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Helston Town Band Appoints New Musical Director

Published in Band News on 2013-06-21 by Empty Chairs

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Helston Town Band has been busy auditioning candidates to take up the vacant role of Musical Director, following the departure of John Hitchens, after 10 years with the baton.

After a successful audition process, the Band is delighted to announce the appointment of Derek Johnston to the role of Musical Director. 

Born in the city of Carlisle, Derek began his music studies at the age of five, with his Grandfather John Johnston, the Bandmaster of the Carlisle Corp of the Salvation Army. Derek played in the Ash Lee Boys School Band, sang in the school choir and toured with his teacher as a boy soprano. 

It was at this time that Derek and his family moved to Yorkshire and Derek began his induction into Yorkshire banding. He first played with the Rossington Colliery Band on 3rd cornet and then the Dinnington Colliery Band, where he first moved on to the Trombone. At the age of fourteen, he was invited to join the Cresswell Colliery Band, where he would go on to compete against some of the best Bands around.

When his father, the late Derek Johnston Senior, was appointed Musical Director of Camborne Town Band, the family moved to Cornwall. Derek owes much of his success to the time spent studying under the watchful eye of his father and has consequently won many awards for his playing in Yorkshire and in Cornwall.

Derek’s playing career continued in Cornwall, where he played Principal Trombone for St Austell, St Keverne and Camborne Town Bands. He has played at the highest level and appeared at the National Finals in the Albert Hall London on several occasions; on one of these being placed just two points behind the famous Black Dyke Band and just four points from the National title. He also spent ten years with the D J Brass (Dance Band) and has made many TV and radio broadcasts. 

Derek was a member of Camborne Town Band when they won The World Music Festival in Kerkrade in Holland. He toured Germany, Holland, France and Belgium and became National Champion of Great Britain in 1976 at Fulham Town Hall, London.

In 1992 Derek was asked to conduct the St Keverne Band and so began his successful conducting career, overseeing numerous wins at local and area contests. Periods at Heyl and St Stithians Band followed, where Derek sought to raise the profile of the Bands by working hard to organise festivals and major concerts, yet still maintaining their traditional roots.

Most recently, Derek has returned to playing and to the Trombone, with Camborne Town Band and was delighted to perform at Blackpool, which had been the venue for his first major competition, at the age of fourteen.

Derek is now looking forward to taking up the baton with the world famous Helston Town Band, who are equally delighted to have such a well-regarded musician and conductor on board. He commented: 

"I am delighted to have been invited to become the new Musical Director of Helston Town Band and am looking forward to some great times ahead. It will be very difficult to better the Band's immediate history, but I fully intend keeping the strong traditions of this band alive, whilst also looking forward to the future in a strong and positive way"

A band spokesman commented “We are absolutely delighted that Derek has agreed to take up the role of Musical Director with the Band. Derek’s enthusiasm for Banding shone through during our audition process and this, combined this with his vast experience of playing and conducting other Bands made us feel he was definitely the right person to take us forward. 

Derek also showed a strong interest in our developmental Bands, Helston B Band and Youth Band, who rehearse on a Monday and Tuesday evening respectively. He is keen to work with our training conductors and encourage players of all ages and abilities to come along, get involved and have some fun.”

Derek adds “We would be delighted to welcome players, regardless of age or ability, into the organisation. With a Senior Band, B Band, Youth Band and Beginners group we certainly have a Band to suit all players and we would encourage anyone who is interested to get in touch with us. Contact details can be found on the Band Website or by calling 07971 301 057 in the first instance.”

Derek lives in Helston with his wife, Teresa, and has two sons and a daughter, who were all born in the town. The most recent addition to the family is his Granddaughter, Evie lily.

Derek’s first engagement with Helston Town Band will be at Falmouth Events Square on Saturday 29th June, at 2.00pm, followed by a busy summer calendar of events. Further details of all the Band’s engagements can be found at

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