Get to know the people who make the music happen

Music Creative Team

Resident Artistic Director — //Position Vacant//

Professional Conductor – Dr David Thornton

Dr David Thornton is regarded as one of the foremost euphonium players and teachers of his generation and has a global reputation. His work as a soloist, conductor and educator is renowned throughout the brass playing world to have the hallmark of extreme virtuosity, professionalism and an ability to connect with audiences like few others in his field.

His work within the brass band world has seen him at the top flight for almost twenty years. He has held solo euphonium positions with the Fairey Band (1997-2000), the Black Dyke Band (2000-2010) and the Brighouse & Rastrick Band (2011-2015) having won five National titles, three British Opens and one European Championship during this time.

David is a course director for the Bolsover Brass Band Summer School and has been a course tutor for the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, National Youth Brass Band of Wales, National Children’s Brass Band of Great Britain, National Youth Wind Orchestra of Great Britain, the International Brass Band Summer School (Swansea) and the Wessex Band Summer School.

David also tutors at the RNCM, the University of Huddersfield and Chetham’s School of Music.

Associate conductor — Stephen Bell

Belfast-born Stephen Bell has built a hugely diverse career in both commerce and music spanning over 35 years. Stephens association with Brass Bands stretches back to his time at Laganvale Brass Band firstly on Eb Bass and then on Timpani. It was studying music at Southampton University and subsequently M.Mus (performance) at the University of Surrey that set Stephen on course to develop as a musical director in a variety of genres, encouraged and championed by Mike Sheppard and Professor Peter Evans.

Stephen has worked with choirs and other ensembles in and around Northampton since 1987. Most notable was the performance with Northampton Chamber Choir in 2001, of Mozart Requiem in St Giles Church with the Guildhall Orchestra: an Orchestra which Stephen formed and directed in 1997 for the Brahms centenary. Notable successes with the Guildhall Orchestra were the performances of Walton’s Viola Concerto with Martin Outram, Dvorak’s ‘Cello concerto with Michal Kaznowski, Bruch violin concerto with Jan Kaznowski and performances of all of the Brahms Symphonies.  Stephen also directed the Guildhall Orchestra for a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No 3 with the internationally recognised pianist Nicholas Austin.

Stephen was appointed as the Musical Director of the Northampton Concert Band in 2005-2015 and has enjoyed considerable success with the band in the NCBF festival finals, winning numerous Gold and Platinum award. Stephen was appointed Musical Director of the St Cecilia Singers of Rushden (2007-2012); a tenure culminating in a memorable performance of Brahms German Requiem with the international soloist David Wilson-Johnson as the solo Baritone in November 2012. After a period conducting the Abingdon Concert Band (2010-2013) Stephen enjoyed being the musical director of the Rushden Windmill Brass Band (2012-14) the Northampton Male Voice Choir (2011-current), Market Harborough Orchestra (2012-current) and occasional concerts with the famous all-ladies “Boobs and Brass” and of course the mighty GUS.

Stephen is in demand as an adjudicator and has enjoyed working with the Milton Keynes, Wellingborough and the recently formed North Northampton Festival.

Whilst not making music Stephen has cultivated an impressive parallel career within the automotive industry. Stephen held a very senior position within Mercedes-Benz in Milton Keynes for 10 years (2004-2014) and for the last 7 years has set up and run his own training company Red Kite Training & Development Limited providing consultancy and training services for the Passenger Car, Commercial Vehicle and Truck network for Mercedes-Benz.

Stephen has two daughters both of whom are professional violinists. When not making music or running his business Stephen can be found training hard for Marathons, reading musicological books and listening to good old-fashioned LPs.

Stephen lives in Oundle with his partner Sarah.

The Band

Assistant Principal Cornet – James Screaton

James Screaton has been playing the cornet since the age of 10 and was quickly introduced to the world of brass bands when he joined the Enderby Junior Band. In his ten years with the Enderby organisation James advanced through the three main brass bands and was appointed principal cornet of the first section Senior Band in late 2011, a position he held for just over a year.

