The yard at Richmond fire station was packed with fire engines, stalls and people for the Open Day on Saturday 7th September, and the band provided background music through the afternoon, taking a break while demonstrations of cutting into cars and rescuing pyjama-clad people from the practice tower went on. Firefighter Ben was getting a bit warm playing tuba in his protective gear and helmet, but he was on duty, after all. Fortunately there wasn't any call-out.
Another afternoon of searing heat saw the band play its regular spot at the Littlewick Show in Knowl Hill. All spare chairs were taken by an audience sitting in quite close to share the shade of the band tent. Though the event is on a lesser scale since the move to Knowl Hill, it still attracts quite a crowd, who seem to like hearing the band.
There was a large audience on the benches and the grass at Reading's Forbury Gardens on the Bank Holiday Sunday, despite the very hot weather (30 degrees). For the band, most had a reasonable portion of shade as the afternoon progressed, but it was sticky enough for all to dispense not only with jackets, but also with ties.
Under the baton of deputy conductor Coleen Pullen, the band presented a wide-ranging and substantial programme. receiving its premiere in the repetoire was Alan Fernies's arrangement of Cy Oliver's big band standard Opus One. Other longer numbers included Pirates of the Caribbean and Jacob de Haan's Oregon. Solists were Gerry Townsend (soprano), with Summertime, and Jane Pullen (tenor horn) with Over the Rainbow.
The band played its first open-air concert at the Maidenhead amphitheatre, a relatively new feature of the town, on Saturday 3rd August. An interesting venue, tucked away next to the library and a canal, with a grass floor and broad steps for the audience to sit on, and a small degree of reverberation. The programme included Jacob de Haan's Oregon, and featured solos played by Gerry Townsend (soprano cornet, Misty) and Jane Pullen (tenor horn, Over the Rainbow).
The band once again provided background music for the Grenadier Guards Association's annual garden party, held this year near Yattendon. Under the baton of deputy conductor Coleen Pullen, a full programme of music was presented, including a purpose-written arrangement of The British Grenadiers, and solo performances of Over the Rainbow (Jane Pullen, tenor horn), Can't Take my Eyes Off You (Ben Bingham, trombone), Misty (Gerry Townsend, soprano cornet) and Georgia on my Mind (Peter Yates, cornet).
The showers forecast for 3.00 unfortunately arrived early on the day of Waltham St. Lawrence parish fete at the Shurlock Row cricket grounds: the band played from the opening of the event at 1.00. Fortunately the event shelter almost provided full cover, with some players at the edges donning rain jackets as the wind and rain came and went.
The band played a packed programme for a reasonably well attended fete, despite the weather, including Over the Rainbow (Jane Pullen playing the horn solo) and Singin in the Rain.
It was standing room only on the bandstand at Windsor Alexandra Gardens on Sunday 9th June, as Waltham St. Lawrence Silver Band and German exchange partners Musikverein Friesheim (MVF) came together for the final set of their joint concert. This was the musical high point of the visit by MVF, who arrived in Waltham late afternoon on Saturday 8th June and left on the morning of Tuesday 11th.
The band laid on its traditional meal and concert for local pensioners at the Neville Hall on 1st June, treating guests to a selection of sandwiches, pastries and cakes along with drinks.
A full concert programme was presented by the band, in two 45-minutes sessions with a break during which players also enjoyed refreshments. This change from the routine whereby the band would play a brief concert, with other entertainers following on, met with approval from the audience. Pieces played included several solos: Misty, with Gerry Townsend on soprano cornet; Georgia on my Mind, with Peter Yates on cornet; and Can't Take My Eyes Off You, played on trombone by Ben Bingham.
Together with the popular local ladies' a capella vocal group The Barbarettes, Waltham St Lawrence Silver Band put on a great show pegged to May the Fourth - Star Wars Day - at Twyford's Loddon Hall on 4th May. The hall was full, and the audience joined in with a number of pieces. The first half was devoted to items with some connection to "space", opening with Star Wars and closing with Star Trek Into Darkness. The second half programme was a varied mix, including the tone-poem Oregon, an engaging band arrangement of songs from Mamma Mia, the Musical, and It's Raining Men, performed together by band a choir.
