Get to know the people who make the music happen

Music Creative Team

Artistic Director — Chris Jeans

 

 

Chris Jeans became the Artistic Director for The GUS Band in November 2018, moving from the position of principal trombone with the band.

Since 1989, Chris has held the position of Artistic Director for Music with Youth Brass 2000. In that time, he has won all the major youth trophies, including an unprecedented Grand Slam of major titles in 2018: British Open Youth Champions, Championship Section National Youth Champion Band of Great Britain and Premier Section European Youth Champions. Furthermore, this is the only youth band ever to win a double hat-trick of National Champion Youth Band of Great Britain titles in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

As an educator, Chris is the Brass Coordinator at Leicester Grammar School – a position he has held for over 29 years. He is the trombone tutor and member of staff at the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, a position he has held for the past eight years. As an adjudicator Chris is regularly invited to adjudicate at the Sion Music Festival in Switzerland, Brass in Concert held in the Sage at Gateshead, Manx Music Festival in the Isle of Man and is the President of the jury for the French Open Brass Band Championships.

As a player he is known as “The Man With the Golden Trombone”. Chris began his playing career in his home town of Yeovil in Somerset, before moving onto become principal trombone of Sunlife, Desford Colliery, Grimethorpe Colliery, Rigid Containers, Ransome, YBS, John Foster & Sons Black Dyke Mills Band and returning to The GUS Band. He has held the title of Champion Trombone Player of Great Britain and also won the title “Brass in Concert Solo Champion” on two occasions. Chris has won the National Champion Band of Great Britain on seven occasions, European Championships on four occasions, Champion of Champions, All-England Masters, French Open, British Open Championships three times, and hat-tricks on BBC Best of Brass and Granada TV Band of the Year competitions, to name but a few. As a soloist, Chris has featured on television, radio and has been written about in the national press. He has toured extensively across the world, playing in prestigious concerts and appearing alongside many high profile artists such as Tony Bennett, Christian Lindberg, Evelyn Glennie, Lesley Garrett and the London Symphony Orchestra. As a soloist, Chris has performed in venues such as the Carnegie Hall (New York), and the Royal Albert Hall (London) and must be the only soloist to perform at 35,000 in the air! He was the first brass band trombonist to produce his own solo album, his latest on the World of Sound Label “Blue Jeans”, and he has also got three books bearing his name with EMI and Kirklees Music. Chris is an Ambassador, endorsee, soloist and clinician for Antoine Courtois – now part of the Buffet Crampon SAS Company – for over 38 years.

In 2009, Chris was presented with the Brian Hicks Memorial Award for his continued service and outstanding dedication to youth brass bands in Great Britain. In 2010 he formed his own jazz band – Chris Jeans and his “Crazy Love Band”. In 2013 Chris was awarded the “All England Masters International Dedicated Service Award” and in the same year he was also awarded from the Worshipful Company of Musicians “The Mortimer Medal” and made a Freeman of the City of London. In October 2014 Chris was nominated for Classic FM Music Teacher of the Year and to also have the BBC announce Chris, as “A National Treasure” was the icing on the cake!

As an acclaimed international soloist, clinician and educator, Chris is proud to be an ambassador for Antoine Courtois trombones, part of the Buffet Crampon Group. Click here for more information.

 

Composer in Residence and Associate Music Consultant — Mike Sheppard

Mike is a rare kind of musician — one who is equally at home in classical, jazz, pop or choral music. A multi-instrumentalist who is equally comfortable conducting an orchestra, band, or programming a computer, he is adept at combining the digital world of music with performances and recordings by live musicians.

He has played in, composed for, conducted and produced the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Great Britain over many years. He has created music for film, TV and advertising in a wide range of styles and genres from orchestral film score to string quartet; from choral orchestral to jazz and big band.

His media music can be heard in a wide variety of commercial settings – from children’s TV (Brum for BBC) to TV Drama (Marple / Poirot for LWT / Granada); from advertising (Sony PlayStation 3) to film (Bill of Mortality / Saving Lives).

