The Band’s spring concert on 24th April this year was in aid of Scannappeal, a charity which aims to raise money for extra equipment for our local hospitals. The concert was held in Aylesbury High School, and was the first public appearance of our new conductor, Neil Chapman.
As it was the day after St George’s Day, all the music in the concert was either by English composers, or had English connections. The concert opened with Kenneth Alford’s march The Standard of St George. Neil quickly established an easy rapport with the audience as he introduced the second item, which was conducted by the Band’s deputy conductor Robert Wicks. This was the English Folk Song Suite by Ralph Vaughan Williams, a much loved classic of the wind band repertoire. Neil then returned to conduct a selection from My Fair Lady, which though written by Americans is based on the quintessentially English play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. After this John Dablin played the Prelude from The Victorian Kitchen Garden by Paul Reade, arranged for clarinet and band by Alan Mossford, the Band’s conductor for its first ten years. The first half ended with a selection of music from the films about that fictional English hero James Bond.
George Frederick Handel may have been born in Germany, but he came to England as a young man, took English nationality, and soon became a great favourite of the English. Among his works still popular today is the Royal Fireworks Music, written for King George II to accompany fireworks in 1749 celebrating the end of the War of Austrian Succession. A suite from this music opened the second half. This was followed by an arrangement of Nimrod from the Enigma Variations by the great English composer Edward Elgar. After this Robert Wicks returned to conduct The Beatles, Echoes of an Era.
Derek Bourgeois (b. 1941) is a prolific English composer. He wrote his quirky Serenade in 1965 to be played at his own wedding, and it makes an entertaining piece arranged for wind band. After this the concert ended with the second set of English Dances by Malcolm Arnold. Every tune in the Dances sounds like it is an English folk tune, but in fact they are all original and were written by Malcolm Arnold himself.
The audience seemed to have enjoyed the concert, their applause was sufficient to justify an encore so the band repeated Nimrod by Elgar. Let’s hope the concert was successful in raising funds for Scannappeal.