Band room improvements

Over the summer a group of band members have been working tirelessly to improve our band room and the results are absolutely magnificent. Gone are the old dusty floors, windows full of cobwebs and broken glass, old carpets, poor lighting and the terrible acoustics. We now have a room to be proud of that should help us to improve and also allow us to attract new players. It’s been hard work but totally worth the effort. Have a look at the photos and see for yourselves.

Before the works
The band in rehearsal
What a transformation!

New players welcomed.

Now that we have resumed rehearsals in our freshly refurbished band room we welcome interest from new players. In particular we are looking for additional an cornet, baritone and tuned percussionist. See our advert below.

40th Anniversary celebrations planned

2022 will see the band celebrate it’s 40th anniversary and coincidentally the 30th anniversary of its association with the Co op.

Formed in 1982 with a small ensemble of nine players a merger with the ailing Orwell Band then allowed the group to form a complete Brass Band and join the contesting ranks. After 10 successful years and progression through the ranks to the 2nd Section the invaluable support from the Ipswich Co op began in 1992. This has continued under the Ipswich & Norwich Co op and now the East of England and long may it continue. The band is now a well established 1st Section band and has progressed to the Championship section on four occasions.

A full history of the band and a compendium of players, stories and photographs is being prepared as part of our plans for the 2022 anniversary along with a number of events which include the commission of a new composition for the band to use as an opener for our concerts, a new recording and culminating in a massed band concert to be held on 19th November 2022 in the Ipswich area.

We would obviously love as many past members of the band to come and join us on that date for an afternoon rehearsal followed by an evening concert. We will be writing to everyone that we can contact with the invitation and details but if anyone wants to get in touch via our website, Facebook page or by direct e mail to Band Manager Ian Burton ( we would love to hear from you.

It would be fantastic to see as many old faces as possible and to welcome you all back to join our celebration. We do know that there are some musicians around currently playing with Black Dyke, Brighouse and Rastrick and Bones Apart that have spent time in our ranks along with others that have played with Flowers, GUS and the Cory Band. Imagine if all those talented musicians were able to join us.

Further details will be published as soon as confirmed.

An Evening with Iwan Fox

Evening set up and reported on by Keith Moye (my apologies for its late publication, Keith)

We were lucky enough to have Iwan Fox as our special guest for our latest Q+A session.  Iwan has vast experience in the brass band world, having initially played for many years with Tredegar Band and now being editor of the popular website 4barsrest, which many people use as the base for all brass band information, reporting and data.

Iwan gave us many fantastic ideas of how to engage with our communities and how he believes this is the best place to start work to progress the band. He suggested creating a template that the band can use to engage people in the local community in our brass band tradition.

He also talked about other varying topics such as contesting and how the test piece has evolved over time, concert programmes and the audience, interviewing techniques and stories of people who have changed the banding world. 

Iwan finally talked to us about memorable music he had played or heard over many years and the development and role of bands in the 21st century as he believes that ‘bigger’ bands should be helping lower section bands by being a template to work from.

It was a great evening and Iwan really made us think how we can be active and keep our band relevant to us and the public. 

We look forward to welcoming more guests in the future including soloists, composers and conductors as we look to increase the profile of the East of England Coop band.

Happy Christmas

Wishing all our friends and followers a very happy Christmas 2020. We’ve really missed playing together his year so to be able to perform a few carols was a real treat. Hopefully things will get back to normal very soon.

An Evening with Phil Harper

Once again the Coop Band’s reporter Grace sends this account of the latest zoom meeting held whilst rehearsal restrictions are in place.

On Monday 27th July, the East of England Co-op Band had organised a third band Zoom discussion, this time with Phillip Harper. Phillip is best known for being the Musical Director of Cory Band, since 2012, who have won several major titles in brass banding, including the Grand Slam titles in 2016 – the European, British Open and Nationals. Since then, a ‘Harper Slam’ has been created, after Phillip became the first living MD to win the Grand Slam.

During the discussion, Phillip often mentioned his love for composing, and ‘Explorers of the Moon’ being one of his favourites. He started his banding career as a Tenor Horn player in his local brass band, but developed composing skills during his teenage years, and conducting after that!

