4BarsRest take a closer look at the Yorkshire Buiding Society
Band and their Musical Director, David King.
We don’t know what the choices are on a dark and damp Thursday
night in Huddersfield, but if you do happen to find yourself far
from home and with a few hours to spare you could do a lot worse
than try and find your way to the rehearsal rooms of the Yorkshire
Building Society Band.
The current All England Masters Champions are in the type of form
at the moment that would make even Liverpool Football Club jealous,
and last Thursday we managed to gate crash into their latest rehearsal
to see how they were preparing for the defence of the title they
have won for the past two years. It was well worthwhile.
The band headquarters are to be found tucked away off the main
road as you come into Huddersfield off the M62 motorway that links
the great industrial cities (and banding centres) of northern England.
The Yorkshire Building Society have been the sponsors of the band
for over seven years now – a period that has just about coincided
with the arrival at the band of David King – and it has been a period
that has encompassed brilliant success.
Five European Championship wins, two British Open Championships
and two All England Masters titles have been won, along with the
small matter of two Yorkshire Area titles and the Grand Shield.
In terms of major titles won, the band now lies in seventh place
in the all time list – and this all since 1994. That is not to say
however that the band has not had it’s disappointments – the European
Championships of 1998 and a run of near misses at the National Finals
are well documented, but overall it’s a band that has flourished
under the baton of it’s charismatic Musical Director.
We found the band hard at work halfway through a two-hour rehearsal
on the test piece “Pageantry”. It was just the second rehearsal
on the piece since they had returned triumphant form securing their
hat trick of titles at the European in Montreux, and even though
David King was evidently still on cloud nine he worked the band
hard, giving them in his own words “a bit of clobbering on their
As the band was put through its paces we spoke at length to Richard
Hirst, the Band Manager. Richard’s office at the headquarters is
packed to the rafters with the debris of success and administration.
Old band uniforms, CD’s, new shirts, music, entry forms, players
registrations and more than a few trophies – you name it and he
has to deal with it. It’s the unglamorous work that is required
to keep a top band on the road and with his colleague Paul Land
they form a formidable partnership. “Since we’ve been back from
Montreux it’s been a question of making sure everything is prepared
for Cambridge. David King expects 100% commitment from players and
backroom staff and it’s our job to ensure the rehearsal facilities,
hotels, entry fees etc are all sorted out. It means the band can
concentrate on the job in hand without any worries.”
The band also gets immense support from its sponsors and Richard
pointed out that after each success they either present the players
with commemorative shields or bottles of champagne. “The Building
Society takes a great deal of pride in the achievements of the band
and we are very grateful for their active support. Each player gets
a plaque or a bottle of bubbly – it’s a nice gesture and shows how
much we mean to them. Having good sponsors is a two way thing –
we are good for them and they are very good for us.”
Asked if it’s worth it, Richard gives a wry smile. “Just have a
look at the band we’ve got and the standard of performances we are
able to put together. If you can’t get satisfaction from that then
you don’t love brass banding”. With that he answers the phone yet
again and tries to sort out a rehearsal for the band later in the
week. We move into the main rehearsal room.
The headquarters of the best band in Europe is a functional building
that used to be the computer centre for the Yorkshire Building Society
before it found a better use as the bandroom. Although it still
houses the remnants of office furniture, old typewriters, filing
cabinets and secretary chairs – so much so that they could hold
a pretty decent car boot sale here and raise more than a few bob
or two, it more than adequately fits its purpose as a centre for
high class musical activity. David King has an office upstairs that
is predictably neat and tidy, but the bandroom itself is a low ceiling
rectangular room dotted with some old office furniture the like
of which you find in a dentists waiting room and a selection of
pictures of the band on each of the walls. It’s not uncomfortable,
but you get the opinion that it’s a room designed for a function
The other thing you notice – and not because of the room – is
the intensity of the rehearsal itself. The band plays large chunks
of the music at a time with David King encouraging the players to
think and act on his instructions. He gives the players ideas of
how to improve on what he wants so that there is never a confrontational
air to the proceedings. He also knows the score back to front –
after each section he has thoughts, ideas, corrections and detail
to point out to his band. He’s also got a very impressive baritone
voice and so he is able to project his ideas through singing rather
than talking, which although may sound odd at first, is an amazingly
accurate and simple technique to make people understand what he
The rehearsal ends with words of encouragement – especially to
the cornets – as he feels it’s a piece of music that is loaded towards
them. He’s been impressed by the effort the band has put in tonight
but he still wants and gets approval for a four-hour rehearsal on
We spoke to him after the rehearsal and even though he was aware
that the band had another hat trick on the horizon, it wasn’t the
most important aspect of the contest ahead for him. “Winning is
important – the hat trick doesn’t come into it. We approach the
contest as a one off and therefore we put all our efforts into it.
