A brief history of the band plus
information about the range of
engagements the band has
provided music for.
|Redbridge Brass in 1975 - Chris Giles (aged 16) after performing the Edward Gregson
Horn Concerto and MD John Ridgeon
|Redbridge Brass in 2008 at the Grand Shield, Blackpool with MD Jeremy Wise
|A brief history of Redbridge Brass...
Formed by John Ridgeon under the name Redbridge Brass Ensemble, the band actually started life as
part of the Redbridge Music School (in the London Borough of Redbridge) and was the top band of four
at that time. The band started entering contests as 'Redbridge Youth' and in 1970 became National
Youth Champions of Great Britain, then won the 3rd Section National Finals in 1971 and in 1972 came
3rd at the Grand Shield Spring Contest, an astounding performance for a youth band! As an added
accolade the band gave the first performance of 'Intrada' by Edward Gregson at the London Festival, a
commission by the borough, with funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain.
The band members being too old to remain in the music school reformed as Redbridge Brass Ensemble
in 1972 after being promoted to the 2nd Section. Most of the players were taught by John Ridgeon in the
use of his own brass playing technique. The fantastic sound that this produced and talent of those young
musicians was captured on an LP recording called 'The Redbridge Phenomenon'.
After several changes of leadership, one of whom was Ray Farr, the band again won the 2nd Section
Area title in 1985 (and came 4th in the Finals) under the baton of Graham Chambers. Shortly afterwards
the band entered the top level Championship Section in 1986 where it has remained ever since.
In 1988 the band won the Area title and gained some sponsorship under the name 'London Electricity
Redbridge Brass' until 1993 when the band's name became 'Redbridge Brass' to the present day.
The band won the Area title twice more under the direction of John Clarke in 1991 and 1992, and
produced a ground breaking CD called 'Close Enough for Jazz' in 1994.
Graham Wilson conducted the band in 1996-97 and led them to two Area title wins. Then in 1998 Melvin
White became the band's MD and stayed with the band until 2007, the longest tenure of all the band's
conductors. In that period the band achieved five Area wins, four of which were in succession (2002-5), a
feat not achieved by any other band in the Area contest, ever. The band also recorded a triple CD of
marches, show music and film themes, which has proved very popular indeed.
In 2008 the band win the Area contest under the baton of Rob Wiffin, and have high profile performances
in Trafalgar Square and Dubai. Then with the arrival of new MD, Jeremy Wise the band gained a
personal best at both the Grand Shield Spring Contest in Blackpool and at the invite only All England
International Masters contest held in Cambridge's Corn Exchange (also the highest placing any London
and Southern Counties Area band has achieved in this contest so far). Rounding off the 2008 summer
the band had a debut at the Glastonbury Festival in front of 40,000 people on the 'Other Stage' with
chart band 'Hot Chip'.
2009 sees the band win the prestigious Mineworkers Open National Brass Band Festival and again win
the Area contest. With good results in 2010, and 2011 (3rd and 4th) at this contest the band regularly out
performs its rivals with consistent and fine performances, earning praise from adjudicators, composers
and other MDs too.
In 2014 Alan Duguid joined the band as MD and lead the band to several contest wins and very close 3rd
place finishes at the Area contest narrowly missing invitations to the national Finals. Alan made a fine
contribution to the band's outlook and gave the band many new challenges. One such new experience
giving the closing concert for the prestigious 2016 Thaxted Music Festival.
The end of 2016 sees the return of Jeremy Wise and the band reaching the 2017 National Finals and
gaining a fabulous 8th place, a fine achievement as the band were the lowest ranked in the contest.
In 2018, Chris Bearman is appointed as Resident Conductor, and with services of Richard Ward as
Professional Conductor band competes in the Senior Trophy contest at Blackpool with promotion to the
Grand Shield contest in 2019.
In 2021-22 the band appointed Chris as Musical Director and qualified that year for the national finals
coming a very respectable 10th place.
The band competes annually at the London & Southern Counties region championship contest and have
now won this contest 14 times in total. The winners and runner-up qualify for the final held at the Royal
Albert Hall the band with the band having done this 18 times.
The band competes in other contests in the year that take us across the country to contests at
Skegness, Stevenage, Blackpool, and Kettering for the English National contest.
When the stage adaptation of the film 'Brassed Off' came to London at the Olivier Stage at The National
Theatre €“ Redbridge Brass was chosen to perform and manage the on stage live music for the entire
21 night run.
The Shaw Theatre, London provides the venue for a production of Maggie's End marking the 25th
anniversary of the miner's strike. The band were chosen to provide music for the grand opening and
close of the play's run in April 2009.
The band has provided pre-match entertainment for sporting events such as a corporate live screening
of the England vs Sweden football World Cup match shown at Shepherds Bush Empire theatre which
went down an absolute storm.
Supporting England again, but this time for rugby, the band provided pre-match entertainment on the
pitch at Twickenam RFU for the Powergen Cup Final to a crowd of around 60,000 and a few weeks later
provided a 'band in the stand' for the IRB7s. The band are no strangers to Twickenham where a few
years ago the band played for the England vs South Africa match to a capacity crowd of 75,000.
