Since April 2007, St. Joseph's Brass Band from Strabane has been celebrating 60 years of existence in style.
The band, established in 1947, grew from humble post war beginnings and has evolved from being recognised at a local level to being nationally respected. More recently St. Josephs Brass Band has made a great impact on the international and European stage capping off an action packed year of celebration and setting a benchmark for local bands to follow.
To start the year off, the band travelled to France and Belgium alongside 3 other bands from Ireland to partake in a unique, extremely honourable and privileged venture.
This was to travel to the Somme regions and to Ypres to pay homage to all those who had left from Irish shores, never to return. In addition, they led the first ever St. Patrick's Day parade to The Menin Gate, one of the most popular and yet solemn places in Ypres.
After the dust settles from the appearance of the Black Dyke Band, there are only two more things to do before wrapping up the years activitiesSt Jospeh's Band
Summer teaching course
Fresh from the return of this trip was another first for the band and for music generally within the locality; to organise and implement a summer teaching course of brass music for children.
This was a cross-border initiative that included outside help. From its inception, the knowledge and expertise of two of the finest brass players was of great incentive for all those to be involved within the scheme.
The two players in question were Stephen Wilkinson and Gary Curtin, of the Brighouse and Rastrick and Wingate’s Bands, respectively.
Following on from this the band set about the organisation of a Dinner Dance. This was in recognition of the 60 years ‘in business’ and was to show and repay publicly, appreciation to all those who have helped the band during its time in operation.
The night was a major success with the venue filled to capacity with members, old and young, past and present and entertainment being provided by a band fronted by none other than a past member.
Black Dyke Showcase
Now after a busy Christmas schedule, most bands are trying to ease back into the rhythm of normality, but for this band the organisation and presentation of the years 'showcase' must be concluded.
That is to bring across the Black Dyke Band for their third visit to the town of Strabane. Such is the popularity of the world renowned Black Dyke Band in Strabane that it only seemed appropriate that they appear once more, under the direction of Peter Graham, to provide a night of musical excellence for the town of Strabane.
After the dust settles from the appearance of the Black Dyke Band, there are only two more things to do before wrapping up the years activities.
These are, to perform once again as the “Grimley Colliery Band” for the stage performance of “Brassed Off!” in association with a local theatre company and to host a Gala concert, “St. Joseph’s and Guests”. This concert is to include as many as possible associates the band has had during its existence.
This promises to be an eventful and memorable occasion which will encompass the assistance and performances from players of no less than 10 bands across the UK and Ireland.