In 1991 Bryan Dalton, a local schoolteacher, was one of about half-a-dozen musicians who occasionally got together to play purely for their own enjoyment.
Feeling that Bury St Edmunds should have its own fully-fledged band, he booked a hall for an inaugural meeting, and the Bury St Edmunds Concert Band was formed, with Bryan becoming the band’s first Musical Director and Conductor.
Within a few years, the Band was performing free-to-all summer concerts in Bury St Edmunds in the Abbey Gardens – engagements that still feature in the Band’s annual calendar of events today. Over the years that followed, under Bryan’s direction the band developed as it gained more members, increased the range of instruments in the band, and went from strength to strength.
After 17 years at the helm, during all of which time he was ably supported by his wife Sally, in January 2008 Bryan stepped down from his role as Musical Director and Conductor to take a well-earned rest from the day-to-day responsibilities of running the band. However, he still continued his involvement with the band as he took up a position playing the tuba.
Bryan’s position as Musical Director and Conductor was taken up by Tony Parkinson, who had been a band member for several years, playing saxophone. Tony was well suited to the role, having received his musical training with the RAF School of Music. During his time in the forces, Tony played with the Far East Air Force Band and the RAF Central Band, and on leaving the Royal Air Force, spent many years teaching music in schools before retiring from education and moving to Suffolk.
Tony retired from the band in 2013 and Rob Head was appointed to be the new Director of Music. Rob began his musical career at the age of ten when he took up the drums. By the age of 18 he had played with various bands in such prestigious venues as the Royal Albert Hall, and in the pit of top London show Kiss Me Kate. He has also had a single in the UK pop charts.
Rob had joined the South Norfolk Youth Symphonic Band in 2001, and was soon actively helping out the Director of Music by assisting with rehearsals, and held his first concert as Conductor in 2007. The following year he took over the leadership of the band’s Swing Band, and within 18 months they were playing local concerts with a repertoire of over 200 numbers.
Rob joined the RAF Honington Voluntary Band in 2006 as principal percussionist. He travelled with them to the Falkland Islands to take part in the celebration of 25th Anniversary of the Liberation from Argentinian Forces, and he has also performed with them at the Birmingham Symphony Hall and Leicester’s De Montfort Hall.
It is during that time that Rob’s interest in conducting took hold, and he passed his Diploma in conducting from the London College of Music at the end of November 2015. Rob has led a number of rehearsals and concerts with the RAF Honington Voluntary Band, and was overjoyed to be appointed to his present position as Conductor and Director of Music with the Bury St Edmunds Concert Band. Said Rob on hearing of his appointment: “It’s every aspiring conductor’s dream to be able to lead his own band, and when it’s a band as good as the Bury St Edmunds Concert Band, it’s like a dream come true.”
Sadly our Founder, Bryan Dalton, died a few years ago, but the Dalton family name is still associated with the band, as his daughter Emma plays principal trumpet, and his widow Sally still takes care of a lot of the administration work involved in the successful running of the band.