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4BarsRest take a closer look at the Yorkshire Buiding Society Band and their Musical Director, David King.

We don’t know what the choices are on a dark and damp Thursday night in Huddersfield, but if you do happen to find yourself far from home and with a few hours to spare you could do a lot worse than try and find your way to the rehearsal rooms of the Yorkshire Building Society Band.

The current All England Masters Champions are in the type of form at the moment that would make even Liverpool Football Club jealous, and last Thursday we managed to gate crash into their latest rehearsal to see how they were preparing for the defence of the title they have won for the past two years. It was well worthwhile.

The band headquarters are to be found tucked away off the main road as you come into Huddersfield off the M62 motorway that links the great industrial cities (and banding centres) of northern England. The Yorkshire Building Society have been the sponsors of the band for over seven years now – a period that has just about coincided with the arrival at the band of David King – and it has been a period that has encompassed brilliant success.

Five European Championship wins, two British Open Championships and two All England Masters titles have been won, along with the small matter of two Yorkshire Area titles and the Grand Shield. In terms of major titles won, the band now lies in seventh place in the all time list – and this all since 1994. That is not to say however that the band has not had it’s disappointments – the European Championships of 1998 and a run of near misses at the National Finals are well documented, but overall it’s a band that has flourished under the baton of it’s charismatic Musical Director.

We found the band hard at work halfway through a two-hour rehearsal on the test piece “Pageantry”. It was just the second rehearsal on the piece since they had returned triumphant form securing their hat trick of titles at the European in Montreux, and even though David King was evidently still on cloud nine he worked the band hard, giving them in his own words “a bit of clobbering on their chops”.

As the band was put through its paces we spoke at length to Richard Hirst, the Band Manager. Richard’s office at the headquarters is packed to the rafters with the debris of success and administration. Old band uniforms, CD’s, new shirts, music, entry forms, players registrations and more than a few trophies – you name it and he has to deal with it. It’s the unglamorous work that is required to keep a top band on the road and with his colleague Paul Land they form a formidable partnership. “Since we’ve been back from Montreux it’s been a question of making sure everything is prepared for Cambridge. David King expects 100% commitment from players and backroom staff and it’s our job to ensure the rehearsal facilities, hotels, entry fees etc are all sorted out. It means the band can concentrate on the job in hand without any worries.”

The band also gets immense support from its sponsors and Richard pointed out that after each success they either present the players with commemorative shields or bottles of champagne. “The Building Society takes a great deal of pride in the achievements of the band and we are very grateful for their active support. Each player gets a plaque or a bottle of bubbly – it’s a nice gesture and shows how much we mean to them. Having good sponsors is a two way thing – we are good for them and they are very good for us.”

Asked if it’s worth it, Richard gives a wry smile. “Just have a look at the band we’ve got and the standard of performances we are able to put together. If you can’t get satisfaction from that then you don’t love brass banding”. With that he answers the phone yet again and tries to sort out a rehearsal for the band later in the week. We move into the main rehearsal room.

The headquarters of the best band in Europe is a functional building that used to be the computer centre for the Yorkshire Building Society before it found a better use as the bandroom. Although it still houses the remnants of office furniture, old typewriters, filing cabinets and secretary chairs – so much so that they could hold a pretty decent car boot sale here and raise more than a few bob or two, it more than adequately fits its purpose as a centre for high class musical activity. David King has an office upstairs that is predictably neat and tidy, but the bandroom itself is a low ceiling rectangular room dotted with some old office furniture the like of which you find in a dentists waiting room and a selection of pictures of the band on each of the walls. It’s not uncomfortable, but you get the opinion that it’s a room designed for a function – practice.

The other thing you notice – and not because of the room – is the intensity of the rehearsal itself. The band plays large chunks of the music at a time with David King encouraging the players to think and act on his instructions. He gives the players ideas of how to improve on what he wants so that there is never a confrontational air to the proceedings. He also knows the score back to front – after each section he has thoughts, ideas, corrections and detail to point out to his band. He’s also got a very impressive baritone voice and so he is able to project his ideas through singing rather than talking, which although may sound odd at first, is an amazingly accurate and simple technique to make people understand what he wants.

The rehearsal ends with words of encouragement – especially to the cornets – as he feels it’s a piece of music that is loaded towards them. He’s been impressed by the effort the band has put in tonight but he still wants and gets approval for a four-hour rehearsal on the Sunday.

We spoke to him after the rehearsal and even though he was aware that the band had another hat trick on the horizon, it wasn’t the most important aspect of the contest ahead for him. “Winning is important – the hat trick doesn’t come into it. We approach the contest as a one off and therefore we put all our efforts into it. If it comes off and we get the hat trick – all well and good.”

