A History of the Band

The band was originally formed in 1994 as the Aylesbury Town Band, and was reconstituted in 1996 as Aylesbury Community Concert Band. It attained charitable status in 1997, and in 2009 the name was shortened to Aylesbury Concert Band.

Since its formation the band has given concerts and has played at carnivals, school fetes, church services and civic occasions, both in the town of Aylesbury and in the surrounding area. In 1998 the band toured the Moselle region of Germany, giving public performances in the spa town of Bad Bertrich, and at the Piesport Wine festival.

In November 1999 the Band entered the National Wind Band Festival and was awarded a Bronze in the Community Band Class, a considerable achievement for the Band’s first attempt. Then in September 2000, following the BBC’s refusal to permit the actual Last Night of the Proms to be relayed to the town, the Band rose to the occasion to provide Aylesbury’s own “Last Night” in Market Square. The concert and traditional singing was enjoyed by an enthusiastic audience of 1000 people.

Aylesbury Band, October 1998
The Band prior to its visit to Germany in October 1998

2001 will be remembered for the exchange visits with the Watauga Community Band of Boone, North Carolina, USA. In June the American band visited Aylesbury and in October the Aylesbury Band travelled to Boone. Both visits were highly successful and much enjoyed by all those who took part. Then in November the band entered the National Wind Band Festival again, this time achieving a silver medal.

In 2002, the Band played an important part in events to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, with special concerts at St Mary’s Church, Aylesbury, and in villages around Aylesbury. The Band now merited a number of regular engagements, such as the third “Last Night of the Proms” in September, and several popular carol concerts in the run up to Christmas. In October 2002, the Band made another tour abroad, this time to the Belgian town of Bruges, performing concerts in the nearby towns of Aalst and Gent. Then in 2004 the Band returned to Germany, visiting Lahr in the southwest of the country, on the edge of the Black Forest.

At the end of 2006 Alan Mossford stepped down as Director of Music, but not before leading the band to the award of a Gold Medal at the National Concert Band Festival, a fitting reward for his hard work developing the band over the years. He was succeeded by Duncan Stubbs, a serving officer in the Royal Air Force Music Services.

In February 2008 the Band organised a Development Weekend, two days of intensive rehearsal with guest conductor Rob Wiffin, one time Principal Director of Music of the RAF. The weekend was such a success that it has become a regular event by popular request. Then in November that year the Band entered The National Concert Band Festival again, this time winning a silver award. Another Development Weekend was planned for February 2009, but had to be cancelled due to bad weather, so the Band organised a Development Day in the summer instead.

At the end of 2009 Duncan Stubbs was appointed Principal Director of Music of the Royal Air Force, and his new workload meant that he had to give up conducting Aylesbury Band, much to both his and the Band’s disappointment. He continues to take an interest in the Band, though, and returned to share the conducting at the 2010 Development Weekend in March. In order to show their appreciation the Band members decided to award the title Conductor Emeritus to both Duncan Stubbs and his predecessor, Alan Mossford, in recognition of their exceptional services to the Band.

In the search for Duncan’s successor the Band were honoured to have no less than four applicants for the post, finally selecting Neil Chapman, a serving member of RAF Central Band. Neil quickly became popular with the Band and audiences alike, and proved his worth when he conducted the highly successful Vale Park Proms in September, which in 2010 was the 10th Anniversary of the first Aylesbury Proms.

Unfortunately Neil Chapman was posted to Lincolnshire in 2011 to join the Band of the RAF Regiment. In his place Aylesbury Band invited another member of RAF Central Band to be Director of Music, Claire Lawrence. Claire continued her predecessors’ work of developing the Band, including winning a gold medal at the Midlands Region Concert Band Festival in 2012. This led to the Band being invited to the National Festival Final in 2013 and winning a silver medal.

In 2014, Claire Lawrence had to leave at short notice having decided to transfer to the army and train as a bandmaster at Kneller Hall. Instead of looking to the RAF once again, it was decided to appoint deputy conductor, Robert Wicks, as Director of Music. For a number of years Robert had been ably standing in at times when the Director wasn’t available, including conducting the Vale Park Proms in 2012 and 2013.

In 2018 the Band played a major part in a Civic Service of Remembrance to mark the hundredth anniversary of the end of World War I. This included playing arrangements of Mars and Jupiter from The Planets by Gustav Holst, which provided the Band with considerable challenges.