Still blowing after all these years, Belper Town Wind Band is tuning up for a summer concert season celebrating its 20th anniversary.
The group was formed in 1999 as something of a tribute to the original town band which was linked to Belper’s industrial mills until 1956.
Today it has 25 members from across Amber Valley and beyond, some of whom have been involved in one way or another since the very beginning — but they are on the lookout for new players to help ensure the band has another 20 years on the road.
Crich resident Denise Redfern, 65, joined two years ago after deciding to take up the clarinet again as a retirement hobby.
She said: “I first learned to play when I was 12 and finished when I was about 18, so I’d had a 45 year rest.
“I always kept the clarinet at home. I’ve done a lot of other things with life but this was the one thing I never got around to. When I started to have a bit more time and a bit less responsibility, I thought I would give it a go.”
She added: “I played with another small band first before joining Belper Town, and this is a really friendly group. Being surrounded by other players helps you make progress quickly too, especially if you haven’t played for a while.
“When I first joined, I couldn’t play any of it. But every week after that I could do a little bit more. Suddenly you find yourself coming along in leaps and bounds.
“It has given me a huge sense of achievement, and real feelgood factor. There is something special when it all comes together on stage.”
The band members come from all walks of life and a wide range of ages.
Denise said: “I think the youngest member we’ve ever had was 12, but now it probably spans from late-20s to someone in their 70s.
“We welcome people of any age who can play brass or woodwind to a reasonable enough standard to get started.”
The group rehearse every Tuesday at the Zion Church on Openwoodgate, but their busiest times of year are the summer and Christmas, when they pop up on bandstands all over Derbyshire.
The first engagement this year takes them to Crich Tramway Museum for the ‘Beer & Bands’ event this Sunday, May 5.
After that, they will be performing at Belper Memorial Gardens on June 2, St Peter’s Park in Little Eaton on June 30, Matlock’s Hall Leys Park on July 14, and St Alkmund’s Church in Duffield on September 27.
Denise said: “We are hoping to add a few more dates in, and hopefully we will find time for our own celebratory dinner. We always manage at least one night out together, and this one will be a bit more of a special occasion.
“I think the highlight last year was when we played in the beautiful courtyard at Chatsworth just before Christmas. The music created a great festive atmosphere which was well received by the audience. We are already planning to return this winter.”
In the meantime, the band is hard at work on its concert repertoire for 2019.
Denise said: “Every year we start two or three new pieces so we have quite a lot to choose from now. It’s a mix of classic concert tunes and more modern pieces.
“We are playing some Adele at the moment, Game of Thrones, and some Queen inspired by the Bohemian Rhapsody film. Last year it was all ABBA after Mamma Mia 2.
“Bands are always changing, and I think Belper Town has become renowned for its music over the years. Its nice to feel like we are keeping part of the local history alive too.”
For more information about the band and how to get involved, call Denise on 01773 856566 or go online to www.belpertownwindband.co.uk.