Before joining ACB I played for a brief period with Normans Training Band, indeed that was where I met fellow band members George and Suzanne. I was one of the original founding members of Ashby Concert Band so in September I will have been in the Band for twenty years.
My likes and dislikes in music have changed quite a bit over the years. In my youth my idols were the Everly Brothers, in fact my first record - that would be vinyl - was a 78 r.p.m. (I was reminded by our dear Director of Music that they only ever appeared in black and white - Cheek!). I was also a big fan of the Rolling Stones and might once have quite fancied the idea of seeing them perform in Havana, Cuba - but not now.
My tastes in music have moved on a little over the years. I did the folk scene for a while and then moved to 'trad jazz'. I've never really liked modern jazz though - I'm really not quite sure what it is trying to say to me.
I have always loved classical music although for many years I was not a fan of chamber music, much preferring the stirring sound of a full concert orchestra, especially when playing the music of my favourite composer Shostakovich, although I love all Russian classical music. However, one day I went to see a play called 'Death and the Maiden' - a complicated anti-government story set in a fictional Latin American country. There is a particularly unpleasant scene in the play during which 'Death of a Maiden' composed by Schubert is played. It just blew me away and from that day my opinion of chamber music changed and it is now one of my favourite genres.
Apart from ACB the other passion in my life is amateur dramatics, not that I act on stage or anything like that! I really enjoy getting involved in the back stage activities and stage management. I am always inspired by the fact that with every production there is a magic moment when it all comes together, when the play takes on a life of its own. Very much like ACB when after hours and hours of rehearsal the music suddenly seems to come to life and we seem to realise the synergy necessary to turn an average performance into a memorable one.
Talking of memorable moments there have been so many over the past twenty years with ACB. If I had to choose one in particular it would have to be the concert at the De Montfort Hall in 2011. That was truly a night to remember. If I had to choose a favourite piece, well that is really difficult although from our present repertoire I think I would choose 'Last of the Mohicans'; it is an impressive and emotional piece and an absolute pleasure to play. Having said that, we are always getting new music and I have to say two of our newest and as yet unperformed pieces I do really like, namely 'Viktor's Tale' and the 'Polka' from the Bartered Bride.
We play so much good music in ACB it is difficult to pick a favourite. I have really enjoyed concerts in the past when we played with choirs or singers. The 'Twenties Night' we performed several years ago was great fun and so nice to hear other band members showing their talents. I've also enjoyed classical concerts when we have performed concerto pieces, as we did just two years ago when our oboe player Laura performed the Marcello Oboe concerto and way back in 2004 when Chris Jeans performed the Ferdinand David Trombone Concerto.
ACB has been at the centre of my social life for so many years and has brought me such pleasure. I have loved seeing the way the band has grown and developed over the years, especially with all the wonderful instruments we now have at our disposal, like four French horns, a euphonium, a cor anglais, and the wonderful baritone saxophone, not to mention the amazing array of instruments we now have in percussion. All these things allow us to play music we could never have considered twenty years ago. I consider myself very lucky to be a member of the Band and I am so looking forward to many more years making music with Ashby Concert Band.