Meet the Orchestra

Dave Lees - Bass Trombone
I began music as a recorder player and switched to violin in primary school. In secondary school someone loaned me a flute and I played one until leaving University in '78 (age 21). I claim I got to grade 8 standard but only ever took grade 5 theory and practical. Work got in the way and I played no music until the age of 46 when I jealous of taking the kids to their various concerts. I went into Foulds in Derby one day to buy younger daughter a new mouthpiece (more expense!) for her saxophone (we only bought her five saxophones!!!!.........which gather dust currently hmppphh!) and asked what an enthusiastic dad could play. I walked out with a hired trombone. I never looked back - I passed (fluke!) my grade 8 in two years, joined several big bands, all of which won't now have me back.....very wise...and a couple of orchestras. Tried playing bass trom and enjoyed it and now alternate between bass and tenor. I just love the full and fruity bass notes. I enjoy the power of the instrument and (sorry to be selfish) the challenge of being the only bass trom in the orchestra. Hate the interminable counting and then the sudden panic wondering if it's 55-2-3-4 or 56-2-3-4 and subsequently guessing! I'm always low loud and late (according to every conductor I've ever met....what do they know? They only have wave a stick) - a trombonist's lot in orchestral life! Whatever! - I love it!

Penny Johnson - Clarinet
I started my music life at around 7 years old when I learnt to play the Electronic Organ in a group class but quickly switched to 1:1 Keyboard lessons. I played a few solos on stage in working men's clubs and got my first taste for performing. I began the Clarinet aged approx 9 as I was told I was too small to start playing the Saxophone! I completed by Grade 8 Clarinet by Sixth Form and had worked up to Grade 7 standard of Sax. I went to Lancaster University 2005-2008 to study Music and stayed on to study an MA in Contemporary Arts Research (Music Sociology and Theory focused). After years of playing in wind bands, orchestras, and sax and clarinet groups, I was keen to not lose touch with playing for too long after moving back home to Staffordshire, and joined the Stafford Orchestra circa 2012. For the last 2 years I have supported the Committee and regularly post to our growing social media pages, Playing in orchestras/bands has meant that I have been lucky enough to play at some amazing venues and meet a range of people that I would have never ordinarily met, whilst making friends and having fun.