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Welwyn Garden City Brass Band
The Welwyn Garden City Band, formed in 1934, is almost as old as the town itself. Appealing not only to local players, it attracted a number of instrumentalists coming from all over the country to live and work in the new town - many from the traditional brass band strongholds of the North and Scotland.
In 1936 the Band registered its first contest success, winning its section at the Crystal Palace National Brass Band Championships. It continued to function during the War years although many players left to serve with the Armed Forces. On their return the Band gradually returned to strength and in 1953 gained first prize in the Southern Area Qualifying Championships.
Promotion to the Third Section in the early 1970's heralded the beginning of a new era for the Band with many contest successes and increased public appearances both locally and further afield. The momentum continued into 1976 which became a year of firsts for the Welwyn Garden City Band. It attained first place in the Third Section of the London and Southern Counties Regional Championships, resulting in promotion to the Second Section. It also made two television appearances, including an Anglia TV documentary, “The Garden City Sound”, cut its first LP record and embarked on its first-ever European Tour, visiting Belgium and Germany.
A number of BBC Radio broadcasts followed, the Band being featured in Friday Night Is Music Night, Listen To The Band and Radio 3's Bandstand programmes. In 1980 the Band made a return visit to Germany for another successful concert tour and, in 1982, played for Her Majesty The Queen Mother at a garden party in the grounds of Hatfield House.
The Band's Golden Jubilee was celebrated with a concert which was broadcast by Chiltern Radio and which featured Don Lusher as guest soloist. A ten-day tour to Sweden was a great success and the anniversary celebrations were crowned with the news that the Band had been promoted to the Championship Section from the beginning of 1985. It celebrated in style by winning the first contest of the new season, at Lewisham.
With this success as a base, the Band continued to go from strength to strength. In March 1988, it achieved third place in the Championship Section of the London and Southern Counties Regional Championships and, the following June, released its first music cassette, “Flourishes”. Many prestigious engagements followed including regular appearances in London's royal parks during the summer concert seasons.
The Band's continued prominence and its recognition as one of the top brass bands in the region, resulted in it being commissioned by Telstar Records to record a compact disc and music cassette of twenty 'all-time favourites' for nationwide retail distribution. “Best of Brass” was released in the autumn of 1993 and was an ideal prelude to the Band's Diamond Jubilee which followed. A year of celebrations culminated in a 60th anniversary dinner attended by over one hundred guests including many past members.
Throughout 1995 the Band appeared at a number of events organised as part of the 75th anniversary of the town and also took part in local VE and VJ day commemoration services.
In March 1998 the Band was crowned London & Southern Counties Second Section Regional Champions and was invited to compete at the National Finals in Harrogate. This win also clinched promotion to the First Section from January 1999.
Winning the Buckinghamshire and District Brass Band Festival in Aylesbury in both 2000 and 2001 and taking part in the Pontins' Championships held in Prestatyn, North Wales, were among the highlights of a run of exceptionally good contest successes. This run continued into 2002 as the Band attained the runners-up position in the First Section of the London & Southern Counties Regional Championships, competed at the National Finals in Torquay and was promoted back to the Championship Section.
Gaining second places at both Hove and Folkestone contests earned the Band the title of Southern Counties Amateur Bands Association “Band of the Year” for 2003. A further runners-up place was earned at Leamington Spa later that year.
2004 saw the Band reach its 70th anniversary, celebrating by recording a new CD – “The Platinum Album”. The Band competed at the Pontins' Championships in 2004 and 2005 and attained a very creditable 5th place in the Championship Section of the London and Southern Counties Regional Championships in March 2005. Invitations were accepted to compete in the Senior Trophy of the British Open Spring Festival in both 2005 and 2006 which saw the Band travel to Blackpool to play in the famous Winter Gardens.
With a number of new signings during the autumn of 2007, the Band is now at full strength to enter the 2008 contesting season, starting with the Regional Championships in March at Stevenage, where the Band aims to maintain its Championship Section status.