Grimethorpe Colliery Band at the Marina this weekend

One of the most famous brass bands in the World appear in concert at Lowestoft’s Marina Theatre this Sunday afternoon.

Formed in 1917, The Grimethorpe Colliery Band began as a leisure activity for the colliery. Initially financed by the mine owner, a sister company, and a welfare fund set up by the miners themselves, the musicians perfected their skills through competition. From 1932 to 1945 the band entered 42 such competitions, winning 19 and never coming lower than fifth!

In 1972 Elgar Howarth was engaged as professional conductor and music adviser and his association with Grimethorpe was the inspiration behind the commissioning of new works by leading avant garde composers including Hans Werner Henze and Sir Harrison Birtwistle.

When in the early 1990s a programme of pit closures were announced, it soon became apparent that Grimethorpe was on the list of mines to be shut. Even as recently as 1992, 17 members of the band were employed at Grimethorpe Colliery and all were made redundant. The pit closures were announced just 5 days before the band were due to contest the National Brass Band Championships at the Royal Albert Hall, London. Needless to say, the pressure was immense, the world’s media seized on the band as a ‘new angle’ for their stories, but, as in all the best fairy tales, the band triumphed to become the Champion Band of Great Britain.

Soon after the victory at the Nationals a board of trustees was formed to manage the finances of the band through this difficult period. Financial backing continued from British Coal until 1995 when RJB Mining PLC agreed to fund the band, an agreement which continues to this day.

Greater international fame came to the band with the making of the 1995 film Brassed Off! – The film told the story of the fictional South Yorkshire village of Grimley, and how the local colliery’s band won a national competition only a few days after the closure of the colliery was announced. The film, starring Ewan McGregor, the late Pete Postlethwaite and Tara Fitzgerald, was a huge success. The band provided the soundtrack music and the extras for the on-screen band, the spin-offs have been vast. Since the release of the film (whose soundtrack was nominated for a BAFTA award) the band has toured extensively in Europe, including a film festival in Norway, The World Cup in Paris and the Eurovision Song Contest to an estimated television audience of 50 million! The band has also recently become the first ever brass band to become an ensemble-in-residence at the Royal college of Music. With the continued support of RJB mining, and the success of Brassed Off! the band is in good health and it’s future now looks secure.

Their visit to the Marina Theatre this Sunday will see them performing all the hits from the film plus favourite classics in spectacular style. Just a few seats are still available for the concert, which commences at 3pm. For more information or to book seats please call the box office on 01502 533200.

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