Rupert Johnston first came to the band nearly two years ago in 2015. Rupert was on the verge of a promising career as a professional horn player when in 1997 he nearly died in a serious car accident. He suffered severe head injuries which required brain surgery to save his life. He now lives in Kent House in Aylesbury, a specialist home and rehabilitation centre for people who have suffered brain injuries. Incredibly, despite his injuries he still retains the ability to play the French horn, and comes to play regularly at our rehearsals and for at least part of our concerts. So when we planned our autumn concert we decided it should be in aid of a charity, and should feature Rupert as a soloist. The charity chosen was the Oxford branch of Silverlining, whose aim is to give help to anyone affected by brain injury and their families and community.
The concert took place on 19th November at Holy Trinity Church, Aylesbury. The third item on the programme featured Rupert playing the last movement of Mozart’s horn concerto no. 2, accompanied by the band. He played superbly, and at the end he was rewarded by loud applause from audience and band alike. Clearly he was overjoyed by the response and laughed and smiled as he acknowledged the applause and our conductor, Robert Wicks.
The concert had opened with The Grenadiers by Rob Wiffin, based on The British Grenadiers and Scipio, the quick and slow marches of the Grenadier Guards. This was followed by music from West Side Story. After the horn concerto the band played the Toccata in D Minor by J.S. Bach, arranged by Ray Farr and Kevin Lamb. Next was three movements from Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saëns, Introduction and Royal March of the Lions, The Elephant, and the Finale. Erica Miller played Romance from The Gadfly by Shostakovitch, arranged for alto saxophone and band by Ed Keeley. The first half ended with Gaelforce by Peter Graham.
The second half opened with Finlandia by Sibelius, and an arrangement of Pure Imagination. Then Norman Bartlett and Victoria Paulding, trumpets, were featured in Mexican Hat Dance accompanied by the band. After music from the Disney film of Aladdin came Holiday in Rio, a nod to this year’s Olympics, and the whole trumpet section featured in Bill Bailey. The concert came to a rousing conclusion with part of Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes from Saint-Saëns 3rd Symphony (known as the “Organ” symphony).
The concert raised £483 for the charity, well done to Rupert and the Band.
You can find out more about Rupert from this video made by members of his family to promote the Eyes Alight appeal…