The Snowman

The 9th December was a new departure for the band when we played the sound track music to accompany a screening of The Snowman. This took place in Fairford Leys Church, Aylesbury. Gratifyingly advance tickets were sold out, and extra chairs had to be put out for more people arriving at the door. The Band was joined by Harry Munson to sing Walking in the Air, and the performance was conducted by Brendan Gudgeon.

We had to learn new skills in order to synchronise the music with the film – we had to watch the conductor like a hawk, and Brendan in turn had to pace the music to match the events on the screen. Similarly there was no question of playing any difficult passages more slowly! All in all this was good practise for the Band, and full marks to Brendan not only for rehearsing the Band but also keeping everything together during the performance. We felt a justified sense of achievement when it all went so well.

Our day wasn’t finished there however. An hour after the end of The Snowman the Band moved outside to Hampden Square in order to play for the annual Fairford Leys Carols. Fortunately it wasn’t as cold as some years, and a large crowd had turned out to sing carols with the Band. At the end the crowd sang Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer until Father Christmas arrived in his sleigh with sweets for the children.

The Mayor’s Carol Service 2023

Aylesbury Concert Band returned to St Mary’s Church on 3rd December for the annual Mayor’s Carol Service, a more cheerful occasion than the previous visit. Once again the music making was shared by the Aylesbury Consort of Voices, the church choir (director Kenton Brigden) and this time, Bedgrove Junior School choir.

Fr. Doug Zimmerman began the service by welcoming all to the church, and this was followed by the opening carol Once in Royal David’s City led by the church choir with soloist Libby Hough, and accompanied by Aylesbury Band. As well as the carols and readings from scripture the service included musical interludes from all the performers – the Band played Minor Alterations by David Lovrien (Christmas tunes re-imagined in minor keys) and White Christmas; the Aylesbury Consort of Voices sang Welcome Yule by Hubert Parry, The Coventry Carol, arranged by Kenneth Leighton, and Hodie Christus natus est by Francis Poulenc. Bedgrove Junior School choir entertained us by singing The 12 Days of Christmas.

After the final blessing from Fr. Zimmerman everyone joined in singing We Wish You a Merry Christmas, accompanied by the Band. Finally the Mayor and Councillors helped distribute mulled wine and mince pies to everyone.

Mayor’s Remembrance Service 2023

On the evening of 9th November the Band took part once more in the annual Mayor’s Remembrance service to honour all those servicemen and women who died or were injured in the two world wars, and other conflicts around the world. As well as Aylesbury Concert Band music was provided by the Aylesbury Consort of Voices and the Church choir and organist. Like last year, Aylesbury Concert Band was conducted by Brendan Gudgeon.

The Band played Nimrod from Elgar’s Enigma Variations as the Mayoral party processed up the Church. The service, led by Revd. Mother Rainah Madzorera, consisted of readings and prayers interspersed by music and hymns. The Band played Hymn to the Fallen by John Williams and Amazing Grace arranged by William Himes, accompanied the singing of The National Anthem, and rounded off the service playing Irish Tune from County Derry by Percy Grainger.

The Aylesbury Consort of Voices sang Ave Verum Corpus by William Byrd, Abendlied by Josef Rheinberger, and Like as the Hart by Judith Weir. The church choir (conductor Kenton Brigden) led the hymn singing, and also sang For the Fallen by Malcolm Archer.

At the heart of the service a Scots piper (Neil Esslemont) processed up the church playing a lament. A lone piper is such a sorrowful sound on occasions like this.

Vale Park Proms 2023

The annual Proms concert is part of Aylesbury Town Council’s “ParkLife” weekend, which takes place on the August Bank Holiday weekend every year in Vale Park, Aylesbury. This year the concert was on Sunday 27th August. Unfortunately in contrast to recent years the day was cool and showery, but this didn’t deter over a thousand people crowding into the park in the evening ready for the concert to begin. Luckily by that time the rain had moved away and the evening remained dry, though rather chilly.

The theme of the concert was Disney films, and featured music from films from the 1940s to the present day. Conductor Brendan Gudgeon chose to open the concert with Disney at the Movies, a medley of film themes arranged by John Higgins. After this came the Toccata in D minor by J.S. Bach, which was featured in Fantasia. We were pleased to welcome back tenor Lawrence Thackeray and soprano Alison Langer as soloists. Lawrence sang Can you Feel the Love Tonight and Alison sang a number from Frozen as part of the Symphonic Highlights from Frozen as arranged by Stephen Bulla, and they came together to sing A Whole New World by Alan Menken and Tim Rice. The complete programme is listed below.

