St Dennis Band were passed a band photograph recently via The China Clay History Group with a request to potentially name the Band conductor and players and to estimate the period that the picture was taken at the front of St Dennis Rectory.
Senior members of the St Dennis Band organisation agreed that the picture was almost certainly pre-war and with research from the fine array of competition trophies displayed in the photograph, in time could ascertain an accurate date.
Imagine Phil Willcocks surprise to obtain confirmation that the photo was indeed taken in 1929 and the privilege to meet, and talk banding of yesteryear with a St Dennis Bandsman proudly stood as a member of the cornet section in the actual picture.
The meeting was on the occasion of Mr Frank Brewer’s 103rd birthday celebration at Amberley House, Truro with Frank displaying an enlarged framed identical picture on his living room wall. Aged 14 yrs at that time, Frank followed his father, Frank Brewer Snr (bass trombone) in the band moving to solo euphonium until the 1950’s, then continuing his end chair seat position touring all over the world with The Central Band of The RAF. His one regret during this time was not playing under the baton of Eddie Williams who he agrees was a massive asset to St Dennis. Frank has always retained a strong interest in the progress of the band from this time on.
Frank, better known as Harley Brewer during his time at St Dennis, recalls with great affection the musicianship and comradeship he experienced initially under his father’s wing and the renowned Bandmaster, also in the photo, Mr Charley Baker. Younger brothers Terry and Melville followed Frank in the band thus completing a long association of the Brewer name in the playing ranks of the band.
Frank spends leisure time listening to Brass Band music and would welcome an early afternoon visit from St Dennis Band supporters who will enjoy his amazing memory of concerts, occasions and fellow players from the late 1920’s onwards.
A successful day was had by members of the St Dennis band who attended the Helston solo contest on Saturday 20th October. 13 players took part in solos, duets and quartets.
Ellie Joy was placed 2nd in the ‘Under 18’s’ slow melody in a closely fought head to head with Grace Thomas of Bodmin. Whilst in the ‘Open’ slow melody, Ellie was placed 1st out of 9, with Grace in 2nd place.
Julie Dobson was awarded 3rd in the over 40’s solo class.
In the open duet, Terry Sleeman and Ellie Joy were awarded 2nd.
In the senior quartet St Dennis entered 4 quartets, with the quartet of James Hammett, Ellie Joy, Rachael Sloggett and Andrew Hammett coming 1st, winning the ‘Championship of Cornwall’ quartet shield. 2nd: Grace Thomas, Catherine Dowrick, Julie Dobson and Neil Pascoe. 3rd: Neil Pascoe, Terry Sleeman, Rachael Sloggett and Dave Coad.
A big thank you to Grace Thomas who agreed to play in a quartet at the last minute due to illness.
We are proud to
announce the launch of the new St Dennis Band ‘Music Academy’.
structure and initiative will see expert brass and percussion tuition taught
alongside aspects of both music theory and aural to develop all round
musicianship. It will be suitable for either complete beginners or for young
people who’ve already started learning, providing them with outstanding
instrumental tuition in addition to junior and youth ensemble opportunities. All
tutors have the expert knowledge and experience needed to deliver the
objectives of the organisation as well as the student requirements. Based at
our very own band room in the village, the home of the famous ‘St Dennis Band’,
the Music Academy will offer opportunities for every young person to learn in a
stimulating and supportive environment whilst enabling them to reach their full
musical potential. Importantly, it’s here they’ll be able to share these
experiences with other young people, whose interests and goals are similar to
their own. Our widely experienced instrumental tutors will deliver tuition
arranged on either a one-to-one or shared basis where music is always carefully
selected to suit the ability of each player whilst working at the right level
for their development. There are also opportunities to put players in for ABRSM
The academy will
meet on a Wednesday evening between 6:15-7:45pm and will be coordinated by the
vastly experienced Linda Trethewey, who will work alongside our tutors from the
Senior Band. Instruments (if required), music and tuition can be provided for
just £2 a week.
to come along for a taster session, start to learn or indeed join the academy
can contact Linda on 01726 891036.
St Dennis Youth Ensemble
In addition, the
organisation has recently launched a more advanced St Dennis Youth Ensemble. Led
by two of the most experienced and successful brass conductors/educators in the
county, St Dennis Band Director of Music, Mr Darren R. Hawken and Music
Consultant, Mr Derek Greenwood; the ensemble will provide the perfect platform
and opportunity for the more advanced young brass and percussion players to
develop their playing potential. Derek Greenwood brings with him the
expertise, knowledge and experience having previously led a Cornish Youth Band
to the acclaimed title of ‘National Youth Brass Band Champions’. We welcome young players from all around the county to come and join
us and be part of this new, exciting and forward thinking yet progressive
ensemble. With public concerts planned for 2019, aspirations to compete on the
competition platform as well as side-by-side outreach performance opportunities
with the St Dennis Senior Band, the drive and vision is clear – to be a central hub in the county for brass excellence.
Weekly membership is merely £2 a week inclusive of instrument hire (if needed).
ambition is to grow this ensemble to be one of the finest youth brass bands in
the county and beyond. If anyone aged 19 or under wishes to express their
interest in joining the ensemble, please contact Mr Darren R. Hawken on 07817504036 or email@example.com. The St Dennis Youth Ensemble rehearsals are held in the band room on
a Thursday evening between 6:45 – 7:45pm.
The band members and committee of St Dennis Band are extremely proud to offer sincere congratulations to Musical Director Darren Hawken who will in September be made a Bard of Gorsedh Kernow in recognition of his services to Cornish Music.
Darren will be 1 of 16 new Bards for 2018 and is already looking forward to the Initiation Ceremony which will take place on 1st September 2018 in Newquay.
