Our Cornet Section
Tom Hutchinson - Principal Cornet
Tom began learning the trumpet at the age of nine and moved onto cornet in order to join his local brass band Stannington. As an early teenager he joined Barnsley Building Society Band and quickly ascended to the position of principal cornet. Tom’s first taste of playing ‘top man’ in a championship section band happened a few years later, aged fifteen, when he joined the Rothwell Temperance Band under the baton of David Roberts.
During these formative years Tom also played solo cornet with the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain including two courses as Leader. It was the Band’s Associate Conductor, Dr Nicholas Childs who noticed his talent and later invited him to join the Black Dyke Band.
Tom played for ‘Dyke’ on repiano cornet, and at the age of eighteen, was promoted to tutti solo cornet. He played with Black Dyke for four years, contributing to many contest successes including the British Open and both the English National and National Championship of Great Britain titles. During his time with ‘Dyke’ he also toured extensively across Europe and America. He was also part of an extended tour of Australia where he performed in Sydney Opera House.
During the period Tom played at Black Dyke he was also a student at The Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester where he studied trumpet and cornet with John Miller and Richard Marshall respectively, graduating with a B.Mus.(hons) degree. The most memorable musical moment for Tom as a student, was giving the world première of Elgar Howarth’s Sonatina for trumpet and pianoforte in his final recital.
After Tom graduated, Tom was invited to join the mighty Cory Band on principal cornet, and the lure of sitting on the ‘end chair’ for the reigning; British Open, European, World Champion Band was too great an opportunity to turn down. After leading the band to its hat-trick winning European title in 2010, and Welsh regional title in 2011, he hopes to win many other major trophies with Cory. As well as playing principal cornet with the Cory band, he is a brass tutor for Birmingham Music Service, cornet tutor for the National Youth Brass Band of Wales, and a visiting tutor at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Tom is pleased to be working with Besson and playing their Prestige cornet.
At the 2011 British Open Brass band Championships, Tom was awarded the Stanley Wainright Memorial Award as Best Soloist.
Darren Thomas - Assistant Principal Cornet
Darren started playing at the age of eight inspired and influenced by his father Jeff who was the flugel player (and chairman for most of his time) in the Cory band for over thirty years. His mother also used to play Tenor horn for the Tredegar band.
His initial experience of brass banding was in the Tredegar Town Band, firstly in the beginner’s band to the Youth Band and then the senior band. During his youth days he was also a valued member of the Gwent County Youth Band where he played solo flugel.
In 1992 Darren joined Cory band on third cornet and in the following years he was privileged to play in many other positions including repiano cornet, tutti cornet and flugel.
However, in 2000 he joined Tredegar Town Band to gain valuable experience on solo cornet and within a couple of years was appointed principal cornet.
In 2006 Darren was very pleased to accept the offer of returning to Cory Band on Solo Cornet, where he has enjoyed a very successful run winning the World championship once, European 4 times, the British Open 3 times Brass in concert twice, and the Welsh area 5 times.
Darren has many memorable moments but the highest one was playing flugel next to his dad in the Royal Albert Hall on ‘Between the moon and Mexico’ in the national finals. Darren’s ambition is to win the National Championships with the Cory Band. Darren works in the aircraft industry as a skilled aircraft technician and works and lives near RAF St Athan.
Ian Williams - Solo Cornet
Ian's bio is in preparation.
Seamus Gallagher - Solo Cornet
Seamus starting playing at the age of 7 and was taught by Mr Bob Quick until he was eighteen years old. During that time he was principal cornet of his school brass band and principal trumpet of the area youth orchestra. He made the move from Ireland to Colchester in England to study trumpet at Colchester Institute under George Reynolds (co-principal trumpet with the LSO for almost 20 years). During his time in East Anglia he played with various ensembles in and around the London Area including principal trumpet with the Britten Pears Orchestra and solo cornet with the Aveley and Newham Brass Band. Seamus decided to move to South Wales in 2004 to take up a Teaching Post. During his first year in Wales he played for various bands, but when he was asked to join the mighty Cory Band it was truly an ambition fulfilled. Seamus has been playing solo cornet with the Cory Band for almost six years and during that time he has contributed greatly to their success. Seamus say’s, “Its been a privileged to be part of such a happy and successful winning team.”
Amongst his most memorable moments in banding were winning his first British Open in 2007 and completing a hat-trick of wins at the European Brass Band Championships in 2010.
Seamus’s ambition is to win the National Brass Band Championship Finals, held at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall with the Cory Band!
Steve Stewart - Soprano Cornet
Steve hails from Armadale, West Lothian, Scotland. He started playing the cornet at the age of 8, joining the Armadale Burgh Band soon after. Aged 12 he joined the Kirkintilloch Band on 3rd cornet, and within 3 years had progressed to the soprano cornet chair. The following year (1984) he won the Scottish Championships under the baton of Professor Walter Hargreaves. In 1985 he made his debut at the National Championships of Great Britain, held in the Royal Albert Hall. Within the next few years he won another Scottish Championship and took part in the European Brass Band Championships held in St David’s Hall, Cardiff (this time under the baton of Richard Evans).