In 2010 James was awarded a position to study music at Birmingham Conservatoire under the expert tutelage of Richard Marshall and Ian Porthouse. In his four years at the Conservatoire James played in all of the main college ensembles – his highlights include playing Soprano and Principal cornet in the Conservatoire brass band, performing as a soloist playing the Torstein Aagaard – Nilsen Concerto for Cornet and Brass Band and on two occasions playing first cornet with the Symphony Orchestra for their performances of Symphony Fantastique and Messiaen’s Turangalila – Symphonie. James also entered several competitions while at college, the pinnacle being reaching the final of the Conservatoire Brass prize – one of only a few cornet players to ever do so.

In January 2013 James was appointed Principal Cornet of the Championship section Nottingham based Newstead Brass where he spent a happy two year period playing regularly as a soloist in concerts and contests alike. Contesting high points include achieving 7th place playing Red priest in the 2013 Grand Shield competition (despite almost knocking the Shield over mid performance!!) and being consecutive champions of the LBBA contest in both 2013 & 2014.

James joined GUS in 2015 on assistant principal cornet, a seat he is very proud of enjoying the chances to sit on the end chair when needed as well as getting to support some of the best in the business the rest of the time!

James currently also looks after and is helping to build upon the GUS band archive, regularly displaying items at concerts. Any photos, records, memories and general memorabilia will be greatly received and well looked after.

Assistant Principal Cornet  – Jake Humphrey

Jake started playing the trumpet and piano at the age of 7 and the brass quickly took over!  Progressing through the local county music trust, he went on to be Principal Trumpet in the Northamptonshire Youth Concert Band and a member of the County Youth Orchestra, along with Principal Cornet of the Northamptonshire Youth Brass Band.

At age 13, Jake was introduced to Youth Brass 2000 and quickly became their Flugel Horn soloist before going on to be appointed Principal Cornet. In addition to a varied programme of concerts  and several European tours, multiple contest wins followed under the baton of Chris Jeans including ‘National Youth Champions’, ‘British Open Youth Champions’, ‘Brass in Concert Youth Champions’ and ‘Butlins Youth Champions’.

Jake’s first introduction to the senior bandroom was at Harborough Band, before being invited to join the Jaguar Land Rover Band, where he gave a performance of the infamous cornet solo from Wilfred Heaton’s ‘Contest Music’ at the Midlands Regional Championship that displayed a maturity of playing well beyond his 16 years of age.

Jake is a proud member of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain and continues to study cornet and trumpet with Gary Fountain with the aim of going on to study music performance.   At the time of his Grade 8, the examiner noted it as “one of the most enjoyable and detailed performances I’ve ever had the pleasure to mark” and he has recently been selected to receive the the prestigious Conn-Selmer Scholarship Award.

In addition to music and studying for his A’Levels, Jake loves all things film and cinema, gaming and going out with his friends and he can’t wait to learn to drive!  He is extremely proud and excited to join the GUS Band.

Solo Cornet – Nigel Bramley

Nigel learnt to play the cornet at age 10 and soon joined his first band, Soham Comrades Band. He had been with Soham Comrades for 25 years, and for the last 15 or those as their Principal Cornet. The GUS Band (then Travelsphere Holidays Band) were delighted to welcome him to the band in October 2003.

Nigel lives in Charteris, Cambridgeshire and runs his own carpentry business, NB Carpentry Ltd, which supplies and installs all types of joinery, but specialises in conservation.

Solo Cornet – Amy Bruce

Amy started playing the cornet aged 7 and at the age of 9 was introduced to the Lions Youth Brass organisation where she joined their Junior Band. In 2003, just a year after joining Lions, Amy progressed to the Youth Band where she enjoyed many of the band’s tours including to the Czech Republic and the Costa Blanca.

