Our team of Conducting Tutors, led by Darren Hawken and assisted by Aaron Harvey, take the band at monthly rehearsals.
These two, and our other tutors, take sectional rehearsals at both monthly rehearsals and on courses.
Darren is a musician of rare versatility – a successful conductor, teacher, trombonist, outreach leader, vocalist, pianist, organist and accompanist.
Darren’s musical career started in Cornwall at an early age. Having started learning the piano at the age of five, the trombone soon followed and it was with the Mount Charles Youth band that he gained considerable success over a period of seven golden years. Soon after, Darren accepted a position with the Bodmin Town Band and it was during this period that he won the West of England Regional Championships, West of England Bandsman’s Festival (Bugle), Yeovil Entertainment Contest, and competed in the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain and Grand Shield Contests playing under some fine conductors in the shape of Dr Nicholas Childs, Dr Roy Newsome, Major Peter Parkes and Russell Gray to name but a few. Darren also held the position of principal trombone with the Cornwall Youth Brass Band for five years, a tenure that brought him four awards including the Albert Chappell award for ‘Best Player’ on two occasions.
In 2003, Darren left Cornwall to embark on a BMus (hons) degree at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) under the tutorship of Dr Robert Childs, Christopher Mowat and Kevin Price. He has performed with the Symphony Orchestra, Brass Band and Brass Ensemble. During his studies, Darren was awarded second place in the annual Linda Mowat Brass Competition on two occasions. After successfully completing his undergraduate degree, Darren furthered his music studies at the college undertaking a postgraduate degree. It was during this time that Darren combined his trombone/conducting studies with the post of ‘Assistant to the Head of Brass’ and also held the position of ‘Vice-President’ on the college’s Student Union.
Away from his college studies, Darren gained a sole invite to take up a conducting placement with one of the world’s leading Opera companies; the Welsh National Opera under the baton of world renowned conductor Carlo Rizzi. A trombone placement with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales soon followed in which he was also a core member of the BBC National Chorus of Wales today. It is during his time at the college that ‘Absolute Brass’ was formed, a brass quintet that regularly performed throughout the UK.
2007 saw Darren become a part-time member of Staff in the Junior Music and Access Studies department at the RWCMD where he was a lecturer, academic teacher and conductor in residence of various ensembles including the symphony orchestra. It was after this successful appointment that he was offered the full time position of ‘Outreach Co-ordinator’ in the senior college of the RWCMD, overseeing and implementing Outreach provision across all areas of the college.
It was in 2005 that Darren was asked to make his brass band contest conducting debut at the age of 21 with the St Breward Band at the South West Brass Band Association Annual Championships. It was on this, his winning debut that further invitations were to be received including conducting St Pinnock at the National Brass Band Championships in 2006. After being in great demand, Darren continued freelancing conducting with various championships section brass bands, orchestras and choirs across the West of England and Wales.
In 2009, Darren was delighted to accept an invitation by the St Dennis Band to conduct the band at the 2009 West of England Bandsman’s Festival (WEBF) at Bugle in which the band were awarded second place. Further immediate success on the contest stage was to come with the Mount Charles Band conducting them to victory at both the Miller Countrywide Entertainment Contest and the Grenland International Brass Festival (Norway) in 2010.
Since Darren’s appointment as the Professional Conductor of the St Dennis Band in 2010, there have been many notable achievements. They include; a coveted Royal Trophy win in 2012 alongside no less than five second places at the WEBF, a third place at the Yeovil Entertainment Contest in 2014, second place at the Pontins Brass Band Championships in 2010, two top six results at the West of England Regional Championships and more recently, promotion from the Senior Trophy into the Senior Cup at the British Open Spring Festival in 2014.
Alongside his conducting duties with the St Dennis Band, Darren currently holds the position of Assistant Director of Music at Plymouth College, one of the leading Independent Schools in the South West of England and more recently, the appointment of Lead Conductor with the Cornwall Youth Brass Band (2015).
