On the 16th of November the Forum’s guest speaker was Chris Helme. Among his many interests Chris played the tuba in the West Yorkshire Police brass band, having joined his local brass band at the age of nine.
His talk was titled Legends of the Brass Band World and he began by explaining the appeal of this form of music where most styles can be presented. He illustrated this by playing short extracts of music by Abba and Tchaikovsky played by well-known bands. He then related the history of brass bands from their inception at the start of the nineteenth century as village bands and the formation of bands sponsored by industrial concerns until the First World War intervened when many bands disappeared or were temporarily disbanded.
Many bands reformed when peace returned and band competitions became as important as they are today. Chris related the careers of two bandsmen, Edwin Firth from Skipton who was featured on a celebrated recording produced in 1913 but who was killed in June 1918 and Arthur Laycock from Todmorden who was one of the first full-time professional bandsmen but died at the early age of 42 whilst fulfilling an engagement in Cornwall.
Chris Helme has written a successful book on this subject What Brass Bands Did for Me.
Mike Earle proposed a vote of thanks to Chris for using his passion for brass bands to provide the Forum with an entertaining morning.