On 8th July Aylesbury Band returned to Fairford Leys to play at the annual “Fair in the Square”. Looking back through these news items it turns out that this was the 11th year that the Band has performed at this event, often known previously as the Fairford Leys Summer Fayre. This year the weather was fine and warm, and the event passed off without incident, almost routine even, unlike some previous years. At the first event in 2007 it was showery and windy, while in 2008 we were beset by pigeons! In 2012 a chilren’s entertainer had the children shouting so loudly they might have been heard in Wendover, while in 2013 the sun was so strong we were in danger of sunburn. In 2015 the gusty wind threatened to blow music away and knock over music stands, and wind was again a problem in 2016.
This year conductor Robert Wicks and the Band played two sessions. In the first we played Thunderbirds, Lady Gaga Dance Mix, Pavane by Morton Gould, a selection from Chicago, and music by The Beatles. The second session opened with Eric Coates’ Dam Busters March, followed by Moment for Morricone (film music by Ennio Morricone), the 3rd movement of Theatre Music by Philip Sparke, music from the film Titanic and from Band of Brothers, Doyen by Goff Richards, and Broadway Showstoppers, arranged by Warren Barker.
Our next job is the Vale Park Proms in August, another regular event which we have done every year since 2000, even longer then Fairford Leys.
It’s a widely held tenet of British folklore that whenever a day is designated a bank holiday, any spell of warm, dry weather will come to an end on that day to be replaced by clouds and rain. The Spring Bank Holiday Monday on 29th May this year proved the rule, as the day dawned cloudy and cool, with showers forecast. Sure enough, as members of the Band arrived at the Stone, Bishopstone and Hartwell fête it began to rain gently.
The Band was due to play two sessions, starting after the official opening, by which time the rain had stopped. In the first session we played Thunderbirds (from the 60s TV series), Lady Gaga Dance Mix, two movements from Theatre Music by Philip Sparke, music from the film The Incredibles, a selection from the musical Chicago, and music by The Beatles.
Then we had a long wait while a dog show took place. Inevitably this overran, so the event following (a sort of free-for-all sing song of Abba songs) started 20 minutes late. By the time the Band was wanted to play again there was just time to play Broadway Show-stoppers Overture before it was time for everyone to pack up and go home. Oh well!
Despite the threatening weather, the fête seemed well attended and the dog show was a success, and the organisers were very appreciative of the Band’s playing.
On a cold Saturday afternoon on 14th January the Band returned to Eaton Bray for the New Year Concert, which has become something of a fixture in the calendar. Pleasingly the audience nearly filled St Mary’s Church ready to be entertained. As in last year’s concert, the Band opened with The Ancient and Honourable Artillery Company march by Sousa, with the tune of Auld Lang Syne as its trio, then in complete contrast played a selection from West Side Story. Then Rupert Johnston reprised his performance last November of the last movement of Mozart’s horn concerto no. 2, accompanied by the band. After the Toccata in D minor by J.S. Bach and two movements from Vaughan Williams’ English Folk Song Suite, Erica Miller was the alto saxophone soloist in the Romance from “The Gadfly” by Shostakovitch, arranged by Ed Keeley. The trumpet section featured next in Bill Bailey, and the Band brought the first half to a rousing conclusion with the 2nd half of Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes from Saint-Saens 3rd Symphony (the “Organ Symphony”) by Philip Sparke.
During the interval we were served welcome cups of tea and coffee, then the second half began with Finlandia by Sibelius. After a selection from the Disney film of Aladdin, the Band played three movements from The Carnival of the Animals by Saint-Saens, The Elephant, Fossils, and the Finale. A quiet interlude followed, A Winter’s Tale by Philip Sparke, after which we were off to Ireland with Gaelforce by Peter Graham. Inevitably the concert finished with The Blue Danube by Johann Strauss, arranged for band by Rob Wiffin.
Or not quite. The organiser thanked the band and the audience for coming, and asked if they would like to hear us again next year, which brought a resounding “yes”. There are plans to include the band in celebrating the church’s 800th anniversary. Of course, this demanded an encore, and the Band played the Radetzky March by Johann Strauss.