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Aylesbury Concert Band

Registered Charity: 1062069

(Read the latest news about the band here).

NEWSLETTER: December 2002

December brings Christmas, which means the band is in demand for carol concerts. As usual the Rotary Club organised their charity carol concert in Market Square, then on Saturday 21st the band provided the music for the carols at Watermead, on the outskirts of the town. Members of the band also went to Cherry Trees old peoples' home in Wendover for the annual Christmas concert for the residents.

So ended a busy year for the band. As the players dispersed to enjoy their Christmas break, they could not only look back with satisfaction at what they had achieved, but also look forward to the new year, with new programmes and concerts enjoy.

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NEWSLETTER: November 2002

Christmas started early for the band, with the concert "Sing About Christmas", organised by the Mayor of Aylesbury, Ray Ghent, in support of the Mayor's charities. The concert took place in the Civic Centre, Aylesbury, and the band was joined by a choir of children from schools in the town, conducted by Jill Neenan. A mixed programme of music included old favourites like A Christmas Festival by Leroy Anderson, and Winter Wonderland from the band, and the children sang Jingle Bells and When Santa Got Stuck Up the Chimney. 12 year old Alistair McGlaughlin delighted the audience when he sang Walking in the Air from The Snowman. The concert ended with White Christmas and We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

Then on 30th November the band presented "A Night of Christmas Music" at the Victoria Hall, Tring. This time they were joined by The Chiltern Voices, conductor Jill Neenan, and the Chiltern Handbell Ringers. The concert was held to raise money for the Iain Rennie Hospice at Home, and was sold out! Alistair McGlaughlin appeared again to sing Walking in the Air, and Philip Gee stepped out from the band to sing When a Child is Born. The audience were treated to two unscheduled items from a brass ensemble made up of band members, led by trumpeter Norman Bartlett. Norman donned a station master's hat and blew a whistle to start "Clear the Line" Boogie, and then they played variations on In Dulci Jubilo.

The audience certainly got their money's worth, as the concert went on until gone 10.30. A few days later the delighted organisers were able to report that they had raised over £1000 for the Hospice.

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NEWSLETTER: October 2002

On 5th October the band travelled north to the town of Buckingham for a concert in aid of the Mayor of Buckingham's charities, held in Buckingham church. Some of the band approached the event in trepidation, as the previous time we had performed there, the building had been unpleasantly cold, but fortunately a combination of improved heating and extra doors seemed to have solved the problem. A large audience enjoyed the programme immensely, and there have been many requests for the band to return another time, which we assuredly will.

The highlight of the month, however, was the band's visit to Belgium. On Saturday 19th over 40 people climbed aboard a bus to head for Dover and the ferry to France, then on to the beautiful historic town of Brugge. As well as members of the band the party included friends and relations and some guests from other bands.

Picture of Brugge

After a morning's sightseeing we travelled to Aalst and performed a concert in the Church of St Anthony to an appreciative audience, then on Monday we travelled to Gent for a concert at a Senior Citizens Community Centre. But this was a holiday as well as a concert tour, and an opportunity to get to know each other. As well as enjoying the sightseeing, the band members socialised in the evening, enjoying good food, or starting the long task of sampling Belgium's 600 or more beers! Everyone agreed that it was a great trip, and are looking forward to the next one, wherever that may be.

Here are some pictures from our visit. Click on one to see it full size...

Arriving in Brugge Our hosts in Aalst
Unloading the coach in Brugge Our hosts in Aalst
The band performs in Gent Brass players at the party
The Band performs in Gent Brass players at the last night party in Brugge

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NEWSLETTER: September 2002

The Band's autumn season began on 7th September with the annual "Last Night of the Proms" concert in Aylesbury, held this year in Vale Park instead of Market Square. A cool but dry evening saw a crowd of around 400 listen to the band, with singers Jill Neenan, Rebecca Holly, Chris Dobson and David Maxwell. Rebecca Holly is only 13 years old, and was making her debut joining Jill Neenan in the duet Pie Jesu from the Requiem by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The Queen's Jubilee was marked by the march Queen Elizabeth by Eric Coates, and other solo items included The Shepherd's Song from Songs of the Auvergne with oboist Analie Thorndike. The crowd joined enthusiastically in the singing for the traditional finale of Rule Britannia, Jerusalem, and Land of Hope and Glory.

