Conductor Howard Gibbs joined Shipston Band in 2006, having already conducted the band the previous year.  No stranger to the band joining as Principal Trombone in 1979 under Richard Nash’s time for four years. He began in the Salvation Army, the National Midland and Birmingham Youth Orchestras. After a spell in the Army he played in the Championship Section. A competent conductor,  he led the band successfully from a first place win at the 2010 Area Finals to compete at the National Finals.

Shipston Town Band is the original town band and is a contesting band which in the past has enjoyed a string of successes in the contesting field. Currrently residing in the Fourth Section, the band seeks to regain its position further up the sections. The band enjoys a full engagement book and welomes players who enjoy their contests and bandstands alike.

Paul Lay

Grace Coates

John Smith

Rebecca Coates,

Paolo Pezzangora

Bob Pitts

Karen Wears, Stephen Easton

Anne White

Darran Wheeler

Adrian White

Karen Pitts

Mary Cox

Jamie Raffell

David Birch

Eugene Gratwohl

Phil Richardson

Bev Bosworth

Jess Anderson

Maria Palmer

Ken Smith, Vacancy

Two Vacancies

Alec Banner

Eleanor Smith

As has been the case for every year since the band reformed after the Second World War a band made up of members of Shipston Town Band and Stour Concert Brass led the procession to church on Remembrance Sunday, 11th November 2018.

     Under the baton of Charlie Cox, the band played the ‘British Legion March’ to lead a large procession to church. The procession was headed by the British Legion and Shipston’s Mayor along with local councillors and the Deputy Lord Lieutenant Of Warwickshire, Mark Davies.

     It also included Shipston High School representatives, Scouts, Guides, Cubs, Brownies, Beavers and Rainbows, plus local firefighters, First Responders and  St. John Ambulance. A crowd six deep met the procession at the church and after wreaths were laid in memory of the fallen the parade moved inside for the service. Principal Cornet Grace Coates played the ‘Last Post’ and ‘Reveille' and the band played Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’ during the collection.

     After the service the band led the procession back to the square playing the ‘1914 March’ comprising a medley of songs from the Great War. After the parade marshal had dismissed the parade the band played an arrangement of ‘The Army, The Navy and The Air Force’ by Charlie Cox in tribute to the three services.

glittering cracker from the town band

remembrance sunday 2018

     This was the second part of a busy weekend for the Town Band, conducted by Howard Gibbs the band gave a concert at the Townsend Hall in aid of the British Legion and the Poppy Appeal. The hall was packed for a concert of music designed to reflect the Centenary of the signing of the Armistice.

     Opening with the march ‘The Vanished Army’ dedicated to the British Expeditionary Force, contemporary music from the period was interspersed with readings by Anne Hume before the first half closed with ‘Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines’ to salute the RAF.

     The second half featured solos from Solo Euphonium Jamie Raffel and Principal Cornet Luke Barker. Luke played the solo ‘Arizona Belle’ made famous by the famous Edwin Firth of the Fodens Band who even took his cornet to the trenches to make sure he could practice. Sadly he was killed in action. A setting of John McRae’s famous poem in ‘Flanders Fields’ saw the whole hall in silence after its performance. A succession of Prom Melodies saw the concert close with the ‘British Legion March’.

    Once again Shipston Band’s Christmas Concert was like a night sky - full of stars and didn’t they just twinkle.

     An expectant audience were swept into the spirit of the season as the Townsend Hall stage curtains parted to reveal Shipston Town Band in festive form as Howard Gibbs struck up with a lively opening fanfare by the renowned English composer Paul Lovatt Cooper in 'Fanfare - Christians Awake'. With the next piece hard on the heels of the opener, the band changed the mood slightly with a Richard Phillip’s arrangement of Benjamin Hanby’s beautiful 'Who Is He?'

     The band’s annual Christmas concert wouldn’t be complete without a reading or two from local Anne Hume, whose been amusing Shipston audiences with her readings and this year was no exception, with 'Nobody Likes A Fairy When She’s Forty!' There was no let up for the assembled throng, for no sooner was Anne done than along came 'Once In Royal David’s City'.

     The first of this evenings stars twinkled as Grace Coates enchanted the audience with her performance with a new arrangement of 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas'. Some may recall this well-loved melody sung by Judy Garland in the 1944 film 'Meet Me In St. Louis', later recorded by many other vocalists including the famous Frank Sinatra and Grace did it justice on cornet at her first outing as the band’s new principal cornet. Grace now takes the end chair from Luke Barker, who has now moved-on to play with the Jaguar Land Rover Band and proved that she was well up to the challenge

     Next up was Derek Ashmore’s arrangement of 'Jingle Bells' originally recorded by the Desford Colliery Band in the 1980s. Having got the audience in the mood a little community carol singing was called for and Howard Gibbs led the audience as they assaulted 'Hark The Herald Angels Sing' in fine style. The next item was dished-up by three younger players, as Alec Banner, Tallula Matthews and Peter Coates played 'It Came Upon A Midnight Clear' and charmed their way into the audience’s hearts..

     Our next star was Darren Wheeler who took up his Flugel Horn and played a gentle setting to 'Away In The Manager', simply entitled 'Lullaby'. This fine solo preceded the last piece in the first half, before coffee, mince pies and ice cream with our own Ken Smith’s arrangement of a 'Fantasy On German Carols'.

