Alf Wileman recently retired from the Sheffield Citadel Band after 60+ years of service. Alf is a legend among Salvation Army bandsmen in the UK, not only for his euphonium playing but for the Christian standards he lives by, the many hundreds of young people he taught, the encouragement and support he gives and his unstinting devotion in fulfilling his calling to service through Salvation Army banding.
My first memory of Alf was to hear him playing when June and I returned to the UK for a holiday in 1981. As a member of the Melbourne Staff Band I had the opportunity of sitting alongside some great euphonium players. And Alf was right up there with the best. I also remember the enthusiasm and enjoyment he portrayed conducting his beloved YP Band.
On a subsequent visit one of the UK’s foremost band conductors George Thompson was guest conductor for a rehearsal. On seeing the score for Laudate Dominum he asked Bandmaster Ian Wileman if he might use that particular piece. After Alf had played the euphonium solo George stopped the band and spoke at some length of Alf’s Christian witness to the men of Fodens Band during the time Alf played with them. He then asked Alf to play the solo again so he could enjoy Alf’s wonderful sound.
During my time as deputy bandmaster and bandmaster at Sheffield Citadel I knew I could always rely on Alf’s support and encouragement. Always there, always giving of his best, the perfect bandsman.
It has been a privilege and pleasure to be Alf’s partner on the euphonium bench for the past decade. I well remember his first words to me when I sat next to him. ‘Welcome on board. We will be a great team’. Being Alf’s partner will always be among the most treasured memories of my banding career.
During the programme celebrating Alf’s service I thought of other great euphonium players who had an influence and impact on my life and my service as a bandsman.
Retired Staff Bandmaster Colin Woods, a top class euphonium player, was a great supporter and encourager during my time as deputy bandmaster and bandmaster at both Brunswick and Doncaster (where he was a member of the corps band). I greatly appreciate the lessons he gave me when he moved me to the eupho bench.
During my early days in the MSB, Deputy Staff Bandmaster Ernie Harewood was principal euphonium and another great encourager.
On joining the MSB David Harvey replaced me on euphonium. We were both deputy bandmasters at adjoining corps and formed the eupho bench in the Divisional Youth Band. A talented player and soloist we are great friends.
Staff Bandmaster Ken Waterworth is another great euphonium player. Prior to becoming Staff Bandmaster, he was Deputy Bandmaster and euphonium soloist. Ken always showed great musicianship in his playing.
Ian Jones played euphonium in the MSB for many years. Another fine player and one of the band’s characters.
When I transferred to Brunswick Corps in my mid teams I played euphonium with Arthur Gould. Arthur was very gracious man, always giving words of support.
Stuart Hamilton was principal euphonium at Preston when I transferred to that corps. A very talented musician and fine euphonium player. Always bright and cheerful it was a pleasure to join him on the eupho bench.
I am grateful for the opportunity that has been mine to be associated with these great men. Their musicianship, prodigious talent and constant encouragement together with their Christian values still play a significant part in determining who and what I am.