Ray Farr awarded the Iles Medal
The Musicians’ Company is pleased to announce that Ray Farr is the 2019 recipient of the Iles Medal. The medal is awarded annually to musicians who have made a significant contribution to the brass band movement. John Henry Iles, the founder of the National Brass Band Championships, who was Master of the Company in 1932-33, established the award in 1947.
Ray Farr has had a wide-ranging career serving the brass band movement. Brought up in a brass band family in Hereford, he began conducting amateur bands in the London area while working as an orchestral trumpet player. In 1979 he was appointed to the full-time post of resident conductor of Grimethorpe Colliery Band in 1979. With Grimethorpe he championed contemporary music for brass band in appearances at music festival in Leeds, Harrogate, Aldeburgh, Cheltenham and Litchfield. He toured widely throughout Europe and a concert tour of Australia culminated in a performance of ‘Pictures from an Exhibition’ in the Sydney Opera House. While at Grimethorpe, Ray was encouraged by Elgar Howarth to begin arranging music for brass band.
Leaving Grimethorpe in 1984 to freelance, Ray developed contacts with bands throughout Europe, most notably in Norway. During this period he also engaged in advanced study or orchestral conducting at Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy.
Moving to Stavanger to work in the town’s music schools, Ray began a working relationship with Eikanger Bjorsvik Band, becoming the band’s musical director in 1995. There followed a wider range of conducting appointments with the Trondheim Military Band, the National Youth Wind Band of Norway, and with symphony orchestras in Sandnes, Stavanger, and Kristiansand.
Continuing to work regularly with bands in the North-East of England, Ray was appointed as Conductor in Residence at Durham University in 2003, teaching conducting and arranging as well as engaging in important research about the origins of brass banding.
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