2005 All England Masters International Championship - The Conductors and their records


4BR has a look at the records of the 19 men who will be looking to add the title 'Masters Champion' to their CV and pick up a cool £1000 for themselves into the bargain.

Stephen CairnsConductor: Stephen Cairns

Following a period as Principal Trombone of the Agnes Street Band, Stephen embarked on his conducting career with the 55th Old Boys Band during the early 1980's. He subsequently went on to be conductor of both the Agnes Street and Laganvale Bands before joining forces with the 1st Old Boys (Seacat) Band in the Autumn of 2003.

He continues to maintain an interest in playing the trombone by performing with Festival Brass. When he is not working with brass bands Stephen is Head of Music at Belfast High School.

Masters Record:
Debut this year

Nigel TakenConductor: Nigel Taken

Nigel Taken studied trumpet at the Coventry School of Music and later at the London College of Music under trumpet professor Dennis Eagan. Before moving to London, Nigel's banding experience began with the City Of Coventry Band as their flugel horn soloist at the age of 15, playing regularly with Harry Mortimer's 'Men of Brass' and 'All Star Brass'.

He has worked extensively with many brass bands in a professional capacity and has been the long term professional conductor of the Aveley and Newham during which period the band has enjoyed their most successful run of contest successes. 

Masters Record:
Appearances since 1989: 9th time this year
Best Result: 7th in 2004
Worse Result: 17th in 1991, 1999 and 2001

1991: 17th
1998: 10th
1999: 17th
2000: 9th
2001: 17th
2002: 9th
2003: 10th  
2004: 7th

Bands taken at Contest: Asphaltic Newham in 1991; Aveley and Newham on all other occasions.

Frans VioletConductor: Frans Violet

Frans Violet was born in 1954. At the age of 8, he started musical studies at the Music Academies of Boom and Willebroek.

He graduated at the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp gaining first prices and diplomas for solfège, trumpet, piano and chamber music. In 1972 he started his professional career as a trumpet soloist in the "Muntschouwburg" (Brussels opera). After a few years he joined the Symphonic Orchestra of the Belgian Radio and Television.

His love for brass band music was behind his decision in 1984 to leave all orchestral work behind him and to concentrate on teaching. Since then Frans Violet has given full attention to BBW and to his pupils at the Music Academy of Willebroek. In 1990 he was appointed professor at the Lemmens Institute of Leuven for the course "HAFABRA" (Wind band - Fanfare band and brass band) and in 1993 he started a course for soft brass instruments at the Royal Music Conservatoire of Antwerp.

Masters Record:
Debut this year

John BerrymanConductor: John Berryman

For more on the popular conductor and recipient of the 2004 Masters Dedicated Service Award, please go to:

Masters Record:
Appearances since 1989: 7th time this year
Best Result: 4th in 1995
Worse Result: 17th in 1994

1992: 14th
1993: 7th
1994: 17th
1995: 4th
1996: 8th
1997: 14th

Bands taken at Contest: John Berryman conducted GUS/Rigid Containers from 1992 – 1997. In 2005 he will conduct the BTM Band.

John Berryman was a judge at the Masters in 2003.

Bob ChildsConductor: Dr. Robert Childs

Dr. Robert Childs is an associate of the RCM, a Fellow of the LCM and gained a distinction in a Masters Degree from the University of Leeds. He also holds a PGC in Education from the Open University.
His status as a professional musician encompasses many fields of music making.

He is Director of Brass Band Studies at the WCMD, Professor of Euphonium at the RNCM and the University of Leeds. He is a tutor and council member to the National Youth Bands of Wales and Great Britain and is also a council member of the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Great Britain. He has recently been appointed Conductor of the NYBB of Belgium. He is also an experienced record producer and director of Doyen Recordings.

He conducted and performed with Black Dyke Band for almost ten years and conducted them on several important occasions. He has also performed with many of the UK's leading orchestras.

In 2000, he became the MD of the Buy As You View Cory Band and won the British Open Championship, the National Championship and runner-up at the European Championship in a single season. In 2002, he became MD to the NYBB of Wales. In 2002, he was awarded the title 'Doctor of Musical Arts' from the University of Leeds.

Masters Record:
Debut this year

Brian GrantConductor: Brian Grant

Brian Grant was born in Coventry and began playing the cornet when he was 13 years old and joined the Bedworth Silver Band.

