I started learning the French Horn aged 8, but the thing weighed a ton, so I got fed up dragging it to school with me and was going to jack it all in - The Head of Music suggested I take a tenor horn instead, and that was me launched on my brass career. Since then I have played in several bands in various seats, including one ill-advised and short-lived outing on soprano cornet. I currently play trombone for Epping Forest Band My first conducting gig was as bandmaster to Bishop's Stortford Band back in 1993, and I've also helped out conducting Harlow Brass Band and Enfield Concert Band. I took City over at the end of 2016 and haven't looked back since.
Hmm...Either 1 December 2018 when I thought I was going to have to stop the band because they had completely messed up the beginning of a piece by Bach when actually it was a secret programme change to play Happy Birthday (I spent my 50th conducting CIty at a Christmas concert!)...or our first march through the town of Amboise when we took part in the French open contest last year.
Alan Turing. I'd say sorry on behalf of society.
When I was a junior staff nurse, after a very quick lesson I spent the afternoon reading tea leaves in a tent at the hospital fête -Three predictions for 50p (and you got to drink the tea) - I was uncannily accurate...
I joined my local area band aged about 10 and then joined Hampshire County Youth Band Association when I was 11, going into third cornet in the junior band! By the time I got to my final year in the main band I was 18 and playing soprano cornet. I joined City band 3 and a half years ago and I’ve been principal for about 3 years - love it!
Am I allowed to say the pub after rehearsal every week??? Hahaha no but seriously I’ve made amazing friends at band, so I suppose my best banding moment was realising I have proper friends there (and don’t expect me to be this publicly nice about it again...)
The friends theme tune!!!
This is hard. Probably Benjamin Britten. My great grandmother apparently had cocktails with him once in South America! Him or Mary Wollstonecraft.
Played at school and uni, had a pointless break then joined City band at its first rehearsal in Jan 2014. Graduated from rep to page turner for principal.
Forgetting my music for Amboise?!?! I mean I do love the pub obvs, but the weeks when there’s no playing before hand I really feel the void.
Jesus - the wine would be cheap.
20 questions anyone?
When I was 6, the local music school brought a bunch of brass instruments into the school for us to try, and I was one of the only people who could get a sound out of them right away. Being very small as a child (haven’t grown much since), I told my mum I wanted to start playing the cornet. She was a bit surprised as I’m not sure she knew what a cornet was before that, but I was quite adamant. I played all through school and university, dabbling in a bit of trumpet in my later years. When I moved to London in 2016 after graduating, I joined the City of London band, and haven’t looked back since!
On the Saturday night in Amboise last year, we were celebrating our glorious third place finish, when a few members of the band decided they wanted to go for a midnight swim. Worried they would evoke the wrath of Andy, they snuck out to swim in secret. When I went to check on them it was pitch black, so I couldn’t see anything, but could just hear their giggles floating across the grass, mainly because they had had a little trouble hopping the fence to the pool (don’t worry, everyone was totally fine!) Who Would Play You In A Movie Of Your Life? Emma Stone (not really for any reasons other than she’s a fellow ginge and she’s pretty cool)
I used to do Cheerleading, and I’m still pretty flexible - I can bow and arrow, and pull a scorpion (if you don’t know what they are then google it!)
A whirlwind adventure of jazz, liquor and scandalous behaviour, before settling down and joining the allegedly less raucous surroundings of the City band.
I'm quite new to this brass band thing so I don't have that many (yet). However, finding out about four years after the event, that my one previous brass band performance had resulted in the band's disqualification from a contest- quite possibly due to me not being properly registered- really appealed to my warped sense of humour.
"All Star" by Smashmouth but every word is somebody
My Grandad played the trombone in the RAF brass band and encouraged all his grandchildren to play. I started playing at 6. I joined the Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust - NMPAT Northamptonshire County Brass band at 15 and had an amazing 3 years playing and touring with the band. I put my cornet down when I went to uni but when I moved to London I picked it back up again when I discovered the City band!
My first tour with Northamptonshire County Youth Brass band was in Budapest and we played in some beautiful cathedrals there. I remember finishing a piece and the acoustics meant that the sound echoed on and on when we finished and it was pretty spectacular!
Audrey Hepburn because she fabulous and we share a birthday so we could have a join birthday dinner/party ❤️
Summertime - Billie Holiday. My mum sang it to me as a child and it’s the first song I remember hearing.
