BLACK DYKE BAND
In 1816, in the Yorkshire village of Queenshead, later to become Queensbury, Mr Peter Wharton founded a brass and reed band. Amongst the players, on French Horn, was John Foster, owner of the John Foster & Son mill in that small village. The life of this band, however, was short lived through declining numbers of players. In 1837 a new band was formed, the Queenshead Band, and in September 1855 John Foster & Son ‘adopted’ the band, acquiring for it a new set of instruments and attracting new members. In addition to this, a room was provided for practising - The Black Dyke Mills Band had been formed.
Most of the Band’s musicians lived in Queensbury and worked in the mill, ensuring a close link to the community that remains to this day. The Band has been at the forefront of banding development throughout its history, making one of the earliest brass band recordings in 1904 and embarking on a five month tour of Canada and the United States in 1906, during which it played over 200 concerts and travelled over 13,000 miles. Since then, they have featured on no less than eighty recordings, and have toured widely throughout Europe and the rest of the world, including Sierra Leone, Japan, Australia and several re-visits to Canada and the United States. Amongst its recordings the band is proud to have been recognised in wider musical spheres, in 1996 winning the Music Industries Association Award for the best CD in the orchestral category with their recording of music by Sir William Walton. In February 1999 the Band were nominated for a ‘Grammy Award’ in the ‘Crossover Classical Section’, and this was followed a month later by an Oscar nomination, when it provided the backing for the song That’ll Do by Peter Gabriel in the film Babe 2.
The Band has been proud to enjoy success with other recording artists including Paul McCartney & Wings, Tori Amos, Beautiful South, Evelyn Glennie, and, decades earlier, The Beatles on their hit record, Yellow Submarine. Television shows, broadcasts, concerts at Music Festivals, the Proms and other high profile events have also seen the Band featured with household names such as Lesley Garrett, Elton John, Evelyn Glennie, James Morrison, Rod Franks, Ian Bousfield, Philip Smith and many more. In October 1993 Black Dyke Band created history as the first British brass band to appear at the Carnegie Hall, New York, and a year later they became the first brass band ever to perform at the Royal College of Music. In 2004 the Band was proud to be appointed the first ever ‘Band in Residence’ at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.
Many ‘legends’ of the brass world have been associated with the Black Dyke Band over the years, together with a significant number who have gone on to enjoy successful careers in the orchestral world including Jack Pinches (who was solo trombone player in the band at the age of sixteen), William Lang, Maurice Murphy and Rod Franks. Today the Band is proud to be associated with a modern day ‘giant’ of the Composing World, Philip Wilby as Musical Associate.
The Black Dyke Band has, throughout its history, enjoyed unparalleled success in the contesting world, being awarded the title ‘Champion Band of Great Britain’ no less than twenty times, most recently in October 2004. In their 150th year they also became European and British Open Champions 2005, and retained the British Open title in 2006.
The Band is relentless in its quest to perform music of the highest possible standard and upholding its long and fine tradition. This desire is summed up perfectly in its motto, taken from the armorial bearings granted in 1857 to John Foster: ‘Justum Perficito nihil timeto’ - ‘Act justly and fear nothing’.
Photo courtesy of John Sitrzaker