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About Me

I was born in Kingston-upon-Hull, East Yorkshire in 1960 and currently live in Telford in Shropshire.

In September 1973, under the patient guidance of Taffy Jones of the Brigg Town Band, I blew my very first note on a trombone.  During my formative years I played for Brigg Town Band (Vince East), Barton Town Band (Stewart Stunell and Geoff Moralee), Barnetby Band, Low Wood Brass and, between 1976 and 1979, Spillers (Gainsborough) Band (Glyn Lewis, Geoff Tomlinson and John Golland).

In 1979 I began studying for a degree in music at the University of Nottingham graduating with honours in 1982.  During my time there I conducted the University's Chamber Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra and Gilbert & Sullivan Society.  I also founded, managed and conducted the University Brass Ensemble.

In my final year at Nottingham I conducted the UK premiere of the opera The Queen of Golconda by the Swedish composer Franz Berwald.  The performances were recorded and broadcast on Swedish Radio and given favourable reviews in The Times, The Musical Times and Opera Magazine.

In 1980 I conducted my first brass band, Cotgrave Miners Welfare, and during the 1980s and 1990s had spells conducting Rossington Colliery, Carlton (Nottingham), Shirebrook and Shirland.  In 2004 I spent some months as caretaker conductor for the City of Wolverhampton Brass Band.

As mentioned on the Home page, although I am not currently conducting, I should very much like to do so again and would be pleased to hear from any bands looking for a conductor/musical director in my area.  You can find details of my experience and qualifications on the My CV page and can contact me by using the form on the Feedback page.

Original Music - Personal Milestones

I can recall a number of significant, “light-bulb” moments in the development of my love of brass band music:


My first contest - the Midlands Area held in Leicester in 1974.  I didn't actually get to play with Barton Town Band on that day as I hadn't joined in time to be registered, but I found the whole experience very exciting even though I could only watch from the wings.  The test piece was the suite Four Little Maids by John Carr.

Perhaps surprisingly, the highlight of my day did not come whilst listening to the fine array of Championsip Section bands playing Gilbert Vinter's Variations on a Ninth but rather when I had the chance to hear the impressive skill and musicianship of the youth bands playing Ceramic City Festival by Stuart Johnson.


Spectrum - The Saydisc LP of 1974.  This was my very first encounter with the music of Gilbert Vinter.  For me, the performances of Spectrum and Variations on a Ninth played by the Stanshawe Band conducted by Walter Hargreaves have yet to be surpassed.


The album recorded by Brighouse & Rastrick and James Scott after winning the 1973 National Championships.  Hearing Edward Gregson’s Prelude for an Occasion for the very first time stunned me with its modernity.  And the performance of Hubert Bath’s Freedom remains to this day one of my most cherished recordings.

Contest Music

The BBC Radio 3 Bandstand programme recorded in 1977 by Grimethorpe Colliery under Elgar Howarth.  They played three original works none of which I’d heard before and two of which (I think) were first broadcast performances.  The programme comprised Dunlap’s Creek by Robert Bernat, Clive of India by Joseph Holbrooke and Contest Music by Wilfred Heaton.

Ray Farr

A concert by Ray Farr and the Brighouse & Rastrick Band in Durham in June 2004.  The programme included Contest Music (Heaton), Sinfonia Concertante (Heaton) with Alan Morrison, Masquerade (Wilby) and Aubade - Dawn Songs of the Fabulous Birds (Aagaard-Nilsen).  In 2005 the same artists performed Pageantry (Howells), Cornet Concerto (Tomlinson) again with Alan Morrison, The Severn Suite (Elgar), Altitude (Benjamin), Euphonium Concerto (Wilby) with Robert Childs, and Partita (Heaton).

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