Rylstone Bandstand Double

Abbey Brass will return to Rylstone Bandstand, Rylstone Gardens, Shanklin this Summer with a concert in July and a second in  August. This will be the first performance since the Autumn of 2022 as last year's one and only appearance was cancelled due to heavy rain.

The band is hoping for much better weather this year and that both the concerts will take place. As with all Abbey Brass concerts we intend to bring a programme of music that will appeal to everyone with traditional brass music sitting alongside tunes from the classical repertoire as well as showtunes and film themes. As ever, a number of soloists will be featured too. 

The first outing is Tuesday 2nd July at 8.00pm and the next on Sunday 18th August at 3.00pm. The concerts are free although chairs are charged at £1 each or you can bring your own. A refreshment kiosk is also available. See the Engagements section for address details.

Abbey score a home win!

On Saturday 15th June Abbey Brass continued their season of 2024 concerts with a return to home turf, Binstead Methodist Church, which is also the band's rehearsal venue.

The band played to a capacity audience offering a delightful programme of traditional brass band repertoire, including their signature march Cross of Honour, classical melodies including The Flower Duet, Greensleeves, Only in Sleep and Mattheson's Air and showtunes from the musicals Oliver!, The Phantom of the Opera and Mack & Mabel

The concert also showcased a number of soloists from within the band including Principal Cornet  Tracey Bennett, a duet from Michael Brook and Julie Littlemore (Soprano Cornet and Repiano Cornet respectively), Andy Croucher (Flugel Horn), Glynis Marsh (Tenor Horn), Terry Patrick on Bass Trombone featured in an arrangement of I Only Have Eyes for You, and was later joined by fellow trombonists Mark Chittenden and Simon Smith for a rousing trio called Frolic for Trombones.  

The Finale was a medley of James Bond themes before the audience were treated to an encore of Bees-a-Buzzin'.

Holst's 150th anniversary

Our musical director has taken a key role in a new recording to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of composer, Gustav Holst.

Phillip has penned new arrangements of three of Holst’s most famous works for a celebratory CD, recorded by the Tredegar Band from South Wales, for the World of Sound label. The new arrangements are of the First Suite in E flat and Second Suite in F and a suite if ballet music from the opera The Perfect Fool.

Phillip said: “Back in 2021 I worked alongside Tredegar Band to make a recording of brass band works by Ralph Vaughan Williams. It became obvious to us that we should do the same for the 150th anniversary of Gustav Holst.”

The recordings will be available later in the year.

Resident Composer appointed

Abbey Brass has appointed Cardiff University student, and former Ryde School pupil, Mary Lillington as its first composer-in-residence.

The two-year post offers Mary the opportunity to create new works, experiment with new ideas and develop her artistic practice.

Lst year Mary was a finalist in the competition for female composers held by the world-famous Foden's Band having her piece, The Battle, performed by the band and receiving encouraging feedback from the judging panel. In December she was shortlisted for her piece, Island Life, in the UniBrass Composition Competition. Abbey Brass will premiere the work during its concert at Trinity Theatre, Cowes on 28th September.

MD Phillip Littlemore said: "I believe it is the band's duty to nurture young composer talent, more so when it is local to the island. I played alongside Mary in the Isle of Wight Symphony Orchestra and have followed her musical development since then. I am delighted that writing for brass band is one of her interests. Within this new role not only will Mary create new brass band works, but the relationship will also assist in her artistic development with hands-on opportunities to experiment with new ideas throughout every stage of the compositional process."

Mary, a cornet and trumpet player, is currently an instrumental scholarship student at Cardiff University, studying towards a Bachelor of Music degree. She is now in her third year, studying on exchange at the University of Manitoba in Canada.

She said: “Receiving this appointment is such an exciting opportunity. It gives me the chance to workshop ideas with the band as I create new pieces. Having grown up on the Isle of Wight, it feels great to take up this position with Abbey Brass. I am really looking forward to working with them.”

While studying at Cardiff Mary has been principal trumpet of the university’s symphony orchestra and principal cornet with its brass band. 

Abbey springs into action....

Abbey Brass will begin their season of 2024 concerts with a brace of Spring concerts.

On Saturday 20th April the band will perform at Bembridge Methodist Church for the first time. The concert will begin at 7.30pm and is FREE ENTRY.  One month later, on Saturday 11th May, they will make a welcome return to Ryde Methodist Church. Again the concert starts at 7.30pm and is FREE ENTRY.

The band is currently creating and rehearsing for these concerts and will unveil a completely new programme although rest-assured it will contain music from film, TV, musicals and classical and brass band favourites. 

Head to the Engagements section for venue addresses. 

 

Abbey pulls a double!

Abbey Brass had a busy last weekend of November by pulling a double shift.  

On Saturday 25th November the band gave the last of their Autumn concert series at Newport Methodist Church. Despite the significant drop in temperature outside, a large audience ventured out to hear the band deliver a programme that featured pop hits, classical repertoire, musicals and movie themes, including a dazzling medley of Disney themes to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the iconic film studio.  

