Meet Roger!

Roger Burke is the current Chair of Otterbourne Brass. Brass bands put a lot of planning and hours into putting on concerts, competing in contests and collecting donations throughout the year. Roger chairs our committee, where these plans are discussed to exhausting lengths before floating them to the rest of the band (or deciding there and then!).

At times like these, it becomes more important than ever to raise awareness of the brass band movement in the UK, or else we risk fading into obscurity through not being able to perform and raise much-needed funds as a registered charity.

We asked Roger a few questions to enable you all to get to know him a little better, and this is how it went…

When did you join Otterbourne Brass? 

January 2017

What instrument(s) do you play?


What’s your favourite piece to play? 

Among many is I’ll Walk With God

What do you do outside of band?

Work at retiring, and amusing grandchildren. Looking after a loving wife and a large garden.

How has lockdown changed life for you?

Clearly defined what and who is really important in life 

What are you most looking forward to when lockdown lifts?

 Being able to mix with friends and immediate family

What’s your favourite book?

Any book by Karen Slaughter

Tell us a joke! (Keep it clean…)

The man who invented cats’ eyes got the idea when he saw the eyes of a cat in his headlights. If the cat had been going the other way, he would have invented the pencil sharpener!

Fair Oak – 19th October 2019

On Saturday 19th October 2019 Otterbourne Brass were guests of Age Concern and presented a two-hour concert in support of their ongoing fund-raising events.

The specially chosen programme of music was comprised of many ‘crowd pleasing’ items with the attending audience in mind. The programme was very well received and many compliments were received by the chair and committee members.

In particular, the band took the opportunity to feature four soloists throughout the afternoon, all of whom performed superbly, and special mention must be made of debut soloist Simon Roe who performed in front of the band for the first time.

Huge thanks go to our guest performers, in particular Shawn Blaker who provided us with a solo rendition of Blaydon Races, and our special guest MD Paul Chapman for his anecdotes and his general presentation all of which, in addition to copious amounts of tea and cake, contributed to great afternoon.

Article by Roger Burke

Otterbourne Brass Contests – 2017

Every March, hundreds of brass bands from all over the country compete in regional championships.

Otterbourne Brass, like all the brass bands in Hampshire, have a long trek to Torquay where we compete in the West of England regional qualifiers. In 2016 Otterbourne did very well and came 2nd and so we qualified for the National Finals. Great excitement all round!

So, in September, the band competed in the Second Section national finals in Cheltenham, where we came a creditable 5th, and interestingly, were the highest ranked 2nd section band south of the Watford Gap. As a result of our success in the last 2 years, we will once again be competing in the 1st Section from 2018.

Preparations for March 2018 have already started. In between carols and Christmas music, the band has started rehearsing the test piece “Brass Metamorphosis” by James Curnow. In the banding world, it’s not well-known, however, it makes an excellent test piece: the music is technically challenging in places, and will take an experienced conductor to get the most out of the music.

Article by Kevin Cook


Otterbourne Brass at Cheltenham Racecourse

Otterbourne Brass at the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain, 2nd Section Finals, placing 5th.

Otterbourne Brass Summer Concerts 2017

Otterbourne Brass are putting on 2 summer concerts for you, on Sunday, 11th June and on Sunday, 2nd July.

The concerts will be held at Otterbourne Village hall as per previous years, with doors to open from 2pm and the concerts starting at 2:30pm. Refreshments will be available during the interval.

Please email with the date of the concert you would like to book. Please indicate whether you require assistance with accessibility including reserving space for your wheelchair.

To pay for your ticket by bank transfer, please contact us by email for the bank details to which you can send £10 per adult and £5 per under-16.

If you would prefer to pay by cheque, please make the cheque payable to Otterbourne Brass, enclose with your name, telephone number and/or email address, and mail to the below address to be received before the concert:

Otterbourne Brass

It is important that you enclose contact details so that we can call or email you in case of any problems. All tickets will then be reserved on the door for you.