In 2007, Amy joined the North West-based Roberts Bakery Band, shortly after, the band went on to win the First Section North West Regional Championships. In 2009, Amy’s playing career progressed to Solo Cornet at Roberts Bakery Band at the same time as her appointment as Principal Cornet of Lions Youth Brass, a position she held until she left for University. During her 2 years as Principal Cornet, Amy led the band in great competition successes including runners up in the National Youth Brass Band and Butlins Mineworkers Youth Section Championships. When leaving Lions in 2011, Amy was awarded the prestigious bandsperson of the year award at the organisation’s 21st birthday celebrations.

In 2011 Amy moved to Liverpool to start University, but continued to play with the Roberts Bakery Band, enjoying many high profile concerts with the band including the Bluedot Festival, as well as a further two wins at Regional Championships, three National Finals appearances and trips to Estonia and Germany. In 2019 Amy completed her PhD in Pharmacology and decided to leave the Roberts Bakery Band after 12 years to pursue travelling ambitions to parts of Asia and the USA and to accept a position as a Regulatory Medical Writer in Oxford. This move further south meant Amy was able to join The GUS Band on Solo Cornet as of July 2019.

Soprano cornet  – //Position Vacant//

 

Repiano cornet  – Gary Sherlock

Gary began playing cornet at the age of 8 in the Dorset village Verwood Silver Band and rose through the ranks to become their principal cornet at the age of 14 and also principal of the Wessex Youth band.

Moving north to train as a teacher and take cornet lessons from Stanley Boddington, Gary joined the City of Coventry Band and was a very proud member when they took the British Open Championship title at the last ever Belle Vue in 1981.

Further training took him to London and a short time with Hanwell Band (and a telly appearance on That’s Life!) before moving back to the Midlands to teach music and spells with Nassington Band, Peterborough Big Band and a further couple of years back at Coventry (Jaguar Cars).

In 1995 he joined Kibworth Band, and enjoyed an enjoyable and very successful run of contests over a period of 12 years before joining the Virtuosi GUS band in 2007 to provide a little more maturity to the front row team!

After 15 years teaching Gary discovered the escape tunnel, retrained and now works as a Microsoft business software consultant and with GUS rehearsals just two minutes from his home, he manages to spend more time at home with his ever-supportive wife.

Second cornet  – Marcus Pain

Marcus started playing trumpet at the age of 11 at his local school, quickly rising to play Principal Trumpet at the Leicestershire schools of Music Symphonic Wind Band under Gary Sleath.

He was invited to play cornet with the Desford Youth Band in 1986, during a period that saw Marcus and the band win the National title twice and the first European Youth Band title in Falkirk. In 1989, Marcus became a founding player member of a youth band initiative set up by the then Rigid Containers Band (a former name of the GUS Band) in what was to become the Youth Brass 2000 Band. Marcus became the first holder of the Principal Cornet seat in a band that has gone on to win every major accolade in youth banding. The family connection remains with Marcus’s own children now playing with the band.

In 1991 Marcus also became the Principal Cornet of the Ancient Order of Forester’s Band, which enjoyed numerous successes under Chris Jeans. Five years later, in 1996, Marcus was asked to join the William Davis Band under Keith Wilkinson on 3rd Solo Cornet. During this period, he was fortunate to enjoy the tutelage of some top quality musicians in Betty Anderson, Brian Winters and also, on occasion, the great James Watson.

Following short spells with Rigid Containers and Raby Co-Op bands, Marcus took a 12 year break from playing to concentrate on work and family. Then, receiving an invitation to the 25th anniversary Youth Brass 2000 reunion concert, the spark was re-ignited and in 2014 he joined Forester’s Band before taking up his current position with the world famous GUS Band in 2017, of which Marcus is so proud.

