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KPHMS Biography


Kevin Holdgate Kevin P Holdgate I was born in September 1961 in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. Although born in Wakefield the family soon moved to Doncaster. This is where I grew up in the mining community of Woodlands. My father, Allen, worked at the local coal mine and more importantly played trombone with the local brass band, Brodsworth Colliery.

In my early childhood the entire family on my fathers side was involved in the brass band movement. Well over a dozen of my fathers uncles, cousins and other relations played with the Stanley Newmarket Colliery Band in Wakefield, along with many other bands around Yorkshire. One family legend says that 22 Holdgates once played in the band at a contest. My grandfather, Walter, was a hard blowing bass trombone player. Blasting away on an old G trombone, complete with handle, he could quite easily be heard in the next village.

It was perhaps inevitable therefore that when Brodsworth decided to establish a junior band in 1967 one of the first names on the list of players was mine. Keeping up the family tradition, and perhaps because I had reasonably long arms, the trombone was the instrument of choice. The bands first conductor was a very young Graham O’Connor, who at the time played Soprano Cornet with the Senior Band. Over the next 45 years my association with Graham has continued with me playing alongside him for a number of years at Grimethorpe, and in recent years under his baton once again at the Hatfield Powerfuel Band.

Brodsworth Colliery Junior band was highly successful, and within two years of its formation it had qualified to compete at the National Brass Band Festival in London. Other notable players who played with this band were Roger Webster (principal cornet of Grimethorpe), David Horn (former Solo Horn of the Fairey Band), David Belshaw (Brighouse), Steven Craven(Principal Trumpet of the Malaga Symphony Orchestra), Paul Davis (former principal Tuba of Grimethorpe), and many other fine players who went on to play for championship section bands.

In 1970 I progressed to join the senior band at Brodsworth and sat on the Solo Trombone chair with my father on 2nd. Over the next 2 years I helped Brodsworth gain promotion to the Championship Section and gained invaluable early experience of performing. During this period I also took part in dozens of solo competitions and had considerable success. I was also introduced to the world of jazz and played lead trombone with the South Yorkshire Youth Jazz Orchestra. Playing alongside Pete Beechill (now a top London session musician) and later a very young Dennis Rollins (freelance jazz trombonist).

My success in the competition field had not gone unnoticed and in 1973 I was approached by the Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band. At the time they were one of the countries leading brass bands, and at the age of 12 I became their Principal Trombone. My first contest was the British Open in Belle Vue Manchester.

In 1972 James Shepherd stunned the brass band movement by leaving his position as principal cornet of the world famous Black Dyke Mills Band to form his Versatile Brass. Together with his group of 10 musicians drawn from the very best players in brass bands they set new standards for performance. In 1978 I was privileged to be asked to join the group following on from the resignation of my great friend Stanley Priestley. I continued to play with Versatile Brass through to it finishing in 2008.

In 1980 I was asked to join Grimethorpe Colliery, again to succeed Stan Priestley who had emigrated to Australia. Once again I made my debut at the British Open and helped the band to get 2nd place. Over the next 20 years I toured around the world with Grimethorpe and Versatile Brass, appearing as a soloist in some of the finest concert halls, in cities across the globe.

In 2001 I decided to take voluntary redundancy from my career as a bank manager and to turn fully professional as a freelance performer and teacher. I now teach extensively in Derbyshire, and further afield and perform with a number of big bands. I also front my own big band and jazz octet based in Nottingham. I have maintained my ties with the brass band movement, conducting the Newhall Band and playing at competitions with the Hatfield Powerfuel band.

Following a phone call in November 2012 I am also now playing alongside James Shepherd once again in the newly reformed James Shepherd Versatile Brass. This is truly an exciting new venture with some old friends such as Colin Aspinall (Tuba), and Alex Kerwin (nee Foy) together with some exciting young talents of the brass band scene. (Follow the link to find out more about this exciting group.)

By forming KPHMS my intention is to bring together all of the strands of my music career under one banner. On this website you will find links to all of the groups in which I perform, together with details of where and when they are performing next. I have also taken the opportunity to offer for sale some of the many arrangements that I have done over the years. There are arrangements for all levels of players, and sizes of groups from Quintet through to full brass band. MP3 samples are available for most publications. Follow the link to view KPHMS Publications.

KPHMS examinations is a new venture for me and comes from a growing concern at the rising cost of taking formal music exams with the existing providers such as ABRSM and Trinity Guildhall. Full details of the examination structure offered by KPHMS can be seen by following the link.

Thank you for visiting my website. If you wish to contact me personally to discuss anything that is contained on the site I would be more than pleased to hear from you.