Thanks for the Memory No 6:
DAVID READ - 'the quintessential British Bandsman'
by Chris Helme
Taking part in the second section contest at the Yorkshire regionals
brought back memories to that first time - is it really forty two
years ago, where have all those years gone.
I remember back in those days all the older players talking about
the different adjudicators who would be tucked away out of sight
whilst each of the participating bands came out and played their
best. I am sure just as this year's area contestants would hope
they had not left their best performance back in the bandroom.
As a youngster I would scour the programme the names of the adjudicators
would catch my eye - most of the names meant nothing to me - who
were these mystery men in grey suits, what did they know, had they
ever played and were they any good. Knowing a bit more now than
I did in 1961 they were the highly respected elder statesmen of
a thriving national movement of the time.
Whether today's youngsters look through this year's programme and
think the same thoughts we did all those years ago I cannot say
but do the names of the adjudicators mean anything to them.
This story is about one of the brass band movements most respected
adjudicators and will give an insight into David Read. He is always
or seems to be at all the big contests - once you have read my story
about David I am sure you too will agree that the respect he is
given is richly deserved.
David Read FLCM; FTCL; LRAM; ALCM
David Read was born on the 28th September 1933 in a Welsh mining
village called Senghenydd which is situated between Pontypridd and
Caerphilly (the site of the biggest mining disaster ever recorded
in Great Britain when 440 miners were killed on the 14th October
1913). He was the only son of George and Elsie Read. He came from
a mining family which began with his grandfather Jack Read who worked
in the colliery at the time of the accident but was not killed -
his father was also a miner. David only lived in Senghenydd for
two months when the family moved north to Askern a small mining
village near Doncaster in South Yorkshire.
School life for David began at the local Sutton Road Infants School
in Askern and then moving up to the Selby Road Junior School and
then in 1945 went to Percy Jackson Grammar School, Adwick-Le-Street.
As a child he often heard the Askern Band playing in parades during
the war years and in 1943 then aged nine he decided that he wanted
to play the cornet.
David Read - School days of the 1940's
Many of the Askern bandsmen lived on the same street as David which
made it all the more easy for his father to arrange with one of
the bandsmen to take him down to their bandroom.
Askern Band was formed in 1921 and its first conductor was William
Tamms whose son Robert (Bob) is still alive and remains a close
friend of David. He recalls that it was Harry Bellamy a neighbour
and member of the band that took him in hand and gave him his first
instrument and promptly told him to go home and blow it. This advice
from Harry did little to help him because he had no idea how to
produce a sound. Things gradually began to improve when along with
a few other youngsters Harry gave David his first lessons on a Saturday
morning in his kitchen. Of course back in those days brass tuition
given in schools was a thing of the distant and certainly not available
in those far off days. After about twelve months and David was making
reasonable progress another man George Broadhurst, took over his
George was an excellent tutor and spent many hours with David teaching
to play slow melody's up to a standard where he could enter the
local slow melody contests which in those days were almost weekly
events in the South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire areas. George
took David to one of these competitions almost every couple of weeks
where he became quite successful in the Under 16 age section, winning
a few prizes and then going to be reasonably successful in the Senior
Section as well. Back in those days the regular winner was William
(Bill) Skelton. We all called him the '…Prince…' because
one critic wrote of him, "surely this man is the Prince of
Horn players" and the name stuck even into his adult life.
Following on from George Broadhurst his tutor was then Eddie Pearce
who was also the conductor of the Askern Colliery Band. David still
has the greatest respect for his old tutor because he feels that
his early technique which was taught by Eddie laid him in good stead
for his future long and very successful career.
Jack Boddice who had been a very fine Euphonium player and conductor
in the North East became the conductor of Askern Band which following
the 1947 Nationalisation of the mines became the Askern Colliery
Band. The band had a reasonable amount of success under Jack particularly
in the West Riding Contests and the Spring Belle Vue Contests. David
had progressed from the 3rd cornet position to the Assistant Principal
Cornet player. For many years before the Second World War the professional
conductor of Askern Band was the legendary Harry Mortimer who also
had a degree of success with them. Needless to say this was many
years before David came on to the scene.
At the age of 15 following his successes in the solo competitions
he was beginning to be noticed by the bigger bands in the area and
following an approach by the Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band
he was invited to join them.
Another of his tutors who he remembers so well was Wilf Hardy who
had been the Principal Cornet player of the famous Callendars Cable
Works Band before the Second World War and was a cornet player when
David first joined at Carlton in 1949.