In 2008, Darren was invited by the Lord Chamberlain’s office to attend a Royal Garden Party hosted by Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace in recognition of his outstanding talent, dedication and commitment to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Aaron began playing the Cornet with the Mount Charles band in 1974. After four years he joined the famous St Dennis band, moving through the ranks of the youth and senior bands to attain the position of principal cornet, a highlight of which was a performance at the National Finals in the Royal Albert Hall in 1985.
After a short spell in the Midlands, playing with a number of Championship section bands in the area, Aaron returned to his native Cornwall, subsequently taking up the principal cornet position with the Bodmin Town band in 1988. Thus began the most successful period of his banding career to date as the band grew in status gaining a reputation as one of the UK’s foremost combinations. The band competed at most of the major contests in the country, including five appearances at the National Finals in the Royal Albert Hall. Interspersed with these competitions, the band made many broadcasts and recordings as well as performing at prestigious concerts throughout the country.
Personal successes in that time have included being named best cornet (5 times) and best player (3 times) at the WEBF (Bugle) contest; best cornet at the CBBA contest (3 times); and best cornet in 3 venues at the Whit Friday March contests, in and around Manchester.
During his time with Bodmin Town Band he also accepted the position of bandmaster, deputising in the absence of the Resident conductor. It was through this and work as a tutor with the Cornwall Youth Brass Band, that he caught the conducting ‘bug’.
David A Dobson
Dave became involved in music in 1975 when he began playing Bb Bass in the local brass band where he lived in the Midlands. He continued playing with bands, eventually with Championship section ‘Banks’s Brewery’ Band until he moved to Cornwall in 1987.
When he moved to Launceston Dave played for the Launceston Town Band on Bb and Eb Bass, at the same time conducting the Launceston Youth Band. He continued to assist Nick Chadd by helping with the young players until he moved to play for the Mount Charles Band, and soon after that to Bodmin Town Band in 1990.
Dave played for the Bodmin Town Band for several years, restarting the youth band there as well as continuing playing until he ‘retired’ from playing to concentrate on conducting in 1996. During his playing career with Bodmin Town Band Dave appeared in two National Finals at the Royal Albert Hall.
Dave then continued to build up the Youth Band at Bodmin to compete in several contests and many concerts in this period. Whilst still with Bodmin as Youth Band MD he took up the baton at Bude Town Band taking them from a band of 12 players to winning the Cornish 4th Section title in under 2 years.
Dave left Bude Town Band to conduct the Mount Charles Senior and Youth Bands. As resident conductor at Mount Charles, the band were promoted to the Championship section and during this time Dave was fortunate to work with, and learn from, professional conductors Bryan Hurdley and Bob Childs.
Dave then conducted Bugle Silver Band and Saltash Town Band. In his time at Saltash Town Band the band progressed from an ensemble of 16 players when he took over, to a full band that has been promoted to the third section nationally, becoming West of England Champions along the way and gaining 7th place at the National finals, in Preston in 2001.
Running along side his involvement with Cornish banding Dave was involved for several years with the Cornwall County Youth Brass band, spending 1 year as senior tutor.
In recent years Dave has enjoyed coming ‘out of retirement’ to help out playing Bb Bass at Bodmin, St Austell and Torbay Bands.
Dave has welcomed his return to conducting when he was appointed MD of Launceston Town Band in October 2006 a position he held until November 2012. Whilst with Launceston Dave helped them gain promotion to the third section and took them to the national finals in 2012. Dave conducted the Liskeard Silver Band for a short time, and has recently begun playing Bb again with Bodmin Town Band. Dave is also a member of ‘Jdacc brass’ his family brass quintet where his wife Julie and his 3 stepdaughters all play together.
More recently Dave has again joined the CYBB as a tutor, and continues playing, along with his family with Bodmin Town Band, also holding the position of Chairman of the Bodmin Town Band.
