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. Recently promoted to the Third Section, the band enjoys a full engagement book and welomes players who enjoy their contests and bandstands alike.

Paul Lay

Grace Coates

John Smith

Paolo Pezzangora

Rebecca Coates,

Bob Pitts

Karen Wears, Steve Easton

Anne White, Duncan Smith

Darran Wheeler

Adrian White, Liz Smith

Mary Cox

Karen Pitts

David Birch

Eugene Gratwohl

Tom Evans

Phil Richardson

Bev Bosworth

Neil Armstrong

Vacant Position

Ken Smith

Ben Lewis-Skeath

Alec Banner

Eleanor Smith

the lights went out but the band played on


    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.

shipston all set for a day  at the races


     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.

a spa day for shipston band


     The band visited Droitwich Lido bandstand for the first time in three years and received a warm welcome from a good audience.

     The band played a varied programme including the rarely heard march ‘Viva Birkenshaw' and Alan Fernie's spirited opener ‘Prismatic Light’. No less than six soloists were featured and all played well. Solo Trombone Bev Bosworth featured the traditional trombone solo ‘Where 'ere You Walk’ while Adrian White played a brand new horn solo ‘Bohemien’. Flugel Horn Darran Wheeler played a brand new solo ‘Lullaby In Birdland’ and Principal Cornet Grace Coates featured the traditional Scottish Melody ‘Aye Waukin Oh’. Paul Lovatt Cooper's ‘Horizon’ brought this highly varied and entertaining programme to a close.


     Despite the threat of rain a good and appreciative audience gathered at the Townsend Hall for the annual Soloists Showcase Concert as part of Shipston Proms.

     Principal Cornet Grace Coates delighted the audience with ‘O Divine Redeemer’ arranged for Kirsty Abbotts. Solo Trombone Bev Bosworth gave a terrific performance of the classic trombone solo 'Where E’er You Walk' by Handel and also featured were Solo Horn Adrian White, Flugel Horn Darran Wheeler and the cornet team of Grace Coates, John Smith, Paolo Pezzangora and Rebecca Coates who wowed the audience with a very spirited version of ‘Mr Sandman’. Euphonium player David Birch made a surprise appearance standing for the unwell Jamie Raffell with an arrangement by Charlie Cox of the Glenn Miller favourite ‘I Know Why’.

     Other items included ‘Prismatic Light’, ‘Big Band Explosion’ comprising three classic big band hits, ‘Trailblaze’ by Goff Richards and a delightful setting of 'Abide With Me’ by Albert Jakeway before the concert closed with a performance of 'Stantonbury Festival Overture’ which gave conductor Howard Gibbs the opportunity to record the band’s recent contest successes and its forthcoming visit to the National Brass Band Championships at The Centaur Centre, Cheltenham Racecourse, just outside Cheltenham on Saturday, 14th September, 2019, so if you fancy a day out and wish to cheer Shipston on the band will be delighted to see you there as they take on other bands in their section.

     The audience clapped for more and the band happily obliged with an arrangement of the hymn ‘The Day Thou Gavest’.

a sandman, three maids and seven dwarfs

     The Town Band visited Evesham for their annual visit to Abbey Park to perform a concert in the bandstand. Despite the threat of rain, the weather remained fine and the band drew a decent crowd.

The band played a varied programme and a number of people came over afterwards and complimented the band on its choice of music and performance. Principal Cornet Grace Coates. Solo Horn Adrian White and Euphonium David Birch were all featured as soloists and there were two sectional features with the cornets playing an arrangement of the Chordettes 1950’s hit ‘Mr Sandman’ and the horns an arrangement of ‘Three Little Maids’ by Eb Bass Player Ken Smith. ‘Seven Dwarfs Swing’ proved popular with audience and the band finished in fine style with Paul Lovatt Coopers ‘Horizons’.

premier performances at pershore


     Thirty bands entertained the crowds at four different venues in Pershore between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. The day began with a fanfare composed by the bands Eb Bass player Ken Smith and performed by members of Alcester Victoria Band

     Shipston Town Band were fortunate to be allocated two spots performing at both the Angel Inn and Pershore Abbey. The band was on fine form at both venues. At the Angel they included a cornet feature ‘Mr. Sandman’ featuring Grace Coates, John Smith, Paolo Pezzangora and Rebecca Coates. The Waltz from the ‘Jazz Suite’ by Shostakovich, 'Seven Dwarfs Swing’ and the Theme Music from ‘Game Of Thrones’ were included in an entertaining programme.

     The Abbey provided a chance for more melodic music to suite the warm acoustic. Principal cornet Grace Coates gave a superb performance of ‘O Divine Redeemer’, originally arranged for the band’s famous alumni Kirsty Abbotts and David Birch performed the euphonium solo ‘I Know Why’. Albert Jakeway’s meditative setting of ‘Abide With Me’ and Joseph Turrin’s ‘Hymn To Diana’ brought the programme to a reflective close.

