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22 January 2022 -
Phil Turner - 50 Years of Banding
Phil started playing at the age of 10. He approached Robert Morgan from Lydbrook Band and said he’d like to learn to play the cornet. Knowing that Phil lived in Cinderford, Robert suggested contacting Cinderford Band, and that was the start of a long and illustrious career with Cinderford, under the tutelage of Mr Cecil Chappell, a true gentleman of banding. Phil dedicated over 40 years to Cinderford Band, primarily on the cornet but also at a young age, on the soprano cornet, where he was known for his beautiful sound and amazing playing range in particular. Phil played third down on the front row for the first year at Cinderford but at the tender age of 12, he was probably one of the youngest players ever to take a principal position when he took the soprano seat, earning himself the title of “best soloist of the day” when he performed at the GBBA in 1973 on a piece called Rhapsody in Brass and representing a championship section band at the Colston Hall for three years on this instrument.
Moving on, at the remarkable age of 16, he took up the position of principal cornet for Cinderford, a position he held till he left in 2012, competing for 30 of those years in the championship section.
Phil’s dad, the late Gwyn Turner was also a dedicated cornet player, but he played to keep Phil enthused and practising. I don’t think Phil actually needed additional support to keep him enthused - banding has always been at the very top of his priorities and he has always given it his all. This might have been because at the age of 17 Phil met his wife to be, Elaine. She too played in Cinderford Band for over 40 years, but now plays 1st baritone here in Lydbrook Band. Elaine and Phil have been together for 44 years, married for 37 and have three grown up sons, Rhys, Karl and Marcus. Whilst all three sons are musical, none of them have followed their parents into brass banding although it was not unknown for Phil to persuade Rhys and Marcus to play in the percussion section from time to time on timps and xylophone.
Phil has always been a dedicated bandsman, right from day one. He won many awards, often picking up the prize for the best cornetist or best soloist of the day. He has made several recordings, for example, with Cinderford in 1978 & 1981, when Phil collected the award for “Severn Sound Cornet Soloist of the Day” playing the beautiful Rusalka’s Song to the Moon and the fabulous solo, Czardas. He played on the Harry Secombe TV programme “Highway” at Soudley Heritage Museum, was heard regularly on a Sunday on the “Strike up the Band” radio programme and more recently, with Lydbrook Band for Countryfile. Whilst Phil plays some beautiful slow melody solos, as many of you will know, he is also known for his amazing technique and you’ll hear him a little later playing Del Staigers’ Carnival of Venice - the go to showpiece for Staigers himself.
Phil was the secretary of Cinderford Band for many years, serving on the committee from the age of 18, running the administrative side of the band for 10 years, organising concerts, contests and tours abroad, before taking the treasurer role for another 15 years. He was also the principal cornet player for the Forest of Dean Youth Band, enjoying many concert tours abroad…….. we won’t say too much about that. What happens in Germany, stays in Germany!
In 2012, Phil took up his conducting post with Bream Band, taking them to their first competitive event in November at the Gloucestershire Brass Band Association contest. His final competition with Bream was at the area contest in Torquay, in March 2018 and he left the band in a really strong position, having worked tirelessly for the five years he conducted them.
Having sent Phil, undoubtedly one of the best cornet players the Forest has known, off to Cinderford Band in 1970, he joined Lydbrook Band in 2012 and we are proud to see him sitting in the seat of Principal Cornet, a position he rightly deserves…… and he certainly does the band proud.
Phil worked at Xerox for 41 years and retired 4 years ago. He then threw himself into his property business and wedding car hire. Not one to let the grass grow under his feet, Phil moves heaven and earth keeping himself busy. He is a keen follower of tennis and in preparation for Elaine leaving teaching at Christmas they have returned to actually playing tennis too. If you could see him limping after the first match, perhaps he needed a more gradual return. He is a doting owner of 3 Jack Russells, but more importantly, a first-time grandad to baby Phoebe Grace born on 14th October this year.
This award tonight is in recognition of 50 years of banding. But that was actually last year - COVID preventing us from marking the event, so here we are celebrating 51 years of Phil Turner in brass banding in the Forest of Dean.