A fairly chilly afternoon kept the crowds away from Henley Mill Meadows on this Sunday afternoon in April, nevertheless, there was a small audience for a full concert programme. Several of the more substantial pieces, such as Star Trek Into Darkness, Mamma Mia (the musical) and Oregon, would feature in the upcoming spring concert in Twyford, and there were also regular bandstand numbers such as Light as Air, Singin' in the Rain and Tomado de la Mano. The band is grateful to Graham Yates, who passed on his set of close-ups of band members playing that afternoon (click here or on the inset picture to view them).
Waltham band's 2019 engagement season kicked off on Saturday 6th April with a two-hour middle-of-the-day and far from middle-of-the-road concert on the stage in Woodley town centre's shopping precinct. A full band previewed some of the pieces on the programme for the May 4th concert at Loddon Hall, including the challenging Star Trek - Into Darkness and the long Abba medley Mamma Mia. Other music included a rousing rendition of It's Raining Men, Philip Sparke's arrangement of Music by John Miles, and Jacob de Haan's tone poem Oregon. You can see and hear part of the latter on the band's Facebook page.
The programme consisted of 16 items altogether. The band sounded good, and drew an enthusiastic audience.
The band's AGM was held at Neville Hall on 23rd January. Click here to view a full report in the Features section.
The meetings was also balloted on Bandperson of the Year, which went to Marie Wharmby. No surprise there: Marie has put in a tremendous performance as Secretary over the past nine months.
Waltham St. Lawrence Silver Band resumes regular Wednesday evening rehearsals on 9th January following a successful 2018 Christmas season and with every prospect of a very good year to come. The AGM is due on 23rd January, and details of the various reports will be presented on this site. Meanwhile, a few highlights from 2018 they are certain to cover:
Quality and range of playing progressed steadily over 2018 under the direction of our new MD, Steve Block
We were very glad to welcome new players Frances and Kit on cornet, and to welcome back Dave Johnson as a regular member. Let’s hope we can fill the vacancy on baritone in 2019.
The band put on two very successful concerts in May and October
Events already scheduled for 2019:
We will be staging a spring concert at Loddon Hall on 4th May
Our German exchange partners Musikverein Friesheim will be visiting on 8th-10th June. The visit will include a joint afternoon concert on the bandstand at Alexandra Gardens, Windsor, on 9th June.
A 20-strong band turned out at Old Windsor on 9th December to provide Christmas music for the local Christmas Fair in St Luke's Road. The public were treated to a full programme of Christmas pieces, including Sleigh Ride, Troika and Santclaustrophobia, with traditional carols between the longer arrangements .
A dozen-strong band gathered on Hurst playing fields on 2nd December to accompany the choir and crowds in carol-singing before the lighting up of the village Christmas tree at 5.30.
In keeping with long-standing tradition, WSL band attended Remembrance Day ceremonies in Waltham St. Lawrence, Bray and Holyport on the centenary of the 1918 Armistice, providing music for the processions and hymns and the Last Post and Reveille bugle calls before and after the two-minute silence.
For the first time for several years, the band marched at the head of the Waltham procession, having regained the capability for this thanks to the recent recruitment of a number of younger and fitter players. Starting, stopping and other aspects of deportment were not at all bad, thanks to a special practice session under an experienced sergeant-major the preceding Wednesday.
The band are grateful to the local community and British Legion, both for the opportunity to contribute to the ceremonies, and for the beer and sandwiches at the George in Holyport afterwards.
Waltham Band’s autumn concert, titled ‘War and Peace’ and loosely tied to the centenary of the 1918 Armistice, was staged at Waingels College on 27th October, with a supporting programme by singers of the Wokingham Choral Academy. This was the band’s second concert under the baton of Steve Block, and was performed before a fair-sized audience who were happy to sing along to a number of the pieces based on popular songs, using the supplied song-sheet.View full report.