The event was held to raise money for the Mayor's charities, Age Concern Bucks, and the Bucks Association for the Blind. The Mayor, Ray Ghent, who is also president of Aylesbury Band, was quoted in the Bucks Herald: "As an evening it went extremely well. Everyone enjoyed themselves. I know the band enjoyed playing and the quality of music and singing was superb".

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NEWSLETTER: August 2002

On 20th July the band played at Bledlow Manor, the home of Lord Carrington, as part of an open day in support of Help the Aged. The afternoon was pleasantly warm, and even the inevitable rain shower managed to occur during the interval. Two of the band members were missing due to last minute personal emergencies, so the band had to resort to some hasty improvisation. Despite this they were well received, and an enjoyable afternoon was had by all.

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On Sunday 23rd June the band provided the climax of the Ivinghoe festival, with an open air concert in the evening. For a change the weather was quite warm and sunny as a large crowd of anything between 500 and 1000 people enjoyed their picnics and listened to the band. The programme was largely a reprise of the music played at the earlier concerts in Aylesbury and Stone, finishing with the Last night of the Proms finale. As the band played the last chord of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March no 1 they were startled by a terrific bang just behind the stage as the firework display began! It was fortunate that the stage was covered by a corrugated iron roof, as remnants of rockets could be heard falling on it. In a thank you letter the organisers thanked the band for a wonderful evening, and praised their professionalism.

The next concert at Dinton on 29th June was not so lucky with the weather. Although the threatening rain did not fall, a chilly wind meant that the hardy souls in the audience needed coats and anoraks to keep themselves warm. The next day's concert in Princes Risborough, although it was earlier in the evening, fared little better, with the thermometer struggling to get over 15°C and light rain. Despite this, and the disappointingly small audiences, the organisers of both events praised the band's performance and are eager to repeat the events next year. Let's hope the weather is kinder in 2003.

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The Queen's Golden Jubilee was celebrated by the band with a concert in St Mary's Church, Aylesbury, on 25th May. As well as Aylesbury Band the concert featured the singers Jill Neenan, Anna Baldwin, Chris Dobson and David Maxwell, and the organist of St Mary's, Donald McKenzie. A large audience, which included the newly appointed Mayor of Aylesbury, Ray Ghent, enjoyed a selection of music with Royal and patriotic connections. The concert opened with Gordon Jacobs' arrangement of the National Anthem, followed by the Coronation March from Le Prophète by Meyerbeer and three movements from the Music for the Royal Fireworks by Handel. Jill Neenan showed off her vocal skills with the Allelujah by Mozart, and she was joined by Anna Baldwin in a delightful performance of the Flower Duet from Lakmé by Delibes. All four singers joined in the climax of the first half, Songs of the British Isles arranged by Barry Hingley.

The second half began with the march State Occasion by Robert Farnon, and finished with the old favourites, Jerusalem by Parry and Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March no. 1, with the well known Land of Hope and Glory theme. The concert was a great success, and further confirmed the band's growing reputation.

Then on day of the Jubilee holiday itself, 3rd June, the band went to Stone, just outside Aylesbury, and performed a concert as part of the village celebrations. The band was joined again by Jill Neenan, who performed O Mio Babbino Caro by Puccini. The concert ended with the traditional "Last Night of the Proms" programme: the Fantasia on British Sea Songs by Henry Wood, with Jill singing Rule Britannia, Jerusalem, and Pomp and Circumstance March no. 1.

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NEWSLETTER: March 2002

On 23rd February the Band promoted their own concert in the new community centre building at Meadowcroft, a district of Aylesbury, and were gratified to find that there were more people in the audience than there were chairs. Fortunately more chairs were found and no one was turned away.

The programme consisted of a variety of music to suit all tastes, ranging from movements from Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks to a selection from West Side Story. Vocal solos were provided by Jill Neenan, who sang O Mia Babbino Caro from Gianni Schicchi by Puccini, and David Maxwell, who sang The Holy City in a special arrangement by Director of Music Alan Mossford. The youngsters in the Band were also given their chance to shine, including Anna Cox who joined stalwart Norman Bartlett in an excellent performance of the Concerto for Two Trumpets by Vivaldi. Percussionist Matthew Manning provided an exuberant display of skill on the drum kit in Sparkling Drums by Ted Huggens. Then in the finale the two singers were joined by Ruth Guina, Graham Holiday and Philip Gee from the band in a rousing performance of Songs of the British Isles arranged by Barrie Hingley, with the audience being encouraged to join in.