The following day, Sunday 26th November, the band opened the 2023 Medina Tattoo, hosted by White Hot Pipes. This year's event raised money for the charity, Aspire Ryde. Providing a short programme of 20 minutes, the band was able to make the most of their time with both traditional brass band music alongside hits by The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.   

Abbey's New Principal

Abbey Brass are delighted that Tracey Bennett has taken up the position of Principal Cornet. 

Tracey, a graduate of the London College of Music and Media, learnt to play cornet aged seven and achieved grade eight at the tender age of 13. She was principal cornet with Ocean Brass for several years and currently occupies the Principal Chair at Gosport Solent Brass, helping them towards four lower section National Finals qualifications in recent years.

Tracey's first public appearance on 'the end chair' will be during ou series of Christmas concerts in December.

Abbey Hit The High Notes! 

On Saturday 8th July, Abbey Brass gave their first performance at Trinity Theatre, Cowes as part of the Theatre's "Raise the Roof" Campaign.

Dinah Bowman, secretary of Cowes Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society which owns the theatre, said, “We were delighted that Abbey Brass came to support our roof appeal with their first-ever concert at Trinity Theatre. I was very much looking forward to the auditorium coming alive to the wonderful sounds of a brass band.... and they certainly did not disappoint!”

The 90-minute programme included a wide variety of music from film (Shrek, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Saturday Night Fever), musicals (Oklahoma, Oh Kay!, Mamma Mia) and the pop charts (including music from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Leonard Cohen).  

The band's next outing with be at the Rylstone Bandstand, Shanklin on Thursday 31st August at 8pm.

 

Abbey set to raise the roof!

Abbey Brass will be performing at the Trinity Theatre in Cowes on Saturday 8th July, at 7.30pm, to give a concert in aid of the Theatre's 'Raise The Roof' Appeal. 

Music to suit all tastes
Abbey Brass will be putting on a varied programmes where music from ABBA, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones will sit alongside music from the musicals Shrek and Oklahoma! alongside music from films such as Breakfast at Tiffany's and Saturday Night Fever

FREE Concert
The concert itself is FREE, although patrons are asked to contribute to a retiring collection which will go towards the Appeal Fund. There is a raffle, with some exciting prizes, and the theatre has a licensed bar.

Trinity Theatre
Opened in 1914, Trinity Theatre in Cowes has been at the centre of the community for more than 100 years. The theatre, home to Cowes Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society [CAODS], one of the longest running amateur dramatic theatre companies in the UK, is a beautiful Victorian building which is now in need of considerable work for roof repair, new changing facilities and improved disability access.

Venue Address
Trinity Theatre, The Grove (off Bath Road), Cowes PO31 7QR 

Start Time
7.30pm

Phillip Littlemore welcomed as new Musical Director

Abbey Brass has appointed Phillip Littlemore as its new Musical Director. He will take up the baton in the New Year.

Phillip moved to the Island from Hertfordshire in 2017. Originally from Cheshire, Phillip played with the world-famous Foden’s Motor Works Band before heading to London to study trumpet, composition and conducting at the Guildhall School of Music. After graduating, he undertook freelance trumpet work before pursuing a career in marketing, firstly with music publishers Boosey & Hawkes, then with the Guinness Book of World Records, before taking the position of

Sales & Marketing Director with Faber Music. Phillip left Faber in 2011 and set up his own marketing and publishing company.

Since moving to the Island, Phillip has been playing trumpet with the Isle of Wight Symphony Orchestra, while keeping strong ties with the brass band world as both a conductor and adjudicator. In this capacity he has been associated with brass bands across London and the South. In April 2022 Phillip became Musical Director of Gosport Solent Brass, taking them to the Finals of the National Brass Band Championships in September last year.

Accepting his new role with Abbey Brass Phillip commented: “Abbey Brass has only been going since 2021 and has already achieved some great things. I look forward to working with these talented and committed musicians”. Band Chairman and founder Anthony Hebditch added: “Phillip has known the band from its early days, having played with us on several occasions and donated some of his arrangements and transcriptions to us. Phillip is a

gifted musician whose talents and experience – including administrative abilities – put him head and shoulders above many contemporaries. Abbey Brass is exceptionally lucky to have secured his services in the next stage of our journey, building on the excellent foundations established by Tony Smallwood.”

The band has another musician of note in Steve Parker. Steve plays soprano in the band and has acted as interim Musical Director during the busy Christmas period. Steve has accepted the key role of deputy Musical Director from January.

Band bid farewell to Tony Smallwood

 Tony Smallwood, who became the Musical Director of the band in March 2022 has had to reluctantly stand down after just six months in the role for family reasons.

Tony, formally Director of Music with the Band of the Royal Marines, led the band at some remarkable concerts in a short period of time most notably a concert for Ukraine, a very successful concert marking the Queen's Platinum Jubilee and the band's first outing at Rylstone Gardens. 

Tony (left) is receiving a small presentation gift from former Chairman Tony Hebditch.

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