     The band was grateful for the help received from Arrow Valley, Avonbank and Staffordshire Bands to cover for absences.

welcome return to warwick park after absence


     It had been many years since the band played at St. Nicholas’ Park in Warwick but they thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

     The afternoon started well with the news that the rangers had brought the chairs for us. The park was full of people so the car park was congested and some members had a long walk to get to the venue. The band played well to the large audience on a flat grassy area in front of the cafe.

     A number of the band featured as soloists. Luke Barker making a guest appearance played ‘Aye Waukin Oh’ and Mary Cox featured on solo horn for the first time with 'On My Own’.

     With the holiday season in full swing the band was grateful to the help received from other local bands to cover for holiday absences. Bilton, Flowers, Avonbank, City Of Birmingham and Bletchington all provided help which was much appreciated.

shipston sparkle

in their national finals year!

swanning around in stratford


Sunday’s visit to Stratford Bandstand was their final bandstand engagement of the summer.

     The early morning rain did not put off the crowds and a good audience was present throughout. The band

played its usual varied programme and all the team of soloists were featured drawing prolonged applause. Stratford is famous for its swans and the band obviously impressed one of their number as it came very close to joining them on the bandstand and certainly kept the audience amused.

ken and ben are lonely!

Town Band are off to a good start this year, they're back up in the Third Section, there seems to be loads of percussion occupying the end of the bandroom as the band prepares to make a success of this year's Third Section Area test piece 'Endurance'.

     They have also a stronger band than they've enjoyed for some time with all seats filled with the exception of two permanently filled positions and that would be Eb and Bb bass. At present two of the four chairs are occupied by Ken Smith on Eb Bass and young Ben Lewis-Skeath on Bb, but they're both rather lonely at present for there should be a team of four.

     In the past, concerts and engagements have seen them joined by deps. who have helped fill the unmistakable sound of a row of basses, so regular and permanent chums would be great to join our Ken and Ben.

     Over the years Shipston Town Band has enjoyed a full membership in all sections and contesting  success has often followed. The band is enjoying some notable successes again and the icing on the cake would be two more bases to complete the 2020 contest line-up. So if you are a bass player that's either resting or looking for a new challenge we would love to hear from you.

shipstons own roadrunner!

It is to be appreciated that each year members of our three bands put in a pretty impressive effort Christmas after Christmas as they raise funds to ensure the band not only keeps going but prospers.

     All our members give willingly and freely of whatever time they can spare in this endeavour to secure a successfuly financial outcome to ensure the band is not only secure but prosperous too - there's always something that needs replacing or mending.

     We're always grateful to David and his team of organisers who see to the bookings, transporting books and kit, etc., to the venues which start in late November and run right to Christmas Day itself. Everyone does their bit, some, however, more than we could hope to expect. So well done one and all, in all three bands, including our very own 'road runner' and that is Devises resident Phil Richardson, who let alone arriving twice a week to all practices, once again clocked up an amazing mileage attending so many Christmas turn-outs, thank you and well done Phil!!

farewell, goodbye . . .

Yes, our Webmaster has been watching, Julie Andrews and her chums in The Sound of Music, bit sad we know, but there is the odd decent tune in there.

     In one of their final numbers, you may all recall the Von Trapp family leave the local song festival as they make their daring escape from Nazi Germany over the hills and faraway - America actually, and as they leave they treat the audience, as Steve Jobbs would have said to "just one more thing", a song whose opening words commence as does our heading.

     So it is with similar sadness we bid farewell to Jamie Raffell our former Principal Euphonium player who has decided to call it a day. Thanks Jamie, we shall miss you and of course you're always welcome to call in and say hello - stay in touch.

     Our Euphonium line-up now sees David Birch back on principal and Eugene Gratwohl moving from 1st Baritone to 2nd Euphonium, with Tom Evans filling Eugene's former position on 1st Baritone.

super  spring sunday for shipston . . .


As part of their preparations for the forthcoming Midland Area Contest at Kenilworth, the band entered the ODBBA Winter Contest at Woodstock on Sunday which was to be their first contest since being promoted to the Third Section.

      Weeks of rehearsal were put to the test and found favour with adjudicator Paul Norley who awarded the band third place. He was also very complimentary about the playing of the band’s Principal Cornet Grace Coates commenting on her excellent sound and tuneful playing and awarded her the prize for the ‘Outstanding Instrumentalist’.

locked down but not locked out

     With the band facing an indeterminate length of lay off it has been taking on various activities to keep the interest flowing.

