Harmonie Concert Band Takes part in the NCBF “At Home” Project.

On Wednesday 15th June. Harmonie Concert Band took part in the National Concert Band Festival’s “At Home” project. The project, funded by The Arts Council England, provides free workshops for Concert Bands throughout the UK regardless of their ability, these workshops take place at the bands’ normal rehearsal venue and are led by an external specialist conductor and mentor.

The workshops are designed to provide external feedback, ideas & guidance, to create a focus for the band and encourage & give confidence to players.

Introducing our guest conductor and mentor Simon Hogg, Director of Music Performance, Warwick School.

A graduate of the National Youth Orchestra and the Royal Academy of Music Simon Hogg became a founder member of The Fine Arts Brass in 1980. During this time, he performed two thousand concerts, visited over sixty countries, recorded 150 BBC radio and TV broadcasts and made 25 commercial recordings. The ensemble commissioned seventy works by leading British composers and performed at most major British and European music festivals.

In 1994 Simon founded Warwick Music, a specialist publisher of brass music commencing with an unknown work for Trombone & Organ (1894) by Gustav Holst which he discovered in the British Museum. In 1996 Simon became an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music (ARAM), only awarded to alumni who have distinguished themselves in the music profession.

He taught trombone at the Royal College of Music, Junior Department for ten years, Has adjudicated for the BBC Young Musician of the Year and was Senior External Examiner at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama.

The evening began with the band rehearsing and playing a very descriptive piece called “At Dawn They Slept”, it was composed by Jay Bocook as a musical remembrance of all those who lost their lives at Pearl Harbour.

We then went on to play a jazz-inspired piece called “Shortcut Home” by Dana Wilson, this proved to be very challenging for all sections of the band but after some rehearsal, the final run-through gave a sense of satisfaction to all.

Just before a well-earned break, we had a chance to rehearse a very beautiful piece by Eric Whitacre called “October”.  This was a particularly challenging piece with multiple tempo and time changes which brought out the best in everyone.

Finally, Simon led us through one of the pieces we have been working on from our own repertoire called “Orient Express” by British composer Philip Sparke, a piece we hope to perform in future concerts this year.

The evening proved to be a resounding success so special thanks to Simon for coming and taking this workshop, Roy Dignum our MD for organising the workshop and all the band members for making this a memorable event that was enjoyed by all.  Below are a few photographs taken during the evening. 

If anyone is interested and would like more information about these workshops go to: https://ncbf.info/ncbf-extra

We are looking for a new MD

We are seeking a new Musical Director to succeed our current MD who will be leaving us soon (due to relocation) after leading us for more than 20 successful years.

Harmonie Concert Band is a symphonic wind band based in south Essex which traces its origins back to 1976. We are a community band that welcomes musicians of all ages to come and make music, but we always strive for a high standard, and to broaden our musical knowledge, experience and abilities.

We currently have 40+ active members from all over Essex who meet on Wednesday evenings in Rayleigh. We play a wide music repertoire including classics, popular and light music, marches, music from films and shows, and more demanding works written or arranged specifically for wind band. We have an extensive music library to which we add new items every year.

We perform 6 to 8 concerts each year, including community events and formal concerts, some in collaboration with other music and performing arts organisations. We have played at venues throughout Essex, plus visits further afield including to Eastbourne, London, and trips abroad to France and Belgium.

We would like to have the new MD in place by September 2022, but for the right person we would be willing to wait until January 2023.

For more information about the band please see www.harmonie.org.uk, and to express an interest in the MD position please email enquiries@harmonie.org.uk

Featured Member – Debs

Debs playing the French Horn
Debs playing the French Horn

Name: Deb Carter

Instrument:  French horn

When did you join? September 1987

Why did you join Harmonie?

Tony and I moved to Basildon when we were married and I wanted to join a band. At that time I was playing trumpet. I transferred to tenor horn a few years later and then to the French horn. I had wanted to learn the horn when I was at school but did not get the opportunity.

What do you enjoy about being with Harmonie? 

I love the variety of music we play and the fact that it is such a friendly band.

What has been your favourite experience with Harmonie?

Oh goodness… It is really difficult to choose one experience…

Playing at the Festival Hall for the Bernstein concert was amazing, but I have loved both the tours too.

What else would you like to say about being in Harmonie?

What can I say? It is a brilliant band to play in. I wouldn’t have stayed for 30 years otherwise!

Featured Member – Roy


Roy playing the bass clarinet
Roy playing the bass clarinet

Name: Roy Newham

Instrument: Bass Clarinet

When did you join?: 2003

Why did you join Harmonie? 

