Jake Joins GUS!

The GUS Band are delighted to announce that Jake Humphrey has joined the band on assistant principal cornet.

Jake is no stranger to the band; from an early age he has regularly attended GUS concerts and in more recent years has deputised on both flugel horn and cornet.

Speaking of the appointment, Artistic Director Chris Jeans said “Jake is a fine young player and a brilliant addition to the GUS cornet section, it’s been a pleasure to see him develop as a musician and I’m looking forward to working with him”.

As well as playing with GUS, Jake is the flugel horn player for National Youth Champions, Youth Brass 2000, principal cornet for the Northamptonshire County Youth Brass Band, and a proud member of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain.

At just 16-years old, Jake becomes one of the youngest members of the GUS Band, but plays with maturity well beyond his years, having had experience at the senior level with the Harborough Band and most recently, the Jaguar Land Rover band.

Jake’s first performance with GUS will be alongside the Northamptonshire County Brass Bands on Saturday 26th March at the Spinney Theatre,  Northampton where he will be performing Peter Graham’s “Quicksilver” duet with James Screaton.

You can find out more about Jake in his bio here.

Brass Spectacular coming to the Spinney Theatre

Part of the world famous GUS Band’s mission statement is to promote education and to partner with local arts organisations and our concert on 26th March at the Spinney Theatre, Northampton nicely brings these particular aims together by linking up with the Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust.  The Brass Band Spectacular concert will see the band sharing the stage with the County Junior and County Youth Brass Bands and the newly formed County Junior Brass Ensemble.

The County Youth Brass Band is one of NMPATs flagship ensembles, performing regularly and festivals and competitions up and down the country.  They also take part in bi-annual tours and have performed in many prestigious venues across Europe.  The County Junior Brass Band nurtures and develops student to enable them to progress through the ranks of the NMPAT County Group system.  The County Junior Brass Ensemble is newly re-formed this term – so will only have had 10 rehearsals before their first performance at this concert – and provides young brass players with an early experience of ensemble playing.

The GUS Band is really excited to be sharing the stage with the talented youth players from around Northamptonshire especially as there are close ties between the band and NMPAT: Rob Fleming one of the GUS horn players conducts the County Junior Brass Band, Owen Yarrow one the band’s percussionists plays in the County Youth Brass Band and George Bruce, principal Euphonium with GUS is a former County Youth Brass and Concert Band member.

This really will be a spectacular event and tickets are available now from the NMPAT office or at the door on the night.

New Solo Trombone at GUS

We are delighted to announce that we have welcomed Matthew Brown to The GUS Band on Solo Trombone.

Matt joins the band after most recently being a member of the Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band, as well as successes conducting the Milnrow band and his appointment as a member of the Association of Brass Band Adjudicators.

You can learn more about Matt on our “Meet the Band” page.

Matt told us “I’m excited to be joining one the country’s most prestigious bands who I have long admired, I’m looking forward to making my debut with the band at the Midlands Regional Championships next month”.

Matt takes over the solo trombone seat from Alan Gifford, who joined the band in 2019 and has made the decision to focus on his conducting, with a new position as MD at Blidworth Welfare Band.

Speaking of his time with GUS, Alan said “I have loved my time at GUS on Solo Trombone, particularly playing under trombone legend Chris Jeans, with the highlight being winning the Midland Area in 2020! It was great to end on a high with a 3rd place at Butlins and I wish the band all the very best!”

We would also like to take this opportunity to announce the departure of 3rd cornet player, Terri Yates, who is leaving the band due to work commitments, and we would like to offer our sincerest thanks to both Alan and Terri for their exceptional performances and dedication during their time with the band.

A look back on 2021 with GUS

As many bands up and down the country and across the world will report, 2021 has been challenging, frustrating and disappointing but also rewarding, exciting and many more adjectives besides. The year began with gatherings banned and with the GUS Band still unable to meet and rehearse. We already had a busy diary planned and were hopeful that we would be getting back to playing together and honouring our concert and contest commitments. Sadly, this wasn’t to be for many months but that didn’t stop the band from keeping busy.

