Abbey Brass

How it all began....

The genesis of Abbey Brass came from an idea that a new brass band was needed for the Isle of Wight – a band that would aim for musical excellence and fellowship among its members. This initiative was proposed by Tony Hebditch who invited Cliff Parker and Andy Croucher to join him to consider how this could be achieved using the combined know how and local knowledge.

The ‘three wise men’ met to discuss forming the band in February 2020, just before Covid struck and the lockdown followed. This acted more as a fillip than a constraint to the formation of a new band! They quickly established that a number of their Salvationist friends would like to join and invitations to other friends went out, resulting in a group of about 20 potential members. Unfortunately Covid restrictions meant that the band would not be able to meet before the summer of 2021. 

Tony, Cliff and Andy agreed to be the Management Committee for the fledgling band. They mapped out the key issues: finance, rehearsal venue, music, constitution, publicity, concert venues etc. The two biggest problems were finding a Musical Director and building a library of music from which to perform.

 On the Musical Director front and after some initial bad luck, Cliff Parker agreed to take the helm as interim conductor. The band were also able to acquire the music library of the Hannington Silver Band who, after 97 years in existence, had reluctantly taken the decision to fold due to Covid and a dwindling number of players.  

In March 2022 the band appointed Tony Smallwood as conductor. Tony had been Director of Music with the Band of His Majesty's Royal Marines and he led Abbey Brass at some remarkable concerts in a short period of time. Unfortunately he had to stand down after just six months for family reasons. The band was once again exceptionally lucky when Phillip Littlemore accepted an invitation to be Musical Director in January 2023. Phillip’s wealth of experience in the brass band world, together with his skill as a conductor, has resulted in a huge uplift in the ability of the band.

Phillip Littlemore

Musical Director 

Phillip hails from the South Cheshire town of Sandbach, home of the world-famous Fodens Band. Joining Fodens in 1981, at the tender age of 14, he spent almost five years there under Musical Director Howard Snell, before securing a place at the Guildhall School of Music, where he studied trumpet with Paul Cosh (BBC Symphony Orchestra) and Rod Franks (London Symphony Orchestra) and conducting with Alan Hazeldine.

After graduating from the Guildhall, he undertook freelance trumpet work before pursuing a career in marketing, firstly with Boosey & Hawkes and later with the Guinness Book of World Records. He then went on to spend 13 years at Faber Music as Sales & Marketing Director. Phillip left Faber in 2011 and set up both a marketing consultancy and Timbercroft Publishing.

Phillip took up his brass band baton in 1996. His first band was Brent Brass, with whom he won the Fourth Section National Finals in 1997.  After spells with Luton Band, Regent Brass and Woking Band he accepted the position of Musical Director at Ware Brass in 2006, seeing them through steady promotion to the First Section, as well as making them one of the most successful concert-making bands in the Southern Counties. He took on a similar role with the St Albans City Band in 2009, creating a thriving community band. The happy relationship with both ended when Phillip and his family relocated to the Isle of Wight in the Summer of 2017. 

Phillip began adjudicating in the early 1990s, but had to forfeit that responsibility whilst working for Faber Music. He returned to adjudicating in 2012 and has recently adjudicated at both the London & Southern Counties and West of England Areas as well as Butlin’s Mineworkers and ODBBA. Phillip is a member of the Association of Brass Band Adjudicators and also served on their Executive from 2013-2017.    

Phillip is also Musical Director of Gosport Solent Brass.

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