The Harrogate Band was formed in April 1970 from a nucleus of former Harrogate Granby High School Concert Band pupils who wanted to continue their playing after leaving the school. It was the first brass band in Harrogate since the original Harrogate Silver Prize Band folded in 1956. The Band's first conductor, Neil Richmond, led it to success at its first contest in November 1970 at York - the first of many contest successes over the last 30 years.
By September 1971 there was a full Band of over 25 players, and it had started to purchase its own instruments. Concerts that first year included the first of a regular series of concerts in the Valley Gardens in Harrogate. Neil Richmond was followed as musical director by John Higginson, Peter Littlewood, Peter Wells, David Lancaster, Roy Waite and Craig Ratcliffe. Each stamped his character on the band and continued its musical development in his own manner. Under their tutelage the band has risen up the sections to the Championship Section in the North of England. It currently competes in the 1st Section nationally. A strong administration underpins the band's musical endeavours - an essential adjunct for any aspiring or successful organisation.
The Band has, over the years, established itself as the premier brass band in the local area. It performs up to 30 concert engagements each year and enters up to 5 contests. The Band has been involved in a wide range of engagements over the years, including joint concerts with choirs, commercial functions, garden parties, fetes, weddings, church services, carol concerts and carol playing in the town, small groups of players, fanfare trumpets, sporting events, agricultural shows, radio broadcasts, television programmes, films, marches and processions, charity concerts, massed band concerts and many others! It currently has over 1,400 sets of music in its library.
Many players have passed through the Band since 1970. The players are all amateur musicians, as are the great majority of all British brass band members. Their dedication to the band and music is as firm as work, family and other commitments allow - which enables the band to develop its team playing strength and quality.
The Band has undertaken seven overseas concert tours. It has travelled to Bergen in Norway as the guests of Sandvikens Ungdomskorps in 1977 and 1984, hosting their trip to Harrogate in 1975. It has also been to Bad Hersfeld in Germany as the guests of the Stadt Musikverein Band (SMV) in 1981, 1986 and 1990, and hosted SMV's trips to Harrogate in 1982, 1987 and 1993. Then followed a tour to Prague in the Czech Republic in 1996. It also hosted a visit of the Gerwens Muziekkorps (GMK) Band, from Nuenen in The Netherlands, in October 1998 and visited GMK in Holland in May/June 2000. A tour to the Rhineland in Germany in 2003 was followed by a concert tour in Belgium and Holland in 2007. Our latest overseas tour was to Luchon in the Pyrenees in 2014 for their Flower Festival.
The Band loves contesting and is successful in many of the contests it enters. It qualified for and competed in the National Brass Band Championship Finals three years running 2002, 2001, 2000, and also achieved that honour in 1985, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1996, 2011 and 2013. The Band became North of England Region Champions (1st Section) in 2001, 2011, 2013 and 2018.
Soprano: Will Burn
Principal Cornet: Rob Illsley
Solo Horn: Rosalind Rowe
Flugel Horn: Lynne Illsley
Solo Baritone: Anthony Malone
Solo Trombone: Daniel Dickinson
Solo Euphonium: Dave West
Solo Eb Bass: Gavin Holman
Solo Bb Bass: Matthew Brunt