Second cornet  – Matt Brown

Matt started playing the cornet with Camborne Youth Band aged 7, whom he played with until reaching the grand old age of 18. Matt experienced immense success with Camborne Youth; winning the National Youth Championships seven times! Matt has also been attending the Wessex Band Summer School every year since 2007, winning the Courtney Bosanko Shield in 2013 in recognition of his dedication and commitment over a number of years.

Whilst still a member of the youth band, Matt was invited to join Camborne Senior Band aged 17. Shortly after, Matt took a break from full-time brass banding while completing his degree in Radiography at The University of Hertfordshire, during which he broadened his musical horizons by playing Jazz Band Trumpet!

In 2019, Matt relocated to the Oxfordshire area to begin his career as an NHS Radiographer, joining The GUS Band soon after.

 

 

Third cornet  – Sam McCoy

Sam started playing the cornet aged 7, taught by his grandfather before receiving tuition from Brad Turnbull and John Hudson at the Northampton County Music Service. Sam spent 10 years at the Kibworth band as well being a salvationist, attending Kettering Citadel Corps.

More recently Sam has received tuition from the assiduous Gary Fountain, who he credits with bringing on his playing a tremendous amount. Sam joined GUS in 2022 and is looking forward to contributing towards the cornet section and being a part of the band’s performances, which he has found so awe inspiring in the past.

During Sam’s spare time he likes doing DIY around the house (in his own words “to varying levels of success!”) and listening to film music, that of John Williams in particular.

Third cornet  – Sally Bramley

Sally started learning to play the trumpet at the age of twelve, and during her school years was fortunate to have David Read as her school trumpet teacher.

Sally joined a Big Band where her Dad played bass guitar, and during that time she also began playing with Huntingdon Youth Band and her local Brass Band, Somersham Town Band.

Sally loved both the Trumpet and Cornet and continued to play with the Big Band for many years.  She moved from Somersham Town Band to join Soham Comrades Brass Band in the Championship Section, and then left her seat of Principal cornet in 2004 to join the GUS band.

Sally took an eight-month break from playing in 2008, and, since her return to music has thoroughly enjoyed the challenges of belonging to the GUS band, of which she is very proud to be a member.

Flügelhorn – Rhys Cave

Rhys began playing at the age of five and comes from a banding family with his mum, two sisters and brother also players. With a wealth of experience, Rhys spent five years at the Junior Guildhall School of Music first as flugel player and then as principal cornet. He was also principal cornet at the Tilbury Youth Band for over ten years. His other playing experience has been gained as a member of the Tilbury Band, Thundersley Brass and Aveley and Newham Band as well as depping for many others. He rates his proudest moment as qualifying for the Championship Section Finals at the Royal Albert Hall with Thundersley Brass. We hope he will see many more appearances at the Finals with GUS.

Outside of the Bandroom, Rhys is a keen runner and is working on bringing down his 5k time. He’s also a season ticket holder at the ‘mighty’ West Ham, (Rhys’s description and very much up for debate!)

Solo Horn  – Simon Smith

Simon started playing at the age eight with St. Keverne Youth Band in Cornwall. At the age of thirteen he progressed to the senior band on 1st horn and it was not long after that he took up the Solo Horn seat. Whilst with St. Keverne (Britain’s most southerly band) the band represented the South West twice at the Royal Albert Hall in the National Finals, before being promoted to the Championship Section.

At the age of eighteen, Simon moved to London to study Civil Engineering at University. During these years, Simon had a brief spell playing for the Tilbury Band in the Championship Section of the London and Home Counties Brass Band Association. On graduating with a 1st Class Honours Degree in Civil Engineering, Simon moved to Guildford in Surrey and joined the Friary Guildford Band (formerly Friary Meux Brewery Band) on solo horn and spent several successful years with them in the Championship section. In 1993 Simon won the Southern Counties Solo title.

In February 1999, Simon moved to Whaddon in Buckinghamshire at which time, Simon was invited to join the Virtuosi GUS Band. Since being appointed the band’s Principal Horn, Simon has been invited to play with many other Championships Bands, including YBS, Desford Colliery Band and Grimethorpe Colliery Band.

