The Band’s major event of the summer each year is the Vale Park Proms, part of the annual Park Life festival organised by Aylesbury Town Council. Aylesbury Band’s contribution took place on Sunday evening 28th August this year. The day had been a mixture of sunshine and showers, and a gusty breeze was blowing as the band set up on the stage in Vale Park. But although there were some ominous looking clouds around and more showers were forecast, in fact the weather stayed dry for the whole of the concert. The band was conducted by Director of Music Robert Wicks, and were joined by the vocal soloists Alexandra Lowe, soprano, and James Liu, tenor.
As the 7.15 start time approached a large crowd, possiby a thousand people, assembled in the park to hear the band, ready with their flags to wave in the Grand Finale. The 2016 Olympics in Brazil had just ended, so conductor Robert Wicks chose for the first item Olympic Fanfare and Theme written by John Williams for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. After music from the Disney film Aladdin the first of the soloists, Alexandra Lowe, sang Quando me’n vo from La Bohème by Puccini. Then it was back to Brazil with Holiday in Rio.
The author Roald Dahl lived not far from Aylesbury in Great Missenden, and the next item was Pure Imagination from the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory which was based on one of his books for children. In complete contrast the band then played the Toccata in D Minor by J.S. Bach, in the distinctive arrangement for band by Ray Farr and Kevin Lamb. After Scarborough Fair by Duncan Stubbs, James Liu sang the well known Italian song O Sole Mio, and the band played Light-Walk by Barrie Gott. The first half ended with the Apotheosis, the last section of the grandly named Symphonic Metamorphosis on themes from Saint-Saëns 3rd Symphony. This is a paraphrase of the last movement of the symphony, known as the Organ Symphony because of the prominent part played by the organ, which brought the first half to a suitably grand conclusion.
Part 2 opened with Grenadiers! by Rob Wiffin. This is a fast and vigorous piece built on the Grenadier Guards’ quick and slow regimental marches (The British Grenadiers and Scipio by Handel). Then the band played a medley of songs from Frank Sinatra, arranged by Stephen Bulla. The two soloists returned to the stage to sing Brindisi (drinking song) from La Traviata by Verdi, after which the Band played Gaelforce by Peter Graham, which is based on three well known Irish folksongs.
Now it was time for the “Proms” finale. The audience were led by the band and soloists in singing Jerusalem by Hubert Parry, and the band played the Fantasia on British Sea Songs by Henry Wood, which ends with Rule Britannia sung by Alexandra Lowe. Finally in Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 the audience joined in enthusiastically singing Land of Hope and Glory. This, of course, had to be repeated.
Before these last items the Mayor, Cllr Barbara Russel, came on stage to thank everybody who had helped organise the weekend. She also thanked the Band and soloists for the Proms concert, and Carl Quaif who had once again acted as compêre for the evening. Then once the music was all over, there was a spectacular (and noisy!) firework display.
And then it rained, heavily. How lucky we were that until then the evening had remained dry.
UPDATE: The Bucks Herald has a report about the ParkLife weekend in which they say…
And on Sunday the Aylesbury Concert Band were out in force for Proms In The Park, attracting a huge crowd for classical and not so classical standards.
Speaking about Proms, a spokesman for organisers Aylesbury Town Council said: “Aylesbury Concert Band along with soloists Alex Lowe and James Liu performed a truly spectacular Proms concert for the 2,000-plus strong crowd at Proms in the Park on Sunday evening. With more families attending the event than ever before, bringing picnics, glow sticks, flags and their singing voices, this traditional English concert was shared by so many people. In typical English style, luckily the rain held off until the very last firework lit the night sky.”
Here is a complete listing of all the music played.