The Players

David Hall - Orchestra Leader

As a child, like many youngsters I was keen to learn a musical instrument. The accordion may not be an obvious choice for a 7 year old, but as my next door neighbour was Nigel it was only a matter of time before I ended up trying out the instrument. I was soon playing in the Orchestra and the rest as they say is history. 25 years on I continue to play and enjoy being part of this group. I've been lucky to play in all sections at one time or another and in 2011 took on the role of orchestra leader when Nigel stepped up to conduct.

Richard Brunning - First Accordion

Fifteen years after retiring, as I was walking in the main square in Krakow, having cycled from Calais for charity, I heard a quartet of accordionists playing the most fabulous classical music. The sound of Rachmaninoff and Beethoven, being played at such a fabulous standard by four 'buskers' must have inspired me. I had messed a little with an accordion in my youth, though only to a very simple level, but decided it might be a good idea to try again. I bought an accordion and started lessons with Sue Coppard, who used to run the White Horse Accordion Club in Bradford on Avon. During one club session we were entertained by a number of junior accordionists, led by Marilyn Mason from Marlbrough. The link was forged and I have now had four wonderful years with the Kennet Accordion Orchestra.

Veronica Bullard - First Accordion

One day I wrote my car off reversing into a skip parked in the alley behind our house. A few weeks later I spent the insurance cheque of £350 (old car), on a second hand £100 accordion (an old accordion!). My initial attempts to play it were met with fear (it woke a sleeping child), frustration (it had too many buttons) and exhaustion (practice equaled a full upper body workout). All this changed when I found and joined the Kennet Accordion Orchestra in 2013. Surrounded by experienced accordion masters and lead by Nigel's enthusiastic conduction, I have become hooked. I love playing with such a friendly and welcoming group. Take time to come and hear us.

Jane Saunders - Second Accordion

I learned the piano as a child and was persuaded to have a go in the Kennet Accordion Youth Orchestra with my youngest daughter, Chloe, who had been having accordion lessons at school. We both soon moved up to the main orchestra, although after a while Chloe decided it was time for her to stop. I have carried on and really enjoy playing such a wide range of music as part of a group.

Ray Lewis - Second Accordion

I started learning to play the piano accordion over fifty years ago at the age of eleven. Every week for four years I had a half hour lesson until sadly Mrs Cutler, my music teacher an elderly lady died. With school GCE examinations looming and other teenage interests coming into play my accordion sadly was consigned to its case, rarely seeing the light of day for some forty five years. That is until the summer of 2009, when by chance I attended a local steam rally and heard the familar tones of the piano accordion being played. The Kennet Accordion Training Orchestra was performing in one of the tents. Mrs Marilyn Mason, the conductor soon noticed my interest and before I knew it I was a fully paid up member of the group. I quickly progressed to the main orchestra and haven't looked back since.

Franco Gregorace - Second Accordion

My father purchased my first accordion when I was eleven years of age and like Ray I also attended Mrs. Cutlers Accordion School.

Being of Italian parentage, whenever a family party was in full swing, or on many of our Italian family holidays, there was always an accordionist on hand. This was when I fell in love with the sound and the fun that the instrument created.

I have now been playing the accordion for more than fifty years and met Ray again when I joined the Kennet Accordion Orchestra about eighteen months ago. I do enjoy the experience of being part of the Orchestra and the passion shown by Musical Director "Nigel" who transmits his enthusiasm to all of us musicians and also to the audiences that we have performed to.

If we happen to be in your area, come and listen to the KAO, you will be totally entertained by the variety of music that we perform.

Paul Johnson - Third Accordion

I first started to play an instrument when I was just 3 and became very interested in our family organ. I played this until I was 6, when one day I was being dragged through Swindon town centre on one of my Mum's shopping trips and saw a guy playing an accordion. From that moment on I pestered my parents to let me learn this unusual instrument, which is when I met Nigel who taught me how to play and guided me through the ins and outs of the accordion. I started playing with the orchestra when I was 7 and it has been a part of my life ever since. I am now section leader of the ever faultless '3rds' and I still get the same feeling getting my accordion out to play as I did all those years ago. I now have a little girl of my own and she also loves music. You will see her and David's little boy dancing away at most of our concerts.

Doreen Hall - Third Accordion

My association with the Kennet Accordion Orchestra started when our son David joined the group in 1987. For several years I supported as a non-playing member. I did have some musical knowledge from my distant piano playing days as a child and in 1996 decided it was time to start learning the instrument myself. Since then I have enjoyed playing with the orchestra - I can't believe it is now nearly 20 years! I have had many great experiences playing in various locations in the UK and abroad and made many good friends along the way.

Helen Newton - Fourth Accordion

I first played the accordion in 1980 and in 1984 started my tuition with Nigel Pasby. These lessons have helped me to achieve an advance level of accordion playing. Since then I have played in numerous accordion groups and have established my position within the Kennet Accordion Orchestra. I also enjoy taking part in competitions and accordion festivals throughout the UK, as an accomplished soloist and 'art level' duet player. I am very passionate about the accordion and playing it takes up much of my spare time!

Dodie Toomey - Bass

I joined this orchestra at the very beginning in 1984, initially playing Fourth Accordion, but soon moving over to the Bass. At the beginning the group had no funds for a new electronic bass accordion, so we bought an instrument on hire-purchase and held several marathon 'play-ins' to raise the full purchase price. 30 years on a lot has changed but I am still playing bass, however I have recently moved onto playing a bass keyboard through our new group amplifier instead of an accordion - this is so much easier for transportation!

Matthew Barnard - Percussion

I started playing the drum kit when I was 8 years old and have played with the orchestra and with several brass bands over the years. I did have a few lessons but am mainly self taught. I really enjoy playing with the orchestra as the music is quite demanding, but interesting to play. I do hope the drums give the orchestra another dimension.