Remembrance Sunday this year occurred on 11th November, the exact 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, thus the day’s services and commemorations had even more significance than usual. Aylesbury Band was asked to play for two such services, first in Stone, a village outside Aylesbury, and later for the Mayor’s Remembrance Service at St Mary’s Church, Aylesbury.
The event at Stone was the conventional morning service outdoors at the recreation ground, encompassing the two minutes silence at 11.00am. Beforehand the band played the RAF March Past, and a medley of Songs of the Great War arranged by Rob Wiffin. The service included the hymns I vow to thee my Country, music by Gustav Holst, and Abide with Me. The start of two minutes silence was marked by a trumpet playing the Last Post, and at the end of the service the Band accompanied the singing of the National Anthem.
The Mayor’s service started at 5.30pm. Before the arrival of the Mayor the Band played part of The Sun will Rise Again by Philip Sparke, and then as the Mayoral party arrived, Nimrod from Elgar’s Enigma Variations. In a darkened church the band set the scene with Mars from The Planets by Gustav Holst. After a call to Remembrance by the Mayor, cllr Mark Willis, the congregation sang Abide with me accompanied by the band. After a reading of Moina Michael’s poem Keep the Faith by Sgt Joe McNicholas of the Air Cadets, the Band played the companion music for the poem written by Duncan Stubbs. Another poem followed, written and read by Cadet Edward Tagg of the Air Cadets, entitled Prima conclusio est infernum.
Following an address by the Vicar of Aylesbury, Fr. Doug Zimmerman, the band accompanied the congregation singing Jerusalem, and Mrs Barbara Grant of the Aylesbury British Legion read Perhaps by Vera Brittain.
A group of young people from Community Unity Projects in period costumes were led by Roisin Willetts in enacting readings of Diaries and Letters from the Trenches, many written by or to local people.
This was also a celebration of the ending of the war, however. Soprano Alison Langer sang Tell Your Heart to Beat Again by Danny Gorkey, and the Band played the middle and final sections of Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity from The Planets, with its noble tune later used as a hymn I Vow to Thee my Country. Following prayers led by Fr. Doug Zimmerman, the Blessing was said by the Bishop of Buckingham, Rt. Revd. Dr. Alan Wilson, and the congregation sang two verses of the National Anthem.
As the Mayor and guests left, the Band played Songs of the Great War, arranged by Rob Wiffin.
Afterwards we were honoured and delighted to receive a letter of thanks from the Mayor, in which he said
I would like to pass on my thanks and admiration on behalf of all who attended the Mayor’s Remembrance Service at St Marys Church on Sunday, for the beautiful, powerful and profoundly moving rendition of Holst’s Planets suite, Mars and Jupiter.
Sitting in the front row with the full power of the pieces you were playing, the music being forced into us was a remarkable experience. I found it deeply unsettling and moving, the whole atmosphere, the lighting and your excellent musicianship made it one of the most memorable and moving experiences of my life, truly unforgettable.