Simon Willis

Simon Willis
Simon Willis

Simon started playing cornet aged 8 with the Thoresby Colliery Junior Band, before moving onto euphonium 2 years later. He left the junior band to play with several other colliery bands in the Nottinghamshire area during the following years before returning to the Championship Section Thoresby Colliery band aged 17. In these formative years he was successful at many solo competitions, locally and nationally, including being awarded the Euphonium Champion title at the British Junior Solo Championships when he was 15.

After completing his A levels at Newark Technical College, he studied performance, conducting and arranging at University College Salford, the leading college in the country for band musicianship qualifications, from where he graduated in 1992 as the leading performance specialist, winning the prestigious Harry Mortimer Trophy.

Upon his return from Salford, he left the successful BT band whom he had helped to become the first ever National 1st section champions to join the highly acclaimed Grimethorpe Colliery Band. During his four years with Grimethorpe, Simon contributed to numerous CD recordings and radio broadcasts as well a TV documentary. He also appeared as a percussionist in the smash hit film “Brassed Off”.

After Grimethorpe, Simon returned to banding in the Midlands for a few years playing with Rhodian Brass and the Thorntons Band before switching back to Yorkshire as he joined the Stocksbridge band, with whom he again won the 1st section National Championships.

As a conductor, Simon has worked with a wide variety of ensembles including brass quartets, brass bands of all standards, school groups, choirs and full size symphonic wind bands.  Amongst his favourite performances are Derby Concert Band’s The Armed Man concert in November 2011 as well as directing the pit-orchestra for week-long runs of Les Miserables (2009) and West Side Story (2013).

Derby Concert Band appointed Simon to the position of Musical Director in June 2010.