His brass band pedigree is rooted in his earliest days as a musician. His first instrument was tenor horn, from which he graduated to euphonium, then trombone and, ultimately — his greatest love — bass trombone. He played with many bands in the Bucks area in the late 70’s and early 80’s, including West Wycombe Brass Band, The Ercolani Band and Amersham Band, with whom he first played in 1978. Back then he was an ambitious teenager and they were a Fourth section band.

Life comes full circle and, after enjoying a professional playing career in the 80’s and 90’s he moved into composing and producing. Now, having retired from professional playing, he is an amateur, part-time player. He has returned to banding and in recent years he has played with Staines Brass and Chiltern Hills in the First Section, and Amersham Band, with whom he shared the journey from Second Section to Championship band. His multi-instrumental skills have come in useful for Amersham Band, as he has covered trombone, baritone, euphonium and bass trombone.

After being appointed the GUS band’s Composer in Residence in 2019, Mike went on to compose a number of pieces for the band, including the the “Speed and Light” themed programme for the Butlins Mineworkers Championships in 2020.

Mike then further strengthened his relationship with GUS, becoming Associate Music Consultant at the start of 2020, following his invaluable insights into the band’s concert and contest performances. Mike uses his experience as a music producer with the likes of the English Chamber Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle’s BCMG Group to offer a new perspective on the band’s music making.

Forming a formidable partnership with Chris Jeans and Stephen Bell, Mike has been able to offer insights into the band’s preparation for concerts and contests that has enabled them to scale new heights; to be more ambitious creatively; to aspire to resume their former status as one of the finest bands in the world.

When asked about his relationship with the GUS band Mike says: “We have barely scratched the surface. In Chris Jeans we are blessed with an Artistic Director who has a liquid musical intelligence allied to a sense of humour and a musical pedigree that commands respect. I then add in my tuppence worth and, between us, we take the band to ever more demanding levels of performance and musicality. This is roller-coaster ride I don’t ever want to end!”

Find out more about Mike’s music here

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

Co-principal cornet — James Fountain

Born into a Salvation Army family, James began playing the cornet at 3 years of age. With his musical upbringing being in the ‘Brass Band World’, James held Principal Cornet position’s at the National Youth Brass Band, GUS Band and the Grimethorpe Colliery Band all before the age of 18 when he chose to study Trumpet at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, in London.

Whilst still in his studies at the Guildhall, under Paul Cosh and Paul Beniston, James was appointed Principal Trumpet of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 20, a position he held for 5 years before moving to the London Philharmonic Orchestra on Joint Principal Trumpet at the end of 2019.

As an orchestral musician, James has played as Guest Principal with all the major London Orchestras, including the London Symphony, Philharmonia and the BBC Symphony, whilst also featuring as a soloist on numerous occasions with the Royal Philharmonic. Other appearances as a soloist have taken James around the world, with concerts in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Kuwait, Japan and the USA, as well as regular European trips.

Also in demand in the recording studio, James can be heard performing on several Film, Video Game and TV soundtracks including; Aladdin, Battlefield, Dumbo, Guardians of the Galaxy and Wonder Woman to name just a few.

James is a Trumpet Professor at the Royal College of Music, London.

 

Co-principal cornet — Thomas Fountain

Thomas began playing the Cornet at the age of three through the Salvation Army with both his parents and older brother being Cornet players themselves.

Thomas progressed through the Northamptonshire County Music Service becoming principal Cornet of the brass band and also held the position of principal Cornet of local youth band, Youth Brass 2000.

Thomas was awarded the BBC Young Brass Player of the Year under 18 for 2013 and has won numerous soloist awards within the brass band circuit, both youth and adult, including the best soloist at the Butlins Championships and French Open. He has also appeared as a soloist in Europe, Canada and America.

Thomas held the prestigious positions of Principal Cornet of the European Youth Brass Band and National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain where he won the Harry Mortimer solo competition.

Thomas joined the GUS band in 2011 on flugel and became Principal Cornet in 2015. He is currently Co-Principal with brother, James.

Having completed his Batchelor of Music at the Royal Academy of Music, Thomas is now doing a Masters at the Royal College of Music. Thomas enjoys performing as a freelance and session musician and has worked with various groups including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, brass ensemble ‘Superbrass’ and ‘The Who’.

Thomas loves his sports and is a huge Manchester United fan, he also enjoys spending lots of time on the golf course!

