In Commemoration of John Knight, our Founder

I was extremely saddened to read this news on 19th January:


“It is with tremendous sadness that I have to report the death of John Knight, former musical director and founder of the HCYB, teacher and friend to many of us. He passed away peacefully at Aldbourne Nursing Home yesterday evening with family by his side.”


John shaped the lives of so many people, and I had nothing but huge respect and admiration for him. I absolutely lived for my Saturday morning rehearsals at Westgate school in Winchester, travelling all the way from Whitehill. I remember feeling rather scared when I moved up to the concert band and was seated right in front of the legendary Mr Knight on 3rd cornet! He was such a perfectionist.

Band was literally my life from age 9-19. There were so many wonderful times, and I made friends who are still my closest friends today. Christmas Eve isn’t Christmas Eve to me until I’ve been to the Buttercross in Winchester and heard the current band playing, and I always see lots of familiar faces, ex Hampshire County Youth Band members and their parents sometimes. We were one big happy family.

I had the privilege of playing carols at Aldbourne Nursing Home on 19th December with a few friends I made as a teenager (one of them who I still call my “big brother”) and John enjoyed singing along – although mentioning how Gladys would have also enjoyed it, which I found heart breaking, having attended her funeral in September. He could still recall names of test pieces and composers and even stood for some photos with us, which meant the world to me.

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I remember something he said when I was probably about 13/14. He said that music will always be in your bones even if you don’t continue playing…and he was right. I did have a rather long ‘break’ but have been banding again for the past 4 years (almost) and just love it.  Thank you Mr Knight, for your mentoring and bringing so much inspiration and happiness to so many people’s lives. I have memories that I will treasure, always.

Memorial supplied by Berni Ralph


John’s funeral has been arranged for family and close friends only but a Memorial Tribute will be held at Winchester Guildhall on Sunday 2nd April 2017. Contact: ray@raybulpit.co.uk or call 01264 352560 for more information.

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Christmas 2016 at Otterbourne Brass

Although somewhat belated, we love to keep our fans up-to-date with our activities, and Christmas is our busiest period. Read on for more!

The now traditional Otterbourne Christmas concert weekend was once again a highlight of the Band’s busy Christmas schedule.

Both the afternoon and evening concerts were very well supported and the audience enjoyed a varied programme of Christmas music, which included many different arrangements to traditional and well known Christmas tunes. One particular highlight was the The Huron Carol, a traditional Canadian Carol probably written in 1642, arranged as a Cornet Solo, and played superbly by Sonja Charters, the Band’s Principal Cornet.

For a little variety the concert programme also included some non-Festive pieces that were associated with “tunes from the Radio”, such as the theme tune from Desert Island Discs (“Sleepy Lagoon”), which proved to be very popular with the audience.

Another highlight was Goldcrest, a march the Band played at the recent Wessex Contest, which included a section requiring the Band to sing – a first….

At the end of the concerts the audience departed with smiles and “thank you’s”, confirmation that performances were much enjoyed and appreciated.

As always, the concerts could not have happened without the hard work of the Band, the Committee and everybody who helped to organise the events.

And not to be forgotten, Paul Chapman and Melvin White the MD’s for the concerts.

And especially not to be forgotten are Melvin’s Christmas Cracker quality jokes…


In addition to the Christmas Concerts, the band performed in several locations in order to collect funds. Without these carolling gigs, we would not be able to afford music, instruments and, more importantly, we wouldn’t have Melvin as our conductor.

This year we want to thank the following locations for graciously allowing us to play our Christmas carols and collect:

Sainsbury’s Badger Farm

Sainsbury’s Shirley

Sainsbury’s Hedge End

Marwell Zoo

Tesco Winnall and Brambridge Garden Centre, for whom we were due to play but which unfortunately fell through.

We also played at the Buttercross on Winchester High Street.

We’d also like to thank our annual engagements with Bitterne Conservative Club and Alton Masonic Centre, and a first-time carolling service with South Wonston WI.

Finally, thank you to the hard work and dedication of members of the band, a handful of which can boast having played at almost every session – of which there were a grand total of 19. Some had over 30 hours of carolling under their belt!

Thank you to everyone that donated during this period, and we look forward to carolling again next year.

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Christmas Concerts – Booking Now Open!

Christmas Holly

We’ve had a lot of requests for Christmas tickets recently, and now, following our mailout to those on our mailing list, the booking form is now available to download for the general public.

  • MATINEE 2:30
  • EVENING 7:30

Please click the image below and download/print to order Christmas concert tickets from Otterbourne Village Hall.

Christmas Booking Form

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Otterbourne Brass Summer Concert – 3rd July 2016

So after thunderstorms and heavy rain on Saturday,  I was worried that we may not have a good turnout for our summer concert today, but the sun was shining for us and the village hall was …(almost?) full. Everyone seemed in good spirits as I arrived, having gone to pick up “Big H”, that’s Henry, who plays for Michelmersh Silver Band and was kindly helping us out in the bass section.

With the stage set and a few other deps helping out we got up on stage. As usual it’s hot up there, especially with the stage lighting. We did have a little more room today though as unfortunately we were without our percussionists.

