Neil Franks is the Musical Director of SWSCB. He joined in 2016 and took over the reins from Mike Fielder, who had run the band since 1983. He has had a long and varied musical career teaching the clarinet, saxophone and flute, and performing solo and in various bands and orchestras including Mainly Madness, No Jacket Required and the Holland Park Opera Orchestra. He’s a fan of Marvel and Disney films and his choice of music for the band has often reflected this!
Lin Bedworth-Ray is the conductor of the Junior Band. She joined in 1985 to assist with the brass section and then founded the Junior Band in 1989. Lin is an accomplished euphonium player and has taught in secondary schools for many years.
Mike Chapple, the band’s brass tutor, has been with the band since he was 12, first as a trumpeter and then as a tutor. He had a short leave of absence to go to Huddersfield University. Outside of SWSCB he tutors with the Surrey County Youth Wind Orchestra and can be found conducting Brass Routes (beginner brass ensemble), the West Surrey Wind Band and the Surrey Advanced Brass Ensemble. He regularly performs with Surrey Brass, specialising on piccolo trumpet and has performed as a soloist in Europe, America and Australia.
Mike says that SWSCB has given him many great friends and numerous musical highlights, but one of the non-musical ones was when the band got stranded in a service station and he kept them entertained by teaching them to juggle!
Eric Ramplin, the percussion tutor, joined in 2019 having played as a student in the band since 2012. He has a BMus in Music from the Academy of Contemporary Music, performs professionally for various bands and is also a chef!
Glynis Langley has been a clarinet and saxophone tutor with Surrey Arts since 1995. She joined SWS Concert Band in 2021 as woodwind tutor and “self-appointed music librarian” and says that Saturday mornings are now the highlight of her week.
Between them, Neil, Lin and all the tutors have succeeded in creating a dynamic youth band, with a friendly and encouraging atmosphere, which continues to perform in many different venues and for different occasions.
Some members of the band have gone on to study music at various universities and conservatoires, others continue playing in groups and orchestras elsewhere. Many make music part of their lives in some form or other.
In 1983, Mike Fielder was asked by Ian Morrish of the SWS Music Centre (the forerunner of Surrey Arts) to form and run a Wind Band for Youth. Mike had had a long career as a clarinet player and teacher. He had played in numerous groups including the Royal Army Medical Corps staff band, BBC West of England Orchestra and the Ernest Reed Orchestra.
The band rehearsed at Guildford County School and later at Queen Eleanor’s School. Maroon folders for scores were always used and the uniform evolved from jumper, badge and tie to waistcoat and tie.
The first piece they ever performed was Jesus Christ Superstar at the Farnham Maltings in 1983. Since then they have performed in schools, churches, bandstands and theatres, including Guildford Cathedral and the Festival Hall in London, and have raised money for many different charities.
They have also performed on tour in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, France, Italy and the USA.
In 2013 they celebrated the band’s 30th anniversary with a concert at G-Live when many previous band members were invited back to play or just to watch.
On 15th July 2023, the band will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a concert at the Royal Grammar School.