History, Now and Future
Many thanks to Russell Norman (our former Flugel player) for putting together much of this information on the band.
You can find information Russell put together on the History of Brass Band's here
When did we start and what do we do?
The history of Hitchin Band starts some time in the 1860’s which ranks it among the oldest “Brass” Bands in the world still
performing. It has formed a cornerstone of musical culture in and around Hitchin ever since. A relatively recent example of this is the link with the
Sponsheim KKH band based in a village on the outskirts of Bingen, Hitchin’s twin town in Germany. This link has been on-going for over 21 years
with visits by both bands roughly every four years.
The band has performed in many venues ranging from river barges, open-air garden shows, football grounds, television and radio programmes
and the Royal Albert Hall. Our activity is subsidised through a busy programme of summer and Christmas events. We have performed
in a number of local “Proms” concerts and regularly play in the town square during the summer and for the town Christmas Carol service.
Performances take us as far afield as Northampton, Kent and, of course, Germany.
Some of the concerts that we undertake are not solely for our own benefit. Several times a year we undertake concerts to help organisations
ranging from schools to the RNLI and the Royal British Legion to raise funds for their own causes.
In addition, we participate in regional and national competitions having appeared as finalists on a number of occasions.Most recently, we achieved
3rd place in our own section at a contest in Leicester.
Despite our long history,it would appear that our profile within the town is not as high as we would like it to be with many people not knowing the town has a brass band.
This is something we are very keen to put right.
The Band Members
Many of our members have long associations with the band, one of our current members who is also a Vice president, boasts over 40 years continuous service.
Other members have only managed between twenty to thirty years! Equally, some members have only been with us a short time, as their work commitments cause them to
move into and out of the region. We also have a number of younger players of whom we are very proud, as well as families of players and even marriages of band members to each other.
Here are snippets of what some of our members have said about us:
“For a hundred years, Brass Bands have been a tradition in my family. All generations have played in either town bands or with the Salvation Army and I, with my sons,
wish to carry on this tradition”
“I enjoy making music. I enjoy the company of others who feel the same….it has given me many good times”
“I belong to the band because…. I have enjoyed making music with a group of friendly people with whom I feel relaxed and at ease”
Although the band is lucky to have a healthy number of members (currently over 30 players), we always welcome anyone who wishes to come along and visit us.
Where are we based now?
Having been in our own wooden building for a number of years, this building was found to be no longer suitable and we could not replace the building on the land for various reasons. We had to move and
were grateful for premises kindly supplied to us by a local agent. However, this site was re-developed and we now rehearse Mondays and Thursdays in the Recital Hall of North Herts College in Hitchin.
Despite being on the look-out for our own rehearsal and storage premises, our search has so far been unsuccessful.
Funding a Brass Band
Banding is an expensive business. To replace a full complement of instruments would cost around £55,000. To replace the four basses at the back would cost around £16,000. In the past couple
of years, we have received a welcome grant from North Herts District Council to replace our existing stand banners amounting to almost £1000.
We have also raised £4000 to replace our existing uniform with a new and more modern one. This purchase was helped by a kind anonymous donation of £1000. Together with our new ties (donated by
Hitchin Town Centre Initiative), we now have a complete set of uniforms and banners all with the same design featuring the adopted town logo of the parish church of St Mary's.
The cost for the hire of the hall we rehearse in comes out of weekly subscriptions. All other costs (new music, instruments, contest fees etc) have to be met from undertaking concerts and other performances.
The Band is currently considering applying for Grant funding and sponsorship.
Our Musical Repertoire
We are looking to expand the number of people who are aware of and can enjoy the varied sound of Brass Band music. Contrary to popular belief, the band does
not play solely classical and march music!
Our repertoire includes those types but also includes music from stage and shows (new and old), and rock and opera. We play music by
artists ranging from John Williams ("Jurassic Park"),Andrew Lloyd-Webber ("Cats", "Phantom of the Opera"), The Beatles, Queen (the Rock Band!) and songs recently made famous by
artists such as Robbie Williams ("Mack the Knife").
The Band's Future
The future of the Band as Hitchin's own town Brass Band looks reasonably healthy. With dedicated members and regular performances, we look forward to a successful and improving future.
However, to ensure this future, we need to continue to attract new members and supporters. In addition, we need to ensure a continuous
flow of engagements. This includes engagements where we can support fundraising by other organisations.