On 28th April we tried a new venue for our Spring Concert, the church at Fairford Leys, Aylesbury. Being a relatively new housing estate this is a small church in a modern building, and at first sight seemed quite promising. Inside the building is divided into two, the church proper and an area with tables and chairs and a small kitchen behind a counter in the corner. This is separated from the church by a glass screen which folds and slides to the sides to open the two areas into one. The church itself is wider than it is long, with no pillars, so the audience has good views of the band, and being quite small it is ideal for the typical size of our audience. However the light was quite bright, and together with the white painted walls gave a rather harsh effect. Of more concern was the large dome built in the ceiling into the roof space. During the concert this had the effect of reflecting the sound and dampening any contrast between loud music and soft.
The concert began with the Olympic Fanfare and Theme written by John Williams for the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. This was followed by The Hounds of Spring by Alfred Reed, inspired by Swinburne’s line “When the hounds of spring are on winter’s traces”, a magical picture of young love in springtime. A selection from the musical My Fair Lady came next, and The Girl with the Flaxen Hair by Debussy, arranged by Michael Brand. Then Robin Jarvis, euphonium, played Song of India by Rimsky-Korsakov in an arrangement by Eric Wilson. who is a friend of both Robin and our conductor, Rob wicks. For this the Band was conducted by Eric Wilson himself, who was our guest at the concert. The first half ended with Festive Overture by Shostakovich.
The second half began with A Copland Tribute, music by Aaron Copland adapted by Clare Grundman. Next we played Finnegan’s Wake, by A.J. Potter, and Disney at the Movies, an arrangement of well know songs from Disney films. This was followed by a moment of quiet reflection as we played The Sun Will Rise Again, written by Philip Sparke in response to the devastating tsunami that struck Japan in 2011. The concert ended with an arrangement of music from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein. As an encore the Band played A Walk in the Black Forest, the 60s hit by Horst Jankowski.
The concert was quite successful, the band played well and the audience seemed to enjoy it despite the problems with the acoustics. It’s a shame that we don’t seem to be able to attract a larger audience, but that is a perennial problem for us it seems.
On the afternoon of Saturday 13th January Aylesbury Band travelled again to St Mary’s Church, Eaton Bray for a New Year Concert. By the time the concert was due to start a gratifyingly large audience nearly filled the church, indeed the organiser had to put out extra seats for latecomers.
Conductor Robert Wicks had chosen Flourish for Wind Band to announce that the concert had begun, followed by the lively overture Light Cavalry by Franz von Suppé. Two items from films followed, Beauty and the Beast from the Disney cartoon version, and Hallelujah from Shrek by Leonard Cohen. Then the band played 5 movements from A Silent Movie Suite, an original work for band by Martin Ellerby which evokes the early days of the cinema. This was accompanied by suitable “subtitles” held up by a volunteer to announce the titles of each movement. The first half ended with a selection from the musical Les Misérables.
After the interval, the second half opened with Celtic Carol arranged by Robert W. Smith, and a selection of music from recent episodes of Dr Who, complete with the well known title theme. The slightly nostalgic Waltz no. 2 from a “Jazz” suite by Shostakovich was followed by the manic LOL (Laugh Out Loud) by Robert Buckley. To slow the pace, but staying with TV themes, Band of Brothers came next, followed by music from Mary Poppins.
This was a New Year concert, however, so we couldn’t finish without playing The Beautiful Blue Danube by Johann Strauss II, arranged by Rob Wiffin. The enthusiastic applause merited an encore, which was inevitably the Radetzky March by Johann Strauss I.
How nice it is to play to such an appreciative audience. It’s even nicer to know we’ve been invited back to play again next year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.