To improve my playing and to meet like minded people

What do you enjoy about being with Harmonie? 

The wide range of pieces. Even the horrible pieces grow on you!

What has been your favourite experience with Harmonie? 

The French trip – the coach was rubbish, but it was really good fun.

What else would you like to say about being in Harmonie? 

The MD likes to laugh, but also to get it right, we have a strong committee who is very hard working. Being a member has improved my dotage – thanks to all!

From Holst to Hess

Our Holst to Hess concert celebrates over 100 years of music written specifically for wind band with music by Phillip Sparke, Guy Woolfenden as well as Gustav Holst and our good friend Nigel Hess. We are delighted to be working with our guest soloist William Knight, who will be performing the Phillip Sparke clarinet Concerto.

William Knight

Born in Essex and educated at Westcliff High School for Boys, William Knight began learning the clarinet under the tutelage of local teacher, Gill Thorn, at the age of seven. Having been a member of the National Children’s Orchestras and the National Youth Orchestra, he went on to study at the Royal College of Music in London under Richard Hosford, Timothy Lines and Michael Collins, supported by a John Nickson scholarship award. He graduated in 2017 with first class honours having won the RCM Clarinet Prize and the Stephen Trier award for Bass Clarinet and having performed under conductors such as Bernard Haitink, Vladimir Jurowski and John Wilson.

Since graduating, he has gone on to forge the beginnings of a successful career as an orchestral clarinettist, and has performed with ensembles such as the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Royal Northern Sinfonia, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He has recently performed concertos and recitals in Essex and Suffolk and is excited to once again be performing locally.

Harmonie had the great pleasure of working with composer Nigel Hess in March this year.

Download a flyer.

The concert is on Saturday 13th October 2018, 7.30pm
Kings Road United Reform Church
91 Crowstone Road
Google map of location

To purchase tickets at £10 each: email enquiries AT harmonie.org.uk or call 07815 578998 (after 7pm)

Featured Member – Sarah

Sarah playing the clarinet
Sarah playing the clarinet

Name: Sarah Dignum

Instrument:  Clarinet

When did you join? 1996

Why did you join Harmonie?

We moved to South Ockendon from Croydon in 1996. I had been playing in symphonic wind bands since I was 12 and needed somewhere to play. Music and specifically wind bands has been part of my life since my schooldays and I cannot imagine not being able to play in this kind of ensemble.

What do you enjoy about being with Harmonie? 

Everyone is welcome, we don’t stand on ceremony but we take our music-making seriously. The music is wide-ranging in style and level of difficulty,

What has been your favourite experience with Harmonie? 

I love the band stand concerts but going on tour has been amazing because you have time to talk to people and socialise with them. The concerts we have done with the Julie Noble Dance School have also been amazing, especially the concert we did in 2012 for the Cultural Olympiad.

What else would you like to say about being in Harmonie?

Harmonie makes the week – always look forward to Wednesday evenings.

Award-winning composer comes to Essex

Sunday 25th March not only heralded the start of British Summer Time but was also the start of the performance season for Harmonie Concert Band.  In preparation for its busy year ahead (including performances in Southend, at the Orsett Show, and on the Eastbourne Bandstand) the band had invited the award-winning composer Nigel Hess to work with them for the day.  Many will know his TV themes including Dangerfield, Hetty Wainthropp, Campion and New Tricks as well as his film score to Ladies in Lavender.  Although Harmonie is based in Rayleigh in Essex, the band travelled to High House Production Park in Purfleet for its rehearsal day with the composer.

Nigel Hess has written extensively for the windbands having received composing commissions from the Royal Air Force Music Services and the Band of the Coldstream Guards.

At its rehearsal day Harmonie Concert Band worked on some of his pieces that will be featured in their concert programmes this year and everyone felt honoured to have had the opportunity to work with the composer himself.  Band Chairman, David Adlington said “Working with a well-known and award-winning composer such as Nigel Hess is a fantastic opportunity for a community music group like Harmonie Concert Band. Working with the actual composer of some of the music that will feature in our 2018 programme certainly gave us additional insight and helped us raise the bar – and we hope this will shine through in our forthcoming concerts”

The band were in an up-beat mood after the rehearsal with everyone expressing what a fantastic day it had been.  In response Nigel Hess complimented the band on being “absolutely terrific” and great fun to work with.


images: Roy Dignum

Featured Member – Kevin

Kevin playing the bassoon
Kevin playing the bassoon

Name: Kevin Hale

Instrument: Bassoon & Tenor Saxophone

When did you join?

