Know anything about Morris Concert?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Statto, Nov 6, 2006.

  1. Statto

    Statto Member

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    Morris Concert qualified for a few National Finals in the early 1970s and were conducted in the Royal Albert Hall by Walter Rees.

    Does anyone know whether this is a later name for Morris Motors or a separate organisation entirely?
     
  2. DaveR

    DaveR Active Member

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    5,205
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    Reading, UK
    IBEW isn't sure about where they are the same entity or not. http://www.harrogate.co.uk/harrogate-band/indexlk3.htm. Would seem plausible though I guess. I'm pretty sure that they are the same, because I have a cassette of the Morris Concert Band conducted by Harry Mortimer - who also conducted Morris Motors. I know a few people who played for the band during that time - I'll see if I can find out.

    Cheers

    Dave
     
  3. the fish

    the fish Member

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    807
    Location:
    Witney, Oxfordshire
    Yes,

    They are one and the same band. Also Austin Rover and finally Rover, PM me if you need any more details

    Regards

    Julian
     
  4. Geotuba

    Geotuba New Member

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    Location:
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    It was the same organisation

    I played 2nd Eb Bass in the Morris Concert Band in a number of those competitions under Walter Rees - if you want any more info about the band during the mid 1970s please ask and I'll dredge through my memory banks
     
  5. David Pegram

    David Pegram Member

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    Chinnor
    Just to let you know that Brian Hicks who i think would have sat by you plays for us at Chinnor
     
  6. Brian Hicks

    Brian Hicks New Member

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    Radley
    Yes I did sit next to Hugh (Geotuba?) back in the mid 70s, although I would have been on BBb bass then, and if I remember correctly you were a long haired student at Oxford University? I also have memories from the early 70's - Morris Motors, Morris Concert through Austin Rover and finally Rover, now sadly no more. I have been playing with Abingdon Town Band for several years and have recently returned to contesting with Chinnor.
     
  7. Geotuba

    Geotuba New Member

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    Location:
    Canada
    Ah - Hi Brian - I didn't think my hair was THAT long :)

    Unfortunately since leaving Morris Concert Band I have not been able to do any Brass Banding as I now live in Canada where the Brass Band opportunities are very, very limited. However I do play in the Markham Concert Band (http://www.mcb.on.ca) where they have those funny woodwind things :sup and managed to make a trip back to Oxford last year, with Tuba, to play in a reunion gig with the dixieland jazz band I played in from that era (the Oxcentrics - http://www.jpbowen.com/oxcentrics/)

    I dug through my old archives and found a couple of LPs we made with Harry Mortimer - "Out and about in Merrie England", and a Cathedral Brass one with City of Coventry Band. I think that was recorded in a church in Leicester and I and another Band member couldn't find where we were supposed to be playing and eventually phoned Harry Mortimer's wife at her home and she put us straight and, very redfaced, we arrived just as the rehearsals were finishing. At least we made it for the recording itself. I also have copies of a couple of BBC broadcasts that I taped off the air at the time: "Bandstand" - 1975-04-21 and "As Prescribed" with Dudley Savage (Organ) - 1975-10-19. I also remember doing a couple of "Friday Night is Music Night" live broadcasts. I am amazed today how poncy the announcers from that era sounded :biggrin:

    As for contests - I can't remember exactly which was which but I remember playing in Manchester (Nationals?), somewhere in Hertfordshire I think (Southern Regionals?) and the Albert Hall - one of the test pieces in one of those contests, Southern Regionals I think, was Eric Ball's "Journey into Freedom". However the precise details escape me but if anyone can fill in the blanks I would love it.

    It was a real hassle getting to practice during the summer for those contests (no car in those poor student days) - I had to take the train from work in Epsom to Victoria, underground to Paddington, train to High Wycombe where I got picked up by others (including the great HM himself) who came from that area - then on the return the Green Line bus from High Wycombe to Reigate arriving home after midnight - 3 nights a week and you dare not miss one rehearsal!!

    There was quite a Welsh contingent in the band in those days as I recall. In addition to Walter Rees I seem to recall Wyn(?) Davies on Solo Cornet and Gareth (Edwards?, Evans? Jones? - some Welsh name anyway) on Solo Euphonium to name but a couple.