In January, GUS were preparing for the Cory Online Band Championships. This took an enormous amount of work to put together, including new compositions and arrangements from Mike Shepherd, each band member recording and videoing their performances and the daunting task of putting everything together! The band also entered the Online Whit Friday contest in May and gained a 3rd prize with our performance of the contest march, Ravenswood.

Finally, in June, the band got back to rehearsing. A strict regime of seating and hygiene was observed but it was brilliant to be back as a team. We immediately set to work and put on a set at the local Northampton Music Festival. In October, we were at last able to take part in the National Brass Band Championships at the Royal Albert Hall in London, an honour we gained from winning the Midlands Area Championships back in 2020. An excellent performance with some fine solo playing sadly didn’t see the band gain a podium position but it was great to be back on the contest stage. November saw GUS share the stage at the Corby Cube Theatre with Youth Brass 2000 for a wonderful afternoon of music, coming together for a rousing massed bands finale of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

We rounded off the year firstly with two fantastic live performances of the Snowman, where adults and children alike were spellbound by the show. Finally, we finished our performances for the year with a combined Christmas concert with the Bel Canto and Masquerade choirs in Kettering. This was an atmospheric concert showcasing three of the finest groups of musicians in Northamptonshire and was a sell-out and a fitting final concert for the year.

The management team have also had a very busy and productive year including working on the design and launch of the band’s new website and updated band logo. Sadly, we have had to say goodbye to Jack Wilson, a stunning Soprano player who has gone on to achieve a fantastic playing career in the RAF and has recently begun a postgraduate course at the Royal College of Music. The band has welcomed on board, Owen Yarrow who has already made a mark in the percussion section with his musicianship and playing skills. We were also extremely proud to hear that our co-principal cornet, Thomas Fountain, has recently gained the position of Principal Trumpet at the Ulster Orchestra, a phenomenal achievement!

And what does 2022 hold? Of course much depends on events outside the band’s control but with all the musical luck that we can muster, our diary for the New Year is already filling up. We kick off the New Year almost immediately with the Butlins Mineworkers Championships in Skegness. This will be a really busy weekend with a set work contest on Saturday and an entertainments contest on Sunday. The band is already hard at work preparing for this so there won’t be much time-off over Christmas. With further contests in February, (Midlands qualifiers) and May, (Grand Shield Spring Festival) and concerts already booked, kicking off in Stroud on February 6th there’s plenty to look forward to and many opportunities to catch up with the band.

Finally, a huge thank you to our committee who work tirelessly to keep the band running smoothly, and to our Artistic Director, Chris Jeans, whose infectious enthusiasm has kept us all going during another roller-coaster of a year.

We wish all our followers and fans a very merry Christmas. Stay safe and we look forward to seeing you all in 2022.

Della’s Masterly Motivation

One of the many challenges that the GUS Band players and indeed all musicians around the world have faced during the recent lockdowns has been trying to stay motivated with their playing. With no concerts to prepare and no contests to build up to, it was all too easy to leave the instruments in their cases and let practice routines slip. As a band, several highly-successful videos were created with the masterful help of the Band’s Composer in Residence and Associate Music Consultant, Mike Sheppard, which went a long way to keeping morale high but one of the players went the extra mile to stay focused over the long months with no rehearsals. Like the character in the seasonal film, The Snowman, The GUS Band’s superstar Flugel virtuoso, Della Pearce, has been flying high over the past year.

Della took the decision that the best way for her to keep her technique finely tuned was to set herself a goal of participating in as many solo competitions as possible. Some of these were online competitions and in all she entered no less than eight solo competitions! These included the Gloucester Brass Band Association, Southwest Bass Band Association, Yorkshire Open and West Midlands Brass Band Association Solo Contests. Not only that but Della achieved amazing successes and gained a fourth place at the Great Brummie Solo Contest, 2nd at the Foden’s Solo Contest and two first places at the Oxford and District Brass Band Association and Brassfest Solo competitions. An absolutely fantastic achievement Della and a massive well done from all the Band.

