Strike up the Castleton Brass
PUBLISHED: 16:01 15 September 2014
Jayne Lindill discovers why everyone loves a brass band
Who can fail to be moved by the sound of a good brass band? Upbeat and exuberant one moment, plaintive and melancholy the next, they seem perfect for every occasion. And they always look like they’re having such a good time.
It’s no surprise to discover, therefore, that brass bands are thriving. A bit like community choirs, they accept people of varying musical ability and play a wide range of music – marches, film music, music from shows, original brass band music, classical arrangements and hymns. Something for everyone.
On any Tuesday evening you can find Castleton Brass squeezed into a room at Wrightfield on the Mid Suffolk Business Park in Brome for two concentrated hours of rehearsal.
The Eye-based band currently has 27 members, men and women of all ages from 13 upwards. They play concerts throughout the year and compete at band competitions under the musical direction of Peter Ryan, whose wife Ruth, a music teacher, is the band’s principal euphonium player.
Talking to individual members of Castleton Brass, it seems the things that unite them are the variety of music they play and the social aspects of playing in a band. Some have been playing almost all their lives, others have picked up instruments they learned and then put down. Some are complete beginners, grasping the opportunity to learn a new skill.
Christine Wade, tenor horn, has been playing for 41 years. She grew up listening to her dad play and wanted to follow in his footsteps.
“I can’t imagine not going to band rehearsal each week,” she says. “I was off sick for a month a couple of years ago and it was a very long month.”
The band’s principal cornet, Ellis Holt, learned to play trumpet as a child and has played at the Royal Albert Hall as well as on tour with a swing band. As an adult he decided he needed a hobby so he switched to playing cornet for Castleton Brass.
Cornet player Jack Gionis is just 15 and has been playing since he was nine, when he started music lessons with Ruth Ryan.
He aspires to a musical career and also plays guitar and piano.
He really enjoys the experience of making music in a group. “When you play a solo, to play with the back-up of the band, it’s a real privilege,” he says.
Steve Horning’s musical roots are in early music, but he has learned to play E flat bass with the band.
“This is a style of music I didn’t know much about,” he says, “but it’s great fun and offers so much variety. I want to get better and this band challenges you. I’ve learned a huge amount.”
Come hear the band
Saturday, September 6 Laxfield
Sunday, September 21
Hinderclay Harvest Festival
Saturday, October 4
Concert at Diss Parish Church concert
Sunday, December 7
Concert at St John the Baptist Church, Needham Market
Sunday, December 14
Hinderclay Carol Service