1993 to 2008
As was seen earlier, Geoffrey Whitham remained with the newly named Yorkshire Building Society Band as its first musical director but towards the end of the year, having seen the band established with its new sponsors, he handed over to David King. This dynamic young conductor from Australia took the title Principal Conductor and from time to time brought in resident conductors and guest conductors.
The British Open Championships, formerly held at Belle Vue but now established in Birmingham’s modern, lush, Symphony Hall, is the oldest brass band contest in the world, being established in 1853. To be in the winning band at these Championships is every young bandsman’s dream in this country. In its short career, Yorkshire Building Society Band won four times – in 1997, 1999, 2001 and 2003 – almost uncannily winning in alternate years.
Another contest in which Yorkshire Building Society Band did unusually well was that held in Cambridge each May, formerly called the All England Masters Championships. The band picked off the title here three times – in 1999, 2000 and 2004.
But the event which the band has virtually made its own is the European Brass Band Championships, founded in London in 1978 and moving around the European countries which are rich in brass bands. Aided in no small measure by the contributions made by Yorkshire Building Society Band, the ‘European’ has grown in stature as an international musical event. Yorkshire Building Society Band has been at the forefront of the Championships during the past decade, becoming Champion Band of Europe in 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 – eight wins in nine years, a record unequalled in the history of the Championships.
During these ‘European’ years, the band has also contributed significantly to the success of the Gala Concerts associated with the event, with innovative and artistic concert programming. Programmes have included the award-winning Cry of the Celts (1997), Windows of the World (2000), Hymn of the Highlands (2002) and Celtic Fusion (2004) – all commissioned by the band and performed as European Gala premieres.
Along with these themed projects, new works have also been commissioned, including Apocolypse by Derek Bourgeois and Music of the Spheres by Philip Sparke, a truly ground-breaking work first performed as the own choice in the 2004 European Championships.
In the field of commercial recording, the three-volume CD series, Essays for Brass has contributed significantly to the worldwide recognition of Yorkshire Building Society during the past decade. More recently, Bourgeois in Brass (2003) and Music of the Spheres (2004) – the work which gives this album was commissioned by the band for its 2004 Own Choice test piece in the European Championships – have received high praise and critical acclaim.
In both 2002 and 2003 the Yorkshire Building Society Band received ‘Brass Band World’ magazine’s ‘CD of the Year’ awards. Then, in 2003 and 2004, ‘CD of the Year’ and ‘Band of the Year’ titles came its way through the votes cast by readers of the internet brass band site, 4barsrest.com. The latest accolade is the band’s Number One world ranking of contesting bands, determined jointly between British Bandsman and 4barsrest. Such awards reflect recognition of the exceptional flair and versatility of the Yorkshire Building Society Band.
As 2008 neared its end several members of the band felt the need for a change of image, which naturally led to talk of a change of name. Since the ending of the sponsorship with Yorkshire Building Society in December 2004 the band had kept their old sponsor’s initials as their name (YBS). Although a sensible choice at the time there was a growing mood in the band to look back into their history for a new way forward.