Hannah started playing cornet at the age of nine in Mount Charles Junior Band and soon progressed to the Youth Band, competing at her first contest in 1996. After three years on the back row at Mount Charles Youth Band, and a brief spell on euphonium, Hannah moved to St Austell Youth Band on 2nd cornet in 1999. The band was enjoying a particularly successful spell and, in the following year, came third at the National Youth Championships in Salford and won the Youth Section at Bugle contest. She competed at her first contest with St Austell Town Band in 2001 and became principal cornet of both St Austell Youth Band and St Austell Town Band later that year. Two months after being awarded the position, she won the solo prize in the Youth Section at Torquay.
Hannah also played with the Cornwall Youth Wind Orchestra, the Cornwall Youth Jazz Orchestra and has been guest principal cornet with the Cornwall Youth Brass Band.
In 2003 Hannah moved to Salford to study music and graduated with first class honours in 2006. She was fortunate enough to study under David King, Roy Newsome, Peter Graham, Stuart Lingard and Brian Taylor but probably her most important influence has been Peter Minear. While being a registered member of Stalybridge Old Band and helping out other bands in the North, Hannah never missed a contest with St Austell, commuting from Manchester for rehearsals.
Highlights of Hannah's banding career so far include playing at the National Finals at the Royal Albert Hall in 2005 and winning the Royal Trophy at Bugle Contest in 2008, along with the prize for the best cornet player of the day.
Hannah is also a busy accompanist, playing piano for grade exams, solo contests and music festivals, alongside her regular positions with Imerys Singers and St Austell Amateur Operatic Society. She also plays trumpet with various session ensembles.
Simon was born into a brass band family in Marsden, Huddersfield. His father Keith had played cornet for Slaithwaite Band, under the baton of both Roy Newsome and then Derek Broadbent. Around 1980, Marsden Junior Band was formed with his mother Christine as secretary and both Simon and his sister Sara joining on the cornet. Gradually Simon progressed onto the euphonium which was to be his instrument for many years. After joining the Marsden Silver Prize Band from the juniors Simon joined the Northern Youth Band. The youth band competed at National level and his last contest with them was on solo euphonium at the Wembley Conference Centre in the National Finals. They also made their own cassette (no CDs back then) recording with Doyen which featured four or five duets by the Childs Brothers. Simon then moved onto the Hade Edge Band, conducted by Barry Hudson for a few years.
His decision to move onto Bb bass came after being asked to join Lindley Band by Neil Jowett. This turned out to be a good move in the end. After a year or so with them Simon joined the Grand Shield winners British Steel Dodworth Band (Graham O'Connor) as they aimed for their first attempt on the British Open Championship where they finished in a creditable 8th place. Looking back Simon feels he benefited from playing alongside performers like Peter Roberts (soprano) and Brian Smith (horn). The following year was quite a successful time for the band, gaining 2nd at the Yorkshire Area and qualifying for the Albert Hall off a number one draw and ending Grimethorpe Colliery Band's long running unbeaten run at the Yorkshire Regional CISWO Mineworkers Contest.
Next Simon moved onto Stocksbridge Band (Graham O'Connor) enjoying a three week tour of Australia, a couple of Lottery Show appearances on BBC tv and the filming of The Full Monty movie. Again, the band had some great players, Richard Marshall, Peter Roberts, Alex Foye (Kerwin). Around this time he also toured with The Young Ambassadors of Great Britain.
After a six month break from playing due to work commitments (although still playing at Brass In Concert and The Open conducted by Roy Newsome) Simon accepted an invitation to join Yorkshire Imperial Band. They enjoyed a trip to Kerkrade in Holland, taking part in the World Music Contest with Richard Evans at the helm.
In 1997, he was called to deputise for a few concerts with Brighouse & Rastrick Band also playing on the CD recording of principal cornet player Jim Davies. Around November he accepted the invitation to become a permanent member of the band. 1998 turned out to be an historic year for them on the contest circuit. They won the European Championship at Kerkrade, Holland, in April, three weeks later they won the All England Masters in Cambridge, in September they gained 3rd place at the British Open Championship and, lastly, winning and retaining the National Champions of Great Britain title at the Royal Albert Hall in London. They were Triple Champions. During his ten years with Brighouse he enjoyed further contest successes, countless tv, radio and CD recordings, more tours including Canada and playing the Gala Concert at the European Championships in Munich and the Gala Concert at the Swiss Championships. Simon also became a long serving committee member and contest secretary, a position he still held up to his move to Cornwall two years ago.