The Proms concert is so called because of the “Last Night of the Proms” finale comprising Jerusalem, Fantasia on British Sea Songs (with Alison Langer singing Rule Britannia), and Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March no. 1, accompanying Land of Hope and Glory.

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

The Complete Programme

Disney at the Moviesarr. John Higgins
Toccata in D MinorJ.S. Bach, arr. Ray Farr & Kevin Lamb

When You Wish Upon a Star (with Alison Swindles, oboe solo)
Selections from May PoppinsRichard M Sherman and Robert B Sherman, arr. Ted Ricketts
The Jungle BookArr. John Moss
Can You Feel the Love Tonight (with Lawrence Thackeray) Elton John, lyrics by Tim Rice. Arr. Jay Bocook
Monsters, Inc. – “If I Didn’t Have YouRandy Newman, arr Frank Bernaerts
Pirates of the CaribbeanKlaus Badelt, arr. John Wasson
Music From the IncrediblesMichael Giacchino, arr. Jay Bocook
The AvengersAlan Silvestri, arr. Michael Brown
Symphonic Highlights from Frozen (with Alison Langer)Arr. Stephen Bulla
MoanaArr. Jay Bocook
A Whole New World (with Lawrence Thackeray and Alison Langer)Alan Menken, lyrics by Tim Rice. Arr. Takashi Hoshide
JerusalemC. Hubert H. Parry, arr. Rob Wiffin
Fantasia on British Sea SongsHenry Wood, arr. W.J. Duthoit
Rule Britannia (with Alison Langer)Thomas Arne, arr. Alan Mossford.
Pomp and Circumstance March no. 1Edward Elgar

Fairford Leys Summer Fayre

On the 8th July Aylesbury Concert Band played on the bandstand in Hampden Square, Aylesbury, for the Fairford Leys Summer Fayre. Before the covid pandemic this was an annual event for the band, but this was the first time the band had performed there since 2019. It was a warm but cloudy day, with rain showers threatened, but fortunately it stayed dry while the band was playing.

The band was conducted by Brendan Gudgeon, and played much the same programme as Stone Fête in May, including Sousa Scramble and West Side Story. Having a band at these occasions is a long-standing tradition, and adds so much to the cheerful atmosphere enjoyed by the crowd.

Stone Fête 2023

The band at Stone fête 29th May 2023

The bank holiday Monday on 29th May dawned cloudy with a blustery wind, which was a shame as the day before had been warm and sunny and would have been much nicer for the fête at Stone, near Aylesbury. As it was the sun began to appear as the band set up to play, but the wind was as strong as ever. This makes it difficult, as music has to be pegged to the stand to stop it blowing away, but then it’s impossible to turn pages quickly. Several times music escaped anyway and had to be chased before it was lost.

The band was conducted by Brendan Gudgeon, and began with Strike Up the Band by George Gershwin. Other music we played included selections from musicals such as Les Misérables and West Side Story, medleys of classic rock and pop numbers by Queen and Coldplay, familiar tunes from Disney movies, and A Grand Day Out (the “Wallace and Gromit” theme).

Though it may have been windy the fête was well attended, and featured numerous stalls, a busy tearoom in the pavilion, and a beautiful vintage carousel. Some members of the band couldn’t resist having a ride on it during the interval.

The carousel at Stone fête 29th May 2023

Aylesbury Music Centre Concert

On the evening of 25th March the Band joined forces with the Aylesbury Music Centre senior band to present a concert at the Centre’s premises. The audience of parents and friends also included several distinguished guests including Rob Butler, MP for Aylesbury, the Mayor of Aylesbury, Cllr Tim dixon and His Honour Judge Sheridan.

The Music Centre band played the first half and Aylesbury Band the second, with both bands coming together for the finale. The Music Centre band played a variety of music, including the entertaining Padstow Lifeboat by Malcolm Arnold and a challenging piece (whose title I cannot remember!) originally commissioned by an American High School Band. Aylesbury Band’s programme included an arrangement of the Beatles’ number Ticket to Ride and Country Gardens by Percy Grainger, and the finale ended with the joint bands playing The Symphonic Gershwin, an arrangement of music by George Gershwin.

As well as demonstrating the high level of musicianship fostered by the Music Centre, the teenagers themselves were excited by the experience of playing with a full size band. We hope that they will be inspired to continue playing after they leave school, whatever career path they choose. Even if only as a leisure pursuit, music is an enjoyable and rewarding pastime throughout life, and of course, as the years pass bands and orchestras will need new young talent if they are to survive and grow.

