The 1st Old Boys Silver Band was formed in Belfast in 1946.
As its name suggests, the band was created amongst the former members of the 1st Old Boys Brigade Company. The 1st Boys Brigade had been the first BB Company in Ireland, dating from 1886, and was formed at St Mary Magdalene Church (Church of Ireland), Donegall Pass, Belfast. A few ex-members of the company are still associated with the band as players/vice-presidents.
The band on its creation, acquired instruments and music from a previous band, known as the IOR (Independent Order of Rechabites) Band. During its existence, the band has regularly competed in contests, both here at home, on the mainland, and also in Europe. The 1st Old Boys have won the Senior Brass Section to date, on fourteen occasions. Other notable successes include a second place in the development section of the 2012 European Brass Band Championships held in Rotterdam, and a second place in the UK Grand Shield competition (Manchester Belle Vue, 1965).
The band draws its members from all sections of the community in Northern Ireland. Many members live and work in Belfast, whilst some make a round trip of over 100 miles to attend rehearsals two nights a week. Everyone gives of their time freely, as the band is a 'subscription' band, other expenses being raised through concerts and fund raising activities organised and promoted by the band themselves.
Stephen Cairns is the bands current Musical Director, and has lead the band to great success in many competitions from 2003 to present day. The band has also enjoyed working with a number of visiting professional conductors, including Richard Evans, Geoffrey Brand, Graham O'Connor, John Berryman, Frank Renton and Mike Fowles, who lead the band to victory in the 2010 NIBA Championships.
1st OLD BOYS YOUTH BAND
In 2009 the band created a youth programme to both widen the appeal of the "Old Boys" organisation, and provide the band with a talent pool for future years. The 1st Old Boys Youth Band was created only 6 years ago, after Mark and Jacklin Bingham heard the Rochdale Borough Youth Band perform at the famous Brass in Concert Championships.
An Open Night was planned, where children of all ages were invited to hear the 1st Old Boys senior band play and indeed many of the children sat amongst the band to have a go! It was a massive success and the Youth Band was formed. In terms of contests, the band has enjoyed unprecedented success, with multiple wins in all local competitions. In 2014, the band qualified to represent Northern Ireland at the European Championships in Perth, Scotland. 1st Old Boys Youth Band made history, by being the first youth band to play in the newly formed Youth Band Section of the Euros, gaining a very credible 4th place. They are also the NIBA Irish Youth Brass Band Champions.
The Youth Band currently has around 40 members, with a further 10 being involved in a training band also. Most of these members being of primary school age, with the age category for the band allowing them to take part up until their 18th birthday. The Senior band has already seen the benefit of this youth programme, with more than 10 members having recently made the progression between the bands.
More recently, the 1st Old Boys Band attained first place at the 2015 Brass in Concert entertainments contest, and along with 1st Old Boys Youth Band, were also crowned 2015 NIBA Irish Champions, a superb double achievement for the Senior and Youth bands. Adding to this, another win at the 2016 BBL Spring Festival, gauranteed the 1st Old Boys band the title of Northern Ireland Band of the Year 2016.
The band have continued their winning ways in 2017, having secured multiple 1st place results at the BBL solos and Quartets comptetition, earlier this year, followed up by a win at Brass in Concert in Fivemiletown. They then made it back to back wins at the BBL Spring Festival in Strabane, and were also awarded Championship Section Band of the Year for 2017. They have just returned along with 1st Old Boys Youth Band, from a very successful trip to the European Brass Band Championships in Ostend, Belgium. The Youth band performed superbly well against some stiff competition, finishing 5th in the Youth Section, whilst the Senior band were narrowly beaten to the top honours in the Challenge Section, finishing as very credible runners up.