Carlton Main rehearsed in South Elmsall which was nine miles from
his home and with there being no direct bus route David had to cycle
too and from the rehearsals with his cornet strapped to his back.
As a 15 year old moving up from Askern Silver Prize Band David
recalls '…I found the sound produced by Carlton Main quite
breathtaking this being my first taste of first class banding...'
The first item we played at that first rehearsal was the overture
'Beautiful Galatea' by Sousa (preparing for a BBC broadcast) A name
that needs little introduction particularly in the North of England
is that of James Hickman (who in later years was the Bandmaster
of Brighouse and Rastrick Band for many years) was the Resident
Conductor at Carlton at that time having taken over from Albert
Baddrick with Eric Ball as the band's professional conductor. These
were good days for David and he still remembers the happy times
he spent at Carlton and has a number of close friends today that
he first met all those years ago. Jack Wesson, a member of the famous
Wesson Trombone family who is living in Australia now and Alec Garbett
are just two of those from the old days. Alec Garbett played 2nd
cornet throughout his playing career and knew all the second cornet
parts inside out and has been a marvellous teacher and responsible
for teaching many of our best players such as Roger Webster and
Stan Lippeatt just to name two.
His first September Belle Vue, which of course is now known as
the British Open Brass Band Championship contest, which is held
at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham these days, was in 1949 with
Carlton under the baton of Eric Ball when the test piece was 'Rhapsody
for Brass' by Dean Goffin. Although they were not in the prizes
that year they had been placed third behind winners CWS (Manchester)
Band playing 'Music for Brass' the year before.
The band was very progressive for the time being one of the first
bands to organise and tour abroad along with Fairey's and Fodens.
In 1949, 1950 and 1952 they toured Holland which was certainly a
new experience for a young David Read.
After the 1949 contest David was promoted from playing Repiano
Cornet to Assistant Principal Solo Cornet sitting alongside Principal
Cornet player George Dunn. In 1950 the September Belle Vue contest
piece was another piece by Eric Ball 'Resurgam' - the band was now
conducted by George Hespe, who went on to conduct Cresswell Colliery
Band, Ferodo and Black Dyke Mills Band, on this occasion Carlton
were placed third. The band also qualified for the National Brass
Band finals at London in 1952 at the Empress Hall. The test piece
that year was 'The Frogs of Aristophanes' and although playing off
number two the band who were again under the baton of George Hespe
was not in the prizes.
During the early 1950's the band also had William Scholes who was
the conductor of Rushden Temperance Band and Alex Mortimer who was
the conductor of Black Dyke Mills Band as their Professional as
well as George Hespe. Playing under these giants of the post war
band world gave David valuable experience in his very early years.
With Carlton David took part in many massed band concerts which
gave him the opportunity of playing under top class conductors which
included: Denis Wright, Charles Groves (later Sir Charles), Sir
Adrian Boult, Sir Malcolm Sargent. One of the most memorable massed
band concerts from that period was in Huddersfield Town Hall when
alongside Brighouse and Rastrick, Fairey's and Carlton under the
direction of Sir Charles Groves
Willie Lang who had recently left Black Dyke as their Principal
Cornet player to join Brighouse & Rastrick sat next to David
at that concert. He can still remember being absolutely thrilled
with his playing particularly during one of the movements from Denis
Wrights 1940 concert piece 'A Handelian Suite' called 'The Air'.
David describes it still as one of the most beautiful and memorable
pieces of playing he heard from any one before and is one of those
lasting memories that still stand out all these years later.
Another memorable performance was at the same venue when he heard
the guest cornet soloist Ken Smith, who had come over from New Zealand
to play with the Fairey Aviation Works Band as Assistant principal
Cornet between 1949 and 1954 - a truly magnificent player, whose
performances changed the style of our solos previously played by
our own soloists.
On the band's third trip to Holland in 1952 David had to take over
as Principal Cornet because on that trip the sun was out all day
and everyone had the opportunity of sunbathing out on deck. One
of those was the band's Principal Cornet player George Dunn who
ended up with a nasty sun blister on his lip which prevented him
from playing at all. So for the duration of that two week tour David
had to play all the solos that George had rehearsed - a daunting
task but one that gave him tremendous experience. George's problem
lasted from early August right through to the September Belle Vue
contest which meant that David had to rehearse the Principal Cornet
parts right up until the night before the contest when George walked
into the bandroom announcing that he felt he was now fit enough
to play - George Hespe was far from pleased having been very happy
with the way David had played the part. The test piece was 'Scena
Sinfonica' by Henry Geehl and was the Centenary Contest that year
and was won with a memorable performance by CWS (Manchester) Band
and their conductor Eric Ball.
