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UK’s Most Northerly Brass Band Joins SBBA

Published in Band News on 2013-10-11 by Empty Chairs

More news from Lerwick Brass Band

The Scottish Brass Band Association (SBBA) are pleased to welcome the Lerwick Brass Band as a new addition to their ever growing membership. Based in Shetland, the Lerwick Brass Band is the most northerly brass band in the UK, geographically in line with Bergen, Norway. SBBA is delighted with the band’s decision to join the association, fully embracing the support and opportunities membership offers. The Association is also hopeful that the band will introduce a new youth brass band into its organisation once the necessary infrastructure is in place – helping to further expand its commitment to the Shetland community.

As part of SBBA’s country-wide development plans, welcoming bands in such outlying regions of the country represents a significant success story. Indeed, The Kirkwall Town Band, based in Orkney, is already a member of SBBA and their active involvement with the community is a clear demonstration of the important role brass bands can play in Scotland. SBBA is delighted that the additional membership of Lerwick Brass Band now reiterates the Association’s intentions to reach out to all brass bands throughout Scotland.

The Lerwick Brass Band has an impressively long history, indicated by an advertisement to form the band appearing in the Shetland Advertiser (now defunct) on Monday 23 March in 1863 which read: “Are there any Young Men in Lerwick who would like to practise with a view to forming a BRASS BAND? and who would be willing to subscribe a trifle, weekly, for his own instrument? Apply Mr Ellaby at the Institute.” From this tentative beginning, the band has since enjoyed an admirable 150 years of music-making in Shetland, supported by the strength of long-term commitment from its members, and notably by the current MD, Drew Robertson, who can be seen in band photographs dating back to 1956.

Whilst founded on the recruitment of ‘Young Men’ the band now enjoys an open membership, with an over-subscribed number of players across a wide range of ages. Amongst their regular rehearsals and varied performances throughout the year, a key annual event in which the band participates is ‘Up-Helly-Aa’ – Europe’s largest fire festival which takes place in Lerwick on the last Tuesday in January. This internationally renowned event is a traditional festival dating back to the 1880s and involves a series of marches and visitations, culminating in a torch-lit procession and the burning of a galley. Whilst it attracts an increasing tourist following, it is primarily a community event and an important festival in the Lerwick Brass Band’s diary.

Earlier in the year, Bon Accord Band visited the islands of Orkney and Shetland as part of its 50th Anniversary celebration tour. In addition to meeting and performing with the Kirkwall Town Band in Orkney, Bon Accord Band were also welcomed by the Lerwick Brass Band when they reached the shores of Shetland – performing a joint concert with them in the impressive surroundings of the Mareel Theatre. The success of such collaborative initiatives is a heart-warming reminder of the friendships and unity that can be derived through brass band music, and a clear indication of the important role SBBA is committed to playing in support of Scotland’s brass bands.

SBBA welcomes the Lerwick Brass Band to its membership and looks forward to developing initiatives in the future which offer support to all bands in similar outlying areas.

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