Sep 16, 2014
National Finals Cheltenham


Solo Contest 2017


Shepherd Group Brass Bands Solo Contest 2017

Once again players from all five bands came together to compete in the annual solo competition. Members demonstrated their individual talents with slow melodies, air variations, and technical works. The judge for the evening was Black Dyke solo cornet player David Smith, who had the difficult job of selecting the top two positions in each category. There was such a fantastic array of talent on show and an impressive demonstration of the standard of players across the bands.

Brass Roots

1st Place – Zach Hindle
2nd Place – Elysia Sanderson-Aylett

Academy Band

1st Place – Henry Bate
2nd Place – James Konefal

Youth Band

1st Place – Tasha Collins
2nd Place – Imogen Fewster

Concert Band

1st Place – Louis McLaren
2nd Place – Millie Brough-Jones

Senior Band

1st Place – Isaac Bousfield
2nd Place – Jenny Mansell

Cory Band

Joint Concert with the Cory Band – the World’s Best Brass Band


We are absolutely delighted to announce that on 15th July 2017 the band will be performing a joint concert with the Cory Band, the World’s Best Brass Band.

Cory Band

The Cory Band, whose home is in Treorchy in the Welsh Valleys, comprises both male and female performers of mixed ages and backgrounds, hailing from near and far, but with one thing in common – the drive to do whatever it takes to keep Cory the world’s highest ranked brass band. 

Cory cemented their position as the world’s No.1 ranked band in 2016 by becoming the first band in history to win the European, British Open, National and BiC titles in the same calendar year. The band are proudly leading the traditional form of Brass Band amateur music-making into a new era by exuding a palpable sense of dynamism and professionalism.

Shepherd Group Brass Band’s MD Richard Wilton, commented:

We are tremendously excited for the opportunity to play alongside such a world-class group of musicians. The Cory Band have completely revolutionised the world of top-level banding in the last few years and this an incredible opportunity for all the players of my band, and one that I believe will benefit them for many years to come.”

Concert details

Each band will be performing one half of the concert before joining together for a Massed Bands finale.

The concert itself is taking place in the 350 seat auditorium of Manor CE School in York on 15th July 2017. It starts at 7:30pm with tickets costing just £10. To book tickets please call Nicola – 01904 655076

Manor CE School,
Millfield Lane
Nether Poppleton
YO26 6PA


Donation to Mbale Brass Band Uganda


The Mbale Brass Band of Uganda, founded by Phillip Monk, a retired Brass Band Player, who thought that giving the members a meal along with the opportunity of learning to play an instrument might help to improve the life chances of some of the young people of this impoverished country.

We at Shepherd Group Brass Bands were so inspired by his story we wanted to help in some way so we decided that at our Christmas Concerts we would arrange a leaving collection to which our audiences contributed very generously. We, ourselves also contributed from the Bands funds and donated some instruments from our members which were surplus to requirements.

We are sure that the members of our audiences at the Rowntree Theatre last Christmas will be pleased to see that their very kind generosity is having very positive results.


Back to the Top Flight


The Band is delighted to announce that we have promoted back into the Championship section from 1st January 2018. After spending just one year in the first section the band is thrilled to be back in the top flight, again.

Richard Wilton the Band’s Musical Director said “ it is a great feeling to be straight back into the championship section , everybody has worked so hard recently and we have built a real team in the last few months, we need now to focus on the National finals in Cheltenham and then prepare ourselves for the area Championship s in 2018.”


Area Championship


The band had been working hard for this year’s Area Championship as a good result would see them bounce straight back into the Championship section for 2018.

Richard had worked the band hard with extra sectional and full band rehearsals. The band had a lot to prove. Before going onto stage we knew that we were playing the piece well however, like all contests it’s about the performance on stage and the thoughts of the adjudicators. There was a sense of expectation building amongst the players as the we walked onto stage and settled ourselves. Any nerves gave way to excitement as we gave a truly awesome performance. All the soloists gave their all more than ably supported by the rest of the band, the performance became the benchmark for the contest. Unfortunately on the day this benchmark was set to high for all the other bands. The band was crowned 1St section North of England Champions and with that came an invitation to the National finals in Cheltenham.

Credit and huge thanks must go to Richard for his tireless dedication to the band but also the soloists and all the band members, whilst individuals shone it was a collective team effort which brought home the silverware.

The band won the 1st Section Trophy, Richard received a trophy for the winning Conductor and as an added bonus Alister Brown our Bass Trombone won the best Trombone trophy, so overall a very good day at the office.

Spring Festival 2017

Success at the British Open Spring Festival


The band had a successful weekend playing at the British Open Spring Festival Contest in the wonderful venue of The Spanish Hall at The Blackpool Winter Gardens. The entry into the competition is by invitation only and the organisers take the only the top bands in the country. The band was placed 12th out of 19 competing bands in the Senior Trophy , and we are delighted to announce that this means we will reappear at the contest again next year. Ian Porthouse and Tom Hutchinson made lots of positive comments about our performance in their adjudicator’s remarks – we should all be very proud of the way the band’s soloists performed on stage – a huge congratulations to all! Particular thanks must go to our MD, Mr Richard Wilton, for his endless hard work during sectionals and rehearsal in preparing us for this contest. This was a particularly momentous weekend from the band – never before have The Shepherd Group Band been a part of this prestigious contest, but it has recently come to light that the Rowntree Cocoa Works Band were present at the 1959 contest.

