Saturday 9th February was a cold day, with snow still lying on the fields as the band members set out for Eaton Bray, a village some 15 miles from Aylesbury just over the county border in Bedfordshire. The occasion was an afternoon Children’s Concert in the parish church of St Mary, a fine church which dates back to the 13th century. With temperatures outside hovering just above freezing the heaters were struggling to warm the air in the building, but we’ve played in worse!
Less than 10 minutes before the concert was due to start the audience seemed very small, with very few children, but then a lot more people started arriving bringing their families with them. Being a children’s concert, conductor Claire Lawrence had designed a programme to appeal to youngsters, including The Muppets theme, Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang, and Pirates of the Carribbean. To show off the different sections of the band, each played a piece on their own: the woodwind played Nellie the Elephant, the brass played Pastime with Good Company, arranged by principal trumpet Norman Bartlett, and the saxes played Return to Sender. To illustrate the percussion, Claire handed out lots of percussion instruments to the children for them to bang, shake and rattle along to A Grand Day Out (the Wallace and Gromit theme), leading them in a conga around the church. That wasn’t the only audience participation, to the sound of a some German style oom-pah music she had the audience lean forwards, lean backwards, left and right, stand up and sit down, to much hilarity.
Other items in the concert included Stephenson’s Rocket, which draws a picture of the early railway engine, and Rob Wiffin’s medley of nursery rhymes Dancing Round the Nursery. There was more music from films and shows, such as Can You Feel the Love Tonight, James Bond, Jungle Book, Aladdin, and Harry Potter. The organisers had asked for a bit of the “Last Night of the Proms”, so the concert finished with the Hornpipe from Henry Wood’s Sea Songs and Land of Hope and Glory. The audience demanded an encore, so the band played Amazonia from Windows of the World by Peter Graham.
One toddler said he enjoyed the concert because “it made me happy”, we can’t ask for more than that. The band will be returning to Eaton Bray next January to play a New Year’s concert and, we hope, make people happy.