Simon feels very lucky to have depped for many bands over the years, YBS, Fodens, Cory, Sellers, Hepworth and Black Dyke Band with whom he also recorded the Ground Force CD for BBC and appeared playing Christmas Carols in the Dinner Ladies Christmas Special with Victoria Wood. Simon also enjoyed working with many different conductors, Geoffrey Brand, James Scott, James Watson, Richard Evans, James Gourley, David King and Allan Withington.
Since moving to Cornwall he has played with St Austell Town Band and is also a committee member.
John first began performing within the brass band world at the age of 10 learning the Tenor Horn and then moving on to study Percussion at the age of 12 under the instruction of Dennis Lloyd. He began his career with the Carharrack and St Day Silver Band and later performing with the Camborne Town Band, Cornwall Youth Brass Band and as principal percussionist with the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain.
After leaving Cornwall to study Percussion and Timpani at Trinity College of Music, John performed with the Aveley and Newham, Britannia Building Society and Black Dyke Mills brass bands. After graduating from TCM, John performed professionally with the English National Ballet Orchestra, Royal National Theatre, Bournemouth Sinfionetta, various West End musicals and pop artists such as Bjork and Faithless. Whilst performing within London John also held teaching positions with the Kent Music School and Kent College, Canterbury.
In 2008 John was appointed by the London College of Music to work as a specialist Drum Kit and Orchestral Percussion examiner for LCM graded music examinations. His compositions for percussion have been selected and published by the London College of Music for their 2009 percussion and drum kit syllabus as well as the new and exciting LCM drum kit Diploma syllabus being released in 2017.
Since returning to Cornwall to live John divides his full time teaching commitments between teaching Drums and Percussion within county secondary schools and classroom music teaching at Redruth School and Sixth Form.
John still performs regularly as a professional percussionist within theatre productions, symphony orchestras, jazz ensembles and function bands throughout the South West and is a reserve percussionist with the Mount Charles Band. He currently plays full time with the 1940’s jump jive band Company B and has performed in the orchestra for the Hall for Cornwall Christmas Show for the past 8 Seasons.
“It is a great honour and privilege to be the percussion tutor for the Cornwall Youth Brass Band, working with the some of the finest and most talented young percussion players within the South West” – John Mitchell
Tony was born in Yeovil Somerset, and started learning to play the cornet at the age of 10 with the Yeovil Town Band learners group, tutored by Ken Gay and Dave Hooper.
They soon moved Tony to the main band on 3rd cornet, where he progressed to Soprano at age 14, then to Principal cornet at 16. A move to Sherborne saw Tony playing at a higher level, and again he was soon promoted to the Principal seat.
Work took Tony away from Somerset to Plymouth, where he joined the Crownhill RBL Band, again on Principal and Soprano, and remained for 4 years before being introduced to the Bodmin Town Band.
There followed one of the best periods in his banding career, playing alongside Aaron Harvey on solo cornet, under the direction of Leonard Adams, and qualifying for the National Finals at the Royal Albert Hall.
Unfortunately work took Tony back to Somerset but it wasn't long before he was contacted by the local bands. He helped to reform a band at Crewkerne, and Phoenix Brass Crewkerne soon started to make a name for themselves in the 3rd section, winning the area contest 2 years running, and qualifying for the nationals 3 years in a row.
Another spell with Yeovil, now in the championship section followed, and during this time he played at the Glastonbury festival on the Pyramid stage on two occasions, which was quite a unique experience.
In 2008 Tony started his conducting career, firstly with a local village band Burtle Silver, and then with Weston Brass where he stayed until 2014. He took the band from the bottom of the 3rd section to the second section where they were placed in the top six at the area contest.
Tony now works as a freelance conductor and peripatetic brass teacher in schools around his home village on the Somerset levels.