Winter Wonderland in Wendover

On the afternoon of 30th November the Band went to the nearby town of Wendover to take part in Let the Chilterns Sing at St Mary’s Church. Subtitled Winter Wonderland Family Concert, this was a charity concert organised by the Wendover Rotary Club to raise funds for PACE, who transform the lives of children and young people with motor disorders, such as cerebral palsy, and School Aid, which recycles schoolbooks and other educational resources to send to schools in need in Africa. Gratifyingly the concert was a sellout, which was a credit to Wendover Rotary Club who obviously worked very work raising sponsorship and selling tickets.

Front cover of the concert programme

The concert opened with a bang, literally, as the John Colet School Samba Band played a rhythmic fanfare on a variety of drums, exuberant and complex rhythms executed from memory. Then Aylesbury Concert Band provided the first half, conducted by Claire Lawrence, opening with Heralds for an Occasion by Stephen Bulla. Several pieces featured various sections of the Band: the saxophones played Colonel Bogey, the tubas were the stars of Tyrolean Tubas, and the trumpets took the spotlight playing Bugler’s Holiday by Leroy Anderson. Tyrolean Tubas was the opportunity for audience participation, as Claire Lawrence encouraged them to sway, stand up and sit down in time to the Bavarian style waltz. There was more audience participation as Claire handed out a variety of percussion instruments to the children for them to bang, shake and rattle along to A Grand Day Out (the Wallace and Gromit theme).

The first half ended with Dancing Round the Nursery by Rob Wiffin. Then after the interval, when we were treated to delicious homemade cakes, the RAF Halton Military Wives Choir opened the second half under their conductor Rebecca Izard. They sang Stronger Together by Gareth Malone, Make You Feel my Love by Bob Dylan, and Wherever You Are by Paul Mealor. Later Claire Lawrence told the audience that, as a member of RAF Central Band she’s travelled round the country and played in several concerts with Military Wives Choirs, and the Halton Choir was by far the best she’d heard.

Next came the debut performance of Let the Children Sing, a newly formed choir consisting of children and grandchildren of the Military Wives. They sang Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, and Pure Imagination by Leslie Bricusse and Anthoney Newley. Then both choirs came together to sing Away in a Manger and Sing by Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Now it was Aylesbury Band’s turn again. The Band played a selection Disney at the Movies, arranged by John Higgins, and A Fireside Christmas, favourite Christmas songs arranged by Sammy Nestico, after which everyone joined in to sing Winter Wonderland accompanied by the band. Following a farewell and Thank You from Rotary Club President Sandra Maizels the audience were sent on their way by another performance by the John Colet School Samba Band.

The organisers were pleased with the success of the concert, and made many complimentary remarks about Aylesbury Band’s contribution. So much so that they are thinking of inviting the Band back for a similar event next year.

Here is a list of the music played by the Band:–

Title Composer / Arranger
Heralds for an Occasion Stephen Bulla
A Winter’s Tale Philip Sparke
Colonel Bogey (Saxophone feature) F.J. Ricketts
Tyrolean Tubas Maurice Clark
Bugler’s Holiday Leroy Anderson, transcribed Michael Edwards
Mary’s Boy Child Jester Hairston, arr. Philip Sparke
A Grand Day Out Julian Nott
Dancing Round the Nursery Rob Wiffin
Disney at the Movies Arr. John Higgins
A Fireside Christmas Arr. Sammy Nestico
Winter Wonderland Felix Bernard and Richard Smith, arr. Derek Ashmore