Christmas 2022

The main Christmas event for the Band was the Aylesbury Mayor’s Carol Service at St Mary’s Parish Church on 4th December. The service was led by Fr. Doug Zimmerman, rector of St Mary’s, with readings from scripture by the Mayor, Cllr. Tom Dixon, Cllr Richard Lloyd, leader of the Town Council, Judge Sheridan, Recorder of Aylesbury, Debbie Brock, High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, and other councillors and representatives of local charities. The Band was conducted by our new Director of Music, Brendan Gudgeon.

Before the service began, the Band played A Christmas Festival by Leroy Anderson, then as the Mayor’s procession entered the church Festival Fanfare by John Wasson. Other music was provided by St Mary’s Church Choir, the Aylesbury Music Centre Choir, and Bedgrove Junior School Choir. During the service Aylesbury Band played to accompany the carol singing, and some other Christmas music, including:–

  • Scherzo Variation from A Christmas Suite by David Barker
  • Ye Merry Gentlemen from Three Carols from Olde England by Duncan Stubbs.
  • Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson

    At the end the Band accompanied everyone singing We Wish You a Merry Christmas, and played Rob Wiffin’s arrangement of the Farandole from L’Arlésienne by Georges Bizet.

    Then the following Saturday, 10th December the Band returned to Fairford Leys to play for the Carol Service in Hampden Square. This event seemed a little reduced compared to some previous years, the Band simply accompanied the singing of a number of carols, led by a children’s choir on the bandstand in the square. As usual the last item was Jingle Bells, sung to let Father Christmas know where to go, until he arrived with gifts of sweets for the children.

    So ended our year of music making. Brendan has hinted at some exciting events for next year, so we look forward to 2023 with anticipation.

    Remembrance Service 2022

    Front cover of the order of service.

    In what has become an annual event the Aylesbury Town Mayor’s Remembrance Service this year took place on 10th November at St Mary’s, Aylesbury Parish Church. Aylesbury Concert Band were honoured to be invited to play an important role providing some of the music, together with the Aylesbury Consort of Voices, conductor Kelvin Turner, and St Mary’s Church Choir. The Band was conducted by our new Director of Music, Brendan Gudgeon.

    In the darkened church before the Mayoral party arrived the Band played the theme from the TV series Band of Brothers, and as the Mayor arrived and processed up the church, David of the White Rock. After the Welcome and Bidding Prayer by the rector of St Mary’s, Fr Doug Zimmerman, the congregation were accompanied by the Band in singing Jerusalem in the setting by C. Hubert Parry. Following a reading by the Mayor, Cllr Tim Dixon, the Band played Solemn Melody by Walford Davies. After another reading by L/Cpl Harrison Isom of the Buckinghamshire (The Rifles) ACF, the Aylesbury Consort of Voices sang My Soul There is a Country by Parry.

    The next reading, Unless You’ve Been a Soldier, was by Cadet Elliot Miles of the Aylesbury Sea and Royal Marine Cadets, then the Church Choir (conductor Kenton Brigden) sang View Me Lord by Richard H. Lloyd. After this Cadet Flight Sergeant Madeline Smith from the Aylesbury Air Training Corps read Our Wall by William Walker. Everyone then joined in singing Abide With Me accompanied by the organ. Following an address by Fr Doug Zimmerman the Band played Hymn to the Fallen (from the film Saving Private Ryan) by John Williams.

    Next the Aylesbury Consort of Voices performed For the Fallen, a piece specially written for this service by their conductor, Kelvin Turner. Then came the heart of the service, the Exhortation:

    They shall grow not old,
    as we that are left grow old;
    age shall not weary them,
    nor the years condemn.
    At the going down of the sun
    and in the morning,
    we will remember them.

    (read by the Vice Chairman of the Royal British Legion, Aylesbury Branch, Mr Brian Morris)

    Norman Bartlett, trumpet, sounded the Last Post, which was followed by two minutes’ silence, during which a shower of red paper symbolising poppies fell from the ceiling (and all over the Band!) before Norman sounded Reveille.

    Following prayers and a blessing by Fr Zimmerman, and the Lord’s Prayer, the Aylesbury Consort of Voices sang They are at Rest by Edward Elgar, and Aylesbury Band accompanied the congregation singing I Vow to Thee my Country by Gustav Holst and two verses of the National Anthem. The service came to an end with the Band playing Nimrod from the Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar.

    Music is a vital part of civic occasions like this, conveying so much more than words can alone. We were pleased to be able to contribute to the atmosphere of such a solemn and moving service, and play our part in the town’s remembrance of those who gave their lives in the service of our country.

    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