He feels that the piece will be a superb test and although confidence is high he knows the band will have to perform very well to be with a shout of the title. “I think “Pageantry” is a great test for a band and conductor – in fact it’s one of my all time favourites. There’s so much detail in the writing, which makes the piece so interesting to rehearse and perform.”

Although the band has only had two serious rehearsals what is most evident is the transparency David King brings to his reading. The band performs with a tightness and balance that allows the inner parts to be heard – something he feels is vitally important. “It’s all in the detail,” he says again.

With that it’s a quick word with the Band Manager to clear up a few more essential details and he’s off . We meanwhile take the short route to the nearest pub in Huddersfield to meet up with other lost souls who have just missed out on a bit of a musical treat. Who said Huddersfield had nothing to offer?

© Iwan Fox - 4BarsRest

David King

David King was born in Australia and moved to the United Kingdom in 1982. Educated in Australia at Avondale College and the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, he specialised in the cornet and trumpet and during this time he won many awards, including the Australian Cornet Championship in 1982. In the UK he also won the North of England solo championship in 1983/84/85 and the British Open Solo Championship for five consecutive years from 1987. In 1991 he represented the UK in wining the title International Brass Musician of the Year in Auckland.

Between 1983 and 1989 he was the Musical Director of the Swinton Concert Band that rose from the Fourth Section to the Championship Section in record time, winning numerous titles on the way. In 1989 he became the Professional Conductor of the Black Dyke Mills Band – the youngest person ever to accept that position. He conducted the band to success at the European Championships in 1990 and 1991 and the Yorkshire Area title in 1990.

He has also worked with many of the leading bands in Europe, including the Manger Mussiklag band of Norway, whom he directed to four consecutive Norwegian National Championship titles between 1994 and 1997.

He was appointed Professional Conductor of the Yorkshire Building Society Band in 1994 and since that time has led them to two British Open Championship wins, five European Championship titles, a Yorkshire Area Championship and a Grand Shield title.

Yorkshire Building Society Band:
Here is a look at the pool of players who will represent YBS at the forthcoming All England Masters Championships.

As you will see the band is packed with stars of the banding scene. This is a good chance to know a little more about the real people who make YBS the band they are today.

Principle Cornet Stuart Lingard
Stuart has made lots of progress since he joined YBS as principal cornet. He is the man with the sound David King was looking for and found. Stuart joined YBS from Faireys.

Tutti Cornets
Darryl Hobbins
Darryl recently married Linzi but he made it back in time to play at the European. Darryl is the intelligent half of Hobbins Bros . Very solid bumper up who previously played for bands such as Sun Life, Desford and Grimethorpe.

David King
Dopey to his mates. David is a man with the same name as the maestro but with lots less talent. Good solid Cornet player who in days long gone, could be seen playing Sop with the then Britannia Building Society.

Ian Brownbill
Ian is a former Flugel player with Black Dyke. Ian is a great cornet player who has played with most of the top bands in the country.

Soprano Cornet Peter Roberts
What can you say about this man. Except he is the “Best”. Peter is a great influence on the young YBS band with his vast experience.

Repiano Paula Russell
Paula hails from darn sarf but brings great talent to the repiano seat. She is currently studying at Salford under David King.

Back Row
Hayley Moore
Hayley is a great character who is also one of the best second cornets in the UK at present. In the few years she has been a member of YBS she has made the seat her own.

Phil Dockmanovich
Phil is an Aussie who came to England to study at Salford. He drinks lots of the beer in the great Aussie tradition and is also a welcome addition to the YBS football team.

Ian Broadbent
Ian is the son of “Mono” the former second euph player at Black Dyke, Brian Broadbent. Ian himself was a member of Dyke for several years.

Matthew Kaye
Matt or ED the Duck to his colleagues is a former Champion Cornet Player of Great Britain….don’t ask me how! Seriously Matt is a fine player who adds lots of quality to the back row and he has the talent to share things about when he doesn’t fancy it. Matts previous band was Wingates.

Helen Robinson
Helen is the longest serving member of YBS and is also charged with kiting the band out in its various choice of uniforms.

Flugel Iwan Williams
The Welsh Wizard! Iwan is without any question the finest thing on a flugel I know. The only thing wrong with Iwan is he is a Manchester United supporter.

Horns Sheona
White Sheona will be helping the band until it can find a new solo horn player. Sheona has great talent on the horn and the band wishes her well on her new solo career.

