John Berryman Set for Semi-Retirement

Virtuosi GUS announces that musical director John Berryman is to relinquish his role later this year

By Mike Smith, 21 Jun 2013

Mr John Berryman

It is with a heavy heart that The Virtuosi GUS Band announces that musical director, John Berryman, is to relinquish his role in October of this year. After over 40 years of conducting, John has decided to reduce his level of day to day involvement with bands and free up more time to spend with his ever supportive wife Delia, whilst gaining more flexibility to spend time in his beloved Cornwall.

A legendary principal cornet with the band from 1960 to 1969, resident conductor from 1985 to 1988, musical director from 1991 to 1998 and again from 2008 until now, John's influence has been woven into the fabric of the band for over half of a century. In between periods with GUS, John has worked with Bodmin Town, Grimethorpe Colliery, Bedford Town, Kibworth Band and notably, a particularly enjoyable 10 year partnership with William Davis Construction Group Band.

Since returning to GUS in 2008, John has led the band back to the highest level, once again competing at all the UK major championships. One month after his return, Virtuosi GUS qualified for the National Finals for the first time in 5 years and this was followed a year later by a return to the British Open in 2009. More recently, the band have achieved two Area Championship wins, returned to Brass in Concert for the first time in over 10 years and this year, won The Butlins Mineworkers Championship, cementing a return to top class music making.

A significant legacy that John leaves behind is his support and encouragement of young talent at Virtuosi GUS. Unsurprisingly, given his teaching career with Northamptonshire Music Service and his lifelong involvement with brass bands, John has an unswerving belief in young musicians' ability to be able to rise to the challenges of playing at the highest level. GUS has been blessed with many of those young musicians and John is particularly proud of having appointed three principal cornets in their mid teenage years: Neil Fulton, Ben Godfrey and James Fountain.

Most brass bands in Northamptonshire owe a deep gratitude to John for the numerous players that will fondly remember their time under his tutelage. Many of these players have continued to play and support the local movement, at all levels, for decades after.

Regarding the announcement, John said:

"This ends my full time involvement with any one band. I'm looking forward to some freelance work but have to say, I no longer will be with a band that I can call "My Band". It is a wrench to leave an organisation that has been such a huge influence in my life and most importantly, such a fantastic group of supportive people at Virtuosi GUS. I have thoroughly enjoyed my final stint with GUS and leave them in a strong position to move forward even further over the coming years. I have been talking to Mike Smith (our Band Manager) for some time now about when would be a good time to stand down and we both felt that during the band's 80th anniversary year would be the ideal time".

John's last official appearance with Virtuosi GUS will fittingly be the National Championship Finals at The Royal Albert Hall in October; a competition he won on three occasions as a player with the Band.