If you have any enquiries please do not hesitate to contact us at or 07842 482 862

We look forward to welcoming you to our concerts!

Melvin White conducting Otterbourne Brass

SCABA Entertainment Contest – 21st May 2017

SCABA Entertainment Contest – 21st May 2017

(Content provided with thanks to 4BarsRest. The full article can be seen here.)

SCABA’s annual entertainment contest took place at The Hawth in Crawley, with bands playing a great selection of music to an appreciative audience, as well as adjudicators Glyn and Helen Williams.

The Cory Band stars were on their first visit to the event, and said they left thoroughly impressed by both the standard of the playing as well as the excellent organisation that made for a suitably entertaining day.

The duo had a total of 100 points available to award each performance, with Glyn listening for the music element and Helen taking care of the content/entertainment and presentation/deportment.

In the A Section, Otterbourne Brass carried on their fine run of contesting form with victory under the baton of Melvin White — chalking up their sixth top-two finish in a row, and giving themselves a huge boost of confidence as they start to look towards the Second Section National Finals in Cheltenham in September.

In a closely battled series of 24 minute sets, Bedford Town was second with Sandhurst Silver in third.

“It’s been another significant step in the right direction,” Melvin told 4BR. “The band works so hard and has a great attitude towards challenging themselves with new music. I really enjoy my trips down to Hampshire as they are always looking to improve. ”

On a personal note Melvin was also delighted to become the first recipient of the Kenneth Dennison Memorial Cup, presented in honour of the former Fairey Band trombonist and conductor who spent many happy years living and working in the Association’s area.

“It’s a real honour. Ken was such a great help to me in my early years of conducting and I was always able to go back to him for advice and even just for a chat. He was an exceptional musician and this award is a fitting way for him to be remembered.”

Otterbourne was certainly pushed hard for the honours. However, their well-worked set that included a brace of new arrangements from the wind band medium, a touch of Billy Joel, some classic Carpenters and the ‘Best March’, Henry Fillmore’s classic, ‘Rolling Thunder’, saw them pip Bedford Town as the music performance element held sway.

Trombonist Nick West also picked up the ‘Best Soloist’ award for his performance of ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’.

Melvin White conducting Otterbourne Brass

Melvin White conducting Otterbourne Brass to victory at SCABA entertainment contest, May 2017

Wessex Winter Contest – November 2016

After our successful plunder of silverware in the autumn at Crawley, we set off to invade and plunder Bournemouth to see whether our performance of “The Saga of Haakon the Good” by Philip Sparke would reap a similar reward at the annual Wessex Winter Competition!

It did!

For those of who who are wondering who Haakon the Good was, the Wikipedia link below may help.  Yes, he did exist, along with Eric Bloodaxe, his half-brother.

The contest is held at The Life Centre in Winton and bands can play their own choice of music together with a March piece.  Many of the bands in the local area take part and the contest is always a good opportunity to catch up with friends in other bands.

Our chosen march was “Goldcrest”, a Salvation Army march by James Anderson which features the chorus “I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart”.  Most bands will play the music.  But we are Otterbourne Brass, conducted by Melvin White.  So we decided to sing, much to the startled delight of the audience and adjudicator.

We were placed 3rd for our march – evidently our singing needs to improve!

But our performance of “Haakon” was again of the highest quality and saw us place 2nd overall, the winners being Verwood Concert Brass to whom we send our congratulations.  As a result , we were the highest placed band in the first section, beating many of our local rivals in the process.

Congratulations also to Graham Jones who added the Best Euphonium prize to his earlier success at Crawley, and to our principal cornet, Sonja Charters, who deservedly secured the Best Cornet award.

We have had some memorable times rehearsing and performing “Haakon” this autumn/winter.  It is clearly a piece that the band enjoyed and, more importantly, has found favour with audiences and adjudicators alike.  Hopefully it will not be long before we can give it another airing but in the meantime, we had a busy Christmas to look forward to.

