Waltham St. Lawrence Silver Band

2013 News Archive

20 Dec 2013

2013 Carolling

Here we come a-wassailing, again

The band's carolling season is now well under way, having started on 8th December with appearances at Maidenhead Farmers' Market and Hurst Tree Night. Carolling around the village began on 9th December and will conclude on 23rd, when the routes postponed from 19th December due to bad weather will be covered.

Carols Round the Pound on 18th December became Carols at Neville Hall, like last year, due to stormy weather. Despite the nasty conditions, a good crowd turned out to sing carols with the band, followed by raffle and refreshments. Santa's sleigh was fortunately not blown off course, and he appeared with an instrument case stuffed with goodies for the younger members of the audience.

We look forward to a new event at the Shurlock Inn this evening, with carol singing in a heated marquee following the carolling in Shurlock Street and the Straight Mile.

27 Nov 2013

Rehearsal plus

An ophicleide and a pop-up book!

The rehearsal on 27th November had a couple of unusual features on top of the usual kind of thing:


John Shaw (1st Baritone) brought along his ophicleide, dating from the first half of the 19th century. Not only brought it along, but played it. And not just a scale or two, but a proper piece, a contemporary concerto for ophicleide, arranged by himself with band accompaniment. Very nice it was, too.


Our second special event was the unveiling of a pop-up book. For several months, undergraduate illustration student Katie Briggs has been joining us at rehearsals to develop her project, illustrating the activities of a local organization. She's been showing us her sketchbooks, photos and an animation along the way, and on this evening she demonstrated her final piece for her assessment, a pop-up children's book "All about brass bands", which includes photos, drawings and handwritten text about brass bands, together with quotes from band members about their enjoyment of banding.

Katie's book is an impressive piece of work, and we hope it gets the top grade it deserves. We've all enjoyed Katie's company during her project, and the box of chocs she gave us was also very nice. We hope she follows up on her pledge to learn an instrument at some point in the future.

10 Nov 2013

Remembrance Sunday

Parades in WSL, Bray and Holyport

Band on the marchAs usual, the band accompanied Remembrance Sunday parades in Waltham St. Lawrence, Bray and Holyport on 10th November. Several weeks' practice at march drill in the bandroom paid off, and the quality of both sound and deportment was very good during the parades in Waltham and Bray. Thanks for the instruction, Paul!

The band provided accompaniment for hymns at each ceremony, and played static at Holyport while the Royal Legion marched to the war memorial. Afterwards we were treated to a substantial cooked lunch at the George, courtesy of the British Legion.

(Extra photos and brief videos are avalable on the band's Facebook group page)

06 Oct 2013

Harvest Festival

Waltham St. Lawrence Parish Church

*As well as accompaniment for the hymns during the harvest festival service at WSL Parish Church on 6th October, the band played All in the April Evening and Bells Across the Meadow as introductory pieces, and trumpet voluntaries at the beginning and end of the service.

20 Sep 2013

Joan Regan

A true performer

We were sad to hear that singer Joan Regan has passed away. Joan was a friend of the band, and performed with us at several concerts, including summer high teas at the Brinsworth House retirement home. Our MD Derek Holland has long been an ardent fan of hers.

Joan was a very talented peformer and a very strong character, as evidenced by her success in overcoming disability to put on a good show. We shall miss her.

Click on the picture for photos of Joan performing with the band in April and August 2008.

Click here to read The Guardian's obituary.

Joan Regan, 19 January 1928 - 12 September 2013.

07 Sep 2013

Aero Club day

Band plays for club day at White Waltham airfield

*The weather forecast was for sun and showers but, although dark clouds threatened intermittently, the sun always burst through and the thousands ofvisitors enjoyed a dry afternoon.

The band set up in front of the Members Enclosure and sometimes competed with the PA commentary, but both maintained their output as the brisk breeze carried the sound westwards. The band programme, spiced with music recalling Those Magnificent Men, Thunderbirds, etc., was paused midway for the clacking and jangling of the Morris Men then, as we resumed the show, our ears picked up the PA announcement that a scheduled flypast by the Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight had been downsized to a single aircraft, and that its arrival was imminent.