In April 1953 saw a turning point in his musical career when he
joined the Regimental Band of the Welsh Guards for his National
Service. David did not have to be auditioned to join the band as
he came highly recommended by George Hespe who had written to Captain
Statham the Regimental Bandmaster. Shortly afterwards David received
a letter from Captain Statham which directed him to go straight
to the Guards Depot at Caterham to carry out his initial twelve
weeks training and then join the
Welsh Guards second band up in London where he would play Solo
Cornet. At this time the first band was away on its summer tour
of the British seaside venues.
In August 1953 David recalls having to leave the second band to
travel to London to join the first band at Heathrow Airport for
a tour in Canada. At the airport whilst waiting for their departure
time David and the band looked around and mingled with the other
passengers. Suddenly he was approached by an elderly gentleman -
David explained that he and the others were members of the Welsh
Guards - the elderly gentleman looked at him some what quizzically
- David went on to explain that they were members of the Welsh Guards
but were all in civilian clothes and were going on a tour of Canada.
The elderly gentleman said 'Do you know who I am' - 'No' came the
reply - 'I am Captain Statham the director of music' - David was
left speechless because he had never actually met him - Captain
Statham put him at ease and said' I have heard some good reports
about you Read and I look forward to hearing you play'
The Principal Cornet player with the Welsh Guards in those days
was a very fine player who some readers may remember - Rowland Cobb,
who was also the Principal Cornet player of the International Staff
Band of the Salvation Army. When they got to Canada and were rehearsing
on the band show which was for the Canadian National Exhibition
he looked down the row of front row cornets and said 'Read, do you
know this trio we are going to play…' the music was 'Three
Jolly Sailor Men', a piece regularly played on brass band concerts
and one that David had recorded with Carlton but was a piece comparatively
new to the military band circuit. 'What part have you played…?'
'The second part' David replied. With this he was told to join
him out at the front with Musician Piumarta to play the second part
of this trio. Neither Captain Statham nor the band knew the piece
but David did and consequently at the concert made a good job of
it - so much so that he was invited to become a regular member of
the first band of the Regimental Band of the Welsh Guards.
A gentleman called Tommy Morcambe was the well known secretary
of the Morris Motors Band in Cowley, Oxford and he knew that David
had joined the Welsh Guards and wrote to him inviting him to come
along and join their band. At this time he was playing with the
Odhams Press Band who in those days was conducted by Jim Thompson
but once having received the letter he decided to leave them and
join the Morris Motors Band during his service with the army in
London - some readers may be surprised to hear that but in those
days it was quite within the army regulations to play with a civilian
band at the same time as the army band.
That move brought David in contact with Harry Mortimer and a lasting
friendship right up to Harry's death in 1992. This friendship with
HM developed during the twice weekly train or car journey they both
took together up to Cowley. During his years with Morris Motors
under the baton of HM the band won the area championships three
times and played in the finals with him in 1954 when the test piece
was 'Sovereign Heritage' written by Jack Beaver and had been arranged
by Frank Wright although the band played off number 3 that day but
they were not in the prizes.
In 1955 the band gained a creditable 6th place playing off number
18 with Eric Cundalls test piece 'Blackfrairs'. In his days at Morris
Motors David was the Assistant Principal Cornet player sitting along
side the highly respected Principal Cornet Gwynne Davies who at
this time was in the RAF and had been a member of the Cory Workman's
Interestingly in 1950 when David was Assistant Principal at Carlton
and were placed third at Belle Vue - in second place was Cory's
with Gwynne Davies on Principal Cornet.