David Altham
Gargoyle to his pals, Garg is a great bandsman who is a spectator at every contest you could wish to name, he is on the lookout for the girl of his dreams, little does he know she doesn’t live at the bottom of a pint glass. He is a teacher who is out of work, this goes to show what his pupils think of him!! David is one of many ex Black Dyke players.

David Clegg
Cleggy is a number one bandsman who doesn’t tend to say a lot. Therefore when Cleggy comes out with a statement it tends to be of the profound nature. Cleggy at one time played back row cornet for Dyke until he saw the light and turned to YBS on horn. His pet hate is anyone with the letters MBE on the end of their name. Work that one out for yourself.

Simon Cowan
Another ex Dyke player who is a great asset to YBS and the fruit machine down at the YBS pub.

Becky Smith
Becky will be helping out YBS after her decision to put all her efforts into her studies and her all Female Trombone quartet.

Geriant Griffiths
Grunt we call him. Grunt is a fine Bass Trombone player who plays a solo once a year and its always Frosty the Snowman. It’s the only one he knows. An avid Huddersfield Town fan …poor man. He is the chap who runs the bar at the back of the bus on long trips.

Morgan Griffiths Morgan is Manager of Band Supplies at Leeds. A great player who leads by example. I remember Morgan and Cleggy trying to skip Japan without paying a hotel room bill of some £130……they were ringing home trying to find out what the British Open test piece was that year.

2nd Euph
Mike Howley
Mike joined YBS from Faireys where he was solo Euph, at the turn of the year. He plays up front for the football team but resembles a beached whale. Mike tells everyone who wants to listen how good he is at the footy, trouble is no one wants to listen.

Margaret Antrobus
Margie is the finest baritone there is. She tends to be shy lass except when keeping Mike Howley in check. She is a great musician who has now turned her hand to arranging.

Mike Walsh
Mike is the “Legal Eagle” of the band. He has that many brain cells he doesn’t know what to do with them. Mike is a dedicated bandsman who will this year Marry Emma who plays with Hepworth…. Good luck

Jon Davies
Jon is the tuba tutor at Salford where he was a former student on the “how many pints can I drink in a day” course. JD as we call him, is a fine player who is a purveyor of quality second hand motor vehicles in his spare time.

Roy Hudson
When Roy joined the band David King was asking about his background, we told him he is an ex “Para” David asked if they had a good band, thinking Roy was a musician. No someone said to David…..he kills people! With that David went white and stated he would not be giving Roy any grief.

Gary Proctor
Gary joined the band in January of this year from Faireys. Gary is a keen supporter of Stockport County. Tiny as he is known, spent some time playing with Leyland Band under Richard Evans.

Darran West
Darran is the only player who is guaranteed his double seat all to himself on the bus. He says its because he loads the damn thing. I have a feeling its because he frightens the living daylights out of anyone who dares sit in his chair. All deps are led to his famed chair on the bus just as a welcome, its great to see Darran’s diplomacy in action. Darran joined YBS from the Stockport based BT Band.

Shed Builders
Richard Clough
Clifford as he is known in YBS. Is quite adept at building sheds not just because he is a drummer but also because, for a living he is employed as a joiner with his dads Organ Building Company. Richard was previously a member of Black Dyke and Leyland bands.

Gavin Pritchard
Gav is an all round percussion player. One problem, he has lived in that many places in his short life that his accent is a bit strange.

Chris Starr
What a player this chap is! He also brings the biggest sandwiches I have ever seen on long journeys. Yet another ex Dyke player.

Danny Maines
Son of John. Danny joined from Fodens and certainly looks the part. Smart young man on the outlook for love we are told.

Back Room Staff
Band Manager Richard Hirst
Richard is the man who used to impersonate an “Egg” on legs but a strict diet has lost him the tag. He is a former Eb Bass player who gave up playing in order to concentrate on administration work for YBS.

Assistant Band Manager Paul Land
Paul was until a few years ago a 3rd cornet player with the band. He looks after the bands accounts. Paul is one who never panics in tight situations. Story has it that Paul once played Soprano Cornet for a top section band at the Yorkshire Area…..I dread to think what that sounded like.

Librarian Ted Griffiths
Ted is father of Morgan and Geriant and looks after the bands large library. Ted is always on hand to tell everyone how players of today are nowhere near as good as they used to be. Pity that, as we have never had the chance to listen to Ted playing in his hay day. Someone has an old recording and one day they will get it out! Ted has the distinction of drawing more number ones than every other Draw merchant in Banding. They are all seen to say “Thank Goodness” when Ted walks through the door. They know that a number one is a distinct possibility for YBS when Ted is around. Simon Gresswell

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alan morrison

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