Key player in Hitchin’s history tunes up for celebration concert and a special birthday

Hitchin Band play at coronation celebrations in 1911

Hitchin Band play at coronation celebrations in 1911 - Credit: Archant

There’s every excuse for a well-earned fanfare as Hitchin Band celebrate their return to the higher levels of British brass band competition.

Hitchin Band on parade in 1900

Hitchin Band on parade in 1900 - Credit: Archant

The band will be marking its 150th birthday next year, and in advance of their Hitchin Festival concert this weekend secretary Mike Thorn has been digging into the records to find out more about its long history.

Mike said: “Although little is yet known about the people involved in the band at that time, one individual seems to have had a significant influence.

“In 1866, Herr Selmar Kahlenberg settled in Hitchin after fleeing the Austro-Prussian War and established a music conservatoire in Bedford.

“Kahlenberg made music more accessible by giving music lessons and organising concerts in and around Hitchin. It was at this time that the band started.”

Performing at Walsworth Festival

Performing at Walsworth Festival - Credit: Archant


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The earliest known photographs of the band date back to 1900, including one of the band leading a parade through the Hitchin.

But Mike would love to hear from anyone who may have further information or photographs about the band at any time throughout its history.

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The 150th anniversary will be marked by a range of concerts and events. An invitation has been extended to the Sponsheim Band from Germany, which has had links with the Hitchin players for more than 35 years, and there are plans to record a new CD later this year to be released in time for the celebrations.

A recent string of competition successes means that Hitchin has climbed from the third to the first section of the British rankings, a level which they had not achieved for some 20 years.

You’ll be able to hear their quality at a concert in the town’s St Mary’s Church on Saturday evening.

The programme includes Eric Ball’s popular Resurgam.

Mike said: “The title translates as I Shall Rise Again so it is a fitting choice to mark the band’s recent return to the higher level of the national championships, and St Mary’s Church will be the ideal place to hear it.”

The programme performed under the musical direction of Craig Patterson will also feature Edward Gregson’s Variations on Laudate Dominumand Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s When Thunder Calls.

On a lighter note there will also be George Michael’s Faith, Leroy Anderson’s Sandpaper Ballet, Soul Bossa Nova from the Austin Powers films, and much more.

Compere on the night will be the band’s president, broadcaster and author Richard Whitmore.

Tickets will be available on the door priced £8 with £6 concessions, but you can get them in advance and £1 cheaper from Henderson’s newsagents in Market Place.

To find out more about the band visit www.hitchinband.co.uk, and if you have any more information about the band or its history you can contact Mike by email at secretary@hitchinband.co.uk.

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