Chichester City Band’s musical director Rom Stanko is delighted with the progress the band has made since he took over at the start of last year.
Audiences get the chance to judge for themselves when the band offers the opening night concert at this year’s Festival of Chichester.
The band presents Adventures in Music at St Paul’s, Churchside, Chichester, PO19 6FT on Saturday, June 16 at 7.30pm – an evening of musical story-telling featuring a programme of pieces inspired by tales of great feats and adventures.
“When you start with a band, you are feeling your way,” Rom says. “You are clear in terms of what you are looking for and how musically you want things to go and what you want to achieve in terms of sound. But you also want to gauge the level of commitment and interest of the players and how much they are prepared to make an effort to improve. They told me that they wanted to get much better by competing, and that told me that they were ambitious. If they hadn’t been ambitious, I wouldn’t have contemplated it. That ambition has got to come from them, and then you set the tone in terms of what you are prepared to accept. To start with, you are gauging each other out.But I think they have responded really, really well. You make so many steps forward and then a few steps back. There has to be a bit of give and take in regards to the to’ing and fro’ing with progress. But generally speaking, I think they have made enormous progress since I started with them. It is a question of maintaining that commitment. I know it can be difficult when people have got families and other things in their lives.
“But if you listened to them when I first started, it is a very different sounding band that you would hear now. Generally speaking, the sound of a band is what you have to work on, and I would say that it has mellowed. When I first started, it was quite a brash sound – a quite bright and brash sound that was not to my liking. Being a northerner, there is a certain sound that I like. When you have got a really good brass band, it sounds like an organ. You don’t have individuals standing out. You are all working together.
“It is a question of the players being more aware and being more sensitive, and I think they are definitely making progress. I enjoy a lot of it. Like anything that involves working with people, there can be some things which are more difficult, but it is good. And I see it very much as a long-term commitment. I am thinking five or six years ahead. I am not thinking just a year or two ahead.”
But in the meantime, there is the more immediate challenge of finding a rehearsal base for the band in the city whose name the band carries: Chichester. Currently the band is rehearsing in Bognor. Rom would love to hear any suggestions for a Chichester base. Get in touch via the website.
Rom graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music in 1973, where he studied piano and tuba, and has had a strong connection with brass bands ever since he started playing, at the age of 12, with the Whitworth Vale and Healey Band.
After music college, Rom joined Besses o’th’ Barn band on solo Eb bass during their very successful period under Roy Newsome. During this period (1977-1983) he gave one of the first public performances of Edward Gregson’s Tuba Concerto under the baton of the composer. Rom has also played as a guest with Black Dyke, Brighouse and Manchester CWS. Rom has been a teacher for over 40 years, initially teaching music in various secondary schools and latterly in various leadership roles. He was the first musical director at Wardle High School, a position he held for 12 years.
Tickets £10; seniors £8; students £8; under-16s free accompanied by paying adult.
For more stories by Phil, see https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2