The Band had a busy start to the New Year, with two concerts on successive Saturdays. On the afternoon of 9th January we travelled to Eaton Bray in Bedfordshire for a New Year Concert at St Mary’s Church. It was a very cold and damp day, and when we arrived there was no heating on in the church, which was bitterly cold, and even when the heating had been turned on it could do little to warm such a large space. Nevertheless a pleasingly large audience nearly filled the church ready to enjoy our music.
Conductor Robert Wicks opened the programme with The Ancient and Honourable Artillery Company March by Sousa, which he wrote for the the oldest military organisation in North America, dating back to 1638 in Massachusetts. This was curiously relevant to a New Year concert as Sousa incorporated the Company’s marching song, Auld Lang Syne, into the march. This was followed by the well known Funiculi Funicula by Denza, After which Julie-Marie James (clarinet) and Catherine Dawson (bassoon) stepped up to play Brindisi (Drinking Song) from La Traviata by Verdi. Then after An American in Paris by Gershwin, arranged by John Krance, the band played part of El Camino Real by Alfred Reed. The first half ended with Rhapsody on an Old English Sea Song by Stuart Johnson, an amusing arrangement of What shall we do with a drunken sailor?, and music from Star Wars arranged by Johan de Meij.
The second half opened with Lord of the Dance by Ronan Hardiman, followed by Thames Journey by Nigel Hess. Nimrod from the Enigma Variations by Elgar was followed by two movements from Tales from Andersen by Martin Ellerby: The Steadfast Tin Soldier and The Emperor’s New Clothes. After James Bond 007 arranged by Johan de Meij, we returned to the New Year theme for the finale with The Blue Danube in the arrangement by Rob Wiffin. The audience didn’t let us go without an encore, though, so continuing the New Year theme we played The Radetzky March.
One week later we played a similar programme for our New Year Concert at Aylesbury Methodist Church. The evening was very cold, with sleet and snow showers, which probably contributed to the disappointingly small size of the audience. Instead of Star Wars we played the whole of El Camino Real by Alfred Reed, and three movements from Puszta by Jan Van der Roost, which are original pieces in the style of Hungarian gypsy music. Rob Wiffin’s arrangement of The Blue Danube opened the second half, which also included the Fanfare and Romance from Fanfare, Romance and finale by Philip Sparke, which feature the brass and woodwind sections respectively. The second half finished with An American in Paris by George Gershwin. The audience may have been small, but they were enthusiastic enough for the Band to play Radetzky March as an encore.