At 16 Brian joined the army as a junior bandsman and spent a year at the Royal Military School of Music winning the coveted Frank Wright Cornet Prize and Cousens Parchment for excellence in performance. He became principal cornet with the GUS Band and held the position for 13 years, whilst in 1996 he was appointed MD of the Ransome Band and in 2000 was appointed Associate Conductor of the Williams Fairey Band, a position he held for a year.

During this time he was also MD of the Glossop Old Band - an association which resulted in the band being invited to the British Open for the first time in its history. Thereafter, a period of freelancing saw him conduct Wingates, the Ever Ready Band, and guest conductor many bands around the country including two successful courses for the Cornwall Youth Brass Band.

Masters Record:
Appearances since 1989:
7th time this year
Best Result: 3rd in 2001
Worse Result: 17th in 2003

1998: 12th
1999: 13th
2001: 7th
2002: 3rd
2003: 17th
2004: 13th

Bands taken at Contest: The Ransome Band in 1998, 1999 and 2003; Ever Ready 2001. Travelsphere in 2002; Carlton Main Frickley in 2004 and 2005

Philip HarperConductor: Philip Harper

Philip Harper was born in Oxfordshire and played tenor horn with Castle Point and Aveley Bands as well as the NYBGB.

In 1995 he won the 'Best New Arrangement' prize at the Brass in Concert Championships, a prize he won again in 2003. After working in Japan he became Composer in Residence of the Flowers Band, Between 1998 and 2000, Philip was the Musical Director of the Thornbury Band and was appointed the Musical Director of the Flowers Band in 2001.

Under his baton, they have been Wychavon Festival Champions, Welsh Miner's Contest Champions the Yeovil Entertainment Champions in 2003 and 2004. Nationally the band have achieved top 6 places at the All England Masters and 9th place at the Championship Section National Finals in the Royal Albert Hall. Philip has written and arranged many concert-pieces, most notably 'The Lion King' 'The Gloucestershire Wassail', 'Salsa Pa'Gozar' 'The Muppet Show'.

Masters Record:
Appearances since 1989: 5th time this year
Best Result: 5th in 2001, 2002 and 2003
Worse Result: As above

2001: 5th
2002: 5th
2003: 5th
2004: 6th

Bands taken at Contest: All performances with Flowers.

Gary CuttConductor: Garry Cutt

Since graduating in the early 1980's, Garry Cutt has developed a reputation as one of the banding worlds most respected and successful conductors. His time with the Marple Band resulted in many contest success including their British Open victory of 1996. This was his second "Open" title, having previously won with  Kennedy's Swinton Band in 1989.

He was appointed MD of Grimethorpe Colliery Band in 1991, a position he held for twelve years. He has an enviable reputation on the concert platform, cemented by six victories at Spennymoor Brass in Concert and in 2003 was awarded the Iles Medal in recognition of his services to the Brass Band movement.

Garry continues to be Associate Conductor of The National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, working closely with Elgar Howarth, something of which he is very proud and guided Fodens Richardson to their first British Open in 40 years in 2004 – his third win at the worlds most famous contest.

Masters Record:
Appearances since 1989: 7th time this year
Best Result: Winner in 2003
Worst Result: 15th in 1996

1993: 3rd
1994: 5th
1996: 15th
1999: 6th
2001: 13th
2003: Winner

Bands taken at Contest: Grimethorpe Colliery 1993 and 1994. Marple in 1996 and 1999. Leyland in 2001. Fodens Richardson in 2005

Mark BenthamConductor: Mark Bentham

Mark was appointed MD in 2001 and since then the Band has achieved a number of notable successes, including third place at the 2003 Senior Cup, winning the Scottish Open and latterly the Grand Shield.

Mark is from the North East, but now lives in Huddersfield and teaches music at Holmfirth High School, and studied music at Huddersfield University, specializing in performance and composition.

Mark has had many successful years as a player with Black Dyke Mills, Leyland, and most recently, Brighouse & Rastrick. He became the youngest conductor to appear at the All England Masters at the age of 22 when directing the Ever Ready Band.

Masters Record:
Appearances since 1989: 4th time this year
Best Result: 13th in 1994
Worst Result: 20th  in 1995

1994: 13th
1995: 20th
2002: 18th

Bands taken at Contest: Mark directed Ever Ready in 1994 and 1995 and Hepworth in 2002. He takes Hepworth again in 2005.