What’s more, there is a chance to hear Della’s sublime playing in action at the Band’s forthcoming live performances of the Snowman at the Egerton Hall in Brackley, Northamptonshire. This magical film telling the story of the snowman that comes to life will be accompanied by The GUS Band who will be playing the music from the enchanting score by Howard Blake. There really is no better way to start the Christmas festivities and get you into the Yuletide mood than to sit back and enjoy this wonderful show.

An Evening Ensemble

A group of players from GUS plus some friends of the Band came together to provide an evening of brass entertainment at St Peters, Gaulby in Leicestershire, on 27th October 2021.

The 16th century church isn’t large enough to host a full brass band and the St Peter’s audience are more used to hearing performances by smaller groups including flute, harp and cello.  So this was a unique opportunity to hear brass music played in the church and the ten piece got together to perform a varied programme including several classic pieces by Charpentier, Lerner and Lowe, Premru and Jim Carter arranged for brass ensemble.

Food and drink was provided by ‘The Table’ before the audience sat down to enjoy the evening’s musical feast.  The church, unaccustomed to the sounds of brass, cleared itself of a resident bat and provided a wonderful acoustic for the ten players, James Screaton, Gary Sherlock, Marcus Pain and John Pacey on trumpet, Simon Smith, (horn) Alex Hewins, Savannah Bone, Paul Yarrow and Alex Crutchley on trombones and Jen McCausland on tuba.

The concert also included Beethoven’s Three Equali for four trombones, a lively rendition of Tico Tico given on trumpet by James, (who knew until explained during the concert that a Tico Tico is a sparrow?) and a classy rendition of A Londonderry Air provided by Alex Hewins on trombone.  Finally, the evening was rounded off by a rousing rendition of Chris Hazell’s Kraken.

GUS Continues Link With Youth Brass 2000

On 14th November, a spectacular concert, ”A Brass Explosion” is being given at The Core at Corby Cube by The GUS Band and Youth Brass 2000.

Since the inception of Youth Brass 2000 back in 1989, close links were forged with The GUS Band, and this concert is just the latest in a string of collaborations between the two organisations. Many players in Youth Brass 2000 have risen through the ranks and have gone on to play in The GUS Band,  including current players such as Marcus Pain, who was a founding member and principal cornet of Youth Brass 2000 and whose father helped form the youth band.  Thomas and James Fountain, both co-principal cornets of the band and now professional trumpet players also gained early experience as members of Youth Brass 2000.  In The GUS Band’s percussion section, Tim Jones and Joshua Gilding are both former Youth Br

ass 2000 players and Owen Yarrow, The GUS Band’s most recent signing is still a member.  Then there is the band’s Artistic Director, Chris Jeans, who became the Youth Brass 2000 conductor a week after the youth band started and has been at their helm ever since.  Commenting on the links between the two organisations Chris said “The relationship between GUS and Youth Brass 2000 is a win-win, with youth band players getting invaluable experience playing alongside a championship section band, and The GUS Band benefiting from a steady stream of young talent”.

Both bands have a varied programme to perform at the Corby Cube including a spectacular massed band finish with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.  Tickets available here: https://www.thecorecorby.com/whats-on/youth-brass-2000-gus-band/

New GUS Signing Hits the Right Note!

We are pleased to announce that the incredibly talented, Owen Yarrow, has joined the GUS band.

Owen is no stranger to the world of brass bands, with both of his parents having played in brass bands for most of their lives, there was little chance that Owen wouldn’t be joining the movement.

Owen started playing the tenor horn in 2013 for the Tilbury Youth Band, where under the guidance of Charlotte Treadaway he was introduced to the concept of hitting rather than blowing an instrument. A few years later Owen moved onto cornet at the Aveley and Newham band, but continued to play percussion to a high standard, and joined the National Children’s Brass Band of Great Britain in 2018, having passed both cornet and percussion auditions.

