Geoff Otter

Bandmaster Geoff Otter

1975 to 1995

Although taking charge of the band in January 1975 Geoff Otter was not commissioned bandmaster until late April, his appointment making him one of only six Boscombe bandmasters to have previously served as a Boscombe bandsman. A fourth generation salvationist, his early interest in music was kindled with the Bristol Citadel YP Band, and developed with five years experience as timpanist with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. During service days he was appointed to the RAF Central Band as bass trombonist.

For many years Geoff ran his own catering business, and also 'freelanced' as a percussionist. In 1974 he joined the Dorset County Council Instrumental Music Service, being responsible for percussion throughout the county. He was appointed to conduct the newly formed Bournemouth Youth Orchestra in 1979. After five successful years he relinquished this post on being appointed a Justice of the Peace. He remained involved with young people, coaching the Dorset Youth Orchestra, conducting the Bournemouth School for Girls Orchestra and instructing at the army's National School of Music.

Band at Royal Albert Hall 1984

While still deputy bandmaster in March 1975, he led the band in an 'away' weekend to Newton Abbot, this being the first of several visits made to the west country with other venues including Bristol Easton and Exeter. Campaigns were also held in several London corps - Ealing, Waltham Abbey, Hendon, Hillingdon, Maidenhead and Regent Hall - while the band also travelled further north to visit Dudley, Sheffield, Worcester, Blackburn and Derby. Additional campaigns included Oxford, Banbury, Fakenham and St Peter Port (Guernsey).

For a number of years Eric Ball had friendly associations with Boscombe Band, regularly being invited to conduct a Fisherman's Walk bandstand programme, lead a band practice and attend the annual dinner. He became widely respected and admired by the bandsmen, and it was fitting then that on his 80th birthday in November 1983 a special concert be given by the Band - supported by the songsters. Apart from Symphony of Thanksgiving - included at his own request - every item on the programme was written by Eric Ball himself and the occasion was truly savoured by the congregation of 400, which included Harry Mortimer and other special guests.

Such prestigious festivals are few and far between and account for the smallest portion of the band's workload. They are more regularly to be found playing at hospitals or homes for the elderly; proclaiming the gospel in the street or on the seafront; witnessing on the march or in the bandstand. Almost 125 years after its commencement, Boscombe Band is one of the busiest in the Salvation Army.

Band Reunion 1986

On the Band's 91st anniversary, in June, 1977, the Bournemouth Echo effectively described the ministry of the Band.

Over 90 years the band have been heard throughout the British Isles and abroad. They have broadcast, appeared on TV and given hundreds of public concerts, like their current series at the bandstand at Fisherman's Walk, Southbourne. And that is only the more strictly musical and secular aspect of their work. They have paid hundreds of visits to hospitals and old people's homes, taken part in meetings, services and open-air seafront rallies, given concerts for numberless good causes over the years since 1886.

It may be difficult to measure in any tangible way the benefits which the Boscombe Citadel Band of the Salvation Army have brought to the Bournemouth area since their formation 91 years ago. But there is no doubt they have brought pleasure, inspiration, and renewal of faith to thousands of local residents and many thousands more of visitors.

During 1977 - and in order to mark the band's 90th anniversary the previous year - a formal photo of the band taken outside the Town Hall in Bournemouth was made into a postcard which was sold or given or sent to many people over the years that followed.

Other Pages




Salvation Sounds Vol.3
Command Performance
Salvation Sounds Vol.1
Marching Along
Fisherman's Walk