Musical Director – Howard Taylor began playing through the Salvation Army in the South West of England. He progressed to become Principal Cornet of the Plymouth Exeter Hall Salvation Army Band and Youth Band conductor at the age of only 17. In 1985 he joined Championship section Bodmin Town Band of Cornwall and soon took up the position of Principal Cornet and Deputy Conductor. In 1993 he led them to three successive South West and Cornish Championships.
In 1997 Howard left the UK and became Musical Director of the Waitakere Band, (TVNZ) Auckland. That year they won two of the three sections at the National Contest and in 1999 were crowned New Zealand National Champion Band winning every stage event, also winning three consecutive New Zealand Entertainment “Band of the Year” titles.
In 2002 Howard was appointed Musical Director of Brisbane Excelsior, Australia. He has led the band to seven State Championship wins, and the Australian National A Grade Championship in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010, missing the 2009 Nats after an invitation to compete at the prestigious British Open in 2009.
Howard also won both the 2007 and 2008 New Zealand National Championship with Excelsior, creating history on both sides of the Tasman with six consecutive victories.
He has also enjoyed contest successes with the St Marys Band, Warratah Brass, Gunnedah Shire and Willoughby Bands.
Howard was appointed Musical Director of The National Band of New Zealand in 2007 and held that position until leaving for the UK in 2010.
After a brief spell in the UK working with The Fairey Band along side Russell Gray, he returned down under as Professional Conductor with the NZ Band of the Year Dalewool Auckland Band.
In 2012, Howard led the Gunnedah Shire Band to victory at the Australian Championships.
He has now returned to Brisbane XLCR as Musical Director, and has recently assisted Professor David King with the first ever National Australian Youth Band. Along with weekend workshops and adjudicating he is also a current playing member of the National Band of Australia.
Ben was involved in music from a relatively early age, learning the cornet at a local brass band, before changing to the tenor horn at the age of 14.
As a composer, Benjamin entered the RNCM being awarded the ‘Sellers Scholarship’ on his commencement. During his time at the RNCM he received commissions from the University of Sheffield, the RNCM Wind Orchestra, the Freckleton Band, Euphonium Soloist David Childs and was specially commissioned to write a piece for the Kurt Schwertsik Festival in February 2010. During his second year, Benjamin’s song ‘Last Rites’ won him the inaugural Rosamund Prize for collaboration between the Manchester Metropolitan University and the RNCM. He is currently writing a song cycle with Leeds-based poet Sìle Moriarty, the same poet who wrote ‘Last Rites’. In this same year, his saxophone quartet ‘Boost’ also won the Lunar Sax Quartet’s New Music Competition, being described as “not only extremely fun to play but a treat for the audience too” by one of the judges.
More recently the Brighouse and Rastrick, Hepworth and Gunnedah Shire bands have performed his brass works in both the UK and Australia. In October 2009, ‘A Bournemouth Suite’ was chosen as the Pontin’s 4th Section set test piece, and consequently was performed by 10 bands at this event.
Ben’s latest brass band pieces Blizzard and Smoke were given their world premières at the 2011 RNCM Festival Brass to much acclaim. Blizzard proving to be one of Benjamin’s most played works, with scheduled performances across the UK throughout 2011 and 2012. He has recently finished Mancunian Flourishes for European Soloist 2011 Glenn Van Looy which was recorded on his debut album: ‘Move their Mind’, and is currently writing a Euphonium Concerto for his friend, and euphonium virtuoso Matthew White.
After a 5 year stint teaching and performing in New York, USA, Ben moved to Brisbane, Australia in 2014, soon becoming Solo Horn with the Brisbane Excelsior brass band, continually writing works for the band to perform and record. In early 2015, Ben started his own publishing company called Somewhat Broken Music, with a view to publish new and exciting works for brass band with an aesthetic flair for presentation. In August 2015, he took the helm of the mighty Windsor Brass band and is excited to continue Windsor’s success in the B Grade.