If it comes off and we get the hat trick – all well and good.”
He feels that the piece will be a superb test and although confidence
is high he knows the band will have to perform very well to be with
a shout of the title. “I think “Pageantry” is a great test for a
band and conductor – in fact it’s one of my all time favourites.
There’s so much detail in the writing, which makes the piece so
interesting to rehearse and perform.”
Although the band has only had two serious rehearsals what is most
evident is the transparency David King brings to his reading. The
band performs with a tightness and balance that allows the inner
parts to be heard – something he feels is vitally important. “It’s
all in the detail,” he says again.
With that it’s a quick word with the Band Manager to clear up a
few more essential details and he’s off . We meanwhile take the
short route to the nearest pub in Huddersfield to meet up with other
lost souls who have just missed out on a bit of a musical treat.
Who said Huddersfield had nothing to offer?
© Iwan Fox - 4BarsRest
David King was born in Australia and moved to the United Kingdom
in 1982. Educated in Australia at Avondale College and the Sydney
Conservatorium of Music, he specialised in the cornet and trumpet
and during this time he won many awards, including the Australian
Cornet Championship in 1982. In the UK he also won the North of
England solo championship in 1983/84/85 and the British Open Solo
Championship for five consecutive years from 1987. In 1991 he represented
the UK in wining the title International Brass Musician of the Year
Between 1983 and 1989 he was the Musical Director of the Swinton
Concert Band that rose from the Fourth Section to the Championship
Section in record time, winning numerous titles on the way. In 1989
he became the Professional Conductor of the Black Dyke Mills Band
– the youngest person ever to accept that position. He conducted
the band to success at the European Championships in 1990 and 1991
and the Yorkshire Area title in 1990.
He has also worked with many of the leading bands in Europe, including
the Manger Mussiklag band of Norway, whom he directed to four consecutive
Norwegian National Championship titles between 1994 and 1997.
He was appointed Professional Conductor of the Yorkshire Building
Society Band in 1994 and since that time has led them to two British
Open Championship wins, five European Championship titles, a Yorkshire
Area Championship and a Grand Shield title.
Yorkshire Building Society Band:
Here is a look at the pool of players who will represent YBS at
the forthcoming All England Masters Championships.
As you will see the band is packed with stars of the banding scene.
This is a good chance to know a little more about the real people
who make YBS the band they are today.
Principle Cornet Stuart Lingard
Stuart has made lots of progress since he joined YBS as principal
cornet. He is the man with the sound David King was looking for
and found. Stuart joined YBS from Faireys.
Darryl recently married Linzi but he made it back in time to play
at the European. Darryl is the intelligent half of Hobbins Bros
. Very solid bumper up who previously played for bands such as Sun
Life, Desford and Grimethorpe.
Dopey to his mates. David is a man with the same name as the maestro
but with lots less talent. Good solid Cornet player who in days
long gone, could be seen playing Sop with the then Britannia Building
Ian is a former Flugel player with Black Dyke. Ian is a great cornet
player who has played with most of the top bands in the country.
Soprano Cornet Peter Roberts
What can you say about this man. Except he is the “Best”. Peter
is a great influence on the young YBS band with his vast experience.
Repiano Paula Russell
Paula hails from darn sarf but brings great talent to the repiano
seat. She is currently studying at Salford under David King.
Hayley is a great character who is also one of the best second cornets
in the UK at present. In the few years she has been a member of
YBS she has made the seat her own.
Phil is an Aussie who came to England to study at Salford. He drinks
lots of the beer in the great Aussie tradition and is also a welcome
addition to the YBS football team.
Ian is the son of “Mono” the former second euph player at Black
Dyke, Brian Broadbent. Ian himself was a member of Dyke for several
Matt or ED the Duck to his colleagues is a former Champion Cornet
Player of Great Britain….don’t ask me how! Seriously Matt is a fine
player who adds lots of quality to the back row and he has the talent
to share things about when he doesn’t fancy it. Matts previous band
Helen is the longest serving member of YBS and is also charged with
kiting the band out in its various choice of uniforms.
Flugel Iwan Williams
The Welsh Wizard! Iwan is without any question the finest thing
on a flugel I know. The only thing wrong with Iwan is he is a Manchester
White Sheona will be helping the band until it can find a new solo
horn player. Sheona has great talent on the horn and the band wishes
her well on her new solo career.
