Words and photos by Dave Barry
Scarborough Concert Band is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a free concert at Westborough Methodist Church on 8 September, at 7.30pm.
The musicians are busy rehearsing the programme which includes a selection from Disney films, South Pacific, The Lion King and other pieces.
The band will be rejoined by several ex-members as guests.
No charge will be made for admission but donations will be accepted to help buy new music.
The band’s half-century celebrations include four concerts for local charities.
The first two were for Scarborough Survivors and the Rainbow Centre.
The next two are for Willows Lull in October and Independent Domestic Abuse Service in December.
Unlike other local bands, Scarborough Concert Band has a military configuration which includes woodwind and reed instruments as well as brass and percussion. This gives the band a greater range of musical textures and colours, enabling it to tackle a remarkably wide range of pieces.
“The military band line-up stems from our historic roots with the army,” explains conductor Malcolm Appleby.
The roots were laid down in 1958, when the commanding officer at the local Territorial Army (TA) centre formed the Royal Artillery TA Band, led by Alex Roper.
In 1961, the ensemble became 4/5 Battalion of the Green Howards TA Band, led by Alan Horton.
Many of the founder members were trained Royal Marine musicians who had settled in Scarborough during the second world war.
The TA supported the band until 1968, when it fell victim to TA reorganisation.
Rather than give up playing, the performers decided to continue as a self-financing civilian band and adopted its present name. That’s why the band is celebrating its 50th not 60th anniversary.
Just two members, both clarinetists, remain from the TA days: Malcolm, who succeeded Alan as conductor in 2003, and Mike Pickard.
Over the last 50 years, the band has raised thousands of pounds for local charities.
It has around 45 members, 12 of whom are young musicians.
It remains the only adult community wind band in the area, Malcolm says.
“We are a non-selective band, actively encouraging young players to use us as a halfway house between school music groups and the wider adult band world.
“We are proud that many return during university and college holidays, having joined bands and orchestras across the country. We are totally self-supporting and have been grateful to local organisations who have donated funds to us to enable the band to continue, in our 50th year”.
* Any musicians who would like to join the band should attend one of its weekly rehearsals at the Undercroft in St James’s Church, at the junction of Valley Road and Seamer Road, at 7.30pm Wednesdays.