By 1956 David had left the Welsh Guards and returned to working
as a miner at Frickley Colliery. The conductor of Carlton during
this period was Jack Atherton and led the band through a truly purple
patch of success. Under his direction they were awarded 3rd, 2nd,
1st and 2nd at the September Belle Vue Contest and won the Edinburgh
Contest three times and were regular participants in the National
Finals in London - in 1957 on 'Variations for Brass Band' they were
awarded 3rd place, 1958 they were unplaced, 1959 they were second
on 'Le Roi d'Ys' and again in 1960 with 'Three Figures' were placed
The Principal Cornet player through this period was Ken Aiken-Jones
who was a very good cornet player - there is a story that in 1960
when David and his wife Pat were in bed at home there was a terrific
knock on their front door - it caused quite a stir as you can imagine
- was there a fire, was it burglars or some other emergency who
on earth was it calling at such an unearthly hour. Once having gathered
themselves together David looked out and saw it was none other than
the legendary Euphonium player Bert Sullivan - apart from Bert being
a fabulous player he was also know as 'the fixer' for the Munn and
Felton's (Footwear) Band. Having opened the door and being invited
in Bert pulled no punches and said that they wanted David Read to
join their band.
Next day later David and his wife Pat went to Kettering with Bert
Sullivan to see Stanley Boddington who he had met before during
his Morris Motors days. Stanley explained that Harry Mortimer the
band's professional conductor wanted him to join and be the Assistant
Principal Cornet player to their new Principal Cornet player John
Berryman who had joined them from Cornwall. It was HM who insisted
that David joined the band as their new assistant and so in 1960
he became a member of the GUS (Footwear) Band. It was also the same
year that he won his first National Brass Band Championship contest
on Herbert Howells test piece 'Three Figures'.
The Munn and Felton (Footwear) Band was formed in 1933 and in 1934
were awarded first place in the Grand Shield Contest at the Crystal
Palace under the baton of their first musical director William Halliwell.
In 1935 and playing Kenneth Wright's test piece 'Pride of Race'
they were awarded the coveted first prize and crowned as the National
Brass Band Champions of Great Britain, the band was once again under
the baton of the legendary conductor William Halliwell.
The GUS (Footwear) Band performing at the Royal Albert Hall during
the 1970's with David Read playing the Principal Cornet and Stanley
H. Boddington conducting.
David Read had now joined a brass band that was a legend in its
self - Bert Felton had started a musical tradition and although
the band name has changed over the years from Munn and Felton, G.U.S.
(Footwear), Rigid Containers Group then to The GUS Band and now
The Travelsphere Holidays Band, the sound that originated in Kettering
has rung throughout Britain, Europe and America in concert halls,
on television, radio and in the recording studio.
David recalls 'My first impressions on joining Munn and Felton's
was the precision playing, it seemed like a well oiled machine working
and not a weak link in the band. The first piece with the bands
was that well known contest march 'Knight Templar''.
Following on the 1960 success at London Munn and Felton's again
took part in 1961 but were not placed and this was the last time
they appeared under the name of Munn and Felton the name they had
carried since 1933. Munn and Felton's or GUS (Footwear) Band as
they became known in 1962 also took part in the National Finals
that year too playing 'The Force of Destiny' but once again they
missed out on the prizes. They did however go on to take 3rd place
in 1963 playing 'Belmont Variations' by Sir Arthur Bliss but went
on in 1964 to take the National title once again. In 1965 they were
placed 3rd playing 'Triumphant Rhapsody' by Gilbert Vinter but in
1966 playing Frank Wright's arrangement of Hector Berlioz 'Le Carnival
Romain' and playing well down the draw at number 19 once again they
took the coveted championship title again. In 1967 they were not
placed but in 1968 playing 'The Mastersingers' they were placed
3rd and 5th the following year playing 'High Peak'.
In 1967 David left the Kettering factory and moved house to Huntingdon
in Cambridgeshire because he was appointed Head of Brass for the
Huntingdon and Peterborough County Council. This new teaching role
saw him going to the county's school to teach students how to play
brass instruments or how to play them better. This new role also
saw him leave GUS for a short period but he kept playing by being
appointed the Principal Cornet of the Cambridge Band.
It was also an opportune time for him to seek advice on how to
play the trumpet - thinking back to his Carlton days and those massed
band concerts at the Huddersfield Town Hall he went to see his is
own musical hero Willie Lang who by this time was playing Principal
Trumpet at the London Symphony Orchestra - who gave David a few
lessons on the art of orchestral trumpet playing and its repertoire.
It was Willie Lang who suggested that David consider entering the
Solo Championship of Great Britain - David had been a member of
the successful GUS quartet that had become the Champion Quartet
of Great Britain two years running playing Gilbert Vinter's 'Elegy
and Rondo' and 'Fancy's Knell' which was written for us at my request
- with John Berryman, John Cobley and Trevor Groom.
