Wilton and District Youth Band

Band History:

In 1965 Mr. Dennis Chalk BEM was given four old battered instruments found under the Wilton school stage by the headmaster Mr. Tom Feather with a view to starting a band, in return he asked that the band be called "The Wilton School Band". So with four players, the instruments and Mr Chalk all gathered in his living room the band was born.

It didn't take long for local interest to grow in the band with new members joining from Wilton, Salisbury and many surrounding villages, So in 1970 it's name was changed to "The Wilton and District Schools Band". But by 1976 with many of the founder members having left school but still playing in the Band, its name was again changed to it's current title "The Wilton and District Youth Band".

The aim of the band from it's earliest days was to give young musicians an opportunity to develop their talent through playing together in practice and in competitions that are very much a feature of the British Brass Band movement. Over the years the band has gained a high reputation through its competition performances at both local and national levels. We were the 1992 youth champions of the West of England Brass Band Association. Members of the band also compete in solo, duet and quartet contests. Many of the player's study for The Associated Board of Music grades and some achieve the highest level of Grade 8.

Past members have gone on to join military bands and professional orchestras having gained both their interest and stimulus from Mr. Chalk and The WDYB.

The band also develops social skills in the young people bringing lasting friendships and even marriages.

An important part of the band is our concert work, because as Mr. Chalk says, "if there isn't an audience then it's just another band practice". Concerts are played at formal venues such as concert halls, village halls and of course at the garden party and village fete. We visit hospitals, old people's and children's homes in the Salisbury locality to take music to them. Without exception, our efforts are well rewarded with smiles by the residents and we always get invited back. Even if the experience of having patients wheeled back from the concert to the ward by the young musicians is hair raising or pulse quickening. At Christmas time we play around 60 hours of carols around the highways and byways of Wiltshire, raising funds for national and local charities, in 1998 we raised £2,000 to purchase a blood pressure monitor for the children's ward at Salisbury District Hospital. More recently we have supported the Stars Appeal, donating £500 to the "Caring 4 Kids" campaign.

Since its formation the band has undertaken concert tours of Germany, Norway, Holland, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, America, Austria, France. The tour of America in 1985 included concerts in New York, Washington, Philadelphia and Wilton, Connecticut. In return the band has hosted bands from Norway, Switzerland, America and France.

We have a very extensive repertoire with over 800 items in the music library. Music ranges from well-known traditional brass band marches to arrangements for brass band of classical music. The more modern music is not forgotten with pieces from amongst others Andrew Lloyd-Webber, The Beatles and Abba. We have had music composed especially for us with the march "Chalk Valley" commissioned from Derek Broadbent to commemorate Dennis Chalk's 30 years with the band. As part of a National Lottery grant we again commissioned Derek to compose a suite entitled "Down Wilton Way" that was written to evoke memories of the locality in which we live, work, rehearse and perform. Both these pieces are available on our CD "Down Wilton Way".

In 2007, 42 years after starting the band, Mr Chalk decided it was time to hand over the baton (literally) to a new conductor. This ushered in the arrival of Colin Herbert, with his years of experience from Military and Brass banding. Colin has a lively style at practice, and likes to engage an audience at concerts (often raising his love of Arsenal!) – indeed, one of Colin’s mottos is, “we don’t just play music; we have to entertain”.

The band has experienced contesting success when the senior band achieved 5th place in the 2009 regional championships in Torquay, and the youth band were the victors of the 2009 Wessex Youth Band Contest, becoming the champions of Wessex.

The band is a registered Charity (Registered Charity No.287842/R) and is entirely self-supporting, although some player's own their instrument, the band has to maintain a full complement of brass and percussion instruments.