Vale Park Proms 2022

The August bank holiday weekend this year came towards the end of a prolonged heatwave with temperatures climbing into the 30s celsius (over 90° F) and drought. Fortunately the worst of the heat had abated, but it was still shirtsleeve weather as we set up for the Proms concert in Vale Park, Aylesbury on 28th August. This was part of the Annual ParkLife weekend organised every year by Aylesbury Town Council, which is always a popular event. This year was no exception as several thousand people crowded into the park for the concert.

We should have been joined again by soprano Alison Langer, but unfortunately she was unwell on the day and her place was taken at the last moment by Eleanor Sanderson-Nash. We had also expected to be conducted by John Brown, our Director of Music who is a musician and bandmaster in the army, but much to our disappointment (and his annoyance) the army had decided to post him to a band too far away for him to continue conducting Aylesbury Band. Instead we were pleased to welcome back Brendan Gudgeon, who has conducted the band on several occasions before, including the Proms in 2019 and 2021.

The theme of the concert this year was “Myths and Legends”, and it opened dramatically with Mars, the Bringer of War from The Planets by Gustav Holst. Some might have thought this was rather grim, but they needn’t have worried, because it was followed by Go the Distance from the film Hercules, and music from the 2021 Disney Film Encanto. Following this was The Land Called Chicora, an original work for band by Paul Murtha (Chicora was a legendary Native American kingdom or tribe – Wikipedia).

Next we were joined by Eleanor Sanderson-Nash who sang Beauty and the Beast from the Disney film of that name, and then the first half ended with Phoenix Rising by Rob Wiffin.

More film music opened the second half, starting with How to Train Your Dragon, and Into the Unknown from Frozen II. Music by Jo Hisaishi from Japanese animation films followed, and The Legend of Zorro by James Horner. The last item before the “proms” finale was the can-can from the overture to Orpheus in the Underworld by Offenbach.

So now it was time for the audience to take part, waving their flags and light sticks, joining Eleanor Sanderson-Nash in singing Parry’s setting of Jerusalem. Henry Wood’s Fantasia on British Sea Songs (ending with Eleanor singing Rule Britannia), and Land of Hope and Glory in Pomp and Circumstance March no. 1 by Edward Elgar.

All that was left was a speech from the Mayor thanking everyone who contributed to a collection for the Mayor’s charity, and the presentation of gifts to the conductor and soloist. But that wasn’t quite all, because this was the cue for a spectacular firework display.

This event seems to grow more and more popular every year, so no doubt the Band will be invited back to take part in 2023. Maybe the council will soon have to find a bigger park?

The concert was live-streamed on the internet, and you can watch a recording on YouTube…

The Complete Programme

TitleComposer / Arranger
Mars from The PlanetsGustav Holst
Go the Distance, from the film “Hercules”Alan Menken, arr. Jay Bocook
Selections from EncantoLin-Manuel Miranda, arr. Paul Murtha
The Land Called ChicoraPaul Murtha
Beauty and the Beast
(with Eleanor Sanderson-Nash, soprano)
Alan Menken
Phoenix RisingRob Wiffin
Music from “How to Train Your Dragon”John Powell, arr. Sean O’Loughlin
Into the Unknown (from Frozen II)Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, arr. Paul Murtha
Animation Songs MedleyJo Hisaishi, arr. Kazuhiro Morita
The Legend of ZorroJames Horner, arr. Michael Brown
Can-Can (from overture to Orpheus in the Underworld)Jacques Offenbach, arr. Lawrence Odom
JerusalemC. Hubert Parry, arr. Rob Wiffin
Fantasia on British Sea Songs (including Rule Britannia, with Eleanor Sanderson-Nash)Henry Wood, arr. W J Duthoit. (Rule Britannia arr. Alan Mossford)
Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 (inc. Land of Hope and Glory)Edward Elgar

Mayor’s Charity Concert 2022

Aylesbury Concert Band performing in St Mary's Church, Aylesbury.
Photo by Steve Cook, Aylesbury & District News

In 2019 Aylesbury Town Council and the Band put on a concert to raise money for the Mayor’s Charity (each year the new Mayor selects a local charity to sponsor and support). The concert was such a success that it was decided it should become a regular event, but unfortunately the covid pandemic put paid to that in 2020 and 2021. This year however, with restrictions lifted, the concert was able to go ahead on 9th April in support of the charity Aylesbury Women’s Aid. In a brief address to the audience the Mayor, Cllr Anders Christensen, explained why he had chosen to support this charity. In his role as a councillor he had been horrified to learn that two out of every three recorded crimes in Aylesbury concern domestic violence. AWA provides support, advice and refuge to women in abusive relationships and their children, and when Cllr Christensen became Mayor he determined they should receive his support.

None of these grim statistics were evident in the concert, however. Conductor John Brown had selected a programme of Celebration, this being the year of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee having reigned for 70 years. Almost every piece celebrated some sort of anniversary, opening with Century Point, written by Robert Sheldon to celebrate the millennium in 2000. The full programme is listed below, but other highlights included the 35th anniversary of Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the 70th birthday of John Williams, composer of music for a multitude of films, and other pieces recalling the early years of the Queen’s reign. The concert ended on a patriotic note, with Jerusalem by Parry and Pomp and Circumstance March no. 1 by Elgar (a complete performance), with the tune well known as Land of Hope and Glory.

It would have been nice had the audience been a little larger, in 2019 extra chairs had to be found because of the numbers, nevertheless the audience’s donations raised a worthwhile sum to be shared between AWA and the Band.

Here is the complete programme:

TitleComposer / Arranger
National Anthem
Century Point
Written for the millennium in 2000.
Robert Sheldon
Olympic Fanfare and Hymn
Celebrating the Olympics and John Williams’ 70th birthday
John Williams, arr. James Curnow
Phantom of the Opera
35th anniversary of its West End opening.
Andrew Lloyd Webber, arr. Warren Barker
Somewhere (from West Side Story), arranged for cor anglais solo with small wind ensemble, featuring Alison Swindles, cor anglais.
New film version of West Side Story released in 2022, also celebrating Stephen Sondheim, 1930 – 2021.
Leonard Bernstein, with words by Stephen Sondheim.
Folk Song Suite, 1st movement Seventeen Come Sunday.
150 years since the birth of Vaughan Williams.
Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Queen in Concert
52 years since the founding of Queen in 1970.
arr. Jay Bocook.
Suite of Old American Dances. No.3: Western One-Step and no.1: Cakewalk.
Celebration of American Dance.
Robert Russell Bennett
Theatre Music, 2nd movement: Entr’acte.
Philip Sparke’s 70th birthday.
Philip Sparke
The Beatles – Echoes of an Era
The Platinum Jubilee.
Arr. John Higgins
Elizabethan Serenade.
The Platinum Jubilee.
Ronald Binge, arr. W J Duthoit.
Are You Sitting Comfortably
A medley of radio programme theme tunes from the early 1950s, celebrating the Platinum jubilee.
Fauré, Williams, Strachey, Wood, Guiliani, and Rossini, arr. Rob Wiffin.
JerusalemC Hubert Parry, arr. Rob Wiffin
Pomp and Circumstance March no. 1Edward Elgar