The exact date is lost in the mist of time, but it’s generally agreed that Aylesbury Band came into being in 1994, meaning this year the Band is 25 years old. So on the afternoon of 12th October we held a Gala Concert at Holy Trinity Church celebrating the highlights of the Band’s history, welcoming back some previous Musical Directors, and featuring the premiere of a new work for band specially commissioned for the occasion. Among the audience were several special guests, including Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, and Judy Brandis, chairman of Aylesbury Vale District Council. We also welcomed members of Alan Mossford’s family. Alan played a major role in the Band’s development for 10 years and would have been our guest of honour had he not died earlier this year .
Some of the concert was conducted by Brendan Gudgeon and Chris Doyle, but we were delighted to have previous Directors of music come and conduct us as well. Duncan Stubbs was our conductor from 2006 to 2009, when he was appointed Principal Director of Music for the Royal Air Force, and Claire Lawrence led the Band from 2011 to 2014. She is now Bandmaster of the Coldstream Guards, clearly conducting Aylesbury Band does no harm to anyone’s career!
The programme included several pieces that we had played at the National Concert Band Festival over the years, but the highlight of the first half was the first performance of Aylesbury Dances, commissioned for the occasion from Rob Wiffin. Rob is a previous Principal DoM of the RAF, and is now professor of conducting at Kneller Hall, the Army music college. He has conducted Aylesbury Band a number of times on development weekends and playdays, so knows us well. Aylesbury Dances consists of three linked movements entitled
- Pavane: The Town
- Siciliana: Waterside
- Frolic: Ducks in a Row
The first is in ceremonial style inspired by the town’s connection with royalty, particular Henry VIII. The second is a quiet interlude, imagine strolling along the canal towpath early on a Sunday morning. The third movement… Well, Rob Wiffin seems to like fast movements to be very fast, and the music conjures up the idea of a slapstick movie of people trying to herd ducks! It’s witty and entertaining, but something of a challenge to play.
I’m pleased to say we had a good sized audience, including several ex-members of the band who have moved away. At the end of the concert we were treated to an impromptu speech by one such member, Roger Pethers, who now lives in Kent. He and his wife Carole were founder members of the band, and Roger briefly recounted how the Band was formed, along with some anecdotes about the early years.