One of Phillip’s favourite things about being Musical Director of Cory Band is choosing the repertoire for a concert. He imagines himself as a storyteller, who is “in control of the musical picture”. Phillip recalled that the Cory Band are often performing concerts each weekend, with new pieces each time!

Phillip also explained Cory’s typical rehearsals, which happen twice a week. As to our band’s surprise, the Cory band start with very minimal warm up, and start practising test pieces on the dot! He did, however, agree that Hymns are the best way to settle the band before a rehearsal, which the East of England Co-op Band often start every rehearsal with!

Overall, the discussion with Phillip Harper was interesting, and allowed the band to get an insight into Phillip’s career. Thank you very much Phillip!

“An Evening With Phil Cobb”

Grace, the Co-op Band’s reporter sends this report on our evening with Principal Trumpet of the LSO, Phil Cobb. (Grace is Studying A Levels and is looking forward to starting next term at the Royal Northern College of Music).

On Monday 22nd June, the East of England Co-op Band organised another Zoom discussion, this time with trumpeter Phil Cobb. Phil grew up through the Salvation Army and proceeded to study at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He has held the position of Principal Trumpet with the London Symphony Orchestra for over a decade, although he will now move on to the BBC Symphony Orchestra when lockdown has ended.

Phil fondly mentioned his upbringing during the discussion, saying that his father Stephen Cobb was a major influence during his life. He recounted that his father would often tell him to “play the copy” – suggesting to just focus on the music and to not get distracted with audience reactions during a performance.

As well as being a renowned orchestral musician, Phil also talked about his experience of being a studio musician, playing on soundtracks for films such as Harry Potter and more recently, Aeronauts. Phil said that when booking a film session, his life can be “up in the air” and he often doesn’t know the film or score the musicians are playing for!

Much to the band’s surprise Phil explained that he does not spend days working on his technique, instead he just spends under an hour focusing on the “sweet spots!”. He was a firm believer in “finding a system that works for you”.

Phil was very passionate when talking about some of his idols, mentioning Tim Morrison and Wynton Marsalis as his two favourites. He also recounted meeting Maurice Murphy (his predecessor in the LSO), who is most famous for recording the Star Wars soundtracks.

Overall, the discussion with Phil Cobb was very interesting, and the band really got an insight into his routine, influences and upbringing with the Salvation Army Brass Bands.

An evening with Edward Gregson

On Monday 18th May, the East of England Co-op band held an online Zoom discussion with the renowned composer Edward Gregson. This was kindly organised by band member Keith Moye who is acquainted with Edward Gregson through his work in the music publishing industry.

Edward Gregson is an English composer who has written works for orchestra, choral, chamber and brass ensembles. He has composed commissions for the BBC Philharmonic, Halle Orchestra and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic.

Some of Edward’s brass band compositions are familiar to the band, including ‘Variations on Laudate Dominum’, which is currently featured in the Co-op Band’s repertoire and ‘Of Distant Memories’, which the band played at a recent contest.

During the evening Edward talked extensively about his career but focussing mainly on his Brass Band work, the motives behind his compositions, some of his favourite pieces to listen to and where he gets his inspiration from. When asked about his favourite Brass music heavyweights, Edward recounted his love for the Moorside Suite by Holst, Heaton’s Contest Music and also music by Elgar and Vaughan Williams.

As well as performing, Edward also talked about the techniques when playing. For example, he said “vibrato is a colour – you either turn it on or off as the music demands”.

The East of England Co-op Band are most grateful to Mr Gregson for spending two hours with us in what was a very informative session and the band thoroughly enjoyed talking to such an accomplished composer.

The band are looking forward to organising more discussions in the future!

The Remote Cossack

Over the last few weeks whilst we’ve been unable to meet for rehearsals, we decided to make a remote recording from the comfort of our own homes. Individual videos were submitted and then the sound and video edited to produce this performance of the William Rimmer March, “The Cossack”. We hope you enjoy listening to this as much as we did creating it.

The Remote Cossack