It was a nice surprise to see Paul Kennett depping for us on 1st baritone as I played in the Hampshire Youth County Bands with him from age 9-18 & my Bach Stradivarius  trumpet I got for my 10th Christmas present was from his Dad’s music shop in Alton (many years ago!) Poor Fred (usually on 1st baritone) has had to duck out as his son has appendicitis and is recovering from surgery. We all wish him a speedy recovery.

The concert began with Intrada on Regent Square and The Magic Flute followed. Melvin seemed pleasantly surprised with our standard of playing and concentration.

The first half of the concert continued and included 2 wonderful solos. The first from our principal cornet player, Sonja who played a beautiful rendition of Morricone’s Cinema Paradiso, and Amelia who played Eyes of a Child, the beautiful solo she played at the SCABA contest recently – winning the prize for Best Soloist! Both solos captivated the audience.  I was thinking if I can do half as good I’ll be pleased (my solo was coming up in the 2nd half)!

We finished  the first half with highlights from Frozen … unfortunately for Melvin his young daughter wasn’t there to sing along “Let it Go! Let it Go!”. There are some tricky little bits in this piece but I think we played and listened really well today. I’m pleased to say that chatting to the audience during the interval – between cups of tea and delicious looking cakes (included in the ticket price) – the audience seemed to agree with me. They loved the programme so far and especially enjoyed the solos.

After the  tea and cake were consumed and our kind volunteers had helped in the kitchen and with the raffle draw, we were set for the second half. My solo was up after the first piece and I was determined not to let the nerves get the better of me!

We couldn’t really hear what Melvin was saying and I got quite relaxed in my chair, when suddenly it was my turn to stand up. As I took the stand from Mark, our dep soprano player, the music flew off the stand and down onto the village hall floor. A kind member of the audience retrieved my music and the band began. A lovely introduction to my solo, An Untold Story. I stood at the edge of the stage (don’t look down!) and I wanted to play well on my quite new, still very shiny, Yamaha Neo tenor horn (a lovely gift from my husband for our forthcoming silver wedding anniversary).  I was lucky enough to take part in a workshop recently with Arfon Owen, (ex-Black Dyke Solo Horn player and very talented musician) organised by Basingstoke Silver Band. During the break he allowed me to try his Yamaha Neo, and the rest is history, as they say! Up until a few years ago I was always a trumpet/cornet player, but I’m really enjoying the tenor horn and hope I continue to improve (and strengthen those lungs!). I had only been given this solo a few weeks’ prior to the concert and had never seen or heard it, so have been listening to it on YouTube a lot over the past few weeks.

Getting back to the concert, we then played The Wizard of Oz which I love as it’s a family tradition to watch this film every Christmas Day (it’s not Christmas without Dorothy & those munchkins!). This was followed by the entertaining Ian with Eb bass solo Teddy Bears’ Picnic.

Remember the film Beaches? Well, our final solo was destined to be superb. Nick played The Wind Beneath my Wings on trombone. Nick always makes his playing look effortless. He is a great new addition to the band and I look forward to many more of his solos!

Unfortunately due to no percussion we had to make a few adjustments to the programme, but our audience were very understanding and enjoyed the addition of Yesterday.

All in all, despite a few regular players missing (for good reasons: One player on honeymoon – congratulations from us all – and our 1st horn player Dawn was racing a car at speeds of 120mph+ at Thruxton!) the atmosphere was great, and we are very grateful and thankful to all the deps that played today: Mark on soprano cornet, Elizabeth on 1st horn, Paul on 1st baritone and Henry on Bb bass.

Also thanks go to band members who brought along helpers to ensure everything ran smoothly and of course to those helpers and to the Otterbourne community for their support.

If you enjoyed the concert today, please tell your friends and bring them along to the next concert!

Article by Berni Ralph

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Otterbourne Village Fete – 26th June 2016

Sunday saw the band making its annual appearance at the Otterbourne Village Fete, an event which is enjoyed by band members young and old. The threatened rain fortuitously held off until we had finished playing and we were able to entertain visitors to the show with a varied selection of music from the Second Waltz of Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite to the sublime delights of Frozen.

The day started in its traditional way with a parade of home made jalopies (including a Dalek made entirely of lego!) driving through the village to the fete ground. Here, they were greeted in front of a large and enthusiastic audience by the band who played a couple of rousing marches by way of welcome.

Solo items included Stardust played by guest trombonist Sue, and An Untold Story performed by Berni on tenor horn. Both solos featured playing of the highest quality and we are fortunate that the band has such talented players.

Particular thanks have to go to euphonium player Will Wilkins, who stepped in at short notice to conduct the band for most of the first half. Melvin White, our musical director, was delayed on the M3 but managed to join us in time for the ice creams and cake during the break!

Thank you to our deps: Meg, Billy, Paddy, Mark, Ben, Sue and our regular guest Ken on bass trombone.

Our thanks are also sent to the organisers for another wonderful fete and we look forward to returning next year.

Article by Ian Austin

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