Strike up the Castleton Brass

PUBLISHED: 16:01 15 September 2014

Castleton Brass Band in rehearsals.

Castleton Brass Band in rehearsals.


Jayne Lindill discovers why everyone loves a brass band

Castleton Brass Band in rehearsals.
Christine Wade with her instrument.Castleton Brass Band in rehearsals. Christine Wade with her instrument.

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.

Castleton Brass Band in rehearsals.Castleton Brass Band in rehearsals.

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

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