From left to right: John Berryman, David Read, John Cobley and Trevor
Groom. The Champion Quartet of Great Britain with some of their
After a four months absence from GUS (Footwear) Band David was
approached by Stanley Boddington about going back to join them as
he could not get players of a similar high calibre. So he returned
which also gave the GUS quartet the opportunity of going for the
hat trick of wins. On the day of the quartet contest GUS had an
engagement in Cardiff but David had to tell Stanley that he might
not be able to go as he had entered the Solo Championship which
was after the quartet contest and if he was fortunate enough to
get through to the finals he would not be able to play at Cardiff
- Stanley was quite happy with that.
David was one of sixty contestants in the preliminary round and
came out with top marks. Being the highest placed cornet player
saw him awarded the best Cornet player cup and a place in the final.
Also in the final with David was Philip McCann, James Watson who
had won it the year before and the Champions of Ireland, Wales and
Scotland who made up the six finalists. The final result of the
contest was that David came second to Philip McCann who came out
with top marks and was awarded the title of Champion Soloist of
Great Britain for 1967. To help make up for the disappointment the
GUS (Footwear) Band quartet did win and made it three in a row.
David took part in the solo contest the following year and once
again came out with top marks in the preliminary round but failed
to make the first three in the final.
In 1969 John Berryman left GUS (Footwear) Band which saw David
moved up as the automatic choice to be the new Principal Cornet
of the band. David's first contest in his new role was in 1970 at
the new World Championship contest at the Royal Albert Hall playing
the test piece 'Benvenuto Cellini' - when they were placed third
behind the new champions Black Dyke Mills Band. The following year
playing Robert Simpson's test piece 'Energy' under the baton of
Stanley Boddington David led GUS to first place and the World Champion
crown for 1971.
David went on to also lead them to win the WD & HO Wills 'Champion
of Champions' contest which were also held at the Royal Albert Hall
in 1971 and 1972.
In 1972 the GUS (Footwear) Band with Stanley Boddington conducting
and David on Principal cornet once again took to the stage for the
National Finals. David has vivid memories of that particular contest
because the test piece another by Eric Ball was
'A Kensington Concerto' where the opening of the piece is the solo
cornet player playing on their own which was very racking even for
the most experienced of players. Playing off number 15 they were
awarded second place behind Black Dyke Mills Band. The following
year playing Hubert Bath's test piece 'Freedom' David was still
with GUS when they were unplaced at the Nationals.
Some five years had now passed before David entered the solo contest
again and as in previous years he came out on top in the preliminary
round only this time when it came to the final he was awarded the
accolade of Champion Soloist of Great Britain for 1973.
During this period as part of his occupation as a brass teacher
he had formed a band 'Huntingdon and Peterborough Youth Brass Band'
who through steady improvement became pretty good - so good that
in 1976, 1977 and 1979 they took part in the London finals of the
In 1974 David left GUS to concentrate on his conducting for a short
while although still playing and conducted the Cambridge Co-operative
Band. This was a band that had originally been formed in 1900, as
The Albion Band, by a man named Brown, with the help of his family
who played cornet, baritone, euphonium, trombone and the tenor horn.
It gradually increased its numbers and won many prizes at the Crystal
It performed its first broadcast in 1938 from the London studios
of the BBC, under its then conductor, Robert Austin. At about this
same time they had a young cornet player by the name of Leonard
Lamb, who of course went on to make a name for himself with the
Fairy Band as both a player and later their conductor.
The Band has had several changes of name over the years, from its
original name the Albion Band to the Cambridge Town Band, the Cambridge
Band of the British Legion, the City of Cambridge Band, the Cambridge
Band, the Cambridge Co-operative Band and finally the City of Cambridge
Conductors have included Robert Austin, Charles Mott, Peter Mott,
David Read, Bram Gay, Charles Shipp and Peter Hudson. A great deal
of the Band's success has been down to the influence of people like
George Crossland, Jimmy Howe, Albert Chappell, Bill Scholes, Stanley
H Boddinton and of course David Read.
It won the Second Section Champion Band title at the London Southern
Counties Regional Finals in 1975 - qualifying the band to be up-graded
to Championship status. In 1979 David led them out to win the Championship
Section of the Southern Counties Regional Finals and a place in
their first National Brass Band Championship Finals at the Royal
Albert Hall. The test piece was the very demanding 'Volcano' by
Robert Simpson and although the championships on that day were won
by the Black Dyke Mills Band and Cambridge were not in the prizes
it was an exhilarating experience for both band and their conductor
for what I believe was their one and only performance in the Championship
section at the Royal Albert Hall.
