Waltham St. Lawrence Silver Band

News

Annual General Meeting 2024

31 Jan 2024

The band resumed rehearsals on 10th January 2024, and held its Annual General Meeting on the 31st. The report of the co-secretaries, distributed ahead of the meeting, noted that the band had performed at 19 community events in 2023, including two indoor concerts and a number of carolling runs. Three new members had joined over the year. 

Chairman Paul Chapman voiced thanks to those who had put in special effort for the benefit of the band, particularly equipment officer Gerry Townsend, who had serviced all its instruments, and MD Steve Block, who recruited deps to fill gaps for engagements on top of ensuring the band was ready to play to a high standard. Paul welcomed our new President, Isabelle Crawley-Boevey, present at the meeting, and also thanked members for their commitment. 

Treasurer Keith Penton provided some detail on the financial report that had been distributed in advance of the meeting. Though some recurring costs had risen, income from engagements and the draw club had increased, and the net loss in 2023 was much less than the previous year. 

MD Steve Block thanked members for an excellent performance at the Autumn Concert in November. He felt that progress had been made on the key objectives he had set out the previous year - Recruitment, Publicity and Unity, particularly unity, with everyone working better together to make events go well. The three recruits on baritone and cornet were welcomed, though there were still several gaps to be filled. Steve emphasized that turning out a complete band, using guest players if required, was a necessity in order to produce the full sound a good repertoire demands and which our audience enjoys. He would not be keen to adopt a "flexi-band" approach to programming. 

Topics under Any Other Business included introducing membership fees; potential free community events to replace the defunct Seniors Party; and ways to promote band concerts and increase audience numbers.

Election of committee and officers was unusual in that there were more nominees willing to stand than positions to fill! After a vote, the 2024 committee was formed as follows:

Chairman Paul Chapman
Co-Secretary Frances Wiseman
Co-Secretary Martin Coaley
Treasurer Keith Penton
Librarian Ian French
Equipment Officer  Gerrard Townsend
Members Debbie Morton Joanna Aston

Retiring committee member Clair Williams was thanked for her contribution spanning many years, particularly on the fund-raising front.

New year, new President

1 Jan 2024

Waltham St Lawrence Silver Band starts 2024 with a new honorary President, Isabelle Crawley-Boevey, who agreed last year to take over the post from Wendy Craig. Wendy originally undertook to be our President for a five-year term starting at the end of 2014, but she's a hard act to follow! 

Isabelle has been a resident of the parish of Waltham St Lawrence for more than three decades and has been a supporter of the Silver Band throughout that time. 

Her Derbyshire roots mean she is no stranger to brass band music, having watched her grandfather conduct three colliery bands. That family link was continued when one of her daughters took up the trombone and spent some years playing first the tenor and then the bass trombone with the WSL Silver Band.

Twenty years later Isabelle is delighted to be able to support the band in the capacity of President and looks forward to offering her advice and patronage as they continue to evolve and seek to fulfil their aims to attract new players and audiences alike.

Old Windsor Christmas Fayre

10 Dec 2023

The band made its regular appearance at the Old Windsor Christmas Fayre on Sunday 10th December, playing a mix of carols and longer pieces such as Sleigh Ride and It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas to entertain the crowds. Fortunately a few bandspeople were at the gazebo early, as they had to grab hold of it before it took off in the stiff breeze!

Hurst Tree Ceremony

3 Dec 2023

The carolling season commences!

The band's carolling season got off to a good start with its appearance at the Hurst Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on Sunday 3rd December. The event was well attended as usual, despite the day's heavy rain haveing ceased only shortly before it began. 

Later in the week, two carol-playing groups proceeded along The Street and Halls Lane in Waltham St Lawrence on Wednesday 6th, with plenty of householders coming out to encourage them.

Autumn Concert 2023

18 Nov 2023

Autumn Concert

The band's Autumn Concert, on the theme of "Music from the Movies", was staged at Wokingham Baptist Church on Saturday 18th November. As well as this being a new venue for the band, we also had new guest performers from the Sing for Fun choir, who contributed a set in the middle of each half. You can now watch several of the pieces on our video channel

The band's programme kicked off with Rossini's The Thieving Magpie [from A Clockwork Orange], followed by Colonel Bogey [The Bridge on the River Kwai]. A horn solo arrangement of All By Myself [from Bridget Jones's Diary] was performed by Jane Pullen. The first half closed with Darrol Barry's compilation of Great Western Themes

The second half commenced with a set of "African" film themes: Born Free, Out of Africa and The Lion King. Following the last two programme items, Lord of the Rings; The Fellowship of the Ring and Star Trek: Into Darkness, the band played the John Williams marches Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Imperial March from Star Wars as an encore.

The music was accompanied by an overhead visual display compiled by MD Steve Block, using captions, film posters and clips and also horn player Debbie Morton's photos from her recent trip to Africa.

Highlights of the choir's pieces included Can You Feel the Love Tonight from The Lion King; A Million Dreams from The Greatest Showman; A Thousand Years from The Twilight Saga; and Once Upon a December from Anastasia, which proved very popular.

The standard of both playing and singing was very good, and the acoustics of the church were very suitable, according to feedback from all present. The audience, though not quite as large as might be hoped, clealy enjoyed the whole of the evening.

Harvest festival 2023

1 Oct 2023

A small band attended the Waltham St Lawrence parish church's Harvest Festival service on 1st October. As well as providing accompaniment for the hymns, they played Satie's Gymnopedie no 1 before the service began, and Matt Kingston's arrangement of Go Down Moses on its conclusion.

