Geoff Bellamy – Horn
Geoffrey Bellamy, the horn player, was born in Batley, West Yorkshire, in 1954. He attended primary schools in Birstall, Morley and Leeds, then, as an eleven-plus boy, Leeds Grammar School. It was there that his interest in music really flourished. He took piano lessons from aged 5, he won a prize as the youngest child in Yorkshire to pass the first exam.
Geoff took organ lessons from the age of 15, the organ has always since been his first instrument.
Geoff gained a place at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1977 with an M.A. (Honours) in Music. University was a key formative time, musically and personally.
A teaching certificate from Hull University followed, in 1978.
For 34 years, Geoff taught at Batley Grammar School, in various roles. This was a happy and fulfilling experience, he retired in 2012, as Assistant Head.
Married to Janet, with 2 grown-up sons, Geoff now lives in Bridlington. He is a Methodist local preacher and plays the organ regularly at Sewerby Methodist Church.
Geoff’s interest in the horn is comparatively recent. As a pianist and organist he had nothing to offer playing in the various ensembles as a teacher at school, so he took up the trumpet, initially, and replaced that with the horn, preferring the sound, and, frankly, because the school was awash with good pupil trumpeters, but not horn players. He didn’t want to pinch a band place from a pupil, which was never going to be a problem as a horn player! He only really started playing horn regularly about 8 or 9 years ago.
Geoff played 1st to 4th horn, in the Yorkshire Wind Orchestra, based in Wakefield and was Principal Horn in the Phoenix Concert Band, Leeds, before the family retired to Bridlington. He was a committee member of the Opera North Horn Club, and a regular horn “dep” for various regional orchestras.
Geoff plays a Paxman Model 40 Bb/F alto double horn, dating from before the 1978 redesign. It was formerly owned by Anthony Halstead, a word-renowned player and teacher, and a personal friend. The horn was designed by the great Richard Merewether, and hand-built in Paxman’s workshops in Covent Garden, London. It may be old, but it is a fabulous instrument!
As to favourite music, Geoff likes virtually everything. He has a passion for Wagner, but is also very fond of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Haydn and Mozart.
Some key musical moments? Playing to a sold-out York Minster with the Yorkshire Wind Orchestra. Playing the part of The Little Drummer Boy for Sadlers Wells Opera in Benjamin Britten’s “Gloriana” in the first performance outside London, at Leeds Grand Theatre. “Nailing” the notoriously-tricky 1st horn part or Bernstein’s “On the Waterfront” to a full-house audience at Morley Town Hall with the Phoenix Band – now on YouTube.
A few bits and bobs? Geoff used to mentor young offenders for Kirklees Youth Justice. His childhood nickname was Sam or Sambo. He once gave an organ recital to four people, including the church organist and the door steward, near Huddersfield.
Geoff sells on EBay, reviews on Amazon and Trip Advisor, loves curries and fish and chips and has played the organ at, probably, three hundred weddings, beginning at aged 15.