In 1986 six instrumentalists in the music group of the Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Bognor, decided to meet outside the Church environment to play arranged music, instead of the hymns that were played in unison.
One of the six volunteered to write arrangements of some well-known melodies and another attended a wind band evening class held at Bognor Community College. That group was discontinued in 1988, but nearly all the students agreed to come along to the “Wednesday Band” which immediately doubled its numbers. All enjoyed playing together, rehearsals continued each Wednesday and occasionally somebody new joined. Sometime in 1990 our “arranger” found it difficult to keep producing music, so a few commercial arrangements were purchased, and the “arranger” became the Conductor. Somewhere along the line the Band named itself “Loose Lips” This happy state of affairs continued until our Conductor left in 1992 to go to College and later University.
The search for a new Conductor led us to a teacher of music at a junior school in Bognor. He brought a new enthusiasm to the Band, together with several young pupils from the school. Membership increased to around eighteen. He also introduced new arrangements, which were a little more difficult than those we had been playing hitherto. The Band played at a concert at Edward Bryant School which also showcased the music pupils at the school, and was very well received by School and Parents alike. Encouraged by this success and new confidence it was agreed to seek other venues and endeavour to earn some money to help pay for sheet music and the fee we needed to keep a conductor. The Band changed its name to “Octave Up”, advertised under that banner, formed a committee to run the band and started to obtain engagements sufficient to keep its head above water.
The Band rehearsal room in the early days was in the St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Rose Green where the Parish Priest kindly allowed the use of the space. Increased membership forced a move to The Pagham Club near Pagham Beach. The next venue was The Salvation Army Citadel in Central Bognor.
In 1995 the first Committee was formed, a Constitution was drawn up, but the Conductor then left to take up a teaching post in Weymouth.
So the search commenced for a new Conductor. Numerous enquiries were initiated with local schools, local government, other Bands, and various musicians. One name frequently surfaced, but it was felt he was too busy, did not have time, or maybe we were just not good enough. However, he wanted to conduct a Band rehearsal before deciding whether to join us or not. In the event, we played as well as possible, and we were told we had potential. That was how in September 1995 we obtained the services of Howard Burchfield as Music Director. It was apparent from the beginning that Howard was more than qualified to lead us into the future.
In view of the new style of music being played, a decision was taken in January 1996 to change the name from “Octave Up” to The Bognor Regis Concert Band (BRCB).
So that is how Bognor Regis acquired its own Concert Band, which is unique to the town. The nearest towns with a similar band are Shoreham (Adur Band), Emsworth, Slinfold, and Littlehampton.
By September 1996 membership had increased to over 35 and once again a larger rehearsal venue was needed. It was fortunate that at this time the Regis School of Music had been established by local musicians Alexander (Sasha) and Nina Levtov and their superb facility, in Sudley Road Bognor, became the home of the Band. In the years since then, membership increased to nearly fifty. It is encouraging that several students who attend local schools are members. A group of student members have been part of the Band since the early days.
Most recently, as of September 2013, Howard has stepped down as musical director of the band, and has handed the baton to David Poste, the tuba and drummer for the band. David has had many experiences conducting the band while Howard has been away, and also has roots with the Petworth Town Band as their Deputy Conductor.