Simon has been a valuable member of the Horn section sitting in all three seats over the 21+ years when work life took up more of his time but the GUS band were very pleased that in 2019 Simon was able to retake the Solo Horn chair.

First Horn  – Rob Fleming

Rob grew up on the Wirral and began to play the tenor horn at the age of 8, he quickly went on to join the Wirral schools and Port Sunlight Lyceum brass bands. Rob went on to study music at Huddersfield and Liverpool Universities gaining experience playing in lots of top bands and ensembles. He had notable spells with Northop Silver Band and Fodens Band, being fortunate to work with fantastic conductors and experience success in the likes of the welsh and northwest areas, the English Nationals, the Masters and the British open as well as many high profile concerts and recordings.

Rob trained as a brass teacher with the Liverpool music service and he now works for Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust where he is proud to be a conductor with the County Junior Brass Ensemble, Sponne School Brass Band and the Head of Towcester Saturday Morning music school.

Second Horn  – Colin Rigby

Colin began playing the Cornet at the age of 8 down at his local band, Micklefield brass. Then in 1986 moved onto the horn and to the Allerton Bywater Colliery band, who under the baton of Alan Morrison won several contests, including the 1988 4th section National final. By 1989 the band had folded, so Colin moved to play for South Milford Brass. 2 years later he went to university and put his horn away. Fast forward 24 years and Colin thought it was time to get out his horn again, however his local band, Corby silver, had a full horn section, but a vacancy on soprano. He tried his hand at the soprano but decided to return to the horn. In January 2016 he moved on to the first horn seat at the Jaguar Landrover band. During this time the band came 2nd at the Grand Shield qualifying for the British Open, playing at Symphony Hall in both 2016 and 2017.

Solo Euphonium – George Bruce

George first began playing cornet at the age of 7, receiving lessons through Milton Keynes Music Service and Bradwell Silver Band.

After a couple of years, George moved onto Euphonium, receiving lessons from his great friend Vaughan Bower. George progressed through Northamptonshire County Youth Brass Band and Concert Band, playing Solo Euphonium in both. He had great encouragement and support from his family, especially his older brother and father who both played with George in Stantonbury Brass.

In 2011 George gained a place to study at the prestigious Royal Northern College of Music. Receiving world class tuition from Steven Mead, David Thornton and Roger Cutts, George graduated with a First Class Honours Degree. One of George’s highlights was being appointed Principal Euphonium of the RNCM Brass Band, where he performed under world class conductors including James Gourlay at the RNCM Festival of Brass. During his time at the RNCM George also enjoyed helping many top bands before taking the Solo Euphonium seat at Roberts Bakery Band, under Simon Stonehouse, where he met his fiancée, Amy. A particular highlight at Roberts Bakery Band was winning the North West Areas on London Overture in 2015.

After his studies at the RNCM, George moved back to Milton Keynes where he works as Business Development Manager and enjoyed a short tenure on Solo Euphonium with the GUS Band. During this time, George played an integral part in the band’s victories at the Midlands Areas in 2016 & 2017 and the 2017 Butlins Mineworkers Championships. Since re-joining GUS in 2019, George has been a regularly featured soloist in both competitive and concert performances with the band, most recently winning the award for Best Soloist – Test Piece at the 2022 Butlin’s Mineworkers Championships.

Second Euphonium – Simon Rotchell

Simon has been a member of The GUS Band since 2002 and first started his brass band career on cornet with Rossington Junior Band when he was 8 years old.

When he was 16, Simon moved onto Euphonium and hasn’t looked back since, having had successful tenures at Newstead Brass, Rhodium Brass and Kibworth Band which included winning the 1996 First Sectional National Championships and the Swiss Open in 1999 while playing Solo Euphonium.
Throughout his playing career, Simon has played on many tours, particularly memorable were his trips to South East Asia which he has been fortunate to visit no less than five times.

