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Golden Rail rocks Christmas!


Golden Rail Band had a rocking 2023 Christmas season, concluding on 22 December at York's premiere performance venue, York Barbican, as part of the line up for York Rocks Christmas Against Cancer. The band accompanied a rock band fronted by the charity event's promoter, Ian Surgenor, as well as performing on its own. The concert was a fundraiser for York Against Cancer.

The season also saw us joining forces with our sister band, York RI Band, to play a Christmas concert at St Chad's Church, and we also returned to firm favourites Tadcaster Christmas Market (below), Stamford Bridge Village Hall - and of course, York Minster for the Lullaby Trust's annual service. We even managed a spot of carolling in Selby Market Place again.

A lovely season, and the band thoroughly enjoyed itself playing at all these different venues in and around York, and entertaining audiences with a varied programme of festive music.

York RI brass bands join forces to celebrate Christmas


York’s city centre brass bands marked the countdown to Christmas with a special concert on 16 December 2023 at St Chad's Church in York.
York RI Band and its sister band, York RI Golden Rail Band, which are based next to York Station, joined forces for the celebration concert, which saw both bands performing a selection of festive favourites from perennially popular carols and songs like White Christmas and Feliz Navidad, to an ethereal arrangement of choral music, Prokofiev’s Midnight Sleighride, and Walking in the Air from The Snowman.
Nicholas Eastwood, conductor of the Golden Rail Band, said: “Christmas is synonymous with brass bands – you see us out carolling in all weathers in December! And, in a season so profoundly ‘brass bandy’, it seems only right that some of Yorks finest brass musicians performed an indoor concert of spectacular music."

Beginners welcome to RI bandroom!


Following our successful Brasstastic! event at the NCEM in September, a new cohort of learners have begun their brass playing journey with group lessons at the RI bandroom from 25 October 2023.
Tuition is provided as a block of 15 free weekly lessons, and instrument loan is free.
After the block of 15 lessons, players will be encouraged to join in with the Development Band, which, like all of the York RI brass bands, is subscription based (paid annually).
A new cohort will start again in early Spring - if you are interested in learning, please contact the Development Band secretary Pauline Johnson (see below).

If you would like to attend please tell us:
who will be attending from your family, and their ages (parents are encouraged to learn alongside their children – it’s a great way to support each other!)
what brass band instrument you would like to learn (don’t worry if you don’t know yet, we have lots to choose from and you can try out others if you wish).

The York RI bandroom is at Queen Street, York YO24 1AD, near York Railway Station. Limited parking is available on site with a permit, which must be clearly displayed in the windscreen of your vehicle. The council car park at Nunnery Lane is a few minutes’ walk from the bandroom.

Places are limited; to register your interest please email Pauline Johnson at

Brasstastic! Family workshop and concert


Sunday 24 September, 2023, 3.00-5.00pm, National Centre for Early Music, St Margaret's Church, Walmgate, York YO1 9TL

Golden Rail Band hosted a fully booked event at the National Centre for Early Music (NCEM) in York for families to try out and learn about brass instruments.
Players from York RI Development Band and York RI Golden Rail Band and their conductors Kyle Sherwin and Nick Eastwood introduced the instruments of the British brass band and guided people through a relaxed have-a-go session in the fun, family-friendly event.
The workshop was followed by Brasstastic!, a short concert of entertaining music by Golden Rail Band, with Development Band players joining them for a few numbers.
Sixteen newcomers subsequently signed up for free brass lessons and have begun their brass playing journey at the York RI bandroom under Kyle Sherwin.
The bands are grateful to NCEM for funding this educational event.

Golden Rail's MD Nicholas Eastwood shortlisted for Conductor Award


We are thrilled to announce that York RI Golden Rail Band’s conductor, Nicholas Eastwood, has been shortlisted for Brass Bands England Conductor Award.
Nick has been pivotal in re-establishing the band after Covid and bringing it back to full strength by attracting many new players, encouraging returners, supporting developing players and re-energising existing band members with his enthusiasm and passion for what we can achieve with brass band music. He is always constructive, guiding players to realise their potential and insisting that as a band we strive for excellence.
Nick’s belief that being a non-contesting band is no bar to ambition led him to devise a performance strategy for Golden Rail, a plan that he delivered within the first 18 months of his appointment. The band performed a trilogy of themed concerts at prestigious local venues, which included working with a soprano soloist and choir, as well as performing the stunning O Magnum Mysterium at York Minster.
For the concerts, Nick wrote (and subsequently recorded) a narrative, incorporated sound effects and lighting cues, composed arrangements, designed publicity, and even stepped in for a soloist on one occasion, playing the final piece while conducting the band.
He also deputises for the conductors of our two sister bands when required, bringing on learners in the York RI Development Band and taking rehearsals with first section Northern Champions York RI Band.
Reacting to being shortlisted for the BBE Conductor Award, Nick said: “I’m humbled by this. The nomination isn’t just about me, but what we’re all aiming for at Golden Rail – striving for entertaining, innovative ideas that make our rehearsals and concerts fun.
“I’m just delighted to play my part in this exciting vision.”
Nick is now busy working with band members on plans for York RI Golden Rail Band’s 40th anniversary celebrations next year, with plans for a quartet of special concerts. We can’t wait!

