Having toured all over the world, performed in front of royalty, raised thousands of pounds for numerous charities and produced hundreds of talented musicians, the South Norfolk Youth Symphonic Band (SNYSB) is gearing up to celebrate 40 years since its humble beginnings.
The self-funded independent group, currently comprised of around 35 to 40 musicians, is holding a reunion and instrumental session on September 6 and 7, inviting all current members and alumni going back to the group’s origins as a military marching band, which was founded in Diss in 1974 by Mike Booty.
Mr Booty, who remains the organisation’s musical director, chairman and trustee to this day, reflected on the group’s evolution, stating: “We’ve gone a long way and grown a lot. It’s been 40 years of developing a group that really started very small. We are still one big happy family.”
After making the transition from marching band to concert band, the group, which had 100 members at its peak, has played hundreds of concerts across Europe and the Far East, with Mr Booty highlighting their show at the Royal Albert Hall in front of The Princess Royal and their collaboration with the late Roy Castle as the stand-out events.
Many of its members have gone on to work as professional musicians, including the Royal Marines School of Music director Nick Grace, but Mr Booty emphasised that the group has always stuck of the ethos of ‘Music is Fun’, regardless of anybody’s experience levels.
“How many youngsters elsewhere get the chance to play alongside a professional musician on a regular basis?” he said.
“Because of all the concerts we do, they (the members) perform a huge variety of music, which is really great for their education.
“But we don’t see ourselves as being purely about education. We are a music social group first and foremost.”
Assistant musical director Samuel Carter added that the future is bright for the band, even as it seeks to bolster its numbers.
“Music still has a big place within society. We have gone 40 years under the direction of one man, which is fantastic, and we have become well known in the community.
“In the last few years, the attitudes towards music have changed, but we have always had the same philosophies. We are one of very few who will accept anybody.”
The organisation’s next event is their 40th Anniversary ‘Songs from the Shows’ concert at Diss Corn Hall on September 27.
New and inexperienced musicians in Norfolk and Suffolk are encouraged to get involved, with rehearsals taking place every Tuesday from 7pm at the Diss Youth Centre on Shelfanger Road. No auditions are required and the annual membership fee is £10.
For more information, visit www.snysb.org.uk