Vale Park Proms 2013

Saturday 31st August dawned overcast, but the weather soon brightened into a pleasantly warm day, though less warm than of late. That evening the Band was once more due to play for the Vale Park Proms, part of the ParkLife Festival organised by Aylesbury Town Council in Vale Park, Aylesbury. This year the band was joined by two singers, soprano Alison Langer (who sang with us before in 2012) and tenor Lawrence Thackeray.

Much to her annoyance, our Musical Director Claire Lawrence was due to be playing in a concert with RAF Central Band that evening, so it fell to Robert Wicks to conduct Aylesbury Band. Even more annoying for Claire she was told just 10 days before that she wasn’t needed after all! So she was able to come to Aylesbury to cheer the band on, and persuade Robert to let her conduct two of her favourite pieces.

As always on these occasions we have to augment the band with a few players to fill gaps where we have no members who play that instrument. Some of them were unable to come to any rehearsals, nor had the singers, so it was necessary to “top and tail” much of the programme before the concert, and early arrivals in the audience got a sneak preview of some of the pieces.

At 7.15 the concert got under way properly. After the National Anthem, the concert opened with the music from the film Back to the Future, then the singers joined the Band in a selection from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein. Claire Lawrence conducted the Band in A Marvin Hamlisch Showcase, a selection of music written by the great American composer, who died last year, and the trumpet section was featured in Bugler’s Holiday by Leroy Anderson. Other items in the first half included Quando m’en vo (Musetta’s Waltz) from La bohème by Puccini, featuring Soprano Alison Langer, and The Cowboys, film music by John Williams.

By the time the second half began night had fallen and the temperature was starting to fall rapidly, making it quite chilly for audience and band alike. The opening piece was the Can-can from Orpheus in the Underworld by Offenbach, followed by a selection from Jungle Book. Alison Langer and Lawrence Thackeray sang If I Loved You from Carousel by Rodgers and Hammerstein. The trombone section performed Bones in the Store, written by Rob Wiffin based on the song The Quartermaster’s Store, then Alison Langer returned to sing Summertime from Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin.

Soon it was time for the “Proms” Finale, starting with Jerusalem, followed by the Fantasia on British Sea Songs by Henry Wood, in which Alison Langer joined the Band to sing Rule Britannia. Finally the audience joined in singing Land of Hope and Glory to Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March no. 1, which of course had to be encored.

Or not quite finally. This year the Band played the closing section of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture to accompany a firework display. At least that was the intention, but the fireworks didn’t start before the Band had nearly finished playing. (UPDATE: I’ve since found out that the fireworks were actually meant to start at the end of 1812, so apologies to the organisers.)

Thanks to the good weather there was a large audience for this concert, variously estimated to be between 500 and 1000 people, who cheered and clapped enthusiastically, and contributed generously to a collection for the Mayor’s charity. It’s always a pleasure to entertain so many people, and we’re looking forward to doing it again next year. Let’s hope the weather will be dry again in 2014.

Here is a complete list of the music played:–

Title Composer / Arranger
Back to the Future Alan Silvestri, arr. Juri Briat
West Side Story Leonard Bernstein, arr. W.J. Duthoit
Marvin Hamlisch Showcase Arr. Warren Barker
Bugler’s Holiday Leroy Anderson, transcribed Michael Edwards
Out of Africa John Barry, arr. Johan de Maij
Soul Bossa Nova Quincy Jones, arr. Denis Burton
Quando me’n vo (“Mussetta’s Waltz” from La bohème) G. Puccini, arr. M. Armstrong
The Cowboys John Williams, arr. Jim Curnow
Can Can from Orpheus in the Underworld Jacques Offenbach, arr. Lawrence Odom
Jungle Book Sherman/Sherman/Gilkyson, arr. Marcel Peeters
If I Loved You Rodgers and Hammerstein
Bones in the Store Rob Wiffin
Summer Time George Gershwin
Barber of Seville Goes to the Devil Gordon Jacob, arr. Robert O’Brien
Pirates of the Carribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl Klaus Badelt, arr. John Wasson
Jerusalem C. Hubert Parry, arr. Rob Wiffin
Fantasia on British Seas Songs Henry J. Wood, arr. W.J. Duthoit
Pomp & Circumstance March no. 1 (inc. Land of Hope and Glory) Edward Elgar
1812 Overture (part) Tchaikovsky, arr. C.H. Jaeger