In 1980 the band cut their first disk on the Pye label (record
number TB 3020 Stereo) and for those who may remember that recording
and still have a copy you may also recall a rather youthful Philip
Biggs was on the Soprano - a name known to most top flight brass
bands these days as a concert promoter. David also led the Cambridge
Band through a successful audition to take part in radio broadcasts
which included Listen to the Band and Radio 3.
In 1976 he was approached by Elgar Howarth to join the Grimethorpe
Colliery Band and to go to the United States of America with them.
David accepted the invitation and also took part in a number of
Belle Vue September Contests and Royal Albert Hall Championship
appearances with them and he particularly remembers his first Royal
Albert Hall contest under Elgar in 1976 when the test piece was
'Sinfonietta - The Wayfarer'.
David recalls 'When I joined Grimethorpe I had of course many years
of first class banding under my belt so I was not overawed, however
it was in the middle seventies when Elgar Howarth was introducing
the Avant-garde music and it was very interesting to be at the cutting
edge of the brass band repertoire'.
This move also gave him the opportunity of visiting his parents
who still lived in the South Yorkshire area at that time. It also
gave him the opportunity of playing under not only Elgar Howarth
but Gerhard Schwarz the internationally acclaimed American trumpet
player and now the Musical Director of the Royal Liverpool Orchestra
who conducted the band at London in 1977 and took 2nd place playing
off number 2 on 'Connotations', Howard Snell the former Principal
Trumpet player at the London Symphony Orchestra, Bryden Thompson
who is another internationally acclaimed conductor and someone who
has always had the greatest of respect for at what turned out to
be David's last contest at the Royal Albert Hall in 1978 performing
in the European Contest non other than Stanley Boddington who conducted
Grimethorpe on a one off occasion playing 'Checkmate'. At the National
Championships which were held on the Saturday Stanley led them to
3rd place behind worthy winners Yorkshire Imperial Metals Band and
their conductor Dennis Carr and then on the Sunday in the European
Contest he took them one better to 2nd place behind the winners
Black Dyke Mills Band and their Musical Director Major Peter Parkes.
In 1980 he was promoted in the education service and became a Senior
Instrumental teacher and formed a band - 'The North Cambridge Youth
Brass Band'. This band also did very under his direction with a
place in the Youth Section of the National Finals at the Royal Albert
Hall. In addition to this success he also had his own personal success
through his studies by being awarded the FLCM; FTCL; LRAM and the
ALCM these successes were going to be of great benefit when he entered
the world of adjudication.
Another memorable occasion for David came on October 10th 1981
with the first live performance of Dr Arthur Wills 'Symphonic Suite'
- a composition of four movements for organ and brass band and performed
in Ely Cathedral. Prior to this specially commissioned piece of
music the idea of such a large scale work for this type of ensemble
had never been previously written.
It was David who once having conceived the idea had to then find
the necessary finance to fund the composition. Following his persuasive
approach to the Eastern Arts Association they readily agreed to
fund the work. Their agreement then allowed Dr Wills to work on
what he titled as his 'Symphonic Suite - The Fenlands' for Organ
and Brass Band.
The programme notes tell us that he linked the work to its area
of origin by making it a four movement symphonic suite and lasting
a little over 25 minutes with each movement portraying musically
some aspect of the Fens. Those who live in more spectacular scenic
areas may need a little persuasion at the very thought that the
flat fenlands could inspire interesting music; those however, who
live in, and understand the fen landscape will immediately appreciate
In 1999 after 32 years David finally retired from his teaching
post but is still kept very busy with the demands of his adjudicating
commitments and of course his family life.
Looking back over his playing career David has had many high points
to remember - being invited by his old friend Harry Mortimer to
be a member of his 'All Stars Band' was a great honour similarly
with his 'Men of Brass' Band (the combined bands of Foden, Fairey's
and Morris Motors) and being invited to be the Assistant Principal
Cornet to James Shepherd in the 1970's 'Virtuosi Band'. To be invited
to perform live on the radio on a number of occasions and one live
performance for BBC television - these and many other events are
David can also say 'Yes, I did play Principal Cornet with the famous
Black Dyke Mills Band' - be that it was for just one concert. That
was in 1970 when the World Championship test piece of that year
was 'Benvenuto Cellini' - they had won the contest and intended
to play it at a concert in Bradford the following week but James
Shepherd was ill - so David received an urgent telephone call to
be his stand in.
