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City of Cambridge Brass Band
The Band was formed in 1900, as The Albion Band, by a man named Brown, with the help of his sons who played cornet, baritone, euphonium, trombone and tenor horn. It gradually increased its numbers and won many prizes at the Crystal Palace Contest.
It performed its first broadcast in 1938 from the London studios of the BBC, under its then conductor, Robert Austin. At about this same time they had a young cornet player by the name of Len Lamb, who went on to make a name for himself with the Fairey Band.
The Band has had several changes of name over the years, from the Albion Band to the Cambridge Town Band, the Cambridge Band of the British Legion, the City of Cambridge Band, the Cambridge Band, the Cambridge Co-operative Band and finally the City of Cambridge Brass Band. Although currently un-sponsored, the Band is always on the lookout for sponsorship from the local business world.
Conductors have included Robert Austin, Charles Mott, Peter Mott, David Read, Bram Gay, Charles Shipp and Peter Hudson. A great deal of the Band's success has been down to the influence of people like George Crossland, Jimmy Howe, Albert Chappell, Bill Scholes, Stanley H Boddinton and David Read.
Prestigious concerts have involved such guests as Harry Mortimer CBE, Richard Baker OBE, Sir Vivian Dunn, George Chisolm, Maurice Murphy, Ifor James, James Shepherd, Phillip McCann, Peter Skellern and Rod Franks. In addition, the Band has regularly appeared on national and local television and radio, including an unforgettable appearance in the BBC's "Best of Brass" series, broadcast from the Assembly Rooms in Derby.
The Band is very much aware of the need to enhance the repertoire of original brass music; a concert in Ely Cathedral in 1981 included a specially commissioned work composed by Dr. Arthur Wills entitled "Symphonic Suite: The Fenlands". As far as is known, this work was the first large-scale composition for organ and brass band. More recently, the Band performed in the Chapel of King's College, Cambridge. For this occasion, the Band commissioned an overture for brass band and organ entitled "A Muse of Fire", again by Dr. Arthur Wills.
A long history of competition successes have recently included:
- winning the Pontins Brass Band Championship in 1991, having previously qualified to the final three times;
- holding the title of "Champion Band of London and the Southern Counties" no less than three times since 1979, most recently in 2000 with an astounding victory at Stevenage. This qualified the band to compete in the National Brass Band Finals held in the Royal Albert Hall, London during October 2000;
- being Champion Brass Band of East Anglia several times. Again most recently in 2000 by winning the annual contest held in Norwich.
The band has appeared in programmes for the BBC and Anglia Television, most recently in 1999 in Anglia TVs "Take it on" programme. The band has also made six recordings, on LP, cassette and CD. "Music for Organ and Brass" has been re-released to very good reviews.