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Shepherd Group Band

A celebration of communal inclusivity and joyful modular music making gains another significant marker in York.


Featuring: Brass Roots, Academy, Youth, Concert Bands
Conductors: Audrey Brown, Craig Brown, Mike Pratt and Richard Wilton
Theatre Royal, York
Saturday 29th June

The City of York is, amongst other things, famous for its sweet manufacturing set up by Henry Isaac Rowntree and the modular building business created by Frederick Shepherd.

For this concert the band that has been linked to both for over 120 years - formerly as the Rowntree Band and now Shepherd Group Band, celebrated two decades of sponsorship since the building contractors took over from the fruit pastille creators.

Ethos

Both share a well-established ethos of community philanthropy; one which has helped the current band establish a musical organisation that now embraces five ensembles, each showcased for what was to be an uplifting evening of music-making.

Brass Roots (also celebrating a nomination for a Brass Bands England Award for their work with people with hearing impairments) opened with vibrant renditions of music by Gary Young, Ian Mackenzie and Frank Bernaerts accompanied by the interpretation skills of British Sign Language’s Cheryl Gill.

The 50 strong Academy Brass (with players aged 7-70) followed under Richard Wilton, with works than encompassed Vangelis’ ‘Chariots of Fire’  to Mark Ronson’s joyful ‘Uptown Funk’  – each played with eager enthusiasm. 

The 50 strong Academy Brass (with players aged 7-70) followed under Richard Wilton, with works than encompassed Vangelis’ ‘Chariots of Fire’ to Mark Ronson’s joyful ‘Uptown Funk’ – each played with eager enthusiasm. 

After gaining a well-deserved Gold Award at the National Youth Championships, the Youth Band led by Craig Brown showcased their growing maturity with Frederick Schjelderup’s ‘The Girl Who Sat on the Hill’  to the PLC ‘Island Whirl’.

Cracking showcase

An exuberant Mike Pratt and the Concert Band also produced a cracking showcase set ranging from Alan Fernie’s ‘Greatest Show on Earth’  to the Michael Buble hit ‘Feeling Good’,  played with unbridled enjoyment. The dance moves in ‘Blame It on the Boogie’  will live in the memory banks for some time.

The second half featured the top section senior band, led by Richard Wilton, who picked up the entertainment baton with ‘Olympic Fanfare and Theme’,  a tender rendition of ‘Hymn to the Fallen’  and the widescreen excitement of ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’.

Getting over 140 performers on stage was an engineering feat to be proud of, whilst the performance was also a triumph of invention (with great building tools percussion) and inclusivity. 

Modular feat

A fine evening was rounded off with the world premiere of ‘Modular 20’  by Liz Lane – a specially commissioned work that not only celebrated the integrated structure of the band organisation but also the cleverly designed modular building units made by Shepherd Group itself.

Getting over 140 performers on stage was an engineering feat to be proud of, whilst the performance was also a triumph of invention (with great building tools percussion) and inclusivity. 

For Richard Wilton, it was also the culmination of 14 years of rewarding work that has seen the Shepherd Group of bands become as a template for all that is good about community banding. 

The city of York has certainly gained something else to be noted for. 

Steve Jack 

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