The band are delighted to announce two immediate new signings. We warmly welcome Kevin Ackford on first horn whilst Julie Dobson accepts the position of second horn.
Kevin becomes a member of the band following several guest appearances in recent years, most notably being part of our golden year in 2016 winning the West of England First Section title, the Royal Trophy at the West of England Bandsmen’s Festival and the coveted title of National First Section Brass Band Champions. Kevin often recalls that 2016 was one of his lifetime highlights in the 50 years he has been playing. Regarded as one of the finest and most talented horn players to have ever come out of Cornwall, Kevin has held multiple solo positions in bands such as the Cornwall Youth Brass Band and the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain playing under some fine conductors. His first solo horn appointment was with the Bodmin Band aged just 12 with further distinguished success with the St Austell Band. University then beckoned playing with Rochdale Wilsons Band with notable performances at the British Open before eventually returning to St Austell. His distinguished career has seen him give solo performances both on radio and television in addition to making two appearances at the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain held at the Royal Albert Hall. As a composer of over 30 works, conductor, teacher and arranger, his knowledge, experience and talent is a vastly welcomed addition to the band.
Julie joins the band from the Bodmin Town Band having held the solo horn position and more recently, the flugelhorn seat there for several years. Vastly experienced, Julie held the solo horn position with Greggs Bakery Band (under the legendary Jimmy Shepherd) in the 1990’s, Ripieno Cornet with the Forest of Dean Band when they were promoted to the Championship Section in 1999 before returning to solo horn with the Launceston Town Band and latterly, Storm Brass before joining the Bodmin Town Band. In addition, Julie has made many National Finals appearances over the years. Julie also enjoys playing in ‘JDACC Brass’, a family brass quintet featuring her three talented daughters and husband, David. Julie is a teaching assistant in a rural primary school whilst still finding time to teach brass, recorder and music theory in other local schools. A fine bands person, Julie is a great addition to the band and we wish her every success and happiness in the years to come.
Naturally with new signings, we are very sad to say goodbye to two players. Dany Hancock, after 18 years of dedicated and loyal service to both the Youth and Senior Band, takes a break from the band. We will hopefully see Dany return from time to time; however, in the meantime we wish her every happiness and success in all that she does. Departing to Cardiff University is Rebecca Whitford. A product from the youth band, Rebecca goes on to pastures new in September and continues with the next chapter in her educational life. Like Dany, we wish Rebecca good luck in all that she does and we will look forward to seeing her when she visits Cornwall outside of term time.
On Friday 13th July, the Band were exclusively invited to the Highgrove Estate in Gloucestershire, the family residence of HRH The Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cornwall to celebrate his 70th birthday.
The Band performed 3 hours of light background music for approximately 650 guests which culminated with a special rendition of “Happy Birthday” for his His Royal Highness.
It was a real delight and honour to attend this private and prestigious Royal event that will live long in the memory of St Dennis Band Members.
This was the second Royal Appointment for the Band in the last 2 years, as 2016 saw them perform for the unveiling of the iconic Queen Mother Statue in Poundbury with her Majesty the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall all in attendance.
It is with delight that the St Dennis Band announces that Mr Derek Greenwood has accepted the position of Music Consultant with immediate effect.
Derek is no stranger to the band having held the post of Musical Director in the early 90’s and more recently, providing invaluable input leading up to the British Open Spring Festival and the West of England Bandsmen’s Festival.
Professional Musical Director Mr Darren Hawken commented: ‘I am thrilled that Derek has accepted my invitation to take on this new and important consultancy role within the organisation. His knowledge, experience and huge success down the years will prove to be an invaluable asset to both myself and the band, ensuring that further progress is made in order to realise and achieve the very high ambitions of this ever progressive band. Whilst significant progress over the last few years has been notably achieved, my players are hungry for even greater success on both the contest and concert platforms.’
Mr Derek Greewood commented: I am delighted to be involved with St Dennis band once again.
Having worked with them before the Spring Festival and Bugle Contest, I was so impressed with the way MD Darren Hawken works with his band. His musicianship is a breath of fresh air to Cornish banding. He works so hard so it’s easy to see why the band improves so much. It will be a great pleasure to work with Darren and the band as I’m sure there will be further exiting times ahead.
It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that the band announces the death of its President, Mr Denis Hill. A wonderful and inspiring man. His loss will have a huge impact on the band that he so richly loved. His immeasurable and unwavering support to the organisation over decades is without doubt one of the defining factors in the wonderful success the band sees today. The St Dennis Band first performed at Trewan Hall in 1973, the very place Denis and his late wife Phyllis restored in the early 60’s when they moved to Cornwall. Denis’ association with the band has stood for nearly half a century, a legacy that one cannot and will not ever forget.
Monday’s concert at Trewan Hall was difficult as Denis’ passing had just been announced, however, the family gave their full support to a musical evening celebrating Denis’ life and paying tribute to one of his greatest loves in life, brass bands but in particular, his beloved St Dennis Band.
May we send our deepest and heartfelt condolences to Denis’ family at this terribly sad time.
Rest in Peace Denis.
St Dennis Band are delighted to announce the signing of Ryun Retallack.
Ryun joins the band on back-row cornet and brings with him a wealth of top-flight banding experience. He has played for the Band at both the Regional Contest back in March and also the Spring Festival which was held last month.
Ryun was a member of the Bodmin Town Band for many years where he contributed greatly to their success over the years.
Professional Musical Director Darren Hawken declared “Ryun is a top class cornet player and an exemplary Bandsman. This signing is very good news for the Band and I’d like to wish Ryun a long and successful future with the Band.”
Ryun will make his debut with the Band this Saturday at the West of England Bandsmens Festival (Bugle Contest).