It was a measure of the success of the concert that at least two people in the audience are known to have said they would willingly have paid more for their ticket! It was certainly enjoyed by all, let's hope the Band can repeat this success at future engagements during the year.

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NEWSLETTER: January 2002

The Band's Christmas Season began on 1st December when they travelled to the village of Wing, north of Aylesbury. The occasion was the switching on of the lights on the Christmas tree, accompanied by the singing of Christmas carols. The performance required the negotiation of several hazards, such as chairs sinking into the soggy ground, and the almost complete absence of light! This was solved in a number of ways, ranging from friends holding torches to potholer's head lamps. Despite the problems, all went well, the lights were duly lit and the crowd sang the carols to the accompaniment of the band. Afterwards everyone was treated to mulled wine and mince pies.

The remaining engagements were the band's "regulars", starting with the Mayor's Carol Service in St Mary's Church, followed the next day by the Rotary Club Carol concert in Market Square, Aylesbury. Here the band showed its resourcefulness by being able to pull out White Christmas at a moments notice on the whim of the compère. Next the band played for carol singing for the residents of Cherry Trees old people's home in Wendover, then on the last Saturday before Christmas they braved a bitterly cold evening to play for the Carol service in the square at Watermead, just outside Aylesbury.

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NEWSLETTER: December 2001

On 17th November the Band entered the Northampton Regional Festival, part of the National Concert Band Festival 2001/2002, and were delighted to be awarded a Silver Medal. This was an improvement on the Bronze gained by the Band the previous time it entered in 1999, and was achieved after performing a considerably more difficult program. Under the baton of Alan Mossford, Director of Music, the Band played

The adjudicators praised the way the band managed the changes of metre in Panache, and remarked that Pavanne was played wittily even though it is a difficult number to bring off. In Fanfare, Romance and Finale the brass "came over excellently, and the contrasting style and balance of the Finale was expertly captured".

Alan and the members of the band worked hard to prepare for the Festival, including extra rehearsals both for the full band and individual sections, so it was pleasing to be rewarded in this way. Next time we shall aim for a Gold!.

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NEWSLETTER: November 2001

In October, 18 members of the band with several friends and relations travelled to the USA as guests of the Watauga Community Band of Boone, North Carolina. During our visit the combined bands played two concerts, one in the Rosen Concert Hall at Appalachian State University in Boone, and the other at the Lees-McRae College in the nearby town of Banner Elk. Both concerts attracted an enthusiastic audience to hear a mixture of English and American music to suit all tastes, and the music directors of the two bands, Charles Isley and Alan Mossford, shared the conducting between them.

The Watauga Band plays to welcome us at Charlotte Airport

For the members of Aylesbury band, however, the concerts were almost a minor part of the trip. Words are inadequate to describe the warmth of the welcome we received from the Watauga band, starting from the moment we arrived to find members of the band playing in the airport arrivals hall to welcome us (see picture). Then thoughout our stay our hosts did everything possible to arrange tourist activities, such as visits to Old Salem, to the Blue Ridge Parkway, the indescribable "Woolly Worm" Festival, and over the border into Virginia to see a play at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon. Many people generously gave of their time to ferry us about and ensure we had a good time. They even managed to arrange unusually warm and sunny weather for the duration of our visit!

The visit cemented many friendships between the members of the two bands, and is unlikely to be the last we see of each other. For those of us in Aylesbury band who were lucky enough to go, our memories of the visit will linger for the rest of our lives.

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NEWSLETTER: September 2001

After playing at Bedgrove Middle School Fête on 30th June, the Band had a busy weekend at the beginning of July. On the Friday evening we provided music for the annual "Mayor Making" ceremony at which the Mayor of Aylesbury for the coming year is inaugurated, then on the Sunday we travelled to Hayes, Middlesex, to play a bandstand in Barra Hall Park. This was notable because the band had been invited back after playing in the park the previous year, and we have been asked if we can return again in 2002. Sadly the weather was overcast and only a small number of people were in the park to hear the band.