As well as playing the soprano cornet Steve is also an accomplished trumpeter and in 1986 was a brass finalist in the prestigious BBC Young Musician of the Year competition. Steve’s insatiable appetite for musical performance drew him to London to study with James Watson at the Royal Academy of Music. At the Academy he won all the major brass and wind prizes. Steve attributes much of his musical development as an instrumentalist and more widely as a musician to the pedagogy of the late great James Watson.
It was James Watson who invited him to play soprano cornet with the Desford Colliery Band in 1988, a position he held until 1991. During his time with Desford he won two National Championships, one of which was the historic ‘four in a row’ in 1991 performing Robert Simpson’s Energy.
In addition to playing soprano cornet with Desford Steve worked as a freelance trumpet player in London from 1987. This work included performances with all the major Orchestras as well as recording sessions and ‘West End’ work. The list of world class conductors and composers Steve worked with during this period in his life reads like a ‘Who’s Who in Miusic’, they include: Carlos Kleiber, Leonard Bernstein, George Solti, Bernard Haitink, Sir Colin Davies, Sir Simon Rattle, Olivier Messiaen, Elliott Carter, Luciano Berio, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Hans Werner Henze and Stephen Sondheim.
In 1997 Steve returned to Kirkintilloch Band and also appeared as a guest with many other fine bands including Brisbane Excelsior Band from Australia!
In 2011 Steve was awarded the Best Instrumentalist prize at the Grand Shield with Kirkintilloch Band and more recently he was awarded the Soprano prize at Brass in Concert with Tredegar Town Band. Having made the decision to move to Wales on a permanent basis he was delighted to accept the invitation to join the famous Cory Band. He is looking forward to working with Dr Robert Childs and the band and in his own words, ‘This is as good as it gets’.
Steve plays on a Besson Soprano cornet and has done since 1990.
Will Norman - Repiano Cornet
Will started to play the cornet at the age of seven, and was taught by his grandfather who played soprano for the Gloucester Hussars band. He soon joined the Tewkesbury Town Training band before making his contesting debut with the senior band in 2006 at the West of England championships under the guidance of Nigel Morgan.
After 7 years of playing for Tewkesbury Band during which he had been playing principal cornet for the Flowers Youth band and Assistant principal cornet of the National Children’s Brass band of Great Britain, he received an invitation to join the Flowers Band in 2009 where he made his first appearance at the National Finals in the Royal Albert Hall. After periods on 3rd cornet, Repiano and Solo cornet Will was delighted to accept the Flugel seat at Flowers where he gained valuable experience from regularly performing solos with the band. Will has also been a member of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain where he has completed four courses including three as Principal Flugel.
In September 2013 Will started his studies at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama where he is being taught by Tom Hutchinson.
In October 2013, Will was delighted to accept an invitation from Philip Harper to join the Cory Band.
Stephanie Wilkins - Second Cornet
Stephanie started to play the cornet aged 8, and was initially taught by the late Shaun Thomas. He’d visited her school on a recruitment drive partnered by Mount Charles Band and the Cornish Music Service.
Andrew Evans - Second Cornet
Andrew joined Cory Band in January 2012. His full bio is currently being prepared.
Neil Blockley - Third Cornet
On leaving school he joined Barclays Bank and enjoyed their employment for some ten years, gradually working his way up to becoming Bank Manager.
Neil’s skill as a financier coupled with his passion for brass Bands made him the obvious choice to become Cory’s Treasurer. He has also been part of the small management team that runs the Band since 1999.
Neil has won all the major titles with Cory Band and his highlights include performing in the winning performance of Peter Graham’s Harrison's Dreams at the National Finals of Great Britain in 2000 Revelation in the European Championships in Bergen, Norway in 2003 which gained the band a unanimous standing ovation!
Neil's ambition is to perform with Cory Band at the Carnegie Hall, New York or Sydney Opera House, Australia and looks forward to many more successes in the future with Cory Band.When Neil is not performing with Cory Band you can usually find him on a Ski Slope somewhere in the World.
Daniel first started to play the cornet as a 7 year old at his local Salvation Army and at school. During his school years Daniel also played in the North Somerset county orchestra.
Daniel was asked to help out for the West of England regional championships by Weston Brass and this gave him his first taste of contesting, he enjoyed the experience so much he decided this was for him and went on to join the Bendix Kingswood band where he played cornet and then soprano cornet.
Daniel joined Flowers Band in January 2003 (where he first met Cory MD Philip Harper) in time to play for them at the Yeovil entertainment contest, which they won so it was a good start! He stayed at Flowers for nearly eight years and enjoyed many more victories most notably two West of England titles and the Grand Shield at the Spring Festival.
In 2011 after taking a break from banding Daniel was asked to play for the Filton Band in Bristol and also asked to help with the recruitment of players to help the band move forward. They then went on to win the first section at the Wychavon festival and in 2013 became West of England first section champions. It was during this time he received a call from Philip Harper to see if he would help out the Cory Band for the European Championships in Oslo, Daniel jumped at the chance and ejoyed being part of the winning team and also helping out at the WMC in Kerkrade.
In October 2013 Daniel was delighted to accept the offer from Philip Harper to join the Cory Band on a permanent basis.
Away from banding Daniel works for a major insurance company, has two children and is a big sports fan.