York band and choir reunited for ‘symbolic’ concert three years after first national lockdown


"York's alive with music and awash with talent. Tonight I heard the most outstanding concert with York RI Golden Rail Band and York Philharmonic Male Voice Choir at Joseph Rowntree Theatre. A great programme, a superb performance and a wonderful evening. Thank you."
Rachael Maskell MP on Twitter, 31/03/2023

Two of York’s well-loved music ensembles came together again after a three-year hiatus to perform at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre on 31 March 2023, receiving warm praise from York Central MP Rachael Maskell on social media and demands for an encore from the near-capacity audience.
"Enjoyable evening. All who I spoke to around me enjoyed it too. £12 cracking value. York has excellent musicians and singers," responded another Twitter user, Roj Grey.
York RI Golden Rail Band and the York Philharmonic Male Voice Choir first performed together at the popular community theatre on 28 February 2020, three weeks before the first national lockdown in the UK on 23 March.
Nicholas Eastwood, who became conductor of the Golden Rail Band in January 2022, described the concert as “quite a bit more symbolic. The world has endured so much since the original event. For us, the return marked a real feat of will, almost like the definitive reset switch.”
The concert, entitled Sounding Brass and Voices, marked the occasion with innovative programming and music from Sia to Sinatra, providing treats for both contemporary and more traditional tastes.
“There's nothing quite as evocative as a brass band mixed with a male voice choir, and both ensembles pulled on those heartstrings throughout,” said Nicholas. “However, we always strive to do something a little different somewhere, and Golden Rail did that too."
The band set used a narration in the form of an original story, written as a long poem with an environmental theme, performed by RI band section Chair, Clive Marshall. The story of two birds, Shade and Echo, and the destruction - and ultimate restoration - of their precious habitat, provided the structure for a diverse selection of music from the fifties right through to the mid-2010s.
"We also had soloists on the top of their game, including vocalist Rachel Tuckett performing Chandelier with the band," said Nick.
For York Philharmonic Male Voice Choir, Chairman Mike Wash said, "We very much enjoyed performing with the excellent Golden Rail Band once again.
“Our previous sell-out concert had rave reviews and this year we performed another two pieces together, bass player John Stuart's arrangement of Morte Christe, and Nick Eastwood's arrangement of The Rhythm of Life, as well as our own set."
Both ensembles have long established roots in the city. York RI Golden Rail Band, which turns 40 next year, is part of the family of brass bands at York RI led by York Railway Institute Band, whose lineage goes back to 1883, while York Philharmonic Male Voice Choir, which is conducted by Musical Director Berenice Lewis, was formed in 1925.

Joint RI bands concert sets tone for a winning season!


York RI Golden Rail Band were delighted to be the special guests of our sister band, York RI Band, at a concert at York St John Creative Centre on 4 March 2023.

The concert was a chance for York RI Band to run out First Section Test Piece, 'A Day in the Life of a Knight' by Philip Lawrence - which they did with aplomb (subsequently going on to win the Northern Regional Brass Band Championships on 11 March and qualifying for the National Finals, as well as earning themselves promotion to Championship Section next year!).

Golden Rail Band took the opportunity to preview highlights from its Spring concert series, including new arrangements by Music Director Nicholas Eastwood. The series continues with a joint concert with York Philharmonic Male Voice Choir at Joseph Rowntree Theatre on 31 March and a Spring Brass concert at Tockwith Church on 13 May.

York Minister finale for Christmas engagements


Golden Rail Band finished its programme for 2022 on a high note by playing for the Lullaby Trust at York Minster on Sunday 18 December.
The band performed the stunning and ethereal O Magnum Mysterium by Morten Lauridsen prior to the start of the service.
We had a busy Christmas season, with other concerts at Tadcaster Christmas Market and Stamford Bridge Village Hall, as well as carolling at Selby, Tockwith and in York City Centre for the start of the St Nicholas Fair.

Summer season '22 is a hot wrap!


York RI Golden Rail Band wrapped up a busy summer season of bandstand performances and summer fayres with our annual concert at Burnby Hall Gardens in Pocklington, North Yorkshire. The band, supported by some of our friends from the Shepherd Group brass bands, performed an entertaining mix of traditional and contemporary brass band arrangements under heatwave conditions, but still managed to keep their cool! Thanks to all who braved the sweltering weather to play and support us. We always love playing at Burnby - whatever the weather!