 

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.

 

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 Ball

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  – Jack Wilson

At the age of eight Jack began playing the cornet in his local brass band where he quickly took a shine to all things music. He later progressed through Northamptonshire County music service and Joined Midlands Championship Brass Band The GUS Band in 2011. In 2012 he was invited to join the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain where he was appointed Principal Soprano cornet on his first course, a position he held for a further 9 courses. Jack began his studies of the classical trumpet at The Royal College of Music in 2013 under the tutelage of Jason Evans, Alistair Mackie and Mark Calder, being awarded a first-class honours degree after achieving a mark of 96 in his final recital. Jack has performed in some of the finest concert halls in the world including, The Royal Albert Hall, St David’s Hall and Stravinski Hall Montreux. In 2018 he made the decision to join the Royal Air Force and is now joint Principal trumpet of the Central Band of the RAF.

 

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  – Terri Yates

Terri began her playing career with Rugeley Power Station Band aged 9 and worked her way up to play Principal Cornet by the time she was just 15. Terri enjoyed a number of European tours with Rugeley, including to Limburg, Germany. A particularly memorable event for Terri was the honour of playing for Her Majesty the Queen.

Terri moved to Amington in 2014 and joined the local brass band where she had a great deal of success in competitions including the Butlins Mineworkers Championships while she was the band’s Principal Cornet. It was in the Amington Band that Terri met her boyfriend and GUS Solo Trombone Player, Alan Gifford.

In 2020 Terri joined GUS and made her competitive debut in the Midlands Regional Championships, where the band were crowned 2020 Champions. Terri’s other passions include her work as a part-time hairdresser which has come in handy for the traditional “pre-contest haircut”!

 

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  – Della Pearce

Della was a member of the National youth brass band of Great Britain from 1975 to 1980. She joined Poynton band at the age of eleven and played flugel for nineteen years until she joined the RAF as a musician. She spent seven years at the band of the RAF College Cranwell paying trumpet, cornet and flugel.

During this time she was also a member of the Ransome band in Nottinghamshire, being part of the team who gained second place at the national finals in 2000.

After a break from playing and living abroad, she has most recently been the flugel player at Carlton Brass, Nottingham.

Della is a staff member at the Bolsover International Brass Band Summer School where, in 2019, she was the featured soloist in a piece specially composed for her entitled “City of Angels”.

Della’s other passion — apart from band — is musical theatre and she is a member of the Newark amateur operatic society. But she hasn’t been able to indulge her passion for drama for a while, as being the band’s star flugelhorn player keeps her so busy!

 

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  – 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.

Second 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.

 

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.

 

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, and in 2017 graduated with a BA (Hons) in Social Work. Whilst at university, Kieren conducted the University of Nottingham Brass Band for two years. This period saw the band achieve a 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. Kieren is a practicing Social Worker by profession, working for a Local Authority in the West Midlands.

 

Solo Trombone – Alan Gifford

Alan began his musical career with the Amington band. He is a graduate of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire of Music. After university he enjoyed a successful period with the Flowers band before joining the GUS band in 2018.

Before this, Alan held the Solo Trombone seat with the Staffordshire Band for six years while completing his studies in Birmingham.

As well as being an accomplished player, Alan is also a Musical Director, a post he now holds with  the band where his musical career began — the Amington Band.

 

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

en 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 – 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.

 

Percussion – Joshua Gilding

Joshua started playing the cornet aged 12 and joined the local Youth Brass 2000 where he made his debut at none other than the Royal Albert Hall. A couple of years later however, Joshua tried his hand at percussion with the band and has not looked back since.  With Youth Brass 2000, Joshua has won no less than 10 of the most prestigious Youth Brass Band titles including the European Championships, National Championships and Butlins Mineworkers Youth Section.

Joshua joined GUS in 2018, still aged only 14, however playing with maturity well beyond his years. Only one year after joining GUS, Joshua was an integral part of the “Best Percussion Section” at the 2019 Grand Shield and has performed challenging percussion parts with GUS at the National Brass Band Championships. Joshua was also featured on the Xylophone in the World Premiere Entertainment Programme performed by the band at the 2020 Butlins Mineworkers Championships.