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.
A good-sized band turned out on Saturday 8th September for the West London Aero Club's members' day at White Waltham aerodrome.
Playing under canvas near the entrance to the show, the band played a packed hour's programme of music both for those enjoying tea on the lawn and for quite a few who stood nearby to listen. Pieces emphasized the "air" theme, including Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines and Aces High, and the concert concluded with The Dambusters and the RAF Marchpast.
The band was ably led by deputy conductor Coleen Pullen, and a good time was had by all.
For the first time this summer, it was jackets on throughout at the Littlewick Show, held at Bottle Meadow near Knowl Hill. Though cloudy, with a stiff breeze to test players' page-turning skills, it was reasonably warm, and there was no threat of rain, even when the band played The Rains of Castamere (Game of Thrones theme), Alan Fernie's Brass for Africa piece Rain and Singin' in the Rain one after the other.
Though the stalls and crowds were somewhat sparse compared with some previous years, there were still plenty of people about, and a good number chose to use the chairs provided to form an appreciative audience.
The band were delighted to help Steve Saunders demolish his 70th anniversary birthday cake in the tea break at rehearsal on 1st August. Steve has been a stalwart bandsman for many decades, including service as band secretary, playing cornet, bass or baritone as needed, and we hope he'll be with us for many years to come.
A couple of weeks later, the band were treated to brownies by cornet player Frances Wiseman, our latest recruit and most junior member, on her birthday.
The band once more played for residents of Cookham Riverside nursing home and their guests at their annual garden party on Sunday 8th July. The blazing hot weather continued, and the band were grateful for the cooler environment of a lime tree at the edge of the lawns. Taking the baton was deputy conductor Coleen Pullen, as the musical director was still away on holiday.
A somewhat overcast day and some strong gusts of wind meant it was a good thing the band's event shelter was well pegged down at the Waltham St. Lawrence parish fete at Shurlock Row cricket ground on Saturday 16th June. The band set up in front of the pavilion, and played two sets starting from the opening of the show at 1.00 p.m. There was a good turnout, and the full programme of music was well received by a small but enthusiastic audience.
Buddy Holly and Vera Lynn joined Gene Kelly and picknicking teddy bears for high tea at the Neville Hall, Waltham St. Lawrence, on Saturday 9th June at the Waltham St. Lawrence Silver Band’s annual party for pensioners of the village.
John Lawes, a former musical director of the band, stood in as conductor for the day, presenting a programme that included a medley of Buddy Holly hits, The Teddy Bears’ Picnic and Singin’ in the Rain.
The band showed off its varied talents with solo Can’t Take my Eyes Off You, played by trombonist Ben Bingham, and an arrangement of the Bee Gees’ How Deep is Your Love, composed by regular conductor Steve Block. Meanwhile the audience were plied with sandwiches, cakes, tea and stronger drinks by a dedicated team of helpers.
The band’s set rounded off with Keep Smiling Through, a selection of Vera Lynn songs, ending appropriately enough with We’ll Meet Again. Then it was time for the band to sit for its own sandwiches while the entertainment continued with an hour of songs from Lea Lyle and her combo on keyboard, bass and drum.
The band has been staging this event, funded by collections from Christmas carolling, for over 50 years. It was thoroughly enjoyed by all concerned, and we look forward to keeping up the tradition in future.
The summer season's first outdoor engagement was in Woodley town centre on Saturday 12th May, playing over lunchtime to entertain the shoppers. The weather was fair, and though the centre was not very busy, quite a few people stopped to listen, and some even to dance a little to Singin' in the Rain and a medley of Buddy Holley hits.
Waltham Band made a great start to the 2018 playing season with a Spring Concert at Loddon Hall, Twyford, on 5th May. Together with special guests The Barbarettes, the popular local ladies’ barber-shop ensemble, an audience of over 100 was treated to a wide range of light and lively music. Weeks of intensive rehearsal under the band’s new musical director Steve Block paid off, and the quality of playing was noted by quite a few people.
Band pieces included the Madness hit Baggy Trousers, Singin’ in the Rain and themes from Pirates of the Caribbean. Two pieces, a theme from Game of Thrones and the Bee Gees’ How Deep is Your Love, were arrangements written by members of the band. With the help of lyrics sheets given out on arrival, the audience were invited to join in with a selection of Buddy Holly songs and Teddy Bears’ Picnic, for which a variety of teddy bears emerged on stage. Some younger members of the audience were observed joining in with “heads, shoulders, knees and toes” when There’s a Tavern in the Town came up in Gordon Langford’s West Country Fantasy.
The audience made it quite clear that they enjoyed the whole programme, and regular supporters of the band said this was the best they’d ever heard it play. And the band themselves agree!
The new year began for the band with rehearsal on 3rd January under our new conductor, Steve Block. This and subsequent rehearsals have been enjoyed by all; Steve’s combination of energy, enthusiasm and attention to detail goes down well with the band. It is hoped to organize a “bright and breezy” local concert in late spring, and new arrivals in the practice pad include Bohemian Rhapsody, Light Cavalry and Baggy Trousers, as well as Nimrod (not quite so bouncy).
The shortage of cornet players continues, and we were very sad to learn that our band secretary and baritone player Chris Bennett has had to retire due to illness.
The band AGM was held on 24th January, and wonder of wonders, was completed by 9.00 p.m., so there was time for a decent blow afterwards. You can read a full account of the AGM in the Features section.
All in all it has been a dynamic and encouraging start to 2018. If we can fill the vacancies on solo cornet and baritone, we will really be able to shine this year.