Radio Stars!

Early on Friday 22nd December 10 members of the Band squeezed into a tiny studio at Mix96, Aylesbury’s local radio station, to perform Christmas carols on the breakfast show. Amazingly this was organised in less than two days, as we only received the invitation from presenter Ben Moseby on Wednesday morning. The band members who took part are to be congratulated on their willingness to get to the studio early at such short notice ready to play. Conductor Robert Wicks and clarinettist Rimini Dick-Carr were interviewed by Ben on air, which was a wonderful opportunity to publicise the band and tell the listeners what we do, as well as demonstrating the skills of our musicians and (we hope) entertaining the listeners with seasonal music.

Fairford Leys Carols

The annual outdoor Carol Service in Hampden Square, Aylesbury, had a different format this year. The first part consisted of an enactment of the Nativity story, interspersed with carols for the audience to join in accompanied by the Band. Then following a short interval, the Band led community singing, with such well known songs as White Christmas, Let it Snow, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and The Twelve Days of Christmas, among others, finishing with Jingle Bells to welcome Father Christmas.

Rod Wynne-Powell was there to take photographs again. It was a bitterly cold evening, as can be seen by the way the band is huddled into their scarves and hats against the cold.

Mayor’s Carol Service 2017

The annual Mayor’s Carol Service in Aylesbury took place this year at St Mary’s Church on 3rd December. Aylesbury Concert Band again played a major part in providing the music, together with the Aylesbury Choral Society, the church choir, and Bedgrove Junior School choir.

Before the arrival of the Mayor’s procession and the start of the service, the Band entertained the waiting guests with Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen (from the film Shrek), The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, and A Christmas Mambo (God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen in latin style by David Edmonds, arranged by Barrie Hingley). Then to announce the arrival of the Mayor, Flourish for Wind Band by Vaughan Williams, and the fanfare opening of Festive Overture by Shostakovich. During the service, as well as accompanying the Christmas carols, the band played Deck the Hall by Barrie Gott, arranged by Brian Bowen and The Manger Scene by Leslie Condon, arranged by Richard Phillips. The Aylesbury Choral Society sang O Holy Night by Adolphe Adam, accompanied by the Band, and the Bedgrove School choir gave a spirited performance of The Twelve Days of Christmas complete with actions to illustrate the song.

The Band rounded off the service with We Wish You a Merry Christmas after which the Mayor and councillors handed round mince pies and mulled wine to the accompaniment of music from the Band: Jingle Bells, A Celtic Carol (arranged by Robert W. Smith) and A Christmas Overture by Nigel Hess. Luckily there were still some mince pies and mulled wine left for the band to enjoy by the time we’d finished playing!

Rod Wynne-Powell has posted a gallery of photographs he took before and during the service. The church was very dimly lit so the quality of the photos is remarkable.

Autumn Concert 2017

The church of St Peter and St Paul in Great Missenden is located some distance from the village along a lane that narrows to a single track road for the last quarter mile. On a dark and damp November evening it wasn’t the easiest place to reach for our autumn concert on November 18th, and there wasn’t a lot of space for parking when we got there. However by 5.30 everyone was there and set up ready for a quick rehearsal before the concert.

Despite these difficulties a modestly sized audience had arrived by the time the concert was due to start. Conductor Robert Wicks had chosen Flourish for Wind Band by Vaughan Williams to open the first half, and this was followed by music from the film Beauty and the Beast. After the Overture to Light Cavalry by Suppé and a selection from Les Misérables. Alison Swindles played Reflections, a piece for solo oboe and band written specially for her by Craig Hallatt. The first half ended with music from Mary Poppins.

The second half began with several movements from A ‘Silent Movie’ Suite written by Martin Ellerby to evoke the early years of the cinema. In more reflective mood, this was followed by Band of Brothers. Then after an arrangement of Gershwin’s American in Paris the trumpet section featured in Bugler’s Holiday by Leroy Anderson. Three movements from the 2nd Suite in F by Gustav Holst followed, and the concert finished with Moment for Morricone, some of the film music by Ennio Morricone arranged for band by Johan de Mey.

From the warm applause I think the audience enjoyed the concert. Photographer Rod Wynne-Powell was there and has written about it on his blog, together with a gallery of photos.

Vale Park Proms 2017

According to the statistics, south east England had nearly 20% more rain in August this year than average. Certainly it seemed as if it rained every day for the first three weeks of the month, so we had good cause to be apprehensive about the weather for the annual Vale Park Proms on 27th August. This is the concert the Band performs each year in Vale Park, Aylesbury as part of the Parklife Weekend organised by Aylesbury Town Council. Fortunately as the day approached the weather grew more settled, and the afternoon of the 27th was quite warm and partly sunny. By the time in the evening the concert was due to start there was barely a blade of grass to be seen as people poured into the park ready to enjoy the concert. This year we welcomed back soprano Alison Langer and tenor Lawrence Thackeray as soloists. Alison and Lawrence are due to marry soon, so it was very appropriate that they sung People will say we’re in love from Oklahoma in the second half.

