The band demonstrated their versatility during a Sunday afternoon celebration

Music from across five decades filled a packed St Peter’s Church in Brackley yesterday afternoon (Sunday) as Brackley and District Band celebrated their 50th anniversary with a special concert, proving they are as popular now as when they formed in the 1970s.

The band’s versatility was demonstrated with musical offerings from shows (Les Misérables), films (Back to the Future) and TV (Last Of The Summer Wine).   This sat alongside a tune from the Beatles and recent offerings from Meghan Trainor, Pharrell Williams and Taylor Swift.

There was also a performance of a piece which had been composed for the band – the Brackley March.

One of the band’s founding members received a special memento at the start of the concert.   Floss Tustain still loves her time playing with them.

She said: “I just enjoyed playing music, but then you get to do the social side as well and it just snowballs from there – you want to do more and more.   You are entertaining other people.

pic: Jenna Bruce

“It’s a great hobby.   Music is the language of the world.    It’s the only one where everybody speaks the same language.”

Dave Howard took over as the Brackley and District Band’s Musical Director at the start of this year and is now looking at moving forward from this special anniversary.

He said: “We really want to build the band up to full strength at the moment – we’re struggling a little bit in some sections.   We’re a bit short of players like a lot of bands are after COVID.  A lot of people stopped playing, so we’re trying to spread the word and get them back.

“In terms of the music I hope we’re playing music now that’s got wide appeal.   People still like to hear the traditional march and perhaps an overture.   But we’ve tried to fit in music across the decades, and as modern as we can from Taylor Swift and modern artists to try and attract a younger audience as well.”

pic: Jenna Bruce

The Brackley and District Band’s roots date back to 1972 when Des Stimpson and Floss Tustain found themselves with nowhere to play when they left school.   With Pat Carthew – a visiting brass teacher – they started a group which met on Sunday mornings.   In September 1973 when Brackley Secondary School became part of the comprehensive system the school’s band was suspended.   With nowhere to play the students joined the Sunday sessions, instantly giving the band a full compliment of players.

As Brackley Youth Band they won two cups and £25 prize money at an entertainment contest that year at Aylesbury Civic Centre.

When adult players joined the band the name was changed to Brackley and District Band.

The National Brass Band Championships were entered for the first time in 1974, and every year since.

Rehearsals take place at the band’s premises in Drayman’s Walk – formerly the Royal British Legion’s premises – which the band purchased in 1979.   

The Brackley and District Band concluded Sunday’s concert with a performance of The Floral Dance with the audience enthusiastically clapping along.  They will be appearing again at Brackley’s Service of Remembrance (November 12) and for Carol’s On The Piazza (December 17), with their Christmas Concert the following day.

Into the future Dave Howard is hoping to keep brass band music alive for future generations.   He said: “I’d love to think people will bring their children and make it informal – dancing in the aisles.   Let’s get much broader audience and get people even more enthusiastic for brass bands.”

Published:  by Banbury FM Newsteam