Location: Smallburgh, Norfolk, UK
Norfolk Wherry Brass was formed in 2004 by a group of local musicians from across Norfolk and Suffolk who came together under the musical direction of Andy Craze, a member of the Band of the Dragoon Guards, based at Swanton Morley.
We rehearse at the state of the art New Victory Hall in Neatishead every Tuesday and Friday evening between 7:30 and 9:30.
History of the band
The band made its debut appearance in March 2005 at the London and Southern Counties Regional Contest held at Stevenage where they were awarded first place in section 4. Promotion to the 3rd section followed, together with an invitation to take part in the national finals at Harrogate where they were placed 5th overall.
In May 2005, the band won the East Anglian Brass Band Association (EABBA) contest for the second time securing them promotion to the local championship section. The following year, the band again won its section at the LSC Regionals and was promoted to the 2nd section, returning to Harrogate to compete for a second time in the National Finals.
However, being a member of Norfolk Wherry Brass isn’t just about competitions. Each year the band has held a number of concerts, often in association with local charities, raising money not only for themselves but helping such organisations as the Royal Air Force Association, HCPT – The Pilgrimage Trust, EACH, East Anglian Air Ambulance, RNLI as well as local churches.
In 2006, the Band of the Dragoon Guards was disbanded and Andy Craze was posted to another part of the country. Geoff Barber, who had played cornet and flugel horn in the band, kindly offered to take up the baton and under his leadership the band continued their competition success being placed 5th in 2007 in the second section of the LSC regionals. But in March 2008, Geoff Barber had to stand down as MD for personal reasons. Several music directors offered their assistance to the band but all were too busy to take the post full time. In November 2008 Linda Purdy, the band’s tenor horn player, made the commitment to direct the band until after the London and South Eastern Counties contest in March 2009.
After a brief spell of guest conductors, the band then engaged Kevin Hegarty as musical director in May 2009. After two successful appearances at the EABBA contest and numerous successful concerts with eclectic mixes of musical genres, Kevin stood down in early 2012 to concentrate on his playing commitments with other bands in the area.
After leaving the military, founding musical director, Andy Craze took that baton once again for the 2012 LSC Regionals in which the band came second, qualifying for a place in the National Finals for the third time in its then 8 year history.
Andy took up the post full time following Kevin’s departure and lead the band through a remarkable year, the highlight of which was being crowned 4th Section National Champions in September, resulting in the bands promotion back into the third section.
In 2013 the band cemented its position in the third section at the LSC Regionals, putting in a respectable mid-table performance. Outside of contesting, the band was invited by the Harwich RBL Brass Band to take part in its inaugural Harwich Festival of the Arts Brass Band event at the Harwich Redoubt.
The Norfolk Wherry Brass Youth Band was rejuvenated under the leadership of Steve Clarke and became theNorfolk Wherry Brass Academy, opening its doors to aspiring musicians of all ages and providing tuition and instruments for just £1 per week.
2014 started off once again with an appearance at the LSC Regionals, where the band secured second place, coming away with the Gibson Cup trophy and another invitation to the National Finals in Cheltenham. Whilst preparations got under way for that, the band performed at some picturesque locations across the county from a concert in aid of the Care for Clare charity appeal at the RC Cathedral in Norwich to the Rising Sun pub set on the banks of the River Bure in Coltishall.
Concentration levels ramped up in August ahead of the finals in September where the band delivered a great performance, impressing the adjudicators and earning the band 3rd place, highest placed English band in the section and coming away with the Denis Wick Trophy.
After 2 successful years back in the band, Andy decided to leave following the high of the finals to seek new musical challenges. The band’s principal euphonium player Alex Kretzschmar temporarily took up the baton, agreeing to conduct the band for the immediate future from October 2014.
With another hectic Christmas season done and dusted, the band appointed its current Musical Director Kevin Mann in January 2015, bringing with him a wealth of of musicality, knowledge and experience from his Salvation Army, military and civilian musical ventures.
Norfolk Wherry Brass Band