What happened next was the stuff of fantasy, for as we stuck up our closing number, The Dambusters March, the distant hum of a Spitfire rose in a crescendo as the blue aircraft swooped low overhead with a deep, throaty burble to stir the soul, precisely scored to remain in the circuit until we reached the rousing climax so that when we were at last able to tear our eyes away from the music, it was gone. Cue applause, band rise, and curtain. But how brilliant.

01 Sep 2013

Forbury Bandstand

A lovely afternoon in the park

*A warm and bright summery afternoon in Reading's Forbury Gardens saw a good-sized audience gather in the park to listen to WSL band's 2013 bandstand concert. It's just great that despite the regime of spending cuts, the local authority still appreciates the value of presenting local culture in this way.

Opening with Frank Hughes's jaunty march The Red Musketeer, the programme included a good mix of classics and lighter pieces, including novelties such as Napoleon Galop and The Fairy on the Clock. Solos were performed by Ben Eade (cornet, Georgia on my Mind) and euphonium duet Tom Torley and Natalie Harvey (Bizet's Deep Inside the Temple). The first set concluded with the rousing Dambusters march, while the second opened with the even more rousing Introduction to Act 3 of Lohengrin.

The concert closed with a pre-echo of the last night of the Proms, with Gordon Langford's Fantasy on British Sea Songs followed by the Grand March from Aida. This very pleasant afternoon was clearly enjoyed by both band and public.

26 Aug 2013

Littlewick Show

A sunny Band Holiday Monday

*It was a warm and sunny afternoon for the 2013 Littlewick Show on August Band Holiday, where the band played two sets between 2.30 and 4.30 p.m. A sizeable audience took advantage of the chairs and the shade around the edge of the band tent and in the adjoining refreshments tent, and their enjoyment of the music was evident. A number of guest players helped to fill gaps caused by holidays, and we had a full band making a very good sound.

17 Aug 2013

Hurst Horticultural Society

Centennial Annual Show 2013

A warm and bright afternoon also featured a few moderately heavy showers for the Hurst Horticultural Society's 100th annual show at the village halls on Saturday 17th August. The band were glad to have the shelter of a spacious tent.

WSL band provided three half-hour sets in the course of the afternoon, and the well-balanced performance was evidently enjoyed by those attending the show. The event has even led to an enquiry whether we could play for a wedding next year!

Being the middle of the holiday season, several regular players were unavailable. Among the guests filling the gaps the band were very pleased to welcome John Lawes, the conductor in the years 1975-88, on trombone.

30 Jun 2013

Second appearance

Another concert on Henley bandstand

Boats on the ThamesOn a much warmer and sunnier afternoon than ealier in the month, WSL band played its second concert on Henley bandstand on 30th June. There were plenty of people picnicking in Mill Meadows, some of them staying near the bandstand throughout.

The afternoon's programme included some rare classics like Balfe's Bohemian Girl and Sherman Myers's The Fairy on the Clock, as well as the more familiar Tancredi by Rossini and Schubert's Marche Militaire. The band's principal euphonium Tom Torley was joined by guest player Andy King for the duet Deep Inside the Sacred Temple, and the trombone section strutted its stuff with Hot Toddy.

23 Jun 2013

WSL Parish fete

What no rain?

Band playing in tentFor the first time in a few years, the WSL village fete passed off without rain on Sunday 23rd June. The band erected its event shelter anyway, just in case. A small but balanced band played two sets during the afternoon.

16 Jun 2013

Henley Bandstand

Going down to the river

BandstandWaltham band played the first of two engagements in the Henley bandstand summer concert season on 16th June. This was its first appearance there since the bandstand was built some years ago. Despite the damp start, there were enough people stopping to listen, and numbers increased as the weather gradually brightened. Soloists Tom Torley (euphonium, playing Czardas), Ben Eade (cornet, The Nightingale) and Ian French (trombone, Stardust) all coped well with gusts of wind blowing their music about. Fortunately Strauss's Thunder and Lightning Polka passed off without invoking any natural accompaniment.

01 Jun 2013

MERL village fete

Sumer Is Icumen In (at last)

*A beautifully warm and sunny afternoon was in evidence on 1st June for the well attended "village fete" at Reading University's Museum of English Rural Life [MERL], where WSL band played two 45-minute sets to warm applause. It was an enjoyable afternoon's playing in a very pleasant environment.

24 May 2013

German visit

A very enjoyable reunion with our friends in Friesheim

Late on Monday 27th May, Waltham band players returned from their latest exchange visit to Friesheim, Germany, having set off on Friday 24th.

