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Concerts
The Band performs 6 concerts a year and as always, all of the band's concerts are raising money for local & national charities. This year's charities will include West Cliff Theatre, St Helena Hospice, Little Havens Childrens Hospice and our local Church Charities

Future Concerts
Past Concerts

Band Work

Click below to see the Charity work the band does



Social Events
In addition to the musical side, we also run regular social events so that we can get to know each other a bit better in a more relaxed and informal setting. Social events are organised by Alison from the Committee...and have included Pub Meals, Bowling, Beach Parties, Summer Barbecues, our 30th Birthday meal & party, and many other events. We are always open to new ideas, so if you have any suggestions for future events, please let us know.

Past Events
Future Events

Committees

The Band Committee focuses on day to day management of the band, including concerts, rehearsals, finance and music.
It comprises the conductor, band members and parents of band members.

Current Committee members are:
Chair & Musical Director  : Graham Wilson
Concerts Bookings : Graham Wilson & Karen Maxwell
Finances : Paul Hampshire
Publicity : Graham Wilson & Gillian Walker
Membership : Alison Smith
Recruitment & Schools : Nick Thompson
Charity Liason : Louise Davey

Vacancies
Events Manager
Socials

Committee members are elected annually at the Band AGM, held each April. Any interested party is welcome to stand for election onto the Committee.


The Conductor

 

Graham Wilson

A Conductor's Story

Joining West Bergholt Concert Band as a twelve year old clarinettist turned out to be a life-changing moment…I certainly never expected to be with the band 30 years later, or to end up conducting it for the last 22 years, 18 of them as sole conductor. I joined the band, as did most people in those days, via the band's founder, the late Sid Cooper. As one of Essex's principle peripatetic music teachers, Sid taught & inspired a whole generation of young musicians, including me, my brother, my sister, my wife, and innumerable past & present members of the band. When he died suddenly at the start of 1990, the loss to the band & its members was immeasurable, but we all felt we owed it to Sid to keep the band running, and to keep it true to his vision.
As lead clarinettist & occasional conductor during Sid's reign, my brother Jeff was the natural choice to take over the band. He guided it through an emotional memorial concert at the Westcliff Theatre in Clacton, and continued as principle conductor for five years until the pressures of work meant he had to step down, and I had to step up from deputy conductor to take the baton full time.

My initial challenge as conductor was to step up the band's recruitment activities to ensure we replaced those members that had played under Sid & Jeff but were about to leave for University. As well as running the band, I was also teaching at the Music School where Sid taught me, so I took a leaf out of his book and dragged all the youngsters I was teaching along to the band…as well as some old friends of mine.

Having revitalised the band's membership, we took on the challenge of doubling the number of concerts we performed annually, and using the band's skills to raise money for charity. The last 10 years have been the band's busiest & most successful ever, with concerts in some of the best local venues, and at a performance level that enthralls audiences. We're continuing to raise literally thousands of pounds for charities each year, and an ex-member who heard the band at a recent concert commented "I've never heard the band sound so good".

Writing this article has involved reminiscing on both the happy & sad times I've had with the band, but it's also made me realise how far the band has come, and what an exciting future it has. The depth of enjoyment & energy within the band makes it truly unique, and an honor to conduct.


Lottery Grants

 
Workshops
As well as performing concerts, the band continues to work with local schools & teachers to promote music to young musicians. Secondary & Middle Schools are invited to join us for our "Concert In A Day" events, and Primary Schools continue to enjoy joining us for our "Band Training Days".

Past Events
Future Events

Bring a Friend
Open Rehearsal / Bring-a-Friend night (BAF) is a special WBCB open rehearsal designed for new players to come along for the first time. These nights are usually held a couple of weeks into the new term and provide the perfect night to find out about the band. You are under no obligation to stay, you do not need to pay anything for that evening and it does not matter if you play a few wrong notes! Everyone will be playing the music for the first time, there'll be buddies to look after you in your section, and 'meeters and greeters' will welcome you and answer any queries. We are especially looking for new Training Band members on any woodwind or brass instruments, and Trombone players for Concert Band...but any band instrument is welcome. If you know someone or would like to have a go your self, 6:00pm at Heathlands School, West Bergholt is the place for you..
Past Events
Future Events

Band History

A History of the West Bergholt Concert Band
by Jane Sweeting

The band was started one cold winters night in the late 1970's by Sid Cooper, a local peripatetic teacher. The band quickly grew from the original eight members into the size it is now, and has seen changes of members and conductors, and changes in its format, but remains a very strong and much-loved band.