     Howard has organised the Town Band to record three distanced recordings which are posted here on the web  site. The pieces are the hymn tune Ellers, Lollipop and Fly Me To The Moon. Secretary Dave Birch has organised two weekly quizzes. The midweek Who Am I? presents members with a set of clues to guess the identity of the mystery celebrity. Quickest correct answer wins. The weekly quiz has five questions  and the winner is drawn out of a hat containing all the correct solutions. Add to this an occasional prize for an early bird answer. This shows we must have some insomniacs within the band as both Alan Birch and Phil Richardson got their answers in during the wee small hours of Sunday morning amazingly at the same time to claim a joint prize. Finally we have just begun a series called Bandsman's Choice where different members of the band beginning with conductor Howard Gibbs present a programme of their choosing. This replaced a previous series when the band had a chance to listen to retrospective recordings from as far back as 60 years ago many recorded live at contests by a company called Keepoint Records.

     Private practice continues as we await the announcement of the time when the band is able to come out of hibernation.

large lounge required

     Normally Alec Banner our young percussionist would be enjoying the Annual NCBBGB Summer Course at a public school with a selection of some of the country's finest players acting as tutors.

     The Covid 19 Pandemic has rendered this impossible but not to be defeated the course was re-scheduled as a virtual course with all the players sending in their contributions online and the performance put together for an end of course concert. Being a percussion means you need a large lounge to accomodate all of the percussion kit that was shipped from the band hall. As you can see from the photographs Alec rose to the occasion and will have memories to last a lifetime from what turned out to be a special course.

     Alec's Mum Kirstie commented: 'I had a lounge once and a bread bin, but the lounge had become a percussion studio and the bread bin was suspended for the bell in the Sousa march Liberty Bell'.

oh . . . and a bread bin!



Fly Me To The Moon

exciting experiences for two talented youngsters  . . .

     Eighteen-year-old cornet player Luke Barker and 13 year old percussionist Alec Banner are members of the National Youth Brass Band and the National Children’s Band respectively and would normally be enjoying their summer courses culminating in a grand concert.

     Luke who began his playing with Shipston Town Band is now a member of the famous Flowers Band from Gloucester. Alec has been a member of Shipston Town Band since he was six years old. Within the current Covid 19 situation such courses were not possible, but not wishing to be defeated the organisers of the bands set about organising a virtual course so the youngsters could still enjoy the experience of the course whilst remaining at home sending their own performance through the internet to be mastered into a virtual band concert.

     Others still will relate to the recent surge of interest in1980s culture and the Netflix series Stranger Things (to which the title of my work pays homage). Nor would it be unreasonable to consider the piece an analogy reflecting events in 2020.”

     Meanwhile, the NYBB will perform Bramwell Tovey’s 'Madrigali', which in the words of the composer, “is a set of instrumental madrigals for each section of the band which will use a specially prepared click-track and involve individual and sectional preparation. The full band sections will be edited and pieced together post-course.”

     Guest soloist for the NCBB will be Black Dyke Band principal trombone, Brett Baker. Viewers will hear 'La chica sin nombre' (The girl with no name), by Rob Wiffin, completed during lockdown by the former conductor of the RAF Central Band. Spiritual ' Somestimes I feel Like a Motherless Child'  arranged by the soloist during lockdown, “focuses on the higher aspects of the range for the trombone”; and the challenging 'Autumn Dreams'g by Leo Zimmerman, a trombone soloist with the J P Sousa Band.

     Soloist for the NYBB will be international euphonium soloist, David Childs. Childs will play one of his favourite solos,'The Betters Worlds'  by Norman Bearcroft, 'The Song I'll Make Music'   by Karl Jenkins, and 'Carnival of Venice' by Paganini / Arban, a work he previously played under Bramwell Tovey with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

     The National Youth (NYBB) and National Children’s (NCBB) Brass Bands of Great Britain are to feature two brand new works for virtual brass band at their inaugural joint concert on Friday, 7th August, 2020.

     Broadcast live as part of its National Youth at Home initiative, the NCBB will include the premiere of Peter Graham’s 'Strange New Worlds' and the NYBB will include the premiere of Bramwell Tovey’s 'Madrigali', both written for virtual performance.  Professor Nicholas Childs will lead the NCBB and Bramwell Tovey will lead the NYBB.

     The NCBB recorded Peter Graham’s 'Strange New Worlds' during its recent virtual course. A five-movement work, which in the words of the composer, “some may interpret … as being one from the ancients while others might identify with the science-fiction of H.G. Wells.

     'The Betters Worlds' will be performed in tribute to the composer, who passed away recently. 

     Alun Williams, the Band’s interim administrator, said: "The concert will feature 140 of the UK’s finest young brass and percussion soloists from across the UK, led by two leading conductors, with two of the UK’s best brass soloists, what’s not to like? 

     Featuring brand-new compositions and arrangements for brass band coupled with the opportunity to hear the winner of the the NYBB’s Mortimer Prize, the broadcast will have something for everyone.”

The virtual concert will begin at 7pm on 7th August via the Band’s YouTube and Facebook sites.