Similarly West Ham FC regularly invite the band to provide music for their Christmas and Remembrance
fixtures at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, London.
As film extras, the band played and appeared with Bob Hoskins and James Fox in the BBC two-part
adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's book 'The Lost World an adventure based around the discovery
of living dinosaurs on a plateau in South America. As the explorers return to England by ship the band
are playing on the docks as part of a heroes' welcome as they disembark. The scene was shot at
Pinewood Studios. In 2012 some of the band were used for the filming of 'Les Mis'.
As television extras, the band featured in an ITV drama called 'Promoted to Glory'. It starred Kevin
Whately and Ken Stott in a story based on the 'dreams' of a dying tramp who has fallen in love with a
Salvation Army worker. The band did three all-night shoots near Spitalfield market in London plus day
shoots at other locations in the capital. The band also recorded the film's title music.
The band also played in a comedy sketch item for Channel 4's 'The Friday Night Project' in an episode
hosted by Joanna Lumley, and a slot in BBC's 'The One Show' Christmas special.
The band features regularly on Frank Renton's BBC Radio 2 show 'Listen to the band' and has been one
of the few brass bands to have be invited to perform in the renowned and respected BBC radio concert,
'Friday Night is Music Night' at Watford Coliseum with the BBC Concert Orchestra. The band first
appeared on the show some years ago when it was recorded at the Golders Green Hippodrome, the
original and much loved radio recording venue. 2013 sees another session being recorded for the show.
A Triple CD boxed collection entitled 'Music from the Bandstand' featured 50 tracks of around three and a
half hours in total. The band has recorded some fine music here on these CDs which includes 20
Marches, 20 Movie sound tracks and 10 Musicals selections. This was a huge undertaking and produced
a fine CD. Unfortunately this has now sold out, but may be reissued, along with the band's highly
successful jazz influenced CD, 'Close enough for Jazz'.
In the Concert Hall
Performing in theatres and churches around London and the South East, the band has a large repertoire
and regularly present themed concerts such as: A Night at the Movies; Songs from the Shows; Stars and
Stripes; Scary Brass; Hollywood Legends; Glenn Miller & 1940s favourites; and of course Last Night of
the Proms. The band also has performed at the Cadogan Hall, in London, and twice at the prestigious
Thaxted Festival. See the recent and past concerts on the Future Events page.
A Selection of Other Events
The band opened the BBC Proms in 2006 at an event in Trafalgar Square for BBC Live Events, and
performed as part of the day's live concert of multi-genre music.
In 2008, again at Trafalgar Square, the band formed part of the entertainment at the Beijing Olympics
Torch relay event when it came to London.
In 2007 the band played for a private function hosted by the Lord Mayor of London. The band combined
with additional brass players to perform the spectacular 40 part motet 'Spem in Alium' by Thomas Tallis
conducted by Frank Renton.
Another high profile event was the 2008 trip to Dubai to provide music at the Group4Securicor Annual
Conference. A main feature was the focus on the company's sponsorship of Olympic athletes for the
Beijing games and on to the London 2012 games. The event was so successful the band was re-booked
to do an identical event in London at the Old Billingsgate conference and events venue.
In 2008 the band featured at the Glastonbury Festival with two appearances, firstly with top chart band
Hot Chip, in front of a crowd of 40,000 people, and then in concert at the festival's new Park Stage. This
follows on from a similarly successful gig with Hot Chip at London's Brixton Academy in front of 5000
wildly screaming fans!
In 2009 the band made a guest appearance at the Riverfront Cafe on the Southbank to launch the
opening of the British Film Institute project ˜This Working Life - King Coal " which explores a century of
British industry on screen. An impromptu crowd of about 150 developed who cheered the band as they
performed a rousing finale of the music to River Dance. Amanda Nevill, Director of the BFI, said "I'm really
impressed with the band and would love to work with them again". Also in 2009 the band was invited
again to provide music for the Remembrance Service at St Pancras Station in the heart of London.
Another achievement for the band in 2010 was being the first 'southern band ' to ever by invited to
compete at the prestigious 'Brass in Concert' entertainment competition. It competed against and in a
couple of cases beat other well named bands who were all ranked higher in the brass band league tables
and wowed the audience with their rendition of Ravel's 'Bolero' complete with choreography and lighting
Featured guest soloists with the band in 2013 were Andy Wood - Trombone; Mike Lovatt - trumpet; and
Philip Cobb - trumpet - all staggering good brass musicians who lead their field. more about these
2015 saw the band perform with indie band, British Sea Power, at the Barbican in London and De La
Warr Pavilion, Bexhill. Playing to capacity crowds the band received many plaudits and the Barbican
concert's recording available on DVD as part of British Sea Power's 'Sea of Brass' project.
2023 sees the band again at the Royal Albert Hall in the Redbridge Schools Choral Festival, and at the
Cadogan Hall, London as guests of Chigwell School accompanying Rutter's Gloria, the Young Schools
Musician of the Year winner with Derek Bourgeois Concerto for Bass Trombone, lead by MD Howard