The weekend of 5th to 7th March was the occasion for another highly successful Band Development weekend. We first held one in February 2008, and one was scheduled for February 2009 but was cancelled at the last minute because of the weather, so this year we decided to hold it in March instead. The idea is not only to have a weekend of intensive rehearsal under a guest conductor, but also a chance to socialise and get to know one another better.
On the Friday evening members of the Band arrived at The Lambert Arms in Aston Rowant. Following an excellent dinner we set up in the ‘Oxford’ conference room and played a few pieces, not easy when you’ve just dined well! Our guest conductor this year was James Marshall from the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall, assisted by Duncan Stubbs, who has just had to step down from being Director of Music for the Band, but was nevertheless keen to come for part of the weekend.
Then on Saturday morning we played through more pieces (a total of 12 in all) and James and Duncan selected six for us to work on for a “concert” on Sunday afternoon. These included music in a wide variety of styles, such as a selection from The Wizard of Oz, and Thames Journey by Nigel Hess, which is a vivid picture in music of the Thames from its source to the North Sea.
The social aspect came to the fore after Saturday evening dinner, as Martin Brown organised entertainment with quizzes and karaoke on a PlayStation 3, displayed on the big screen by the conference room projector.
Sunday was another day of hard work trying to perfect the chosen pieces, then in the afternoon we performed them in a concert to an audience of a couple and their two young children, presumably guests in the hotel who were curious about what we were doing. They did seem to appreciate it, especially Roller Coaster, a vivid description of a ride on a roller coaster written by Otto M. Schwarz, complete with screams!
And so, all too soon, it was time to return home, tired because we had been working hard, but exhilarated because we had achieved so much under James and Duncanâs expert guidance. The 12 hours of rehearsal over the weekend is the equivalent of nearly 6 weekly rehearsals, but without the gaps in between to forget things. Iâm sure the results will be clearly evident in the Band’s performances over the coming year.
Here is a complete list of all the music we played.