Penclawdd Brass Band have announced that their founder, and only Musical Director, Tony Small, BEM, MMus, has decided to put down his baton after 50 years of outstanding service and dedication.

Recalling his incredible achievements from 1964-2023, Tony said:

“I feel privileged to have nurtured brass playing from scratch in Penclawdd from 1964 to becoming a very competent Youth Band which qualified for the 1973 National Championships, London. This proved the stimulus to forming Penclawdd Brass Band (catering for all age groups). Since then, it has been a roller-coaster existence for myself and my wife, Gillian, for our personal lives have always worked around band engagements and events etc. (in addition to negotiating a busy schedule of teaching, directing West Glamorgan Youth music ensembles as well as playing my trumpet in many concerts and theatre productions).”

“However, looking back over the past 50+ years has made me feel very proud of the band’s achievements. In its first 14 years, the band qualified for 11 National Championships, representing Wales in each of the four section and winning the 2nd Section British title at the Royal Albert Hall in 1983 – and with it, automatic promotion into the Championship Section. The Band won the Welsh Championships in 1986 (still the only band from West Wales to do so since 1946) and represented Wales at the RAH GB Finals against the country’s top bands (1986 & 1987).”

“Additionally, we were very busy participating in many prestigious concerts and performing on Radio and TV etc. A highlight being one of only three bands to win through to the BBC Radio Wales Band of the Year finals at Parc & Dare Hall, Treorchy (1986) and featuring in a BBC 2 Documentary: “Brass Cheek”.

“I thank everyone for their invaluable contribution during my time with Penclawdd Band and must acknowledge the wonderful support of my very patient wife, Gillian, for without her help the band may not have even got off the ground. I am sad to retire but feel that now is the appropriate time to step down. Naturally, I shall follow the band with great interest – Ymlaen Band Penclawdd.”

Chairman of Penclawdd Brass Band, Richard Phillips, MBE, commented:

“I would like to wish Tony a long healthy retirement. On behalf of the band, I would like to thank him for his incredible service. I am sure that I speak for the hundreds of musicians who have passed through the doors of our glorious band room saying what a true legend and inspiration he has been to all of us. We have been so fortunate to have such an incredible musician, conductor, administrator, arranger, librarian, taxi driver and most important a great friend at the helm for the last 50 years.”

“He has created an institution in our small village which has spanned all over the world and shaped and influenced many individuals’ success. I could relay hundreds of accolades which would not do his achievements justice. I must mention his long-suffering, patient wife Gillian. She has supported Tony in creating the legacy that is Penclawdd Brass Band. Let us not forget that without his vision the band would not exist.”

“Tony has promised me that he will not be a stranger and I am sure that the band will be calling on his wisdom and knowledge for years to come.”

In the interim, John M Jones, BMus, PGCE, Penclawdd Brass Band’s Assistant Musical Director and long-serving band member will take the baton and lead the band. The band are fortunate and thankful that John has been able to lead the band in Mr. Small’s absence previously and conducted at the Welsh Championships in March 2023. The band produced an excellent performance, resulting in a creditable fourth position.

Tony’s final concert conducting the band will be at their 50th Annual Concert held at St. Catherine’s Church, Gorseinon on Friday 20th October 2023, commencing at 7:00pm. Tickets can be purchased at the door on the evening of the event and the band are anticipating a large crowd who will naturally want to wish Tony all the best and of course witness, as always, a great show of musical items prepared by Tony and the band.

Details are available on the bands facebook page.