Band Development Weekend 2012

Every couple of years or so we organise a weekend away for the Band where we have two days of intensive rehearsal coached by a couple of top class guest conductors, playing music more difficult than our usual repertoire. This year we were led by Duncan Stubbs (Principal Director of Music of the Royal Air Force) and Rob Wiffin (a previous PDM, now professor of conducting at Kneller Hall) and needless to say it was quite an experience, hard work but very rewarding, and fun as well. Duncan of course is an old friend of ours, having been our conductor from 2006 to 2009.

This year we went to Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre near Marlow from 2nd to 4th March. The original building dates back to medieval times and has a large hall with a high ceiling ideal for the band to rehearse in. Add to that accommodation in modern buildings nearby, good food, a bar, and grounds stretching down to the banks of the River Thames and there is little more we could wish for in a venue.

During the weekend we worked on no less than 16 pieces for the full band, while for one session we divided into separate brass and woodwind groups. Claire Lawrence is a fine violinist, and she played the solo in Schindler's List and Danse Macabre, making a change from pure wind band music. There is more to the weekend than the music, however. It's a great opportunity to socialise and get to know each other better. When we gathered in the bar of an evening we indulged in such old fashioned pursuits as card games and board games, plus at one point tuba player John Dean led an impromptu sing-song.

Towards the end of Sunday afternoon we played 9 of the pieces in a concert for a few friends and relatives who had dropped by, and a few members of the staff (there is a list of most of the music we played here during the weekend below). All too soon the concert was finished and the weekend over. I think everyone went home tired but exhilarated, having achieved more than we might have thought possible.

Music Played at the Band Development Weekend 2012

Items Played in the Sunday Concert
Title Composer / Arranger
March Op 99 Prokofiev (Ed. Paul Yoder)
Chase the Sun Rob Wiffin
Greensleeves arr. Alfred Reed
Farandole Bizet, arr. Rob Wiffin
October Eric Whitacre
Suite of English Folk Dances (mvmts. 2 & 4) Ernest Tomlinson
Jerome Robbins' Broadway Arr. Warren Barker
Danse Macabre Saint Saens, arr. Duncan Stubbs
El Camino Real Alfred Reed
Other Items
Title Composer / Arranger
Canticle of the Creatures Jim Curnow
Dancing Round the Nursery Rob Wiffin
Four Colonial Country Dances James Curnow
Harlequin Bruce Broughton
Schindler's List John Williams, arr. Calvin Custer
Spirit of the Sequoia Philip Sparke
Suite for Winds Adam Gorb
Overtures for Woodwinds Philip Sparke
Music for brass (various)