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Brian Hughes - a tribute

by Peter Farnbank, on behalf of the FCO

-(given at the first concert after the pandemic (01.10.2022) to mark Brian's first anniversary (4th October)-

Brian was a true musician, in body, mind and soul. As soon as he was eligible Brian joined the Army to be a musician and to aspire to be a bandmaster. His worked hard to get there, and did his training at Kneller Hall Royal Military School of Music. For three arduous years Brian studied conducting, orchestration and harmony under various famous professionals, including Maurice Miles, who had an illustrious career as principal conductor of the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and professor of conducting at the Royal Academy of Music. Brian completed his training and passed out of military school as a bandmaster.

Over 22 years ago, with a couple of friends, Brian gathered a small group of enthusiastic musicians, just to play for pleasure. As it was something of a motley crew Brian took upon himself to write musical arrangements for those instruments that were only available. However that little band of 7 grew and eventually became what it is today, the Fylde Concert Orchestra. Over the last 22 years as our musical director, Brian wrote well over 100 arrangements, covering a range of music genres from serious classical through light classical, film and theatre music, to pop and jazz. Even when he was ill over his last two years, Brian continued to write arrangements for us. Brian’s particular love was traditional jazz, and one of our favourites is his arrangement of “Autumn in New York”, which we are going to play for you next.

Brian was a dignified and reserved man, a man of few words. He was after all a man with distinct military bearing. But... when Brian played a solo on his saxophone, he would come totally alive, his passion would show through, and that was how Brian expressed himself best. It was at such moments that we connected with him more closely than ever, in such a way that music truly transcends words!

Though he was too reserved to express it, Brian was very fond of us. Indeed it’s not an exaggeration to say that he loved us, his little family of fellow musicians. Sure at times, we would drive him crazy - he would get frustrated at us for not quite stepping up to the standards that he expected. After all he was a professional and we .. only try our best to be... ! But never would he give up on us. Indeed to his closest friends, Brian always called us his “flock”, usually accompanied by a hint of a smile. Now if you check out our website you will see a photo of Brian during the break on the day we performed before the Lady Mayor of Lytham. There you can see just a little hint of a smile, a smile that says all – that he was so proud of us that day – us, his flock!

Rest in peace, Brian, you may be gone from our sight and presence, but never from our hearts!