The theme of the concert was “stage and screen”, and it began with the opening “sunrise” fanfare from Also sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss, better known to most people from its use in the soundtrack of Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey. This was followed by music from the Disney film Beauty and the Beast by Alan Menken. The first solo item featured Lawrence Thackeray singing Dein ist mein Ganzes Herz by Franz Lehár, and later in the first half Alison Langer sang the aria Sempre Libera from La Traviata by Verdi. The first half ended with music from the original Star Wars films by John Williams.

After the interval the second half opened with music from TV – Doctor Who: Through Time and Space, followed by film music from The Incredibles. As already mentioned, Alison and Lawrence came together to sing People will say we’re in love, and the the last piece before the “Proms” finale was from the first film in the Pirates of the Caribbean series by Klaus Badelt.

Of course the highlight of the evening for most of the audience is the finale, when they can join in singing and waving their flags and glow sticks. Following Jerusalem the Band played the Fantasia on British Sea Songs by Henry Wood, including Rule Britannia, and finally Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March no. 1 with which the audience joined in singing Land of Hope and Glory. After its inevitable encore a fireworks display rounded off the proceedings.

So ended another highly successful Proms concert by the Band. Now it’s time to start thinking about our next concert in November.

Here is a complete list of all the music played.

Programme – Vale Park Proms 2017

Conducted by Robert Wicks

Title Composer / Arranger
Also sprach Zarathustra (fanfare) Richard Strauss, arr. Robert Longfield
Beauty and the Beast Alan Menken, arr. John Moss
Dien ist mein Ganzes Herz from The Land of Smiles
Soloist Lawrence Thackeray
Franz Lehár, arr. Niese
Hallelujah Leonard Cohen, arr. Michael Brown
Moment for Morricone Ennio Morricone, arr. Johan De Meij
Sempre Libera from La Traviata
Soloist Alison Langer
G. Verdi, arr. Braak
Star Wars Saga John Williams, arr. Johan De Meij
Doctor Who: Through Time and Space Murray Gold, arr. Robert Buckley
The Incredibles Michael Giancchino, arr. Jay Bocook
Band of Brothers Michael Kamen, arr. Colin Hales
People will say we’re in love
Soloists Lawrence Thackeray and Alison Langer
Richard Rogers, arr. Robert Wicks
Writing’s on the Wall (from the James Bond Film Spectre) Sam Smith, arr. Craig Hallatt
Pirates of the Caribbean Klaus Badelt, arr. John Wasson
Jerusalem Hubert Parry, arr. Rob Wiffin
Fantasia on British Sea Songs Henry Wood, arr. W J Duthoit
Pomp and Circumstance March no. 1 Edward Elgar

Fairford Leys 2017

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.

Stone Fête

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.

New Year Concert 2017

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.

Christmas 2016

It’s hard to imagine Christmas without music, whether it be traditional Christmas carols, sentimental ballads, settings of scripture by the great classical masters, or simply cheerful tunes with a wintry title. So it’s not surprising that Aylesbury Band should be called upon to play at this time of year.

The Mayor’s Carol Service took place on 4th December in St Mary’s Parish Church, Aylesbury. The Band was joined by the Aylesbury Choral Society, and the choir and organist of St Mary’s Church. While waiting for the Mayor’s procession to arrive the Band entertained the congregation by playing White Christmas, Jingle Bells, and Ye Merry Gentlemen (no. 3 of Three Carols from Olde England by Duncan Stubbs), and then played fanfares to announce the arrival of the Mayor and the procession.

During the service the band accompanied the singing of Christmas carols along with the organist, and also played a couple of musical interludes, A Winter’s Tale by Philip Sparke, and Carol of the Drum (“The Little Drummer Boy”) by Katherine Davis, arranged by Floyd E. Werle. Similarly the Aylesbury Choral Society sang In Dulci Jubilo, and O Magnum Mysterium by Tomás Luis de Victoria, and the church choir sang Jesus Child by John Rutter. At the end the Band accompanied everyone singing We Wish You a Merry Christmas. After the service everyone tucked into mulled wine and mince pies to the accompaniment of the Band playing Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson, A Vaughan Williams Christmas, Good Swing Wenceslas by Sammy Nestico, and Scherzo Variation (no. 2 of A Christmas Suite by David Barker).

The following Saturday, 10th December, the band again provided music for the Fairford Leys Carol Service in Hampden Square, Aylesbury. The weather had been very cold during the preceding week, but on Saturday it warmed up a little, and it didn’t rain! To set the scene the Band played White Christmas and Let it Snow, and then played while everyone joined in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. After playing for the carol singing, the crown had to sing Jingle Bells to let Father Christmas know where to go, but of course they didn’t sing loud enough, so they had to sing it again. The Band then rounded off proceedings with We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

The saxophone quartet (players from the Band) then moved indoors to play while refreshments were being served, but for the rest of the Band it was time to go home. However there was still work to do before Christmas, rehearsing for our New Year concert in January.

Autumn Charity Concert

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…