Watch: Suffolk brass player will make history by becoming first Briton in prestigious French music competition
PUBLISHED: 10:14 06 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:39 06 February 2019
A Suffolk cornet player will be heading to a prestigious music competition at the end of the month.
Melvyn Stammers, 58, from Great Blakenham will be taking part in French National Brass Band Championships on February 23 in Montrouge, Paris.
Mr Stammers has been playing the cornet since the age of 11 and is also proficient in other instruments such as the trumpet.
For many years he made the switch to other instruments and only returned to the cornet two and a half years ago.
Mr Stammers will be performing as part of the Orchestre de Cuivres d’Amiens Brass Band, a group that he first became involved with the band through his work with brass bands in Suffolk.
The orchestre was looking to tour in Suffolk and got in contact with Mr Stammers, who is the Musical Director of Mid Suffolk Brass.
“They found my band Mid Suffolk Brass on the internet and came for five days.
“They then invited us back as a band and I took a band called Anglia Brass with six different bands represented from the East Anglian region and we went to Amiens in France and played for five days.”
It was while playing in France that Mr Stammers jokingly asked the French band’s conductor whether he could play with them in a concert.
The orchestre agreed and asked him to join them for the national competition: they believe that he will be the first Briton to take part in the prestigious competition.
Mr Stammers was surprised and honoured by the call.
“If we were playing football it’s like playing in the conference and someone in the Premier League calling,” said Mr Stammers.
Preparation has been intense with Mr Stammers have to practise his pieces between eight and nine hours a week to make sure he is up to standard for the competition.
As well as practising at home Mr Stammers has taken a 600 mile round trip over to France several times to rehearse with the group and has made many friends, despite not speaking French.
“I cannot speak a word of French, so I converse through an app on my phone which translates,” said Mr Stammers.
“It’s an unbelievable experience to play with such a fantastic group of players and to have made so many friends.”