It’s all about the brass

Established in 2005, Ross-on-Wye’s Bands in the Park series – free summer concerts with some of the best local and regional brass bands – has been running for 18 years at the Bandstand on the picturesque riverside. In that time, the town has welcomed scores of top quality musicians over a 15 week period each summer, with one band performing every week except for the Proms in the Park which celebrates three brass bands in a five hour-long concert.

This year, the series kicked off on 21 May with our very own Ross-on-Wye Town Band and so far we have welcomed eight bands to the stage – including Lydney Town Band, Bream Silver Band, the Glevum Big Band, City of Bristol, Cinderford, Gloucester Brass and the Brass Monkeys Quintet.

Next week we celebrate the 2023 Proms in the Park with three fantastic brass bands who are no strangers to the Bandstand and have played many times before for our appreciative audiences. On Sunday 16 July, we will be spoilt by performances from the Forest of Dean Brass, the AW Parker (Drybrook) Band and Ebbw Valley Brass, who will be playing from 2pm until 7.30pm.

The Forest of Dean Brass, who will be celebrating 20 years in 2024, are a contesting band and have had huge success in many competitions including winning the Gloucestershire Brass Band Association, taking third place in the 2018 West of England area competition, placed top three at SEWBBA Cardiff test piece contest and top five at the Wychavon Entertainment Competition. The band are now among the top six 1st section bands in the West of England and perform everything from pop to classics at a variety events and festivals across the country.

Also hailing from the Forest of Dean, the AW Parker (Drybrook) Band are a First Section Brass Band and a regular performer in Ross-on-Wye each year. The band – whose name comes from their sponsors, AW Parker Coal Merchants – is responsible for organising the whole Bands in the Park programme. The Coal Merchants were established in 1920 by Ralph Parker, who transported miners to the local colliery in the morning, delivered coal during the day and took the miners home at the end of their shift. Today the business is owned by Graham Parker who took over from his uncle, A. W. Parker, in 1980 and started the transformation from a small one man business to one of the largest independent family coal merchants in the West Country.

The third and final band we will be welcoming back to perform, is the Ebbw Valley Brass, a hugely popular band and a firm favourite at the Proms. Formed in 2011 and led by conductor, Gareth Ritter, they perform a lively repertoire of classics, pop, film scores and as always, traditional favourites, Land of Hope and Glory and God Save the King.

This year’s Proms will also have some great catering onsite from the popular Beefy Boys, sweet treats from Divine Donuts and Kelsmor Dairy and tea, coffee and soft drinks from Whinny’s Horse Box. As always, bring a chair, blanket, well behaved dogs on leads and some spare cash for the charity collection – this year it will be for EnviroAbility, the Mayor’s chosen charity of the year. Oh, and of course, don’t forget to bring your flags for the finale!

Following the Proms, Bands in the Park will run for another six weeks until Sunday 27 August, where we will welcome Cheltenham Silver, Nailsworth Silver, The City of Cardiff Brass, Pillowell Silver, Worcestershire Winds and Abertillery Town Brass.