Ernst began town’s Concert Band

Ernest Graf, front centre, with members of Lurgan Concert Band when he returned to the town for a special celebration in 1983. INLM4312-211
Ernest Graf, front centre, with members of Lurgan Concert Band when he returned to the town for a special celebration in 1983. INLM4312-211
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LURGAN Concert Band was still packing them in during 2000 after 60 years of hitting the right notes.

And a special anniversary concert in the town hall that year was a sell out.

It was all a long way from their beginning in 1940 when, as Lurgan Military Band, they didn’t even have a uniform.

The band was the brainchild of a Swiss embroidery designer, Mr Ernst Graff, who came to the town in 1935 at the age of 28 to work for Johnston Allen and Co.

He was also a very talented musician and played the trumpet and violin.

His impact on the musical life of the town soon made itself felt as he was a founder member of the Lurgan Variety Orchestra which played at pantomimes in the town hall.

In 1940, with the help of some orchestra members, he started Lurgan Military Band.

Most of their instruments in those early days had originally belonged to the old Lurgan Brass and Reed Band.

It was a remarkable achievement in itself starting a band during the war years with many items scarce and coupons were required for uniforms.

Mr Graf formed a committee of local businessmen to raise funds for a uniform with members supplying the necessary clothing coupons.

Mr Graf designed the uniform and ironically it was first worn at his farewell concert in Lurgan Town Hall on March 28, 1947.

The family returned to Switzerland were Ernst formed another band.

He kept in touch with his friends in Lurgan and returned at regular intervals - including a special visit with his wife, family and friends to celebrate his Ruby Wedding anniversary in the Silverwood Hotel in 1983.

Mr Graf died in 1992.