In 2018 Aylesbury Town Council and invited guests attended a special memorial service on the 11th November to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. This was such a moving occasion that it was felt that it should become an annual event, and Aylesbury Concert Band was again invited to provide some of the music in 2019. The covid pandemic curtailed all remembrance ceremonies in 2020 so the service couldn’t take place, but this year it was revived and Aylesbury Band were invited to take part once more. So on the evening of 11th November the Band set up in a darkened St Mary’s Church. The church had been prepared with stage lighting which could change colour to suit the mood of the moment, but for much of the time the Band was in virtual darkness, and stand lights were a necessity.
Before the service, as the congregation took their seats, the Band set the scene by playing Pavan: Sicut Aquilae by Rob Wiffin, and Hymn to the Fallen by John Williams, from the film Saving Private Ryan. Then as the Mayor’s party arrived they entered to the accompaniment of Elegy on the RAF March by Barrie Hingley.
The service was begun by the Mayor reading The Soldier by Rupert Brooke, after which the band played Solemn Melody by H. Walford Davies. Following a reading from the Gospel of St Luke, the band accompanied the singing of Jerusalem, Parry’s setting of the words of William Blake. The Band weren’t the only musicians taking part, for this was followed by the Aylesbury Consort of Voices, conductor Kelvin Turner, singing Justorum Animae by Stanford. Other readings and hymns followed, and an address from the rector of St Mary’s, Fr. Doug Zimmerman. Naturally the church choir also took part, they sang They are at Rest by Edward Elgar. The Aylesbury Consort of Voices performed For the Fallen, specially written for the occasion by Kelvin Turner and later, Holy is the True Light by William Henry Harris. Other music performed by the Band included the theme from Band of Brothers by Michael Kamen, and Nimrod from the Enigma Variations by Elgar.
Following the sounding of Last Post the congregation observed two minutes silence, during which images of poppies were projected onto the walls. Fr. Zimmerman said prayers and gave the Blessing, then the Band accompanied the hymn I Vow to thee, my Country and the singing of the National Anthem. Aylesbury Band then ended the service with a performance of Majesty from A Little Ceremonial Music by Rob Wiffin.
This was Aylesbury Band’s first performance under our new Director of Music John Brown, and judging by comments received by the council it was an undoubted success. We look forward now to returning to the church in December for a very different occasion, the Mayor’s Christmas Carol Service.