    So sad that the Band is no more :(
     
  8. DaveR

    DaveR Active Member

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    Reading, UK
    Was Merfyn Hughes in the band in those days? He was my teacher! Phenomenal musician. :clap:
     
  9. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Leeds - Yorkshire - UK
    I went for an audition with Morris Motors band in 1964, I was 18.
    I caught a train from Leeds to Pontefract. Then a train from Pontefract to Banbury where I was collected at the station by the Bandmaster Cliff Edmunds.
    I was taken to see the Band Manager Tommy Morecombe who was ill in bed at his home.
    Employment wise they could only offer me £12 a week packing up parts for export, and I would have to share accommodation with several other lads.
    I turned it down and went all the way back to Leeds without even blowing a note with the band.
    It was a VERY long day !!
    The next day, my mate at Imps, David Baxter went down and accepted the job and spent a few years with them before returning to Yorkshire to play at Carlton Main FC Band.
    There you are, a potted history of a brief non encounter with Morris Motors Band.
    Mostly irrelevant I know !!
    - Wilkie
     
  10. Brian Hicks

    Brian Hicks New Member

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    To help Geotuba out - between us we should get there. The contest in Manchester was the British Open at Belle Vue, the Cathedral Brass recording was at the De Montfort Hall in Leicester (if I remember rightly you and Carl (?) were looking for Leicester Town Hall) and I remember some of the tracks were Christmas carols and we were in the middle of the July heatwave of 1976. The Hertfordshire contest was the London Area contest at Watford and I think we came second. Gwyn Davies was principal cornet (now retired to Bridgend I beliieve) and Gareth Morgan was principal Euphonium (retired to Wales and died in 2003).
    To answer another question Mervyn Hughes had left the band before I joined, which would have been around 1971 -2.
    We did indeed seem to do quite a lot of Friday Night is Music Nights (compared by Robin Boyle). I remember the mad dash from Oxford after work up the A40 and round the North Circular to get to Golders Green - live on air just after the 8 O'clock news. Also fond memories of Walter Rees as bandmaster under HM - he used to take a little suitcase to engagements and all that was in it was a bow tie! - a real character.
     
  11. Geotuba

    Geotuba New Member

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    Ah yes - now I remember - because it was the "Cathedral Brass" we were looking for "Leicester Cathedral" - DUH!! :oops:
     
  12. Geotuba

    Geotuba New Member

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    Location:
    Canada
    Found a reference about 2/3 of the way down this page

    Contests.
    At the Area Contest in Watford Town Hall, March 16th 1975. Journey Into Freedom by Eric Ball is the set test piece for the Championship Section.
    Results;
    1st. Hendon Band, conductor Don Morrison, 193 points
    2nd. Morris Concert, conductor Walter Rees, 192 points
    3rd. Luton Band, conductor Walter Hargreaves, 191 points
    4th. Hanwell, conductor Bram Tovey, 190 points.​


    Other competing bands are;
    Aldershot (George Prior), Aveley (Cyril Suckling), City of Oxford (D. Lewis), Drayton (C. Pike), Hemel Hempstead (Cliff Jones), Newham (Ron Cooper) & Oxford Concert (Cliff Edmunds).

    The adjudicator was William Relton.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2007
  13. Rogerg

    Rogerg New Member

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    I auditioned for Morris Concert for the band before they went to the Albert Hall finals with Kensington Concerto under Walter Hargreaves. Following that there were a number of changes with Harry Mortimer coming back and my promotion to Solo Horn the first piece played under his direction was Labour and Love. He prepared the Band for contests and Walter Rees conducted.
     
  14. J H Kent

    J H Kent New Member

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    I have copies of the LPs as I played on them as second row cornet.
    Harry Mortimer was a real gentleman with fantastic musicality who got this band many good gigs, he was at one time head of light entertainment at BBC radio. I recall playing on TV , many radio performances especially Friday Night is Music night, recording jingles for adverts and even being a backing track for the rock group "The Pretty Things". We played at a garden party for Prince Charles at a polo match and were part of the entertainment at Wembley stadium for the feted Evil Knevil motorbike stunt that went wrong!
    We were part of the Men O Brass combined band and had the great privilege of playing with Phillip Macann in a number of concerts.