REBAA ploughing match and show

24 Sep 2023

The band played two sets on a breezy Sunday morning at the Royal East Berks Agricultural Association's annual ploughing competition and show. It was held this year near Pinkney's Green, Maidenhead. With rain possible, a double-bubble of event shelters was in use, giving a better chance of everyone keeping dry, but some problems with visibility. The show was well attended, and the band received numerous compliments on its playing.

Woodley Shopping Precinct (2)

26 Aug 2023

Waltham Band made its second "Sunny Saturdays" appearance this year in Woodley town centre's shopping precinct on Bank Holiday Saturday, playing this time on the stage at the end. Somehow the message had not got through that chairs would be needed for the event! The band are very grateful to the nearby Thames Hospice and Sue Ryder charity shops, who promptly lent several from their stock, and to the Chequers pub, which provided the rest. Strangely enough, a lot of players knew just where they should obtain refreshments at the end of the gig!

As usual at this venue, there were a number of people staying on a while to listen, and quite a few spontaneous compliments from members of the public as band members were coming and going. 

Alexandra Gardens bandstand concert

13 Aug 2023

The band presented a Sunday afternoon concert on the lovely bandstand in Windsor's Alexandra Gardens on Sunday 13th August. Though a little cloudy, it was a warm day, and the wind direction must have been good, as there were relatively few noisy jets flying over. With a little help from our friends, almost all the stands were covered, and the sound was excellent.

The programme opened with a classic march, On the Quarter Deck by Kenneth J Alford, and included another of his great marches, Army of the Nile, in the second set. Highlights of the day were the Flower Duet from Delibes' Lakme, played by soprano cornet Gerry Townsend and repiano cornet Frankii Wiseman (see also below), and the opener for the second set, St Louis Blues, with virtuoso drum solos by guest percussionist Paul Craggs. Played out in public for the first time were MD Steve Block's favourite, ELO's 1970's hit Mr Blue Sky, arranged by Chrisopher Wormald; and Gavin Somerset's Albion Treasures, an unusual amalgam of several favourite British melodies.

Alexandra Gardens was full of people, as usual; many stopped to listen and were generous with their applause. The band had been given permission make a collection for charity, and this raised £114 for the Royal Berks Hospital Charity, specifically for the cardiology unit, in memory of Frankii Wiseman's father, who worked for British Airways for many years, hence the choice of the Flower Duet, well known as the classic BA advert theme. 

Youth international

9 Jul 2023

Twyford Comets play French juniors from twin town

Waltham band supplied a small group to play the French and British national anthems before kick-off of a match between junior footballers from Twyford Comets and a team from Cuincy, the French commune with which Twyford is twinned. The event took place at the King George V playing ground near Loddon Hall.

The band played Match of the Day to greet the teams as they came onto the pitch, then the Marseillaise, which was warmly applauded, and God Save The King.

Woodley Shopping Precinct

1 Jul 2023

The band took part in  Woodley town centre's Sunny Saturdays scheme on 1st July, playing a selection of music over the lunchtime period for shoppers in the town precinct. A number of people stayed for a while to listen to several numbers, and were generous with the applause.

Guards Association Garden Party

18 Jun 2023

The band provided background music for the Berkshire Grenadier Guards Association's annual garden party in Hare Hatch. The thunder and lightning threatened by weather forecasts kindly held off until the conclusion of the event, with just a sprinkle as we were packing away.

Cox Green May Fayre

13 May 2023

The absence of the sunshine that had been forecast plus a bit of a breeze made for a rather chilly outing at Cox Green's May Fayre on 13th May, nevertheless the players put on a great perfomance under the baton of former MD Derek Holland. The band played two sets, with an hour from the start of the fete at 12.00pm and a further half hour from 2.00pm. 

Coronation Party in Waltham St Lawrence

7 May 2023

The band joined in with Waltham St. Lawrence's festivities to mark King Charles III's coronation, leading the procession from the war memorial to the pound on Sunday 7th May, then playing for half an hour outside the Neville Hall to entertain people gathering for the party.

Maidenhead Waterways Fun Day

22 Apr 2023

A septet of band members took to the stage at the Maidenhead Waterways Fun Day on 22nd April, providing the last act for the day. Pieces in the 45-minute set included the Air from Handel's Water Music, Colonel Bogey, Gymnopedie and The Liberty Bell.

2023 Spring Concert

1 Apr 2023

Together with guest performers the Occasions Singers, Waltham St Lawrence Silver Band presented a Spring Concert at the Loddon Hall, Twyford, on 1st April.

The programme had no particular theme beyond "Brass and Voices", and started with a rousing rendering of Fucik's Florentiner March, as arranged by Roger Barsotti, followed by Evergreen, with Jane Lynn on flugel horn as soloist. The singers remained in front of the stage following their first set of songs for a joint number with the band, Howard Goodall's theme from The Vicar of Dibley. The first half concluded with two movements from Philip Sparke's Triptych, one of the pieces the band has been working on as a development exercise.

The second half opened with a novel presentation of Frank Wright's arrangement of the English Folk Song Suite by Vaughan Williams: with an introduction by MD Steve Block, the Occasions Singers sang excerpts from the songs included in each of the three sections, followed by the band playing that section.

The programme ended with a performance of a trilogy of numbers from Les Miserables by Claude-Michel Schönberg, arranged by Matthew Hackett, building to a finale featuring One Day More. By popular demand, there was also an encore, an arrangement for band and singers of the Glenn Miller favourite Chatanooga Choo Choo.

The concert was played before a sizeable audience, and once again showed how well the band can play when all the parts are covered. While we're grateful to the guest players who made that possible, we hope to fill the gaps with regular players of our own in the course of 2023!

View programme