The Corsham Windband Association (CWA) is a registered charity based at the Corsham Arts Centre, Pound Pill (www.poundarts.org.uk). In general, the aims of the association are to promote and foster the enjoyment of playing music with friends; promote musical proficiency and excellence; encourage social awareness and responsibility within the Association and local community. We have a membership of about 150 young musicians from Corsham and the surrounding areas in Wiltshire with ages ranging from 5 to 24 years. It is this company of young musicians that make up 3 very individual bands that form the core of the Association:
The Training Band. This band is made up of novice musicians with little or no experience of playing an instrument or reading music. The band is underpinned by a training and teaching programme that guides the musicians towards their Grade 1 & 2 practical and theory music exams. Although encouraged, it is not essential for Training Band members to take music exams as Training Band has an emphasis on the fun-side of music making with a weekend residential course, and other musical trips undertaken. Normally, as musicians progress to Grade 2, and at the discretion of the Musical Directors, individuals advance into the Spectrum band.
Spectrum Band. Spectrum is the intermediate band that accepts musicians who have reached a reasonable standard, usually grade 2 practical. Most members work towards further musical exams, not only for personal advancement but also to contribute to improving the Band's overall performance. The band has a busy programme of engagements playing at fetes and open days, as well as entering competitions and music festivals. The musical directors will decide when an individual has shown the right attitude, commitment and achieved the appropriate musical standard in order to begin playing with the Youth Concert Band. It is expected that musicians would spend a transition period, usually the equivalent to a school term, playing in both Spectrum and YCB.
The Youth Concert Band (YCB). YCB is the most senior band. Membership is enjoyed by musicians who have generally attained a music Grade 4/5 practical exam. These musical skills are necessary in order for the musicians to cope with the standards expected by the band’s Musical Director and competition judges. The band is enthusiastic in entering international, national and local music festivals and has enjoyed considerable success in recent years at the National Music for Youth Competition. Along with Spectrum Band, YCB have undertaken tours to France, Germany, Norway and Scotland.
The Corsham Windband Association began life as the Corsham School Windband under the direction of Sonia Blandford in March 1981.
In April 1982, the Band had its first tour of Europe; the people of Corsham’s twin town – Jargeau, played host and the Band enjoyed excellent hospitality. We performed at numerous concerts and were treated like superstars by the local people. This was to forge a solid and affectionate relationship, which still exists today. The band continues to undertake trips to Jargeau on a regular basis.
To compliment the tours, the Corsham School Windband were entering music festivals and winning! Individual members were also beginning to gain musical recognition, the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music theory and practical examination results were and continue to be of an extremely high standard. As a result of the musical education given and encouraged by the Windband Association several of our musicians have entered higher education and have since gained degrees and diplomas in music; some have gone on to become professional musicians and many contribute to the CWA as adults.
In 1984, the Band became a registered charity, the Corsham Windband Association. The Windband Association entered its tenth year with a history of successful performances and tours. Parents continued to offer full support and the Corsham Windband Committee, elected annually at the Association’s AGM, continued to be a source of labour, guidance and leadership. From 1982 to 1991 various bands, choirs and orchestras from France, Germany, Norway, Scotland and regional bands from England were able to visit due to the hospitality offered by Association Members and their families.
Between 1991 and 1995 the Youth Concert Band toured Scotland, Norway and Germany, participating in concerts at Glasgow, Mandal, Kristian, Cologne and Durschied.
Musical experiences have been enhanced by joint concerts with groups from America and Canada. The Wayzata String Orchestra form Minnesota and the Cheekataga School Windband from Buffalo were young musicians of a high standard and joint concerts proved to be a memorable and educational experience.
In 1996 the YCB were invited to perform at the International Windband Festival held in Strasbourg (France). This prestigious event featured 3000 musicians from the world of amateur music making. Our performance was outstanding and we gained 1st place in the third section. This event was repeated in 2000 where we were placed 3rd in the second section.
In 1996 and 1999 the Windband Association participated in 2 of the Worlds Largest Orchestra Events where both events were recorded in the Guinness Book of Records.
2001 was a year of celebration that marked the 20th Anniversary of the Association. The first event was a celebratory Ball held at Grittleton House, followed later in the year by 2 special concerts. Aurora High School, a band from Canada came over especially to perform with us. During that year a weekend in September was put aside to record our own CD named ‘There and Back’. The recording proved to be a fine illustration of the achievements of the Association over the past 20 years. In 2007 the Association ran a successful trip to Spain, playing at engagements and sightseeing near Barcelona.
At a local level, we continue to win prizes at the Mid-Somerset Festival and British Symphonic Windband Association regional events. In 2008, Spectrum Band were invited to play at the National Concert Band Festival in Warwick, along with the top wind bands in the UK. The Association also holds concerts each year at which all Bands perform. However, the greatest testimony to the achievement of the Association is the social impact on the lives of its members. Within a small community there are hundreds of children and young people who have enjoyed the magic of playing a musical instrument. Families have formed lasting relationships with people in the local community, America, France, Germany and Norway.
In 2011 we celebrated our 30th Anniversary with a weekend of performances culminating in a concert held at Corsham School. All three bands performed to a large audience and many older ex-members returned to join the YCB to create the Anniversary Band, playing pieces ranging from those by Holst and Elgar to Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Lionel Richie.
In 2014 we undertook a trip to Strasbourg, where we linked up with a local band through contacts we have there. To see a report on this, go to our Newsletter page.
To download a New Member's Pack, go to our New Members page