    Walter "Wally" Rees was a Welshman who lived in High Wycombe. He had an interesting life as a bandsman in the Marines during the war (WW2). He was detailed to be on HMS Hope but was detailed else where at the last minute. He originally was conductor for the Ercol band in High Wycombe and was spotted by HM to conduct Morris Concert. A great man with many good tales. He conducted at several National finals including Albert Hall and Belle Vue Manchester.

    The band was an interesting experience and seemed to run efficiently but with occasional quarrels. Tommy Morecombe was the band manager who although didn't play seemed to be like the Godfather of the band. When I arrived c. 1971 there had been a falling out a some stage in the past which the newly instated Harry Mortimer resolved and we eagerly awaited the return of Gwyn Davies as Solo Cornet. What a player, beautiful tone and technique and held the stage when he played. I think under recognised at the time. One other issue that was probably a product of the time was that it was a male only band with a definite active bar on women players. Wives and girlfriends were even barred from the coach going to a concert!
    Another player of note was Colin Mcloud who was a Jumbo jet airline pilot. Fabulous technique and tone but often not available due to flying commitments. He achieved a bit of fame once when part of the jet he was flying fell off into someone's back garden

    Cheers all
     
  15. Queeg2000

    Queeg2000 Active Member

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    Morris Concert? Wasn't that the prototype for the Austin Allegro?
     
  16. tsawyer

    tsawyer Member

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  17. Geotuba

    Geotuba New Member

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    @J H Kent - thanks for your memories. I was not aware of all the background on Wally Rees that you relate. I recall we also had a number of players who were in various Guards Regiment Bands - you have to be a top flight player to be there!!
     
  18. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

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    My uncle Will served in the Royals through the 1930s and WWII, so, just out of curiosity, I looked up HMS 'Hope', to see what sort of ship she was. But, according to Wiki, the last ship of that name - an 'Acorn' Class destroyer - was sold out of service in 1920. The only possibility I found was HMS 'Hopewell', and that would certainly have been a hairy old posting!

    'Hopewell' was a Motor Gun Boat, originally ordered from Camper & Nicholson's by the Turkish Navy, but taken over by the Royal Navy in February, 1941, before completion. Along with four others, what should have been MGB.504 was modified to become a blockade runner, with her armament reduced to a single 20mm Oerlikon cannon, and two twin .303 Lewis machine guns. These blockade runners, with a cargo capacity of 40 tons, had the task of running cargoes of vitally important SKF ball bearings from Sweden across the North Sea to Hull. Their only real defence against the German destroyers and gun boats patrolling the narrow waters of the Skaggerak (between Norway and Denmark) was a combination of stealth and speed - and even though their trips were timed to transit the Skaggerak in the hours of darkness, it called for considerable cold-blooded guts.

    To avoid falling foul of Sweden's laws, framed to protect Swedish neutrality, they sailed under the Merchant Navy's Red Ensign, and many of the crew were from the Ellerman Wilson shipping line, with others having been Hull trawlermen.

    Despite being hampered by bad weather and crankshaft failures in the radical design of V-12 Paxman diesel engines used, in five months the blockade runners brought 387 tons of bearings back to Britain; in the same period, aircraft (which could only carry 3 tons) only managed a total of 88 tons.

    Jack
     
  19. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

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    I chanced upon Jack’s comment above and we drift away from the original post. It both amazes and saddens me that the contribution and bravery of our Merchant Seamen is poorly if at all recognised. For those that care to stop and think about it, and maybe do a bit of research too, the chances of the Merchant Navy men surviving the war were similar to those in the armed forces and they were often picked off by the enemy with little facility to defend themselves. The ships themselves were often in poor condition, they were kept afloat and going by shear determination and ingenuity. There were many heroes and acts of heroism in WW2 but to my mind we too often overlook and forget what those who were not in the armed forces did. As I understand it the U.K. relied heavily on imports during WW2, without the actions of those brave souls in the Merchant Navy we would not have survived. What the Merchant Navy did, in the face of much hostile action towards them, enabled others to eat, to manufacture and to fight with some suitable equipment.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018
    Jack E likes this.
  20. Jack E

    Jack E Well-Known Member

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    1,101
    Well said, 2nd Tenor.
     
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