The Bate Collection in Oxford is one of the leading collections of historical musical instruments in the UK. The collection is named after the organologist Philip Bate (1909–1999) who donated his "extensive and systematic collection of European orchestral woodwind instruments" to the University of Oxford in 1970. Bate, who had written a number of books on the history of wind instruments, continued to add to the collection. Another donor to the collection was the famous horn historian Reginald Morley-Pegge (1890–1972) whose contribution to the collection was greatly augmented after his death with his son (William Morley-Pegge) donating his library and other instruments to the collection. There have been many other important organologists associated with the Bate, including Horace Fitzpatrick, Anthony Baines and today the collection includes donations from figures such as Jeremy Montagu.
The collection is especially noted for its fine collection of woodwind and brass instruments. The Prince Regent's Band has a long standing relationship with the Bate Collection and very much values the unique research opportunities that the collection is able to provide PRB.
In the early stages of PRB's "The Celebrated Distin Family" project, members of PRB were able to spend time investigating a number of important and relevant instruments in the Bate Collection. The collection has a large collection of nineteenth century saxhorns and cornets including a number by Adolphe Sax or the Distins themselves.
This access provided PRB members with an opportunity to learn more about the playing characteristics of the instruments. The group also spent time investigating the pitch centres of these instruments. The main aim was to help PRB in their quest to find a really good ensemble of instruments to use for "The Celebrated Distin Family" project. With this in mind PRB was thrilled that the Bate Collection made available two of its instruments for the recording. These instruments were:
PRB continues to work with the Bate Collection in our mutual desire to learn much more about these wonderful historic brass instruments. PRB would like to thank the wonderful Andy Lamb who has made all this possible.