A BRASS band from Andover has celebrated its tenth anniversary after welcoming music lovers to a recent performance.

Test Valley Brass Academy Band performed at John Hanson Community School on Saturday, November 4, with an afternoon of music, fun and stories. 

The audience was taken on a musical journey tracing the history of the academy from its early days and the simple music played then, up till more recent times featuring music such as Bohemian Rhapsody and The Conquest of Paradise.

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There were several tributes from band members who spoke of their own experience in joining the academy.

Awards were presented to Ian Powell for best attendance over those 10 years, to Harriet Higgs who was voted the Players' Player for 2023, and Unsung Hero Awards to Richard Doling and Keith Dowding for their contributions to the success of the band over many years.

There were some touching duets from Helen Watts and Jo Hosmer on cornets, as well as Cecelia Aggett and Jess Macey on trombones, and a virtuoso demonstration of drumming from Lucy Bedwell, Harriet Higgs and Karen Leonard.  

Maddy Douch, a previous member of the academy and now a successful singer/songwriter, sang one of her own songs. A slideshow of photos went through the history of the band and its achievements, whilst a Roll of Honour listed all those who have graduated from the academy into the senior band, and those who have taken on roles helping with the management of the Test Valley Brass group.

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The Test Valley Brass Academy started 10 years ago with just eight people who were complete beginners.

A spokesperson said: "It has progressed from there to becoming a band capable of playing full 90 minute sets of music in bandstands and other venues and has successfully taken part in music festivals such as the Basingstoke Music and Arts Festival, where they have twice won the Charles Chute Cup for the best overall performance in the Ensembles section comprising bands, orchestras and choirs."

Ken West has been the band's leader from the beginning. He said: "Whilst we look back with pride and enjoy the successes which have been achieved, we also remind ourselves that we are still a training band which is still teaching beginners, and encouraging existing members to progress and improve their playing."

The academy is always ready to accept new beginner members, whether they have played before or not, and you don't need to have your own instrument.

More information on how to join can be found by emailing membershipsecretary@testvalleybrass.co.uk or online at testvalleybrass.co.uk.