Outside of band, Simon is is kept busy with his two daughters, his work as a Computer Support Analyst and supporting Sheffield Wednesday.

Solo Baritone – Andrew Rigby

Andrew began playing the Euphonium at the age of 8 and by 1996 he had progressed to the Championship Section joining the Wallace Arnold Rothwell (Leeds) Band on Solo Baritone. Whilst there the band had success, coming 3rd and then 2nd at the Yorkshire Areas, winning the Grand Shield and playing at the National Finals at the Royal Albert Hall.

In 1999 Andrew moved to the Rothwell Temperance Band where he again played in the National Finals, won the 2000 Swiss Open Championship and the 2000 Pontins Championship.

Andrew relocated to Milton Keynes in 2003 and not long after that joined The GUS Band however by 2006, due to increasing work and family commitments, he retired from banding altogether.

In 2015 Andrew came out of retirement to be appointed Solo Baritone with the Jaguar Land Rover Band, and soon after the band came 2nd at the Grand Shield qualifying for the British Open, playing at Symphony Hall in both 2016 and 2017.

Second Baritone – Kieren Williams

Kieren started playing aged 9, at his local band Whitwell Brass. Although initially learning to play the cornet, Kieren preferred the baritone and settled on that instrument, gaining promotion to the senior band aged 12 and enjoyed a happy and successful period with the band.

Kieren grew up in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, and has played with a number of bands in that local area. In 2012, he was appointed to the horn section at the Thoresby Colliery Band, and has maintained a close relationship with the band since then. In 2017, Kieren relocated for work to Berkshire, joining Sandhurst Silver Band based in the Bracknell Forest area. In 2018, that band were crowned London and Southern Counties First Section Champions and went on to represent the region at the National Finals. In 2019, Kieren returned to the East Midlands and resumed his close relationship with the Thoresby Colliery Band as both a player and as a guest conductor.

In 2013, Kieren began studying at The University of Nottingham. Whilst at university, Kieren conducted the University of Nottingham Brass Band whom he is still affiliated with today. Under his direction, the band has achieved third place at the 2016 National University Brass Band Championships of Great Britain (UniBrass), as well as other successes on the concert and contest stage. Most recently, Kieren led the band to 2nd place at the 2021 UniBrass competition.

Solo Trombone – Savannah Bone

Savannah first began brass lessons at the age of 12 when she started trombone lessons at school, following in her father’s footsteps. She quickly progressed and joined Youth Brass 2000, with whom she stayed and competed with until 2013. Under the tutelage and guidance of Chris Jeans she gained a scholarship to the Leicester Grammar School and also became an Associate of the Trinity College London (ATCL). She became a member of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain in 2010, where she competed to become a Katie Ogden solo prize winner and also the trombone representative in the Harry Mortimer Solo Competition in 2012. Savannah studied at Birmingham Conservatoire as a trombone player and vocal student, studying under David Purser, Ed Jones, Anthony Howe, Bob Hughes, Sue Addision, Christopher Houlding and Helen Field. Savannah was lucky enough to play in several award winning ensembles such as The Briar Rose Trombone Quartet, The Solomon Cutler Trombone Quartet and Quintessential Brass.

Outside of band, Savannah works in compliance for a personal injury law firm and loves all things crafty and creative.

Second Trombone – John Hopkins

John started playing trombone at the age of seven and quickly became a member of various wind, jazz and orchestral groups. He spent six years in Derbyshire County Wind Band and Orchestra and during his time at university in Portsmouth, played regularly with the Royal Marines School of Music. John finally joined a brass band after graduating in 2002 and spent five years with Kibworth Band on solo trombone, winning the first section national finals in 2006. He joined Virtuosi GUS in the summer of 2007 on second trombone.

John is married to Sarah (band contest secretary) and lives just outside Loughborough. He works as a community pharmacist on the Derbyshire / Leicestershire border.