Cornets 1

Shepherds welcome in 2017 with strong cornet line-up


A few months ago university commitments, relocation and retirements meant that the band was in a very unfortunate position to have lost a number of cornet players all at once. But following our successful third-placed performance in the Championship Section at the Bolsover Entertainment Contest back in October, we had a big recruitment drive and are now back up to full strength, with quite possibly, our strongest team yet.

andyNew principal cornet

Following a long hard search we have also found ourselves a fantastic principal cornet player. Andy Novell has been a friend of the band now for many years and agreed to join the team following his departure from the York Railway Institute Band this autumn. Alongside being an excellent player Andy also brings conducting experience to the table from his time with the Otley Brass Band and we are looking forward to getting him involved with training some of our younger players.


cornets 2Meet the new players

In total we have acquired 6 new cornet players, all of whom are great local players:

  • Principal cornet – Andy Novell (top right)
  • Front row – Andy Grace (middle right) and Rob and Lynne Illsley (middle and bottom left)
  • Back row – Peter Andrews (top left) and Julia Sanders (bottom right)

Whilst the players have now all been performing with the band over the festive period they will all be competing with the band at the Areas in March on Land of the Long White Cloud and for the bands debut performance at the Spring Festival in May.

MD Richard Wilton Commented:

Honestly, I’m so thrilled at how well it’s all come together. Back in August when we had players leaving to go to university and I found out we were losing a couple more due to new jobs, I won’t lie, I was really pretty panicked! But our new recruits take our cornet team to completely new levels and I can’t wait to start work on the Area test piece with them. I’m particularly delighted at the signing of Mr Novell, who has now done a couple of concerts with us and brings such classy playing to the cornet section, he really is a pleasure to work with. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Simon Dawson, who has been filling in for me on principal cornet. He has done a fantastic job and I honestly don’t know how we would have coped without him, really top bandsman!

Organisation on the up

Outside of the Senior Band, the Shepherd Group Brass Band Organisation continues to be on the rise, making up one of the largest brass band communities in Europe with over 150 players and 5 bands, and due to heavy demand we are looking at expanding even further in 2017.


Christmas Concerts, “the best yet”

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We have been very humbled by the response to our latest Joseph Rowntree concerts, which we have been told were “our best yet!”. Every year the bands of the Shepherd Group put on Gala Christmas Concerts at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre in York, and every year they are very successful and always sell out.

This was also the very first performance of our latest ensemble and absolute beginners, Brass Roots, who played as the audience were arriving. Brass Roots has been founded to accommodate absolute beginners in their first few months of learning and teach them the basics of notation and playing in a small-ensemble setting before entering the Academy Band.

MD Richard Wilton commented:

“I had a five year plan for when I joined the band as to where I saw the organisation going, and it has been completely blown out of the water! We now have over 150 members, 5 bands and some of the most passionate and dedicated brass players around.”

Grand Finale

Every year we conclude our concerts with a massed bands finale and every year these are getting more and more elaborate. This year we concluded with the bands playing the “Hallelujah Chorus” accompanied by the “Silent Monks of Tang Hall”….. Please check out our full video of the finale, which went down a storm with the croud!


The funds raised from these concerts are so important for the band, as they allow us to carry on progressing our youth programme, purchase new instruments, pay for extra tutors and keep our music library up-to-date. However, we are so lucky as a band that we are in such a stable financial position and we have therefore decided to donate our retiring collection to charity. Across the two nights our audiences donated a total of £516, which will be split between York Against Cancer and Brass for Africa.

We have a busy schedule for concerts for 2017, which will be available, so keep checking our Events page.

15032931_10157774656385346_2980470932832322637_n 2

Youth Band dazzle as they switch on the Christmas Lights


15094366_10157774656810346_1679502736070800467_nLast night our Youth Band were lucky enough to join the Lord Mayor, Radio York and the cast of the Theatre Royal Pantomime to switch on the Christmas Lights in St Helen’s Square.

The switching on of the lights, organised by York City Council, has become a huge event over the last few years, attracting large crowds from all over the city. Last night was no exception as hundreds of people braved the elements to see the annual spectacle. The Youth Band played a number of carols and famous Christmas songs and held the crowd around for long after the actual lights had been switched on.

Youth Band MD Craig Brown commented:   15122985_10157774656045346_3735058541727313476_o

“It’s a such a great opportunity for the kids to get to play in front of such a big audience and for such a well respected event. It’s an event that a lot of people film and remember so it’s a really fantastic chance to showcase exactly what they can do.”

Find out where else you can see our Youth Band by visiting our events page.


Shepherds team up with Acoustic Percussion


The band is proud to announce the launch of a new partnership with highly regarded specialist percussion brand Acoustic Percussion. This alliance started earlier this year after the company supplied a large number of mallets and sticks to the band in order to help bring more young percussionists into the organisation.

The bands percussion Tutor Alan Drever-Smith commented:

“We are thrilled to have access to such an excellent range of mallets, which our budding percussion students love to use.”


Since starting the partnership Alan has had the resources at his disposal to expand the percussion sections of both the Academy and Youth Bands. This means that the organisation now has several new budding percussionists that will hopefully move up into the Concert and Senior Bands. The extra equipment has even meant that Alan has been able to run a highly successful “Percussion Masterclass” in order to further recruit new members.

Acoustic Percussion source only the finest materials from all over the globe to produce their equipment and the brand is well known for producing extremely high quality and balanced kit. The bands are very excited about the partnership and believe it will greatly help the aspiring percussionists of the organisation.