The Leyland Band was established in 1946 in the heart of industrial Lancashire as the Leyland Motors Band, taking its name from the world famous truck and bus company. Now an independent group of some thirty musicians, the Band has retained its local connection and now proudly bears the name of its home town.
British Open Debut 1948
The inspirational conductor Harold Moss took the reigns and the band made quick and impressive progress. In just two years the band was invited to and competed at the British Open Championships for the first time in 1948.
Richard’s reign begins – 1978
That foray into the upper echelons of the brass band world ebbed away in the early 1960’s. However in 1978 the band was resurgent following the appointment of the charismatic Richard Evans to be the Musical Director of the band. By then Leyland Motors had become Leyland Vehicles, and Richard was tasked with revitalising the fortunes of the old band to match the corporate ambitions of the new company.
Japan first – 1980
With the backing of the company, such an upturn in fortunes did not take long to achieve. In 1980, Leyland became the first western brass band to set foot on Japanese soil, performing a groundbreaking two week long concert tour to sell out audiences the length and breadth of the country.
Return to the Open – 1981
The culmination of 3 years of development saw Richard steer the band firmly back into the Championship Section, and back to the British Open Championships in 1981. The band made an immediate impact, taking the runners up slot on its return, with a thrilling performance of Gilbert Vinter’s “Variations on a 9th”, having already won the Grand Shield earlier in that year.
A prolonged period of success followed for the band, both on the competition platform and the concert stage. Richard’s charisma rubbed off on the band and helped make the partnership one of the foremost concert bands of the time, performing throughout the United Kingdom and abroad.
Granada Band of the Year 1985
The band however, were not immune to the changing face of British industry during the 1980’s, and following Leyland Vehicles merger with the Dutch vehicle manufacturer DAF, were renamed the Leyland DAF Band.
The corporate partnership unfortunately did not endure, and after 40 years of the band being connected to the automotive industry a change of direction was required.
British Nuclear Fuels Limited seized the opportunity to support the band and use it to enhance the company’s standing in key areas. The band was renamed the BNFL Band, and a new and mutually highly successful period began.
BNFL utilised the band extensively to help meet its corporate ambitions, both in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. In 1994, the band toured the United States of America for the first time representing the company, performing concerts from coast to coast. That same year, the band finally achieved one of its outstanding goals by winning the British Open Championships at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, and in the process cemented its world class reputation for quality of performance.
British Open Champions 1994
The band continued to carry the BNFL name around the globe throughout the 1990’s, undertaking in all, 4 coast to coast concert tours of the United States of America as well as a 2nd visit to Japan, and a another groundbreaking tour to South Korea. At the same time, the band continued to enhance its reputation with quality entertaining performances at home and throughout mainland Europe.
Japan – the return – 1995
At the end of the fixed term association with BNFL, the band were fortunate to receive sponsorship from North West based retailer, JJB Sports. During the period of their support, the band continued to thrive, securing regular prizes at the British Open Championships, the All England Masters Championships, Brass in Concert Championships and the National Championships of Great Britain.
At the end of the JJB Sports sponsorship in 2001, the band began its current life as an unsponsored band which presented one of the most successful to have graced the stage, a huge challenge. Richard Evans had guided and moulded the band in his own image, but now it was time to move on. The lack of sponsorship did not quench the ambition on either the concert or competition front, and Gary Cutt was appointed as Muscial Director of the band. He lead the band to victory at the All England Masters Championships in 2003, and a year later he and the band became North West Area Champions.
A new man was put in charge for 2005, Russell Gray. Russell had previous history with Leyland having held the position of Assistant Principal Cornet to Philip McCann in the 1990’s before succeeding him as Principal Cornet. With Russell at the helm, the band retained the North West Area Championship title, and went o to secure another long held ambition by becoming the 2005 National Champions of Great Britain after a thrilling performance at the Royal Albert Hall, London.
National Champions of Great Britain – 2005
Leyland in concert at the Royal Albert Hall – 2006
Winning the National Championships delivered an invitation to Leyland Band to represent their country at the 2006 European Brass Band Championships, held in Belfast. This milestone in the band’s was reached when Leyland performed at the Waterfront Hall, Belfast.
Leyland Band in Belfast 2006
Leyland Band has continued its drive to take its music far and wide, with its most recent performances in Switzerland and Norway, marking its first venture into Scandanavia.
And building on these international links, in 2007, the band appointed Australian, Jason Katsikaris to the role of Principal Conductor. This partnership proved instantly successful with Jason leading the band to victory at the Spring Festival Grand Shield at his first attempt.
Grand Shield Winners – 2008
Leyland Band at the Sage – 2008
Leyland Band has over the course of its history, developed a fabulous reputation for delivering engaging and entertaining performances, and with the appointment in 2010 of the band’s latest Principal Conductor, Philip Harper, the journey down the road of musical innovation and success is set to continue.
2010 – New Partnerships
Two exciting and diverse partnerships were formed in 2010. The first with one of the largest universities in the United Kingdom – the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN, and the second with one of the world’s best musical instrument maker – YAMAHA
Leyland conducted by Philip Harper competing in the 2010 National Championships of Great Britain at a packed Royal Albert Hall.
2011 – Leyland become first brass band to be listed in the Classic FM Hall of Fame
Leyland’s Composer in Residence, Simon Dobson is recognised for his work “Penlee” in the world’s biggest classical music survey. The recording of “Penlee” is voted in at 106 in the top 300 listings for 2011, giving Leyland Band the honour of becoming the first bass band to be included in this most prestigious chart.
English National Championships
2011 also saw the return to the competition arena with Leyland, of maestro Richard Evans, when he directed the Band to a top six order of merit placing at the 2011 English National Championships held at the Guild Hall, Preston.
2011 Brass in Concert Champions
Richard went on to guide the band to it’s 5th win at the most prestigious entertainment competition in the calender – the Brass in Concert Championships. Taking the title with a varied program with the magic provided by Mr Evans on a stage he has made his own.
2012 and 2013 North West Area Champions
Under the direction for the first time of Michael Bach, Leyland’s stunning performance of “The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” earned the title of North West Area Champions for the 9th time in 30 years
2013 European Championships – Oslo, Norway
Picture to follow.
2015 – New Chapter under the baton of Thomas Wyss
Leyland’s 2015 Austrian Adventure
Leyland proud to become the first English brass band to be perform at the Innsbruck Promenade Concert Series in Austria, wowing the 2500 audience with a blend of traditional and contempory music presented with Leyland’s unique concert panache.