Steve BastibleConductor: Steve Bastable

Steve Bastable is one of the clutch of talented and exciting breed of aspiring young conductors who are now forcing their way to the top of the banding tree. With the Tredegar Band he led them to second place at the 2003 National Championships of Great Britain, whilst he also conducted the Kirkintilloch Band to fourth place at the 2004 British Open.
A product of Salford College and the tuition of David King and Roy Newsome, he played at the top level with Black Dyke and Williams Fairey in major contest winning performances before concentrating on his conducting first with the Flowers Band and from 1999 with Tredegar, whom he took to the Welsh Regional title in 2001 and the European Championships in 2002.

His talents were also recognised by the Williams Fairey Band who he took to second place at the 2003 North West Regional Championships, whilst he also scored successes with other bands, notably Staffordshire at Pontins and at the Midlands Regional Championships. He has also conducted in Norway and in 2004 led the Sola Brass Band to victory in the First Section.

Masters Record:
Appearances since 1989:
2nd time this year
Best Result: 4th in 2004
Worst Result: 4th in 2004

2004: 4th

Bands taken at Contest: SWT Woodfalls in 2004. Kirkintilloch in 2005.

Russell GrayConductor: Russell Gray

Russell Gray began his musical education in 1977 and within three years had won several major junior solo competitions.  At 17, he moved to England and joined Black Dyke Mills Band, which toured Australia in 1988 and ever since he has been recognised for his soloist abilities, delivering masterclasses, recitals, and gala concert performances all over the world.

In 1993, he also established a relationship with Yamaha as an endorsee and recognised soloist, which continues to the present day.  In 1999, he ventured on a tour of Australia, New Zealand, America, Canada and the United Kingdom. It included approximately 50 formal concerts and 60 school concert appearances.

From 1998 through to 2001 he lived in Norway and was the MD of the Stavanger and Sola Brass Bands, whilst in 2000 he was appointed conductor of NSK-RHP Ransome Band and led them to 2nd place at the National Finals.

In 2002 Russell became the MD of the Fodens Band, leading them to a number of major successes, including the Master Championship. From July 2003, Russell has been working as a freelance conductor and soloist in America, Holland, and Norway, as well as keeping a full diary in England.

Masters Record:
Appearances since 1989: 5th time this year
Best Result: Winner in 2001
Worse Result: 8th in 2001

2001: 8th
2002: Winner
2003: 2nd
2004: 5th

Bands taken at Contest: The Ransome Band in 2001, 2004 and 2005; Fodens in 2002 and 2003. 

Melvin WhiteConductor: Melvin White

Redbridge has been conducted since September 1998 by Melvin White. He is a greatly respected figure in the world of brass bands and has stacked up a wealth of musical experience over the years.

Melvin has shared this experience with many bands across this country and also in Europe - Norway in particular. He is also musical director of the Clacton-on-Sea Band and often helps out other bands throughout the year. Somehow he also finds time to be a classroom music teacher in various schools across Essex and Kent. Redbridge Brass has benefited from his expert skills and will surely prosper in the future.

Masters Record:
Appearances since 1989:
9th time this year
Best Result: 4th in 1999 and 2000
Worst Result: 20th in 1997

1997: 20th and 13th
1998: 15th and 7th
1999: 4th
2000: 4th
2003: 13th
2004: 10th

Bands taken at Contest: Aveley and Newham and SWT Woodfalls in 1997; SWT Woodfalls and GUS in 1998; GUS in 1999; Travelsphere in 2000; Redbridge in 2003 onwards.

Ray FarrConductor: Ray Farr

Ray Farr was educated at the Birmingham School of Music and at the Royal Academy of Music. After 10 years playing with the BBC Radio Orchestra he started his career as a conductor.

He has appeared in concerts around the world and in some of the finest concert halls and has gained a reputation as a stylish conductor and a planner of interesting concert programmes ranging from light music to "avant-garde". He is equally adept in Classical and modern music and has conducted opera, ballet and oratorio. In 1988 he won a special Arts Council Award to study contemporary music with Edward Gregson and Jorma Panula, at Helsinki's Sibelius Academy.

He has conducted at many important and has made several L.P.'s, C.D.s and T.V. appearances. He has appeared with many orchestras, including the BBC Radio Orchestra and the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra. Today, he is a busy, freelance conductor, based back in the UK and now as Musical Director of the Reg Vardy Band and heading an exciting new music course at Durham University.