I started learning the trumpet when I was 13 and had played for school wind orchestras through my student days. Brassed Off! was my all time favourite movie and I had a dream of being part of a British brass band. But it was only a dream as there are only a few brassbands in my country. After graduating my uni, I had played for a wind orchestra and various emsembles, including pops, jazz, Latin etc. In 2017, I moved to London, popped in the City and started playing the cornet (The dream came true finally!).
The first rehearsal with the City. Playing 'Highland Cathedral' with such nice people in a beautiful church was the best moment for me. Is it something usual for the people here? But it was awesome for me as a newcomer to this city.
I ran two ultra marathons. (and hyper fluent in Japanese!)
J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis - I would like to invite them to the pub and join their discussion (it is more like a time travel though). I was really into the worlds they created when I was a child.
Played with Trafford Youth Concert Band from 14 -18. I spent a lot of time smoking in the bus shelter with the tuba player, most of the trombone section and a rogue french horn player. I stopped playing after leaving school, but continued smoking (upgrading from B&H to cigars). Having seen the error of my ways, I went back to playing with City Brass Band a year and a half ago and haven't look back since.
Being part of the band is generally awesome. I enjoyed the New Year's day parade this year - a particular highlight was dodging the horse dung with Josh whilst trying to remain in time and in tune. Not easy, but highly amusing. Otherwise, going to Amboise last year was fantastic fun: the Dutch brass band we met were a hoot.
Patrick Leigh Fermor
I speak Mandarin
University of Warwick Brass Society 2014-2018 (aka ""The Glory Years"").
Making my tuba debut in a heavily intoxicated march through Delph.
Corbin Bleu - he is the closest hair match after all.
I started to learn trumpet when inspired by 2 friends in the 1990's. A year ago I started to help out with the Junior Brass Ensemble at the school where I teach. London City Band is my first ever adult band.
Very hard to pick one but I think it has to be my first practice as I was very nervous and everyone made me feel so welcome and I thought the sound the band made was breathtaking. I felt really thrilled to be part of this group and i still do.
Meryl Streep or Emma Thompson but I don't think this movie is going to get made anytime soon :-)
Drumming! I didn't know I could drum but I got picked to be one of 1,000 drummers at the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony which was a truly amazing experience and learning curve!
I played the trumpet from the age of 11 after three (yes, three) unsuccessful auditions to play the flute. I then failed my Grade 6 in 1996 and gave it all up in a huff. Five years ago I dusted off the same trumpet and joined the City of London Brass Band moving on to the flugel horn a year later.
Playing Jerusalem on the pitch at Twickenham was a special moment. I love playing the bandstand concert in Regents Park as my Grandma loved it there when she was alive.
I Believe in a Thing Called Love - The Darkness
Cecilia Payne - revolutionary astronomer and astro-physicist who, in 1925, discovered that the universe was mainly composed of hydrogen atoms. She should be as well known as Newton and Einstein but is almost entirely absent from the history books.
I remember hearing a Salvation Army band when I was 3, and wanted to play the trumpet for as long as I can remember. But my school didn't have a brass teacher and instead I had a short-lived, unsuccessful attempt at the violin. Then one day in assembly they announced they were thinking of offering brass lessons, and I was the first to sign up. This meant that as soon as there were enough brass and wind players to start up a school band I was the principal cornet straight away - and have been sliding down the ranks ever since. Over the years I have played the trumpet in various ensembles, but had a long break from banding as such until I joined City in 2014 and switched to tenor horn at this point.
It was my lifetime ambition to play on a bandstand, which I finally achieved with City in 2017. I've done four bandstands so far with City and another three to come this summer. Also, playing on the pitch at Twickenham (playing horn, not Rugby you understand) and the two band trips to Edinburgh where we played Highland Cathedral with massed brass bands, pipes and drums.
Emma Thompson (I flatter myself).
The Hallelujah chorus. My choir ( Royal Choral Society) does Messiah in the Royal Albert Hall every Good Friday; one of the highlights of my year.
I've played solo horn for bands in Cornwall. I joined City of London 4yrs ago.
Playing at Wembley, Man City, the New Year's Day Parade, Twickenham and with City band in a European competition in Amboise France
Dame Judi Dench
Started playing the Trumpet 16 years ago, muddled through various School Bands (a great trier rather than a natural talent according to my first teacher). This was followed by 3 years on 3rd Cornet at Durham University Brass Band, where I contributed to their two trophies in those years. Since moving to London I followed my old bandmate into City, making the leap from 3rd Cornet to 2nd Horn in January!