Gargoyle to his pals, Garg is a great bandsman who is a spectator
at every contest you could wish to name, he is on the lookout for
the girl of his dreams, little does he know she doesn’t live at
the bottom of a pint glass. He is a teacher who is out of work,
this goes to show what his pupils think of him!! David is one of
many ex Black Dyke players.
Cleggy is a number one bandsman who doesn’t tend to say a lot. Therefore
when Cleggy comes out with a statement it tends to be of the profound
nature. Cleggy at one time played back row cornet for Dyke until
he saw the light and turned to YBS on horn. His pet hate is anyone
with the letters MBE on the end of their name. Work that one out
Another ex Dyke player who is a great asset to YBS and the fruit
machine down at the YBS pub.
Becky will be helping out YBS after her decision to put all her
efforts into her studies and her all Female Trombone quartet.
Grunt we call him. Grunt is a fine Bass Trombone player who plays
a solo once a year and its always Frosty the Snowman. It’s the only
one he knows. An avid Huddersfield Town fan …poor man. He is the
chap who runs the bar at the back of the bus on long trips.
Morgan Griffiths Morgan is Manager of Band Supplies at Leeds. A
great player who leads by example. I remember Morgan and Cleggy
trying to skip Japan without paying a hotel room bill of some £130……they
were ringing home trying to find out what the British Open test
piece was that year.
Mike joined YBS from Faireys where he was solo Euph, at the turn
of the year. He plays up front for the football team but resembles
a beached whale. Mike tells everyone who wants to listen how good
he is at the footy, trouble is no one wants to listen.
Margie is the finest baritone there is. She tends to be shy lass
except when keeping Mike Howley in check. She is a great musician
who has now turned her hand to arranging.
Mike is the “Legal Eagle” of the band. He has that many brain cells
he doesn’t know what to do with them. Mike is a dedicated bandsman
who will this year Marry Emma who plays with Hepworth…. Good luck
Jon is the tuba tutor at Salford where he was a former student on
the “how many pints can I drink in a day” course. JD as we call
him, is a fine player who is a purveyor of quality second hand motor
vehicles in his spare time.
When Roy joined the band David King was asking about his background,
we told him he is an ex “Para” David asked if they had a good band,
thinking Roy was a musician. No someone said to David…..he kills
people! With that David went white and stated he would not be giving
Roy any grief.
Gary joined the band in January of this year from Faireys. Gary
is a keen supporter of Stockport County. Tiny as he is known, spent
some time playing with Leyland Band under Richard Evans.
Darran is the only player who is guaranteed his double seat all
to himself on the bus. He says its because he loads the damn thing.
I have a feeling its because he frightens the living daylights out
of anyone who dares sit in his chair. All deps are led to his famed
chair on the bus just as a welcome, its great to see Darran’s diplomacy
in action. Darran joined YBS from the Stockport based BT Band.
Clifford as he is known in YBS. Is quite adept at building sheds
not just because he is a drummer but also because, for a living
he is employed as a joiner with his dads Organ Building Company.
Richard was previously a member of Black Dyke and Leyland bands.
Gav is an all round percussion player. One problem, he has lived
in that many places in his short life that his accent is a bit strange.
What a player this chap is! He also brings the biggest sandwiches
I have ever seen on long journeys. Yet another ex Dyke player.
Son of John. Danny joined from Fodens and certainly looks the part.
Smart young man on the outlook for love we are told.
Back Room Staff
Band Manager Richard Hirst
Richard is the man who used to impersonate an “Egg” on legs but
a strict diet has lost him the tag. He is a former Eb Bass player
who gave up playing in order to concentrate on administration work
Assistant Band Manager Paul Land
Paul was until a few years ago a 3rd cornet player with the band.
He looks after the bands accounts. Paul is one who never panics
in tight situations. Story has it that Paul once played Soprano
Cornet for a top section band at the Yorkshire Area…..I dread to
think what that sounded like.
Librarian Ted Griffiths
Ted is father of Morgan and Geriant and looks after the bands large
library. Ted is always on hand to tell everyone how players of today
are nowhere near as good as they used to be. Pity that, as we have
never had the chance to listen to Ted playing in his hay day. Someone
has an old recording and one day they will get it out! Ted has the
distinction of drawing more number ones than every other Draw merchant
in Banding. They are all seen to say “Thank Goodness” when Ted walks
through the door. They know that a number one is a distinct possibility
for YBS when Ted is around. Simon Gresswell