I originally joined the band in 1996 when it was then known as The Basildon Concert Band, and after 10 year break due to family illness, I re-joined for the second time in January 2016.

Why did you join Harmonie?

Having been a Musician in the Army for 24 years I was looking for a local band that would allow me to continue playing after the end of my service and the band fitted that.

What do you enjoy about being with Harmonie? 

There are so many reasons why I enjoy being with Harmonie, but I think the top of the list has to be, the friendship and comradery, the music we play and the challenges it brings and the sense of achievement felt by all members at the end of a successful concert.

What has been your favourite experience with Harmonie?

I don’t have one single favourite experience I have a couple, the first one happened quite a number of years ago when I has in the band for the first time and it was when we spent a weekend making a CD and the second was last year when we performed in the Towngate Theatre, Basildon, for our 40th Anniversary Concert, where band members past and present came together for a very memorable concert.

What else would you like to say about being in Harmonie?

Harmonie is a very open band full of players of all standards and musical backgrounds, it is a true community band where all are welcome.



Harmonie 40th Anniversary Concert


2016 marks 40 years of the band making music in Essex, and to celebrate this important milestone in our history we recently presented a Gala Concert at Basildon’s Towngate Theatre.

The band was formed in 1976 as Basildon Concert Band and the passing years have seen us move to various rehearsal locations and a couple of changes to the name, but the core purpose has remained the same: bringing people together to enjoy music-making.

We have undertaken several major projects this anniversary year, including commissioning a brand new piece of music, our concert tour to Belgium in the summer, and culminating in the Gala Concert, as well as numerous other concerts and engagements in between.

The event took a lot of planning. Starting about a year ago, this included everything from choosing and hiring the venue, to selecting the repertoire, commissioning the new work and liaising with the composer (including a special weekend rehearsal workshop), publicising the concert, writing and designing the programme, inviting VIP guests, selling tickets, and lots of other details.

So we were delighted when on a Saturday evening in October we presented the concert to an enthusiastic and appreciative audience of about 250, and the whole event was a great success.

The concert featured a variety of our favourite music representing four decades of making music and drawing on programmes and themes from many of the memorable events from throughout the band’s history. We included music from the 2010 Bernstein Festival when we played at the Royal Festival Hall, 2012 Olympic year, right up to date with some of the music we played on our 2016 tour of Belgium, and much more in between.

We were particularly pleased to present the world premiere of a new composition entitled ‘Scenes of Essex’, composed specially for the occasion by internationally renowned composer of wind band music Colin Touchin.

We are also honoured to be performing alongside the talented dancers from the Julie Noble School of Performing Arts who added a tremendous additional dimension to the spectacle with their high quality and imaginative dance interpretations to accompany some of our musical items.

It certainly was an evening to remember, and grateful thanks go to everyone who helped to make it a success, especially the hardworking members of the Committee, and of course to the audience for turning up and supporting us!

You can see a full gallery here

Harmonie tour to Belgium!

2016 is the 40th Anniversary Year of Harmonie Concert band, a community band based in Rayleigh, and the band has chosen to mark the occasion in three ways: 1 – the commissioning of a new piece of music for windband, 2 – a gala concert to be held in Basildon on the 15th October and 3 – a tour to Belgium.

The tour took place during the summer holidays and is the second time this community band has travelled to the continent but the first time it has performed in Belgium. The beautiful, historic town of Ghent provided the accommodation for the band and offered sight-seeing opportunities for the band members before heading to Oostende for the first concert on the bandstand in the town square. The sun broke through the clouds at exactly the right moment and Harmonie Concert Band performed to those sat in the cafes that surrounded the square as well as those who came to sit and listen.

The next morning the band stopped at the Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest WW1 cemetery for British soldiers in Belgium. This was a very moving experience and brought home the scale of the atrocities and waste of life of this conflict. This theme continued for the rest of the day as the band headed for Ypres (decimated in the First World War) for its second concert. The weather was not as accommodating as it had been with the skies growing ominously dark but the rain held off for two hours and an appreciative audience gathered to listen to the band and requested the band play on beyond its two-hour performance slot. After dinner the band was able to witness the last post ceremony at the Menin Gate (dedicated to those fallen in WW1) before heading back to the hotel to relax, unwind and reflect on a very successful tour.

The band begins rehearsing again in September in preparation for its Gala Concert at the Towngate Theatre in Basildon, the town where the band was formed. The Concert takes place on the 15th October and tickets are available from the Box Office 01268 465 465.

You can see a photo gallery here