The first major contests that David took part in were both the
1949 Belle September Contest and National Brass Band Championships
Final in London with Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band. His contesting
career came to an end in 1981, the year that Major Arthur Kenny
took the City of Coventry Band to their one and only win at the
September Belle Vue playing Gilbert Vinter's 'Variations on a Ninth',
David played that day with the William Davis Construction Band,
conducted by his old friend from the GUS (Footwear) Band John Berryman
and although they did not win the venue was a fitting end to a glittering
The very first contest he took part in was with the old Windsor
Colliery Band when was probably aged about 12 in Caerphilly, South
Wales whilst he was on holiday with his Grandmother and had been
invited to have a blow with them. Their conductor back in those
days was Harold Laycock the famous trombone player. That band developed
into what is today The BTM Band (Bedwas, Trethomas and Machen Band)
- when the Windsor Colliery closed all the miners were transferred
to Bedwas Colliery and the instruments followed them and they started
a band which in later years became the BTM Band.
David is now 68 years of age and still practices every day and
keeps in pretty good form and would like to still think that he
could play Principal Cornet with lots of bands today. In 1995 David
was invited to join the Kings of Brass - a group of musicians and
old colleagues whose qualification to be a member was to have been
in top flight for over 40 years. He stayed with the band until the
members themselves decided it was time to bring down the curtain
for the last time on their seven years of reminiscing, nostalgia
and marvellous playing with some marvellous people and finally came
to an end after a memorable performance at the Isle of Man. The
Kings of Brass have left behind them three CD's that will bring
many happy memories for all those who sat through their many concerts
during that memorable seven years.
He only has the one real musical regret and that was never to have
had the opportunity of playing in a contest situation under Walter
Hargreaves some one who he has admired from a far. He was a wonderful
musician and someone he often competed against and played under
in the many massed band performances.
In 1983 was honoured by the Worshipful Company of Musicians and
in 1996 by being awarded the English Masters Dedicated Service Award.
He is perhaps the most highly respected brass band contest adjudicator
currently on the banding circuit, whose written comments are always
constructive and detailed, it is also recognised that he has an
acute ear for musical shape as well as technical clarity. He made
his debut as adjudicator at the National Finals way back in 1985
when he shared the adjudication on 'Cloudcatcher Fells' with Bram
Gay and Sir David Willcocks. Since then he has been the most regular
of judges at the Finals in addition to adjudicating at the British
Open (debut 1982), the Masters, the European and many other major
brass band contest all over the world. From that invitation back
in 1985 he has been invited back on twelve occasions since.
He is viewed as a "safe" adjudicator in the eyes of the
bandsmen themselves, in that he invariably gets the vast majority
of decisions concerning the prize winners correct. This has been
further emphasised by the bands themselves voting him as their first
choice to judge them at the All England Masters for the past few
years. He retired two years ago as Chairman of the Association of
Brass Band Adjudicators.
To close David takes a retrospective view at some of the players
and musical directors who he feels have played a part in his own
musical development. He has no doubt placing almost at the top of
that list George Broadhurst (Askern) one of his first teachers,
who taught him a great deal about cornet playing. George had been
a great friend of Clifton Jones the legendary Principal Cornet player
of Bickershaw Colliery Band, so he feels that their friendship was
something that he also benefited from.
As he got a little older he also had a high regard for Harry Mortimer,
Eric Ball and George Hespe. In respect of Cornet players who he
feels have played a part in his development as a bench mark standard
to aim for. These have included Willie Lang, Principal Cornet, Black
Dyke Mills Band, Norman Ashcroft, Fairey Aviation Band and Teddy
Gray of Fodens.
David practices every day and still likes to take the opportunity
to demonstrate and play along side his pupils when he is teaching.
He is also able to play with the local bands if they have an emergency
which has happened more and more recently.
David Read is the consummate professional and always ready to share
his knowledge and help to all those who ask for it. To those who
have known him throughout his career would perhaps share my view
and say that he will always be regarded as 'the quintessential British
Previous 'Thanks for the Memory' articles:
• No. 5: Derek Southcott - more...
• No. 4: Rowland Jones - more...
• No. 3: Louis Allison - more...
• No. 2: Willie Barr - more...
• No. 1: Derek Garside - more...
© Chris Helme 2003