In 2019, and after a relocation to the Midlands, Owen’s increasingly dominant percussive tendencies led him to switch to percussion and in 2020 he passed his audition for the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain and has recently completed his first course.

Since moving to the Midlands, Owen has also joined Youth Brass 2000 under the baton of Chris Jeans who subsequently introduced him to GUS. Chris commented “The relationship between the GUS Band and YB2K is stronger than ever, at only 15 years old, Owen has become the youngest member of the band, but plays to a standard well beyond his years on both tuned percussion and kit.”

Owen’s first competition with the band will be none other than the National Brass Band Championships at the Royal Albert Hall next month, not a bad one to start off with!

Photo Credit: Youth Brass 2000

 

 

‘Gusband’ and Wife Take Part in a World First!

GUS Bb Bass player, Mark, and his fiancée, Mel, have recently been part of the world’s first 5G shirt signing!

As well as being brass band enthusiasts, Mark and Mel are huge rugby fans, so much so that the pair were due to attend the 2021 British and Irish Lions Rugby tour in South Africa this year as part of their honeymoon.

Unfortunately, Covid-19 had other plans and due to the pandemic, their dream wedding and honeymoon were both put on hold. However, thanks to Vodafone UK, they were still able to make some special memories by chatting to their Lions heroes in South Africa and having their Lions’ jersey autographed by Gloucester rugby star, Chris Harris, despite him being on tour 8,000 miles away – all thanks to the power of 5G!

Speaking to the band after the signing, Mark said: “It was surreal, to watch the autograph happening right in front us, it was as if we were right there with them in South Africa! ”

Together, Mark and Mel are an integral part of the GUS community; Mark, a player and hard-working committee member, and Mel, video editor of many of the virtual recordings the band has done in the past 18 months.

Having postponed their wedding last year, Mark and Mel are now to be married later this month, and The GUS Band wish them the most amazing day, and every happiness for the future!

GUS Are Back!

We are back!

The last 18 months have been tough for so many people in so many ways. In the music community, it has meant that musicians have been unable to rehearse or perform together. For professional musicians that’s meant little or no income, while amateur performance organisations have also lost the valuable income that they need to function.

For the GUS Band, COVID has meant the cancellation of many concerts and contest appearances, much to the disappointment of both our players and supporters. The last time the band performed together was at the Midlands Area National Championship qualifiers in Bedworth way back in March 2020. We came off stage that day having played a winning performance but with no idea that this was to be the last time that we would play together as a band for another 15 months!

We’ve enjoyed putting together some online performances throughout our time away from the bandroom, including the Cory Online Entertainment Contests and the Foden’s Online Whit Friday contest. Although lots of fun to do, recording your part at home on your own is certainly not the same as rehearsing together, so the news that the band would be starting up again on Monday 21st June 2021 was met with a wealth of excitement and anticipation!

It’s taken a near-military operation and a lot of hard work to get our rehearsals back up and running; with risk assessments, COVID policies, a new seating plan in the bandroom, bubbles and even one section sat up in the bandroom’s viewing gallery. Like many bands, our rehearsal space is only adequate to accommodate 30 players plus instruments and a full percussion section; it certainly doesn’t lend itself to social distancing and it has taken a lot of thought, rearrangement of equipment, and the prodigious use of a tape measure to seat all the players so that they are adequately distanced in order to keep everyone safe.

We meet in the car park and then each section of the band, who are grouped together in bubbles take it in turns to enter the bandroom with their instruments, so that we can safely enter the building in an orderly fashion. Finally, with our MD, Chris, safely positioned behind plastic screens, windows and doors all open, (luckily the band doesn’t practise in a residential area) all players seated, deep breath in and off we go…

It was fantastic to be playing together again and although surreal at first, a couple of notes into the first hymn tune, it was like we’d never been away. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us throughout this difficult time and to those who have worked tirelessly to get our rehearsals started up again. Now we are really looking forward to getting back onto the stage and entertaining our audiences around the country again, which is after all, what the GUS Band is all about.

We hope to see you all very soon!