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Pennine Brass – A New Band with a Winning Touch

Who are Pennine Brass? The newest band in Yorkshire - in our knowledge were formed in March 1999, will appear on the runners and riders list in the Championship Section at the 2002 Yorkshire Area contest. For a band that has just made the last great leap into contesting’s hardest arena – and in Yorkshire for that matter, this is an amazing achievement. But where did they appear from?  

Given a 2nd Section grading by the Yorkshire Area Contest Committee, they were formed by seven founder members and a Musical Director to enable them to realise their playing ambitions free from band politics often associated with well established bands. To this effect all band meetings are open to members with a small Management Team in place to deal with official matters where required. With such a democratic start to their life, it is of no wonder they opt for the age old latin motto to show the banding world what they are all about. “Quo Flatus Impellerent, Promoveres” – “Go with the wind dude” or 'Quo Plus Sunt Potae, Plus Sitiuntur Aquae – “The more you drink, the thirstier you become” - True banding mottos!    

So how did they start a band with absolutely nothing bar 7 players?  

A fighting fund was set up within hours of the first meeting with members, families and friends providing over £2500, allowing the purchase of three 2nd hand basses. Fortunately most players who have since joined have their own instruments and some have even bought their own so even though there is a full instruments line up, most of the instruments do not belong to the band. The ability to provide instruments is a constant worry, with players bringing any spares that they have for general use and general fundraising is now a priority for the band to increase their stock. In the last few months they have been able to purchase two new Eb Basses and a full set of percussion!  

Even though the band had early success there was still the need to recruit more players and by the first years end the ‘magnificent seven’ (a piece unbelievably not yet in the repertoire!) were joined by friends and past playing colleagues, swelling numbers almost immediately to 17. New signings quickly took the total of registered players to the maximum allowed of 35.

The band fulfilled a hectic schedule of engagements throughout the summer of 1999, with its then Musical Director, Paul Fligg, waiving his fees with the bands first performance being under a tarpaulin at a surprise birthday party in May 1999! The bands first competition was at a local march contest in the freezing cold and rain with no jackets to wear whilst their first contest success was at the Northern Open in 1999 where the band rehearsed opposite the Institute for the Deaf and shored up an Eb Bass for a borrowed player with insulation tape!  

Strangely, after the tarpaulin and march contest incidents all members then agreed to buy their own jackets and in an attempt to raise desperately needed funds the band performed seven times in the August of 1999, including twice in one day! The band will unveil stage jackets in their distinctive 'burnt orange' colours in May this year.  

Following the loss of their Musical Director due to relocation, the band appointed Ian Porthouse to lead the band into the 21st Century. The story goes that when he responded to the advert the band secretary said, "Who? Can you tell me a bit about yourself? The problem remained however of how to pay for a professional such as Ian so Pennine Brass became a subscription band and formed a 100 club to cover the his expenses.  

And so the band has gone from strength to strength since those hard days – days that many bands can identify with. Since Ian Porthouse’s appointment the band has tasted more and more contest success, with 2000 seeing them win the Yorkshire Area Second Section Championships and go to Royal Albert Hall to secure the runners-up spot at the Finals. 2001 less successful and in the past month the band secured the runners –up spot in the First Section Regional Championships in Yorkshire – a result that sees them again competing at the National Finals, this time in Preston later in the year.  

There is a good argument to suggest that band in the twenty first century is going to be tough – both musically and financially. Pennine Brass has shown that with commitment and dedication and a huge amount of talent banding can be both rewarding and successful.  

As their motto suggests – “Go With The Wind, Dude”

The tale of the tape:  

  • Northern Open champions (Section B) in November 1999

  • 3rd place (Section B) in the 2000 Rochdale Brass competition

  • Yorkshire Area champions (Section 2) in March 2000

  • Promotion to Section 1

  • Top 10 finishes, including 3rd at Greenfield and Best Section 2 Band prizes at the world famous Whit Friday March competitions 2000

  • 2nd place at the inaugural Brighouse March contest

  • Virtual clean sweep of the prizes at the Marsden March competition 2000

  • 2nd place at the Millennium National Brass Band finals (Section 2) held at the Royal Albert Hall in October 2000

  • 2nd place (Section B) Northern Open 2000

  • Widnes Open Champions 2000 (Section B)

  • 1st Section National Finalists 2001

  • Promotion to Championship Section  

Information & Contact:


Bruce Jones
18, Grasmere Road, Marsh. Huddersfield. HD1 4LJ Telephone: 01484 312959
E mail:
brucejones@callnetuk.com brucejones@peninebrass.com

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