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Cat Johnston - Flugel Horn

Cat Johnston started playing music age 7, on trumpet (she was adamant about that and no other instrument would do!) at South East Derbyshire Music Centre with Kevin Holdgate, and earned grade 8 distinction aged 13. She then went on to study at the Junior Birmingham Conservatoire under Alan Thomas, and attained her ATCL & LTCL Trumpet diplomas by the age of 18.

Locally, she won the Derby Rotary young musician of the year award in 2008, and was Derby Arts Brass open champion 3 times with distinction (2011-2012 & 2013)

She successfully auditioned and gained a place The Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in Manchester studying under Murray Grieg and immersed herself into various styles of music and ensemble to gain experience of all types of playing. These included the RNCM Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Opera Orchestra, Wind Orchestra, BigBand, Session Orchestra and Brass Band. She graduated with a Bmus Honors Degree in July 2017.

During her degree, she travelled as an Erasmus exchange student to the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, studying with Jonas Haltia, Tine Thing Helseth, and Anthony Plog and competed in the National Championships in Trondheim with 'Vestre Aker Musikkorps’ (a championship section wind band) which she says was definitely a massive highlight of the year! 

As well as Norway, she has travelled the World playing in various ensembles, including Belgium, France, Italy, Switzerland (with The National Youth Wind band of Great Britain), Japan (with the Derbyshire City and County Youth Wind Band) and the USA (Atlanta and New York with HotHouse Screaming Kicks Bigband.) Her favourite was definitely Japan!

As well as playing Flugel with Derwent, she is a member of ‘Derventio Brass Ensemble’ on trumpet, and enjoys playing in other ensembles such as BigBands, musical theatre pit bands, and Classical Orchestras within the East Midlands. 

In her free time, she likes spending time outdoors running, and being creative with other hobbies such as sewing, and making (and eating) tasty food. Lastly, (and most importantly,) she loves spending time with her two guinea-pigs Charlie and Hugo!

Graham Johnson - Solo Horn

Graham is the son of the late Eric Johnson (former solo euphonium and President of Derwent Brass) so it goes without saying that he has grown up totally immersed in brass music. Over the years he has played for the Newhall band, Ibstock Building Products, Gresley Old Hall, the Ind Coope Burton Brewery Brass Sovereign Brass (+ 1 or 2 others) before joining Derwent Brass. Originally a cornet player who also liked to  'dabble' with the flugel horn and trumpet, Graham moved onto Solo Horn in Derwent Brass during 2005. He lists among his musical tastes Big Band Jazz,  'big' orchestral works such as Stravinsky and the like, and absolutely anything played by Wynton Marsalis!

There have been too many experiences and events that Graham has enjoyed to list, but one or two particular highlights include winning the 2nd section national finals in London (1991) and going on to win the Championship section of the Midlands Area contest. He also took part in the National Finals in the Royals Albert Hall in 1992.

Away from band Graham works as an IT Project Manager but would dearly love to own a vineyard in France (wouldn't we all!!) but admits that he would miss the banding!) 



Steve Thompson - First Horn

Steve Thompson Derwent Brass First HornSteve is no stranger to brass banding and is well known as a player especially in the Midlands area. Steve has been a member of a number of bands including the well known Ransome Brass Band (where he enjoyed a very successful period as Band Manager), the Carlton Main Frickley Band and more recently the Newstead Brass Band. 

As an accomplished player he has performed at all the major brass band competitions in the UK, including some notable podium finishes. Steve has also helped out several bands and ensembles at all levels, including the famous Black Dyke band and numerous international tours with the well known Desford Colliery band.

Away from the bandroom Steve is the Managing Director of a successful filtration and water treatment business and enjoys spending time travelling and socialising.


Karen Pitts - Second Horn

Karen originally from Bedworth, got an interest in brass bands whilst following her older brother and later brother-in-law who both played with the City of Coventry Band under the late great Albert Chappell. Albert also happened to be Karen’s music teacher so it wasn't long before she was playing the tenor horn in Ash Green school band. A couple of years later in 1976, Karen joined the City of Coventry ‘B’ Band (later Coventry Imperial) where the ‘proper’ brass band education began, learning the art of playing carols after the consumption of several ‘flying angels’!

In 1981 Karen accepted the solo horn position in the Coventry School of Music Band under the leadership of Len Pepper, where she stayed for some 5 years. Taking a break from life in the UK, Karen then travelled the globe for a couple of years, taking in the wonderous sites, but managing to keep playing, mainly with various band in New Zealand.

Upon her return to jolly old in 1988, Karen took up playing again with Dunchurch Silver band before moving to Nottingham with work. Following a playing sabbatical, Karen re-found her fondness for brass playing and after a spell with Long Eaton Silver Prize Band in 1990 shortly moved onto play Solo Horn with Blidworth Band.

In 1992, work and some other of life’s distractions (meeting her husband) meant another break from playing. Karen (now with husband!) took another trip abroad before returning back to the UK expecting their first baby. In the hunt for some socialising, break from nappies and well deserved ‘me time’, it wasn’t long before Karen was back playing again, at the friendly Long Eaton band where she met Keith Leonard, our musical director, who was playing horn at the band whilst his son Chris, found his way on the cornet section.

Keith invited Karen to join Derwent Brass in 1997 and the rest, as they say, is history! 


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