The Proms concert in Vale Park, Aylesbury, is the Band’s most important event of the year, and it took place this year on 5th September. Because Duncan Stubbs had been away during August directing the Massed Bands of the Royal Air Force at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the responsibility for conducting the concert fell upon deputy conductor Robert Wicks. Fortunately Duncan was able to be present on the day to act as compère so that Robert didn’t have to worry about that as well.
The good news this year is that the weather was dry. The bad news is that a strong, gusty wind was blowing which made the evening unpleasantly cold for band and audience alike. Music has to be clipped to music stands, and the wind makes page turns difficult. However, despite the chill a crowd of around 800 people heard the band open the concert with Strike Up the Band, followed by Festive Overture by Alfred Reed. Once again the band was joined by singers Jill Neenan and Richard Stark, Jill sang Wishing You Were Somehow Here again, and Richard sang Music of the Night by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Later they joined the band to sing some of the numbers in a medley from the musical Les Miserables.
Other highlights from the concert included Broadway Showstoppers, arranged by Warren Barker, the trumpet feature Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, and In the Miller Mood, music by Glen Miller, naturally featuring the sax section. Last but not least, the concert wouldn’t be a “Proms” concert without the traditional finale, Jerusalem, Fantasia on British Sea Songs, and Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March no 1, where the audience joined in enthusiastically singing Land of Hope and Glory.
In a thank you speech at the end, the organiser, councillor Ray Ghent, said he thought the band had played better than ever, and it was the best Vale Park Proms concert yet. Next year will be the tenth such concert, and he has plans to make it even bigger and better.
Two weeks later the weather could not have been more different. A lovely September day, warm and sunny with no wind, was the perfect setting for Monks Risborough Church fête in the rectory garden. The band provided just 45 minutes of music chosen from the pieces we have been playing this year, and the crowd seemed to be enjoying it, applauding from time to time. At one point a Spitfire aircraft doing a flying display for a private party nearby threatened to drown the music, but needless to say, the band played on!