In the course of the weekend the band played a joint concert in Lechenich with the Musikverein Friesheim [MVF], the German concert band with which WSL band is partnered. MVF is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. As well as making music at a joint rehearsal and the concert, band members enjoyed a tour of volcanic features of the South Eifel hills, and a culture-rich treasure hunt in Friesheim and surrounding districts, followed by a barbecue and party games.

A more detailed report on the visit will be forthcoming as a feature page later, along with more photos; meanwhile, some pictures from the concert are in the 2013 gallery.

The trip was not without its problems - the coach company we were booked with went bankrupt, and the local pub (and social focal point) in Friesheim had a fire in the upper storey the night we arrived. But thanks to the hard work put into organizing it all by Jane Lynn from WSL and Roland, Robbi, Stefan and others on the German side, everything turned out fine, and a great time was had by all. We look forward to welcoming MVF to Berkshire in 2015.

15 May 2013

White Waltham Concert

Annual concert supporting Project Rainbow

*In place of the regular Wednesday evening rehearsal, on 15th May the band assembled at St. Mary's church in White Waltham to present a concert in support of the church's Project Rainbow. This is the third year such a concert has been staged, and as before it was well attended and warmly received.

The concert was shared with the local choral group Charvil Voices, who performed a set of six songs as the second half of the first half. The first half of the first half featured Monte's Czardas, played by Tom Torley as a euphonium solo.

The bicentenaries of Wagner and Verdi were marked in the second half, which opened with Denis Wright's arrangement of the introduction to Act III of Lohengrin, followed by William Rimmer's arrangement of the overture to Nabucco.  Ian French performed Hoagy Carmichael's Stardust as a trombone solo, and deputy conductor Keith Penton took over the baton to present two movements from Vaughan Williams's English Folk Songs suite.

The concert was rounded off with a sucession of lively numbers: an arrangement of Sweet Georgia Brown by Goff Richards; Rossini's tarantella La Danza; Strauss's Thunder and Lightning Polka; and Alan Fernie's Glenn Miller Collection.

20 Apr 2013

Woodley Shopping Precinct

Year's outdoor season begins

*Having booked the Woodley Precinct's "pavilion" for shelter from the icy blast, it was almost inevitable that the weather would turn out sunny and warm for the first regular outdoor engagement of the 2013 season on 20th April.

The band had a good turnout, with no deputy players required, and made a very good sound with a well rehearsed programme. And it appears some of the audience thought so, too: the band's double CD, recorded last year to mark the 125th anniversary, was on display, and we sold four copies of it!

09 Mar 2013

OAP dinner

Annual dinner for Waltham old folks at Neville Hall

*Continuing the tradition of over 50 years, Waltham St. Lawrence Silver Band treated local old folks to a concert and meal at the Neville Hall on the afternoon of Saturday 9th March. The event is funded by collections during Christmas carolling round the streets of the parish.

Band veterans Tony and Alison Evans and Geoff Cleeton were guests of honour (and also contributed to running the event, with Geoff applying his skills to the sound and lighting).

The band presented a 45-minute programme of light music while the audience had tea and biscuits. Meanwhile Margaret Saunders and her fellow volunteer chefs were preparing a three-course roast-beef dinner in the kitchen, which was served up to the guests by band members on conclusion of the concert.

Following coffee and biscuits, the entertainment rounded off with a performance by a professional singer.

This annual concert does a lot to cement relations between the band and the local community. It calls for a lot of hard work preparing and clearing up, and we are grateful to helpers Margaret, Carol, Frances and Clair for their assistance, as well as the players who helped stage the event.

22 Feb 2013

Robert Hart memorial

First engagement of the year

The first enagagement of 2013, on 22nd February, was an unusual one. The band was playing for the rededication of the grave of Sir Robert Hart (1835-1911), who did much to foster relations with China during his career as first a consular offical and then Inspector-General of the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs for 48 years.

As well as his diplomatic work, Sir Robert had the distinction of introducing brass band music to China. He is buried at Bisham church, where WSL band played a program of music including a number of pieces from his own programmes, plus others of the period. He was rather fond of Sousa, it seems.

It was a bitterly cold day, so the bulk of the program was played inside the church, but the band joined the gathering in the graveyard for the main ceremony, playing Deep Harmony at its conclusion.