Masters Record:
Appearances since 1989:
5th time
Best Result: 3rd in 2004
Worse Result: 15th in 2003

1989: 8th
2002: 13th
2003: 15th
2004: 3rd

Bands taken at Contest: 1989 with Jaguar Cars. 2002 onwards with Ever Ready (Reg Vardy). 

David RobertsConductor: David Roberts

David Roberts started his playing career with the Rothwell Temperance Band progressing through the Junior Band to become the principal cornet player at the age of 14. In 1984 he left the band to study music at Manger Folkehogskule, Norway.

On his return, he joined the Yorkshire Imperial Band and the National Youth Band of Great Britain, and won the best instrumentalist at the North of England Solo Championships. In 1990 he moved to the Black Dyke Mills Band and won the European, British Open and National Championships. In 1995 he was part of the band's wonderful grand slam year.

David is a brass teacher at Leeds Grammar School and also Bradford Grammar School, and is also a tutor with the National Youth Brass Band. He began conducting in 1993 and has guided the band to no less than fifteen victories.

Masters Record:
Appearances since 1989:
5th time this year
Best Result: 11th in 2001
Worse Result: 15th in 2004

2001: 11th
2002: 12th
2003: 12th
2004: 15th

Bands taken at Contest: All performances with Rothwell.

Nick ChildsConductor: Dr. Nicholas Childs

Dr. Nicholas Childs has achieved the highest international reputation as a performer, teacher/clinician, conductor, interpreter and advocate of new music, and producer of recordings. Initial success came as a euphonium soloist, performing in many of the world's most famous concert halls with the most prestigious bands and orchestras.

In recent years he has premiered with Black Dyke Band new works by leading British composers. In 2000 he directed Fodens in the premiere of Trumpets of the Angels and followed this with the RNCM Brass Band's first presentation of Danceries.

He has pursued a series of pace-setting recordings of new music, including releases of Michael Ball, Arthur Butterworth, Peter Graham and Wilfred Heaton. With Black Dyke Band as Band-in-Residence at the RNCM, he has been able to promoted several BBC Radio 3 broadcasts.

Having first been trained in the Tredegar Youth Band, he continues to give important emphasis to the development of the brass band movement. He has served as the director of The NYBB of Denmark, and has gained national championships in France, Norway, Wales and Scotland. He has won three Championships of Great Britain, 1999 with Fodens, and 2001 and 2004 with Black Dyke. His company, Doyen Recordings, in cooperation with SP&S, Ltd., maintains the largest catalogue of brass band recordings.

Masters Record:
Appearances since 1989:
5th time this year
Best Result: 5th in 1999
Worse Result: 12th in 2000

1996: 7th
1998: 6th
1999: 5th
2000: 12th 

Bands taken at Contest: Stocksbridge in 1996. Fodens 1998 to 2000. Scottish Co-op in 2005.

Philip McCannConductor: Phillip McCann

Phillip McCann was born in Bo'ness, Scotland, where he began his playing career with the Kinneil Colliery band. He held the position of principal cornet with the NYBGB Britain for five years and at 14 became principal comet with the Yorkshire Imperial Metals Band. Four years later he joined the Fairey Engineering Band as principal comet, advancing to the same position with Black Dyke Mills Band in 1973, a position he held until 1988.

He has toured extensively in Europe, the U.S.A., Japan, Australia and New Zealand, and in this country, together with radio broadcasts and appearances on television. He is also busy in giving master classes and is a member of the internationally renowned 'Instrumentalists assisting the Yamaha Corporation.

He is heavily committed to teaching brass music through his work in the Music Department at The University of Huddersfield.  He has progressively increased his activities as a conductor, being the founder and MD of the Sellers Engineering Band. Phillip's recordings of The World's Most Beautiful Melodies are universally admired, whilst his unique style and tone quality have been used by composers to combine with orchestra for film and T.V. soundtracks; such as Anna of the Five Towns, Woman of Substance and B.B.C. television series "Hetty Wainthropp Investigates" - the latter receiving an Ivor Novello Award in the category of Best Music Commissioned for a Broadcast Production.

Masters Record:
Appearances since 1989:
11th time this year
Best Result: 4th in 2002
Worse Result: 12th in 1994

1990: 9th
1991: 5th
1992: 6th
1993: 6th
1994: 12th
1995: 5th
1997: 6th
2002: 4th
2003: 6th  
2004: 11th

Bands taken at Contest: Sellers International 1990 to 1995 and 2002 to 2005. Fodens Courtois in 1997. 

