Arundel's Southdowns Concert Band mark anniversary

A special year lies ahead for Arundel's Southdowns Concert Band who are celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2018.

Southdowns Concert Band
Southdowns Concert Band

One of the highlights on their programme will be their birthday concert for the Festival of Chichester on July 13 at Boxgrove Priory.

The band performs a wide, varied and versatile musical repertoire to suit all tastes, from popular classical standards to the more challenging works of the modern wind-band repertoire. The most important thing is that the music-making is an enjoyable experience for musicians and audiences alike.

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Members come from all over the county. Some are involved in music professionally, as school teachers or as instrument tutors; others play for local community or town bands but enjoy the challenge of performing to a higher level.

Concert secretary Brenda Bailey said: “It was started by a man called David Moore who was the first conductor, but it was founded by a man called Geoff Lewis. He is a saxophone and clarinet player who lived in Worthing. He isn’t a member any more, but for the special concert, we have invited past conductors of the band and ex-members of the band to join us.”

Brenda has been there right from the start.

“I got a call for the first rehearsals which were early January 1988, and that was the start. Geoff knew my playing from different bands, and I was up for it because I spent six years on the Women’s Royal Army Corps Staff Band. I was a professional musician in band work. Playing music is like second nature to me.”

Brenda, who plays clarinet and bassoon, recalls: “There were quite a lot of people at that first meeting. There might have been 20 or 30. He contacted everybody he knew that played the area, and they rehearsed, initially monthly, at Lancing College.

“We rehearse now at Arundel C of E School.

“Over the years there have been tough times, but generally it has been great fun and everybody enjoys it. It is about playing with like-minded people and playing with people who enjoy this kind of music. It doesn’t happen very often now. I have played in all sorts of concerts, whether orchestral or whatever, and often there will be a piece you don’t like. But generally with this band, everyone likes all the music and we all have fun.”

“We have got about 40 in the band, but we are always looking for new members. We play concert marches and overtures. We also do show selections. We have done Evita, King & I, My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, all those sorts of things.

“We haven’t recorded. It is just about the performance. Last year, we did nine concerts. Usually we do at least six.

“We usually do two a term, and then we get more at Christmas.”