Warm welcome awaits student brass players at York RI Golden Rail Band


If you're a new student coming to York, welcome! It's a fantastic city to live and study in, and an especially good place to come to if you're looking for a brass band to join, as there's lots of choice whatever level you play at.

York RI Golden Rail Band is a non-contesting, city centre-based brass band, well situated next to York Station and easy to access by public transport. We are ambitious and progressive with a focus is on playing good and interesting music, continuous improvement, and performing high quality concerts at prestigious venues, as well as supporting local communities.

We already have several students in the band (undergraduate and postgraduate) and really appreciate the energy, enthusiasm, and musicianship they contribute. So, if you are a brass or percussion player at one of our universities or colleges and are looking for a local band to play with, do get in touch. Golden Rail is a ‘home from home’ band where you can fit right in, and we can promise you lots of varied engagements. We can also loan band instruments if you haven’t got your own. Band nights are Tuesdays, 7-9pm at our bandroom on Queen Street, next to the York RI Gymnasium.

York brass bands Unite for Ukraine


York RI Golden Rail Band performed a joint concert with their good friends in the Shepherd Group Concert Brass Band to raise money for Ukraine.
The two York brass bands played an open air concert on 10 July 2022 at the Eye of York, the green area between Castle Museum and Clifford’s Tower. Both bands performed a set before coming together for a massed bands finale, when they performed Mr Blue Sky, Sweet Caroline and the Ukraine National Anthem.
Audience members were encouraged to bring a picnic rug or camping chairs to watch the performances, with many retreating to the shady steps of York Crown Court to avoid the blistering heat.
A total of £338 was raised and donated to Unicef's Ukraine Appeal.
Watch a video clip of the finale

Band back to full strength after pandemic


We are delighted to share that York RI Golden Rail Band is now back at full strength, following a loss of players during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The band has recently seen two new players join us, and with some familiar faces returned all seats are now occupied and the bandroom is bursting at the seams!
The outstanding position of flugelhorn player has been filled by the talented Becky Lund, who has moved from solo cornet.
Golden Rail is looking forward to starting the summer season with a weekend of Jubilee-themed engagements, with Poppleton Children's Sports Day on Friday 3 June and a food and craft market in Tadcaster on 5 June. These will be followed by a private engagement at York's Merchant Adventurers Hall on 12 June and York's popular West Bank Park Summer Fair on 26 June.
Music Director Nicholas Eastwood said: The pandemic has affected everyone in so many different ways, so it was expected to be a challenge restarting rehearsals after such a long absence. However, it’s so heartening to see such a positive return return to rehearsals.
"It speaks volumes about how much music-making means to people, and ultimately the positive way in which we manifest it at the Golden Rail Band. I’m very excited to see what the organisation's next steps will entail and I look forward to the upcoming concert season.

New player vacancies


Our brilliant flugelhorn player, Tom Durrant has moved up to our sister band, York RI Band, to play tenor horn (but he's playing horn with us too - hooray!) so we are looking for a flugel player to take his place.
The flugelhorn gets lots of lovely solo passages and pieces so if you are a confident player with a beautiful sound and want to come and play with us, do get in touch with our MD Nicholas Eastwood via the Band Secretary ( If you don't have a flugelhorn, there is a band instrument you can borrow.
UPDATE: this position has now been filled.

Concert raises over £1000 for Ukraine


A huge thank you to everyone who came to listen to our concert on 11 March 2022 with York RI Band and who generously donated £921.30 for the British Red Cross Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal. With further donations and Gift Aid it made over £1000!
Thank you also to Stephen Roberts for his splendid arrangement of the Ukraine National Anthem which was played at the concert.
After an enjoyable performance of test piece Spectrum, York R I are now looking forward with excitement to the upcoming North of England Brass Band Championships of Great Britain on Saturday 19th March.
We wish them lots of luck from the Golden Rail Band!

Band's first outing with new MD!


York RI Golden Rail Band is pleased to announce that we will be joining sister band, York RI Band, for a concert at Heworth Christ Church in York on Friday 11 March at 7.30pm.
The concert is an opportunity for York RI Band to give First Section Areas contest piece Spectrum a public performance prior to taking part in the North of England regional brass band championships.
Golden Rail will be supporting the band with a 30-minute set of entertaining music under the baton of new MD Nicholas Eastwood, who joined the band on 1 January 2022.
The concert is free and a collection in aid of the British Red Cross Ukraine Appeal will take place at the end.

New Music Director appointed!


Nicholas Eastwood has been appointed as the new Music Director of the York RI Golden Rail Band.

Read the full announcement on the Musical Directors page.