Bass Trombone – Alex Crutchley

At the age of 7, Alex began his musical life on violin, but fortunately switched to trombone at age 13 and was taught by ex Guardsman Charlie Peace. After a few years with Northamptonshire County Youth Orchestra Alex finally became a bandsman with William Davis Construction Band (John Berryman).

From 1982 – 86 Alex studied at The Royal College of Music in London, and during that time was a member of Halls Oxford Concert Brass (Adrian Leaper). After graduating he moved to the Faroe Islands to teach and play in the orchestra, on returning to the UK Alex joined Jaguar Cars Band (Ray Farr/Barry Pope) before a move to Desford Colliery. Alex took a PGCE at Middlesex University and became a class teacher, later moving to Leicestershire to work for the Music service. Alex has stayed in Leicestershire and is now Head of Brass at Stamford School.

Alex has enjoyed a varied career in his playing including Faroese Symphony Orchestra, Forest Philharmonic, Symphony 21, London Big Band, Tours with Barry Manilow and Curtis Stigers, Swings the Thing, Bardi Symphony Orchestra, many theatre shows and now a full time member of The GUS Brass Band.

Solo Eb Bass – Jen McCausland

Jen started playing at the age of 6 in her local brass band Abbey Brass, taking up the Euphonium. She made the move to Eb Bass at the age of 10 and soon moved up to the main band where she enjoyed regular concerts and her first taste of contesting. In 2000 when she was 15, she joined championship section band City of Oxford. The band were known for appearing on Midsummer Murders and Jen was lucky enough to get a chance to film an episode for 2 days.

After finishing her A Levels in 2004, she left to study at Birmingham Conservatoire for 4 years. After graduating. she moved up to County Durham and soon joined the Reg Vardy Band on solo Eb Bass, where she played at the Royal Albert Hall for the first time. After seven years with the band, she moved down to the Midlands and joined Ratby band for a year before moving to The GUS Band in January 2018. Outside of band, Jen is a retail manager and Everton fan and lives with her boyfriend John and rescue dog Leo.

Second Eb Bass – Dave Elliot-Smith

Dave first picked up a cornet at the age of 11 with the beginners band at The Egham Band, in Surrey. After some years tinkering on the front and back rows, the lure of the deep was too much and he switched to tuba, still with The Egham Band, and a new relationship was born, with the help of tuition from former London Symphony Orchestra Principal Tuba, Patrick Harrild.

In 2005, Dave moved to the Friary Guildford Band before taking up his current seat with the GUS Band in October 2006. Since then, a host of great concert, contest and recording sessions later, Dave is immensely proud still to be sharing the rehearsal room and stage with such a fabulous bunch of musicians. Since 2018 Dave has been Chairman of the band.

 

Solo Bb Bass – Mark Probert

Mark started playing the trumpet at Oxfordshire County Music Service aged, 11, a year later he moved to Tuba where he enjoyed playing in ensembles including Oxfordshire County Youth Orchestra, with whom he played the Vaughan Williams Tuba Concerto in 2004. It was here that Mark first developed a passion for performing and he went on to study tuba at the Royal College of Music, London, graduating with a BMus (Hons) in 2005 and Masters in Advanced Performance in 2007, winning the Herbert Samuel Tuba Prize, the Senior Brass Prize and the Worshipful Company of Musicians Silver Medal. Mark’s first taste of brass banding was with the Brackley and District Band, qualifying for National Brass Band Championships at first attempt. While at the Royal College, Mark founded Zone One Brass, with whom he had a number of highlights including performing at a Royal Garden Party in grounds of Buckingham Palace and a live performance on Chris Evans Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2

Having graduated, Mark started work as a peripatetic brass teacher with Sutton Music Service, running their Whole Class Instrumental Tuition Programme from 2009. Upon returning to his native Oxfordshire in January 2016, Mark took up the post of Brass Tutor, coaching the County Youth Orchestra Brass section and conducting the County Youth Wind Band. Mark joined the GUS Band in April 2018 and became personnel officer during the same year, which he does alongside his teaching commitments which include conducting the Oxfordshire Youth Brass Ensemble and Manager of Advanced Ensembles. Away from Music, Mark is an avid sports fan, following Gloucester Rugby Club and Oxford United FC and a keen runner also, recently completing Royal Parks, Swansea and Ealing Half Marathons.