Winning the first ever UniBrass Shield in 2017 in my final year with Durham University Brass Band!
J.R.R. Tolkien - ever since my Dad read the Hobbit to me as a boy I've been totally in love with the expansive Middle Earth he created
Martin Freeman - for some reason my preference for wearing shorts and being 'not tall' has seen me referred to as a hobbit on many an occasion
I was taught to play by my childminder at junior school and joined Maltby Miners' Welfare Band on cornet when I was 11. Six years later (after my embouchure was mangled beyond repair during a performance of Mars the Bringer of War) I was moved down onto baritone. While at university I played for a while with the wonderful folks at City of Cambridge Brass Band as well as in Cambridge University Brass Band - CUBB, which I had the honour of conducting for two years.
There is substantial crossover between this list and 'life' highlights, so read into that what you will. Meeting my wife in CUBB I suppose is the main one, closely followed up by guest conducting Maltby in a performance of the Can Can at Durham Miners' Gala. Other than that: playing a concert with City of Cambridge in Ely Cathedral; any version of Darwin College Cambridge Oktoberfest no matter how drunken and destructive; any of CUBB's annual tours (even the ones that didn't have any concerts on them); fulfilling an ambition I have had for years by performing at the French Open on a baking hot day last summer.
J. S. Bach, so I could explain brass bands to him and encourage him to start writing some music for them.
I’ve been a band geek from an early age, joining Wem Jubilee Band in Shropshire age 7, because I wanted to copy my sister. I stayed with the band until I was 18, ending up playing Principal Cornet. I also did a couple of seasons with the The National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain and went on tour with the Young Ambassadors Brass Band of Great Britain too. After moving to London for uni I didn’t pick up an instrument for 13 years, until I joined City two years ago and got the banding bug back.
Too many to mention, from riotous weekends at Pontins, to Whit Friday marches and winning our section at the National Finals. In general though I love the spirit of banding and the superb mix of beautiful slow melodies and absolute cheese we get to play each week. Who doesn’t love a Disney megamix?
Tony Blair... I’m sorry, I’m still not over the New Labour thing.
I still get all the feels from the Jurassic Park theme tune to be honest. It reminds me of growing up and hearing it played live at the Albert Hall a few years ago inspired me to dust off my instrument case.
I learnt to play in Chandler's Ford BB Brass Band, graduating from the training band into the main band and then back to training band as an instructor as I got older. I joined Durham University Brass Band whilst at uni (including a year as President) and made the most of experiencing banding culture in the North East joining Lanchester Brass Band and North Skelton Band at the Durham Miners Gala. Before moving on to City of London when graduating.
Collecting 3rd place prize on behalf of Durham University Brass Band at UniBrass 2015 after a renowned acting performance during the trombone trio feature. Check out the video of our performance on YouTube to see it for yourself. I should include a shout out to Lewis Wilkinson Music for his creative genius in planning the programme that took us to the heights in this contest - I probably wouldn't be the banding fanatic I am today without his influence.
This has been a topic of intense discussion at rehearsals over recent weeks, I'm told that Stephen Merchant is the front runner. With my advanced greying I would have pushed for George Clooney but apparently I'm just being optimisitic.
I'm on my way - Proclaimers. It had to be a sing-along road trip cracker ahead of taking control of the van for our upcoming cross channel excursion to the French Open. I hope the rest of the van is ready for a play list of sing-along classics.
I first asked my parents could I join a band when I was about 6, I wanted to play saxophone (I now know brass bands do not have saxophones). I remember being told I was too young, as I then forgot all about it, until I was 10 and one of the local bands, the Irish National Foresters Brass Band Navan came into my primary school recruiting players. I went home that evening and told my Mam & Dad I wanted to go. When I moved to London I then joined the NLB Enfield band for nearly 2 years, I moved to City band when I moved house. 18 years on and I still struggle to get a note - ha!
I honestly think the best thing about banding is the bonds you make. Some of the closest friends I have made have been through brass bands. Of course winning competitions is great too, but winning isn't everything... But coming 1st twice in the Irish Banding Championships with the I.N.F. Band back home and coming 3rd in France with City Band was pretty amazing too!
Always look on the bright side of life - from Monty Python
I can twist my baby finger around 180 degrees, not a very useful talent, and could possibly not be a talent...