Article by Ian Austin

SCABA Autumn Contest – September 2016

Sunday 25th September saw us travel to The Hawth in Crawley to take part in the annual SCABA Autumn Contest.  We were competing in the first section against a number of bands from the South of England.  We had chosen to play “The Saga of Haakon the Good” by Philip Sparke and rehearsals leading up to the performance had been enthusiastically attended.

Confidence was high and this was reflected in an immense performance on stage which 4 Bars Rest described as “a wonderful blood curdling rendition”.

The audience gave us a resounding reception, although at the time we were uncertain whether this was in appreciation of our performance or the fact that Melvin, our MD, had chosen to don a Viking helmet complete with horns at the conclusion of the piece.

Fortunately, the adjudicator, Denis Wilby, shared the views of the audience and awarded us 1st place, beating off stiff competition from Horsham Band.

Melvin White, our MD, was awarded the prize for Best Conductor and Graham Jones, our principal euphonium player, won the prize for the Best Euphonium.

By all accounts, a successful day plundering prizes in Sussex – Haakon would have approved!

For full results please click here.

Article by Ian Austin

Young Otterbourne stars have egg-citing Easter

After a great push towards the Area contest in March and a fantastic result, we at band look forward to a short period of relaxation over Easter, when some of the band are off on holiday and spending time with family.

This is not the case, however, for our younger contingent….or I should say, our younger ex-members…

Sadly, this year we said goodbye to 2 of our younger members of the band. Principal cornet, Sonja Charters’ daughter, Becca, left us a few months ago to further her experience by joining a local championship band before heading off to music college in September and Tom Toledo-Brown decided to take a break from brass banding to concentrate on his studies before sitting his GCSEs in May this year. Becca is still a regular face in the band room as a fantastic dep and Tom is hoping to return once his exams are out of the way.

This week sees Becca return as a solo cornet for her 3rd course and Tom attend his first course on 2nd cornet at the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain. A massive achievement for both players and we are very proud of them both.

NYBBGB is made up of around 80 of the best players from around the country who have been auditioned and those lucky (super-talented) ones, offered a place in the band for that year. Every Easter and Summer members are invited to attend a week long course together. They practise extremely hard all week in both full band rehearsals and sectionals taken by some of the top players in the country. This course sees Becca being tutored by Philip Cobb, principal trumpet of the LSO since he was 21 and Tom being tutored by Tom Hutchinson, principal cornet of Cory Band – currently the best brass band in the world. Both ex-principal cornets of the NYBBGB during their time with the band.

All the tutors provide such a wealth of experience and inspire the youngsters so much during their time together, albeit short. They come away not only having had the best time together, but making lifelong friends and becoming better musicians too.

I’m sure you will agree, what an important role this plays in the continuing future of brass banding in this Country.

At the end of the course, the band usually perform two concerts locally. This course’s concerts are scheduled for 14th April at Uppingham School and 15th April at West Road Concert Hall in Cambridge.

This year the members also have an extra special treat of being invited to play a concert a week later on the 22nd April at the Barbican Centre in London.

All concerts prove to be something special as the band play a whole new repertoire which they have perfected in just a week and as always they play to an exceptional standard and also showcase spectacular soloists, this course being Philip Cobb on cornet and Peter Moore on trombone.

If you can manage to get across country to attend one of the concerts, you will not be disappointed. They are well worth the trip.

But, if you are unable to travel, please consider supporting the future of the brass band culture in the UK and check out the NYBBGB website and or Facebook page and have a look at the good work the band does and what the youngsters are getting up to each day.

I’m sure you will all be as excited and proud of them as we are at Otterbourne.

Tickets for all concerts can be purchased via links on both pages.

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.

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: or call 01264 352560 for more information.

Otterbourne Christmas Carolling 2016

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.