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Stowmarket Concert Band
In 1962 the fledgling Stowmarket Modern School Brass Ensemble gave its first public performance. Over the years that followed the band has stuck to the traditions of teaching young musicians and many hundreds have passed through the band. Some have gone on to be great musicians, others simply still play for pleasure, but all have been given their start by a band started from a second hand set of instruments found in a storage cupboard.
Following the discovery of the instruments 16 pupils began tuition and within a year had been placed first in the Open Brass band class of the Suffolk Music Festival. The band grew steadily and at one point contained over one hundred musicians split over four bands.
In 1987, at the bands 25th anniversary, the founder was asked about the original instrumentation: "[The instrumentation] is somewhat unusual for a brass band in that trumpets are used instead of cornets and French Horns instead of tenor horns thus giving a more orchestral brass sound. Wider tonal contrasts are possible and it allows greater versatility of repertoire trumpets are more strident and suitable for fanfares and modern brass music, complimenting the wider bore of modern trombones. The Band's repertoire ranges from the music of Gabrieli through arrangements of the classics to big-band and popular music of today." Whilst the bands repertoire still covers a vast range, the instrumentation has gradually reverted to the traditional brass band model of cornets and tenor horns.
In 1971 changes in the education system brought a change of name - the Stowmarket Schools Concert Band was born as the Modern school became the middle school. The change opened the band to children from the age of 9. The band also undertook it's first overseas tour to Holland this year. It went on to extensively tour Europe, along with tours to the Far East, United States and Canada.
Over the years, several conductors have taken up the baton, both from inside the band as well as those from outside of the band. The band owes a great deal to all of these people. The band's current Director of Music is Mel Stammers, a former SCB member himself who left the band in 1976 to join The Junior Leaders Regiment of the Royal Armoured Corps, winning the British Legion Trumpet award as best in regiment. In 1978 he went to Kneller Hall studying French Horn under Denzil Floyd, and was awarded the annual progress prize. In 1979 he joined the Cambrai Staff Band of The Royal Tank Regiment stationed in North Germany. After leaving the army he returned to Stowmarket and took over the SCB baton in 1998. He still plays locally in Orchestras.
Through Mel's contacts in North Germany the band engage in home-stay exchanges with two bands, one of whom was guest in the town in 2002 as part of the band's 40th celebrations.
It is a sign of the spirit within the band that after forty seven years it is still flourishing where so many others have fallen by the wayside. The band is as busy as ever, performing at events from formal concerts to fetes to weddings, and was priveledged to have been invited to perform for Her Majesty the Queen when She visited Stowmarket in her Golden Jubilee year. The original values still hold true and the band is teaching a new generation of children how to play and enjoy music.