Kettering concert to celebrate 80 years of music

Virtuosi GUS Band musical director John Berryman
Virtuosi GUS Band musical director John Berryman

One of the Midlands’ finest brass bands, Kettering’s Virtuosi GUS, is hosting an 80th birthday celebration concert on September 28 at the Castle Theatre in Wellingborough.

The special concert also marks the retirement of the band’s long-serving musical director John Berryman, who has been involved with the band in a number of roles for more than half a century.

The Virtuosi GUS band has consistently performed at the highest levels since its inception from a Kettering based shoe manufacturer, Munn and Felton, in 1933.

Over the years the band has notched up six British National and two British Open titles in addition to a world title and numerous Midland Area victories.

Mike Smith, band manager, said the band’s reputation and achievements had put Kettering on the brass band map.

He added: “The band is on a high in this special year after being proclaimed Butlins International Mineworkers Champion Band for 2013 in January.

“The band managed to win both the set test and entertainment section over the weekend of 19th and 20th Jan. This victory saw the band walk away with the coveted Warwick Vase trophy and a first prize of £10,000.”

Mr Smith said musical director John would be going into partial retirement after the concert on September 28.

He added: “John has been associated with the band for 54 years since his move from native Cornwall to join the band first as a player and of course now as one of the most highly respected brass band conductors. He will be sorely missed.

“This concert will feature a traditional concert programme selected by John as a fitting finale to his time in front of the band. It is simply an event not to be missed for all brass band fans.”

For ticket prices, phone the box office on 01933 270007 or visit the theatre web site at www.thecastle.org.uk.

Virtuosi GUS musical director John Berryman moved to Kettering from Cornwall to join the then Munn and Felton Works Band at the age of 18.

Within a year he had been appointed Principal Cornet and went on to establish a reputation as one of the finest players in the brass band world, winning three National titles with this band when it was known as the GUS (Footwear) Band.

John was later employed by the county council as a brass tutor and was responsible for the County Youth Brass Band. In 1987, he was awarded The Iles Medal of The Worshipful Company of Musicians of the City of London for his outstanding services to brass band music.