     So with a reminder to purchase more raffle tickets the audience broke for refreshments, but it wasn’t long before everyone was back in their seats for the second half that opened with Swedish composer Eric Leidzen’s pot pourri of Christmas melodies in 'Christmas Joy', written in a bright march setting.

The Lights Went Out

but the band played on

Oxford Brass Bands Association Winter Contest Marlborough School Woodstock Sunday February 24th

    After a number of weeks of intensive rehearsals the band travelled to Marlborough School in Woodstock for the ODBBA winter contest where they competed against 10 other bands some local and some who had travelled a considerable distance.

     All the bands chose to play the Area Test Piece 'Stantonbury Festival Overture' by Ray Steadman Allen. Drawn number one the band gave an excellent performance which drew praise from adjudicator Phillip Littlemore for both the band and conductor Howard Gibbs. The band was awarded first prize and Darran Wheeler on Flugel Horn was awarded the outstanding Soloist award.

     This achievement was made even more special by the fact that a motion sensor in the hall switched off all the lights as the band was approaching the climax of the final movement. Unperturbed the band played on and the lights were reactivated for the final chord. Two weeks of further rehearsal will see the band give a second performance of the piece at the Midland Area Brass Band Championships held in Kenilworth at Kenilworth School.

     The next star, was our very own David Birch who gave a mature and accomplished performance of American Douglas Court’s arrangement of 'Ding Dong Merrily On High', that proved a suitable pre-runner to Howard Blake’s Christmas classic which had proved such hit for Aled Jones in 'The Snowman'. The evening swiftly moved on and once again Anne Hume was back with one of her readings, which once again entertained a by now festive audience.

     Our next Christmas star was Adrian White who gave us the Alan Fernie arrangement of the Gustav Holst melody, 'In The Bleak Midwinter'. Our next star followed as Mr. Ken Smith, arranger, bass player, organist and now musical novelty arranger drew up members of the band armed with small organ pipes, which along with Ken’s humorous commentary produced a new admission to a brass band concerts as the assembled group of seven tooted their way through 'Organising The Brass'. This delightful little effort went down well with all concerned, like a unexpected and pleasant surprise from the Christmas cracker.

     The other star this wonderful evening was Anne Hume with her final reading of the night, which shone no less brightly than the others, after which the audience had one more go at a community carol as they sang 'O Come All Ye Faithful' to conclude their choral effort. The penultimate offering from Shipston Town Band for 2018 was an Alan Fernie arrangement of a local number, the medieval tune 'Coventry Carol', after which the band concluded the evening with 'Christmas Frenzy' from the pen of Yorkshire composer Gavin Somerset, a collection of extracts of well known Christmas Pieces, including 'Gaudete' and Chris De Burgh’s 'A Spaceman Came Travelling'.

     All too soon the star-studded 2018 festive offering from the band was over, however, it did give David Birch and opportunity to thank on behalf of the band Charlie Cox, whose many years with the band saw him in so many important roles, however, Charlie has now decided “that’s all folks” and decided to call it a day.

A Day At The Races

Area Finals - Kenilworth School, Saturday, 9th March, 2019

     No, we’re not talking the Marx Brothers film or that the members of Shipston Town Band have taken up horse racing, but they will be appearing at The Centaur Centre, Cheltenham Racecourse, on Saturday, 14th September, as they join other entrants in the Fourth Section National Finals and have already, we are reliably informed, qualified to go up to the Third Section.

     This amazing venue at The Centaur Centre overlooks the magnificent Chelteneham Racecourse set in the rural Gloucestershire on the outskirts of Cheltenham and provides a spectacular setting as brass bands the length and bredth of the country who having qualified in regional finals compete to in four sections in the hope of being number one in their respective section.

     After their earlier triumph when Shipston came first in the Fourth Section at the Oxford Association Contest, where they gave ‘Stantonbury Festival’ its first outing, Howard Gibbs and his band reinforced the success with a creditable third at Kenilworth and a place at this years Nationals.

     This year was an odd one for the Regionals, because building work at the previous year’s venue created a shortage of accommodation to host all sections at the one venue, a school in Kenilworth School hosted two sections with the other two being held at Bedworth. So after Shipston’s Oxfordshire success the Saturday outing proved very fruitful. It was very apparent from the adjudicators’ comments Shipston had cracked it, one member commented what an impressive and complimentary report it was, with one or two players picked out for special mention.

     This result was even more impressive, given the fact, that like so many other bands nationwide players are at a premium and some chairs remained unfilled in the band on a regular basis, however, despite this Shipston showed just how they can perform under pressure - the lights went out during their Oxfordshire performance yet they came first and in Kenilworth a tight band brought home the third prize, so it’s with these successes under their belts they will endeavour to garner more success at Cheltenham.

     The delight which Howard Gibbs displayed on the news of this win was only too apparent, as the band brought home a little prize money and a trophy after a concerted group effort and all the hard work that goes with that. Historically Shipston Town Band have often enjoyed contest success and have found themselves at the National Finals before, yet success has for a few years eluded them, so it’s really great that they are able to see themselves enjoying contesting success once again.