National Brass Band Championships, most recently in 2022.

Beyond the competitive stage, we have performed at many prestigious venues and events, including Trafalgar Square for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Torch Relay Ceremony, Glastonbury Festival with the chart-topping band Hot Chip and for West Ham United at their Remembrance and Christmas matches.

Last year, the band returned to holding its rehearsals within the walls of Redbridge Music Service (RMS) in Hainault, where it was formed. This is an exciting new period as we are already planning joint concerts with the youngsters from RMS so they may be inspired to follow in our footsteps. Whilst I am very proud to still be a part of the band from its early music school days (along with two others), it is a joy to be welcoming superb younger players into the fold to ensure the band’s longevity.

We have worked hard to generate enough income to fund the recording of our first new album since 2002. Entitled On The Town, the album includes works specially written for the band, plus some stylish arrangements of standards from the likes of Leonard Bernstein, Lennon/McCartney and Stan Kenton. The album will be officially released at a special concert in the splendid acoustics of St Gabriel’s Church in Aldersbrook this month.


The concert will take place at St Gabriel’s Church on 17 February from 7.30pm (tickets: £15). Visit wnstd.com/onthetown