Frank RentonConductor: Frank Renton

Frank Renton was brought up in Yorkshire and had his first trumpet lesson on his tenth birthday.

He earned a living as a professional trumpet-player, gaining conducting experience where possible and in 1967 he won a Competition for Young Conductors at the Edinburgh Festival. Appointments followed in Germany and in Singapore, where he conducted the first performances of the country's fledgling symphony orchestra.
He has worked with many bands, winning the British Open and National Championships with Grimethorpe Colliery, whilst in 1985 he became Principal Conductor of the Royal Artillery Orchestra, London's oldest professional orchestra.
In 1988 he was appointed Principal Conductor of the British Concert Orchestra after critically acclaimed recordings with the American soprano Carol Vaness. He also began to broadcast regularly on BBC Radio and in 1992 he made the decision to concentrate entirely on conducting and broadcasting.

He is a member of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, and in 1989 became a Freeman of the City of London

Masters Record:
Appearances since 1989:
8th time this year
Best Result: 2nd in 2002
Worse Result: 19th in 1999

1989: 5th
1990: 7th
1992: 3rd
1999: 19th
2000: 10th
2001: 18th
2002: 2nd  

Bands taken at Contest: Grimethorpe Colliery in 1989, 1990 and 1992. Wooley Pritchard Sovereign in 1999. Leyland in 2000. Travelsphere in 2001. Williams Fairey in 2002. SWT Woodfalls in 2005.

David StowellConductor: David Stowell

David began his career at the Royal Military School of Music and on leaving HM Coldstream Guards, furthered his studies in London and Boston.  He continued to work with several leading orchestras including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, a highlight being the performance of a new work with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen.

In the Brass Band field he has conducted many bands including the Black Dyke Band, Kennedy Swinton and GUS.

Following an opportunity to score a drama production in America (The Lake. 1987), David has worked as a composer on many television and radio productions including 'A Christmas Carol'  1990; 'The Letter' 1991; 'Anne Boleyne' 1993; 'All Talk' 1998; 'Out of Time' 2000; 'Unbeliever' 2001; 'IceBound' 2002; 'The Snow Crystal' 2003.

Amongst his most recent commissions are music for the TV series 'The Witches' and two dramas - one for radio, and a major TV series to be screened over Christmas. David has just completed a major Ballet score for the 'Nanse Noir' company.  He is married to the Cellist, Helen Barber who gave the Premiere of his Cello Concerto in 1995.

Masters Record:
Appearances since 1989:
3rd time this year
Best Result: 9th in 2004
Worst Result: 19th in 1995

1995: 19th
2004: 9th

Bands taken at Contest: Flowers in 1995; Travelsphere Holidays 2004 and 2005.

Mike FowlesConductor: Michael Fowles

Born in Stoke-on-Trent, Michael's early musical education saw as a member of many ensembles, holding the position of Principal trombone of both the County Youth Brass Band and Orchestra. He was awarded the Staffordshire Music Dept. Harry Mortimer award for his contribution to brass playing and the Staffs. County Council Young Achievers Award

In 1990 he began his Degree studies at the RNCM and joined the BBS Fodens Band with whom he spent 5 years. He was presented with the Harry Mortimer Outstanding Brass Student Award and following graduation he continued his studies with Howard Snell.

In 1995 he became MD of the Point of Ayr Band becoming Welsh Area Champions twice and in 1998 representing Wales in the European Championships. He has conducted at International Festivals , recorded for both BBC Radio 2 + 3 , recorded several commercial CD's , directed Premieres and conducted Concerto appearances of eminent soloists including Joseph Alessi, and Andrew Berryman.
Currently he is Musical Director of the BT Band from Stockport and The Ratby Co-operative band in Leicester, an organisation boasting around 120 players in 4 bands from beginners to the Championship section Senior Band.

Masters Record:
Appearances since 1989:
3rd time this year
Best Result: 18th in 2000/2003
Worst Result: 18th in 2000/2003

2000: 18th
2003: 18th

Bands taken at Contest: SWT Woodfalls in 2000. Thoresby Colliery in 2003. Tredegar in 2005.


2016   2015   2014   2013   2012
2011   2010   2009   2008   2007
2006   2005   2004 (1)   2004 (2)   2003
2002   2001