Second Bb Bass – Jonathan Cooke

Jonathan started playing the cornet at an early age with his father Ken Cooke teaching him, being a 5th generation salvationist Jonathan went through the sections and enjoyed playing in Stockton Citadel untill he moved south for work in 1996.

In the early 2000’s Jonathan started playing with the famous Enfield Citadel Band under legendary BM James Williams MBE and Jonathan Corry. Jonathan’s first venture with contesting came with Thundersley Brass Band, and was extremely proud to be part of the band that qualified and took part in their first ever National finals at the Royal Albert Hall in 2018. Jonathan joined The GUS Band in Nov 2018 and has thoroughly enjoyed his time with the band, being part of a fantastic bass section.

Outside of banding Jonathan enjoys (watching now) most sports and is a keen Middlesbrough fan along with his fav Rugby team Wasps. Banding highlights have been playing under the baton of BM Williams at Enfield, GUS’s winning performance in the 2020 Areas and his first performance with the band at the national finals in 2019. Jonathan is married to Sarah and has a wonderful daughter Sophie who is a big GUS fan even though she is 15 months old!!

Percussion – Tim Jones

Tim started playing the drums at the age of 10. After starting with Youth Brass 2000 Tim played through all of banding’s competitive sections with Hanwell, Stamford, Bedford and Kibworth. Tim joined GUS in 2002, following in his fathers footsteps.

Away from the band, Tim is Head of percussion at a private school and a visiting teacher at various schools in Northants, Leicester, Rutland and Lincs. Tim is very proud to have had pupils join the band, contributing to the youth ethos that the GUS Band thrives on.

 

Percussion – Evie Elliott

Having begun playing at the age of ten and purchasing her first drum kit in the first week of picking up her sticks, Evie began her musical experience in orchestras. Coming from a musical family,  (her grandfather having played cornet in the Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band) Evie was delighted to gain further insight into the brass banding world from her A-level music teacher, John Bickerdike and she progressed through the Northamptonshire Music Service, (NMPAT), with favourite pieces including Philip Wilby’s ‘Revelation’. At the tender age of 17, Evie was thrilled to have the opportunity to play at the Royal Albert Hall, performing David R Holsinger’s Liturgical Dances, and also enjoyed many tours in Poland and Italy both with brass and jazz bands.

Once Evie’s time at NMPAT ended, she began playing with the Harborough band and in 2022 joined GUS. Evie is now mentored by top drummer Craig Blundel and still continues to work with the Solihull Symphony Orchestra and Birmingham Sinfonia .  

Outside of band, Evie is completing an apprenticeship and enjoys cooking, baking and tending to her many house plants!

Percussion – Jordan Ashman

Jordan started playing piano from the age of five, but before long, wanted to try something ‘cooler’. Drum kit was his choice, expanding into orchestral percussion after a father-and-son project to create a 3.5 octave xylophone. By the age of 13, he already had two Grade 8s – in orchestral percussion and in drum kit.

Each year from the age of nine, Jordan has been selected for the National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain, and in 2018, enjoyed being part of the inaugural course of the National Youth Percussion Orchestra of Great Britain.

In 2016, Jordan was selected to attend the junior department of the Royal Academy of Music in London, every Saturday, studying under percussion tutor, Markus Gruett.

Jordan is delighted to join the GUS Band, hoping he can follow in the footsteps of the growing list of successful young players that have been encouraged through its ranks.


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