Over the years the West Bergholt Concert Band has performed concerts in schools, in theatres - the Mercury Theatre in Colchester, the Quay Theatre in Sudbury and the Westcliff Theatre in Clacton - and in churches across Essex and Suffolk. Members have come and gone, many staying with us from primary school age until they leave for university. At the time of writing, we have at least 6 very new members, and in the last year or so we have been pleased to recruit newcomers to almost every instrument. It's always brilliant to see a new face, and we aim to welcome everyone and help them find their feet. We have at least three members from the very early days (including Graham and me!), and over the years the band has encouraged many friendships and even a couple of marriages!

To listen to the band
Historic photos of the band
To find out where ex-band members are now

Very early on, the band split into what was then called Junior Band and Senior Band, but in recent years, the names have changed to Training Band and Concert Band - it is one of our aims that after a few years/ months members will have gained the skills and confidence in the Training Band to progress into Concert Band, where they can play more challenging music.

One of the main changes in the Band came after the sad event of the passing away of the founder, Sid Cooper. To fill his shoes was a daunting prospect, but after much discussion Jeff Wilson, who in his time has played clarinet, flute and sax in the band, rose to the challenge. During the next few years, Jeff shared the podium with his brother Graham, who has played clarinet, sax and drums. Both quickly adapted to the role, and were soon proficient in leading the band. After work commitments restricted Jeff's free time, Graham took the baton full-time, and remains in this role. Those who were in the band back in the early 90's, through this time of change, will always be grateful to the Wilson brothers for allowing the band to continue and indeed go from strength to strength.

To list all the achievements, the changes and the strengths of the band would make lengthy reading so instead we hope that when people join the band or come to see a concert they can see for themselves the talent of players, and the determination that the band has always had to encourage each other, to enjoy themselves, and to put on a good performance.

My late grandfather, Bob Raymond was one of the original eight members, playing drums in the band until 1994. The extract below is from his memoirs and I hope will give a lively impression the early days of the band. I know I speak for members, parents and friends of the band, both past and present, when I say that we hope that the band will continue, always adapting to the changing needs of members, but retaining the spirit which Sid inspired all those years ago, that cold winters night…

"A year or two after we came to West Bergholt, Sid Cooper came to live next door having finished his time in the Army where I think he served in the Band all the time…He was certainly very knowledgeable about music and could play all the band instruments, some very well, but his main instrument was the flute…He got a job as peripatetic teacher for the County Council and taught and conducted at several schools in the district. One day he came to me and said that he was on the point of starting a band in the village "and what was I going to play?" I thought for a bit and then volunteered to have a go at the drums and so I went back to my first ever band instrument… It seems that the band was formed about 1977, but the "inaugural concert" was in 1979. We started off with fairly simple pieces and there were only about eight of us but I got on as well as the rest of them. Later on as we played more ambitious pieces I found some of the parts quite tricky to read but I got used to it in time with practice…I remember on one occasion we opened the second half with an "Easter Parade" selection with school girls dressed up in fancy hats and things and in the interval when they were sorting things out I noticed a man's straw hat with a coloured band and some decoration on it which fitted me and I 'borrowed' it. When we were ready to start Sid looked up at me and said "Okay Bob?" I put the hat on and got a terrific burst of applause before I even played a note!

Sid died at the age of 59 in 1990…Sid had a lot to do with music in various schools in the neighbourhood and various people came from them to play in the band. We played at the West Cliff Theatre at Clacton once (probably the last concert with him) and I counted over 70 players on the platform, including the junior band. Of course as a conductor Sid was virtually irreplaceable but Jeff Wilson took over and kept the band going, but my spell also came to an end soon after when I retired from the band in 1992 … Of course, not only was I the oldest member of the band, but I was also the longest playing member, being the only one of the originals left."