I started off in the school Wind Band in Year 8, and then started playing in the Chandler's Ford BB Brass Band in Year 10 (with a little encouragement from fellow trombonist, Jack). Then in my first year at university, I became the lower brass section of the University of Leicester Concert band! I was joined by others for the two following years, but spent both of them as Vice President of the band, and have now been playing with City of London band since moving to Westminster in September.
Getting Honours (90+%) with my Trombone Trio group in a music festival with a piece we hadn't practiced until a week before. Or playing my own arrangement of '76 Trombones' with a group comprising of 7 trombones - and nobody else!
Keep Right on (to the end of the road). The club anthem of Birmingham City helped me through 6 Duke of Edinburgh's expeditions (and half as many driving tests!)
David Tennant. Having an actor 25 years older than me could be difficult, but he used to own a time machine. I'm sure it'll be fine!
I started learning the trombone at primary school. I was only a little chap and my dad strapped the big ""coffin case"" to my nan's old shopping trolly so I could lug it to school. My first proper brass band was the City of Sheffield Youth Brass Band where I initially started on tenor trombone before moving to bass where I got my own part and a bigger instrument with more bells and whistles on it! Later came Mexborough Youth Brass Band before joining Rockingham Band for a taste of the Championship Section. After university I did a brief stint with Burry Port Town Band followed a 25 year layoff prior to joining City of London last year.
Playing with Rockingham when they won Pontins in 1987. The Championship Section test piece was On the Cornish Coast by Henry Geehl which kicks off with a big trombone entry so the pressure was on. Funnily enough we didn't think we'd played at our best and were drowning our sorrows in the bar when the results came through. I remember very little of the coach journey home.
I couldn't narrow it down to one song, but I can usually find something by Tony Bennett that hits the spot. We heard him at the Royal Albert Hall a couple of years ago, he was amazing and it's so encouraging to hear someone who just gets better with age!
My wife Claire says Garry Oldman. When pressed as to why she just says ""glasses and hair"".
Aged 10, I started playing a trombone with a slide that was folded in half. Eventually my arms grew (and so did the rest of my body) so I moved on to a full size trombone. I went on to become an integral member of the University of Warwick Brass Society. In a few years, I aim to be playing a trombone with a slide that's twice as long as a normal one.
Going for a post-concert meal in a Vietnamese restaurant and ordering whelk soup. Whelks are probably the worst ""food"" ever, but thankfully I can't use chopsticks so most of the whelks ended up in a puddle on the floor.
John Steinbeck so that I could impress him with all the Of Mice and Men quotes that I learnt in GCSE English.
Climbing stairs very quickly
I played in The Boys' Brigade UK & RoI London Central Band from 14-21, going from 3rd cornet up to solo, and the British Airways Band for a short while. Then spent about 10 years playing trumpet in an 8-piece soul band playing 60s soul and a bit of 70s funk. Played in the BB Steadfast Association band and the Meopham Brass Band for a few years, playing baritone, cornet and flugel, before joining City in 2016, where I've played cornet, tenor horn and now bass. Which means I've played every part except sop, euph and trombone!
Marching up the Mall from Horseguards Parade to Buckingham Palace and then playing in the grounds of Buck House for the Queen's 60th birthday. Or playing Last Post on Wide Awake Club with Michaela Strachan (and Tommy Mallet). If You Could Have Dinner With Anyone From History, Who Would It Be? Mr David Connellan, my history teacher from secondary school - you know everyone has one great teacher: him.
Chasing men or women around a field on a weekend, blowing a whistle in their ears and still expecting to be called "Sir".
Played the Cornet/Euphonium through school followed by an 8 year hiatus. Started playing for City of London Brass around 6 months ago, its been great fun!
This year I was part of Londons New Year's day parade. Marching through london attmpting to play whilst avoiding all the horse poo in the reoad definately led to more laughter than playing. Post-rehersal pub trip is always a highlight.
My Way - Sex Pistols version
I can clap with one hand
Went to a Christmas concert in the village where I grew up; my mother told the MD I was a drummer, that February I was playing in my first competition in Milton Keynes. That was 23 years ago!
Playing the timpani part of Edward Gregson's Variations on Laudate Dominum. I played it far too loud, but it sounded fantastic and we won the contest in Folkestone. Well I remember that we won, we might have come second - "timps too loud".
Nikola Tesla, as so many of the projects he worked on came true after his death. He was also a great showman and a dinner party would have been hair-raising!
I am a chicken whisperer
Photography by kind permission ⓒ Yamuna Mulgirigama