The story of St. Giles Brass Ensemble 1996 - 2010

In the summer of 1996 our then Rector Mark Turner suggested to Ray Jewkes that it might be a good idea to organise a concert using the musical talents within the church. Ray with his many friends and contacts among brass players soon put together a brass quintet and invited Ted Vincent to sing, Erica Phillips to play the violin and Pauline Edes to play and accompany on the piano. Edna Walker was invited to deliver the spoken word.

This concert 'Music for a Summer's Evening' was a prelude to greater things, such was the success and popularity of this concert.

One great enthusiast, Brian Moore, Chairman of the Friends at that time suggested that a concert on New Year's Day could prove to be popular. An organising committee of Brian Moore, Ray Jewkes, Julia Hoadley and Pauline Edes was formed. The first New Year's Day concert took place on 1st January 1997 with this and subsequent concerts sponsored by BDO Stoy Hayward, News Shopper, Facet Hair Design - Locks Bottom, Alan de Maid and the Moore family. This was the official inaugural concert of the St. Giles Brass Ensemble which was rapidly increasing in number as old friends of Ray became interested and applied to join the group.

The idea was to have a balanced concert, with the brass ensemble supported by a variety of soloists, some professional artistes, semi professional and gifted amateur musicians and as far as possible giving a platform to young local up and coming musicians for example Edward Grint, Lizzy Mace, Matthew Forbes and Zara Wright.

The success of this first concert was such that it was agreed that a further annual concert of a similar nature would take place on the first Bank Holiday in May each year - hence 'Music for Maytime'. Such was the demand for tickets these concerts got to the point of being sold out.

Sadly Brian Moore died in September 2001 and it was agreed that the following New Year Day concert would be styled 'The Brian Moore Memorial Concert' and thereafter 'The Brian Moore New Year Day Concerts'. To vary and enhance the programme, the 'Spoken Word' was introduced occasionally featuring among others Edna Walker and the Revd. Graham Shaw. Graham always looked forward to the concerts and often prompted Ray with a message 'I must have my trumpets!' Another former Rector, the Revd. Aidan Chapman frequented the concerts and on one occasion his niece, a very fine harpist delighted the audience with her playing. It was always good to see another former Rector, the Revd. John Druce.

The Brass Ensemble also supported the church in such events as the annual Festival of Remembrance, Midnight Eucharist, and the end of summer garden party.

The popularity of the ensemble grew to such an extent that they performed more widely at such venues as the Fairfield Hall, Croydon, St. George's Church, Beckenham, Croydon Parish Church and on several occasions as guests of local groups like the 'Mossman Singers'.

Special thanks were given by the Friends to both Richard Wood and Yvonne Burr who worked tirelessly in helping Ray with the organising of the concerts. Richard worked closely with Ray following the death of Brian Moore in engaging soloists from his many musical contacts and with programme planning and organisation. Yvonne can claim huge responsibility for filling the church for every concert with her publicity and planning as the seller of tickets for which there was high demand to the point of 'sold out!' The Brass Ensemble, many of whom travelled huge distances to attend rehearsals and performances, always gave their services for the benefit of the church entirely free of any charges.

In conclusion these concerts confirmed and maintained the long held tradition of St. Giles in presenting 'Fine Music in a Fine Old Church.'

Ray Jewkes and Julia Hoadley