A brass band is making plans to play on for generations to come as it marks a 25-year milestone with the launch of a music school.
GT Group Band Peterlee hopes the academy and a new youth band will encourage people to take up brass and percussion instruments.
We wish to encourage local young people to join us and feel a pride and passion for a musical tradition which is deep-rooted in the former coalfields of the North East.Trevor Langthorne
The band, which is marking a quarter of a century since it struck a sponsorship deal with the town’s manufacturer, GT Group, is in negotiations to buy a building in Shotton Colliery to use as a rehearsal space.
It also plans to hold a concert in Peterlee later this year to acknowledge the support it has received, both from GT Group and the people of East Durham.
It has previously played at the Royal Albert Hall and at competitions across the country.
Money raised from the event will be donated to a cancer charity - in memory of the band’s former professional musical director, Simon Kerwin, who died in November following a short illness.
The respected composer and musician, who conducted the band in the North of England Championships last March and provided inspirational leadership, was an enthusiastic supporter of establishing a music academy.
Trevor Langthorne, secretary of the band, said the academy will be open to young people from the area’s schools and use professional tutors to develop their skills.
The band is in the process of appointing a new professional musical director to work with the band’s resident conductor to set up the academy.
It will also work in partnership with councils, police and community organisations to work with youngsters and promote the academy.
Mr Langthorne said: “Our 25th anniversary year is a momentous one.
“It allows us to reflect on past successes, as well as look forward to exciting new projects, including the music academy and youth band.
“We wish to encourage local young people to join us and feel a pride and passion for a musical tradition which is deep-rooted in the former coalfields of the North East.
“The band has gone from strength to strength thanks to GT Group’s generous sponsorship.
“However, by setting up an academy and youth band, we hope to ensure it will continue to flourish for many generations to come.”
Tim Jayes, managing director of GT Group, said: “Brass band music and the GT Group Band Peterlee are embedded in the culture of County Durham.
“We fully support the initiatives announced to develop the musicians of the future and further strengthen the band’s bond with the local community.
“GT Group has been delighted to sponsor the band over the past 25 years and will continue that support going forwards.”
Originally called Peterlee Town Band, it changed its name in 1993 following the sponsorship agreement with GT Group founder, Geoff Turnbull.
The arrangement continued following the acquisition of the organisation by Knorr-Bremse Group, which has committed its ongoing support to the band.