Then on 8th September another repeat engagement, this time Aylesbury's own "Last Night of the Proms" in Market Square. This was the climax of a day of entertainment to celebrate Aylesbury Charter Day, provided by a variety of bands and performers such as Simply Sax and Platform Soul. A chilly autumnal wind didn't deter a good crowd from joining the Mayor Raj Khan, Councillor Ray Ghent (who organised the event) and other dignitaries from enjoying the evening concert. Following a mixed programme everyone joined in the traditional "last night" finale with gusto. As the Bucks Herald reported, however, the day wasn't just about entertainment, collectors and their buckets were around town all day raising money for the Mayor's charities, which this year are the Aylesbury Rape Crisis Centre and the NSPCC.

You can read about last year's event here.

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On June 9th the band provided the music for a concert and picnic in the Parish Field in the village of Dinton, near Aylesbury. The day was unseasonably cold, but fortunately the rain showers died away during the evening. Despite the weather a reasonably sized crowd enjoyed their picnics and listened to the band with true British stoicism, and joined in the finale of traditional "Last Night of the Proms" music with enthusiasm. The organisers are already planning a repeat next year, so let's hope for better weather.

The weather was also disappointing for the visit to Aylesbury of the Watauga Community Band from Boone, North Carolina, USA. After one joint rehearsal on the Friday evening, which was the first opportunity for most people to meet members of the other band, we set out for Oxford on the Saturday morning in heavy rain. Fortunately the rain cleared up while we enjoyed a guided tour of the city on an open-top bus. Then after lunch we set up to play a concert in Cutteslowe park, despite thick black clouds looming ominously. We had played just three pieces to an audience consisting mostly of friends and relations and the park keeper, when a torrential downpour began. Clearly there was going to be no more music that day. The rain couldn't dampen the spirit of friendship which was developing, however. Back in Aylesbury on the Saturday evening we entertained our guests to a traditional English dinner of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.

Combined bands at Waddesdon Manor

Sunday began with leaden skies, but the forecast offered hope of a drier day. To Waddesdon Manor, the nineteenth century home of the Rothschilds, where we enjoyed a guided tour of the house. Then in the afternoon we played a concert on the terrace facing the beautiful new parterre gardens at the rear of the house. This time the weather was kinder and stayed dry, if cloudy, while an audience of 100 to 200 people enjoyed our concert of British and American music.

And so all too quickly, Watauga Band's visit had come to an end. On the Monday morning they left for London to see the sights of the capital city before returning home later in the week. Despite the weather, our guests enjoyed their visit to Aylesbury, and many new friendships have been forged. We are looking forward eagerly to our return visit to the USA in October,

Here are some more photos from this concert.

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NEWSLETTER: March 2001

On Saturday 24th March the Band had the unusual experience of people dancing to their music! The occasion was a dinner to raise funds for the Iain Rennie Hospice at Home, held in the elegant surroundings of the Victoria Hall, Tring. During the first half of the evening the band played while the guests enjoyed their dinner, and it was during the selection from My Fair Lady that several couples took to the floor. Then, following an interval, the Band returned to provide some post-prandial entertainment. Gershwin's They Can't Take That Away From Me and Let's Call The Whole Thing Off drew people onto the floor again, and a reprise of Mambo No. 5 proved particularly popular.

Drawing of dancers

Clearly all the guests enjoyed the evening, which raised nearly £1000 for the Hospice. A great success, both for the Iain Rennie Hospice at Home and Aylesbury Band, so much so that the Band has been invited back to give a Christmas Concert.

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NEWSLETTER: December 2000

Turnfurlong School Jazz Band

A busy Christmas season for the band began with a concert in the hall at Aylesbury College in aid of the Friends of Stoke Mandeville Hospital, to raise money for the Scanner appeal. The band shared the platform with the incredibly talented youngsters of Turnfurlong School Jazz band, pictured here, who delighted the capacity audience with their exuberant performance. The audience enjoyed a programme of Christmas music and sang Christmas carols, culminating in the two bands combining to perform "White Christmas". We are delighted to report that the total of ticket sales and takings from a raffle came within a whisker of £1000.

Two days later the band helped to provide music for the Mayor's Carol Service in St Mary's Church. Then, on a Monday evening a large crowd braved the weather to enjoy the annual Rotary Club Carol Concert in Market Square, fortunately the rain which had poured all day held off for the most part. The concert was relayed to Stoke Mandeville Hospital to be broadcast on the Hospital Radio, and was also recorded by the local radio station 'Mix 96' for transmission on Christmas Day. The following Saturday the band provided the music for the carol concert at Watermead, and last, but by no means least, gave a concert to the residents of Cherry Trees old people's home in Wendover.

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