Surrey Brass Player awarded Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List

Trombonist and arranger Bill Geldard BEM has been awarded the Medal of Order of the British Empire for services to music, at the age of 92. As the only jazz-related honour, it's particularly significant.

The Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2022 recognises the outstanding achievements of people across the United Kingdom, recognising people who have made achievements in public life and committed themselves to serving and helping Britain.

Surrey Brass and members of Bill's many bands throughout the UK, past and present offer our hearty congratulations on this award which recognises Bill's lifetime of contributions to the UK music industry and to music in Surrey.

Bill was born in Durham and started his professional career at the age of just 15, and became the 1st Trombone in the RAF Central Band during his National Service. He was a founder member of the George Evans Orchestra as 1st trombone and featured soloist. Bill featured in most of the greatest ‘Big Bands’ such as Oscar RabinTed Heath, Johnny Dankworth amongst others and free-lanced with Geraldo, Mantovani and many more. Bill's accomplished solo playing and fine sound made him a "first call" session musician who featured in many performances and recordings of the time.

In the 1970’s he formed ‘The Bill Geldard Tentette’ and ‘The Bill Geldard Big Band’ and had been guest conductor of the BBC Radio Orchestra. Recognised as one of the country’s top arrangers he recorded many albums of background music, composed and arranged by him for T.V. and Films. Bill was also an active member in the rock scene, being a member of blues guitarist Alexis Korner's CCS band.

Definitely an all-round musician, he is equally comfortable in the orchestra, brass band, and big band - and probably everywhere else too. As well as working in the Big Band scene, Bill has also a long history in the Brass Band world. His arrangements for trombone and band are famous - the most popular is certainly ‘Stardust’ but often requested is his version of ‘Autumn Leaves’. Many of his band arrangements are available from Warwick Music and Just Music

Bill has made countless arrangements and compositions for Big Band, Brass Band, trombone and piano, and many other instrumental groups. They can be found in practically every band room in the country. Musicians report that his arrangements are always faultless, never containing a wrong note, always sound good and are a pleasure to play and listen to, due to Bill's masterful voicing of the instruments. But what makes them stand out is that they are all hand-written, in crystal-clear notation that is extremely easy to read - something quite unusual and highly valued by musicians. In these days of computer typeset music, Bill's musical calligraphy stands out as a far superior art form.

Bill continues to play, living up to his own words “Jazz musicians improve with age – and they don’t give up!” 

Congratulations to Bill Geldard BEM