Almost every year we organise either a day or a weekend where we invite distinguished conductors to rehearse the band, often in music that is new to the band or is more difficult than our normal repertoire. This year we held a playday on Saturday 7th March at Buckingham Park Community Centre in Aylesbury, where we were honoured by the presence of Duncan Stubbs, a previous director of the band and currently Principal Director of Music for the Royal Air Force, and Rob Wiffin, Professor of Conducting at Kneller Hall who was also Principal Director of Music for the RAF from 1998 to 2003.
Among the music we played was Bohemian Revelry by Adam Gorb, Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes from Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3 by Philip Sparke, and Thames Journey by Nigel Hess. Both conductors also brought with them some of their new compositions, including Striding Edge by Duncan Stubbs (named after a famous ridge in the Lake District) and Chiltern Overture by Rob Wiffin, which he wrote for Chiltern Band in High Wycombe.
It’s a marvellous experience to be rehearsed by such eminent musicians, and the band members learn a lot from these occasions. It was a long day of music making and pretty exhausting, but exhilarating as well. We are grateful not only to Duncan and Rob, but also to the Community Centre staff who kept us well supplied with tea and coffee, and Hi-Tide Fish and Chips, who fortified us with an excellent lunch.