Waltham St. Lawrence Silver Band

News

Guards Association garden party

19 Jun 2022

This year's Reading Grenadiers Guards Association garden party, the first since 2019, was actually held at a hotel, the Chequers in Newbury. The organisers felt that in Platinum Jubilee Year the event was too important to risk cancellation or curtailment due to poor weather, and so indoor facilities were essential for the luncheon and speeches. The band performed two 45 minute sets of music in the hotel's garden area, just across from the open doors of the dining room (the alternative area for the band provided in case of rain fortunately proved unnecessary - just!).

Items included the essential British Grenadiers march; James Bond: On Her Majesty's Secret Service; the beautiful and moving Prayer for Ukraine; and of course the Floral Dance. At the end, party guests and band joined together for the National Anthem, followed by Jerusalem, Land of Hope and Glory and a rousing rendition of Rule Britannia, amidst much flag-waving of course.

WSL Jubilee Fest

03 Jun 2022

Waltham St Lawrence Jubilee Fest

The band played two sets at the Waltham St Lawrence Jubilee Fest event on 3rd June, held in the field behind The Bell. As well as regular favourites, Jubilee specials included James Bond: On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Jerusalem and Rule Britannia, and a fieldful of people joining in with Sweet Caroline.

Concert: a Night at the Movies

21 May 2022

Waltham band's first indoor concert since Christmas 2019, "A Night at the Movies", was held at the Loddon Hall, Twyford, on 21st May. Once again the band was joined by The Barberettes ladies' a capella choir, who provided a set in the middle of each half.

All but one of the band's numbers were film themes or pieces featured in films, opening with The Great Escape and closing with Highland Cathedral (from Four Weddings and a Funeral). The exception was Christopher Bond's Neverland, written as a test piece for the national brass band championships. It has a very filmic feel, based on the tale of Peter Pan, and basically, we love playing it. Films old and new featured - from Tara's Theme (Gone with the Wind) to West Side Story, and there was some classic menace with Jaws and Zulu. A fine duet, As Long As He Needs Me (from Oliver!) was played by Peter Yates (cornet) and Gerry Townsend (soprano cornet).
    
TikTok is the mini-movies, yes? So The Wellerman had every right to be on the Barberettes' menu, along with Skyfall, Moon River and other more typical movie numbers.
    
While Covid regulations may have been abolished, the pandemic is still with us, so there was no way the band would be squeezing onto the stage along with a full percussion section. Thus the brass was seated in front of the stage, and percussion on it, while the choir's staging was set up to the side of the band. There was a welcome problem just before the concert started: we needed to set out a dozen more chairs for the audience! It was such a pleasure to play to a full house, and the band played at its best, with an enthusiastic response.

Cox Green Fayre

14 May 2022

An afternoon at Brill Green

The band played for the first time at the Cox Green Fayre on Brill Green Open Space on 14th May. We were originally booked for this event in 2020, but it was postponed twice due to Covid. The weather was sunny and warm, there was a good attendance, and the band enjoyed the event. The playing opened with a special: the National Anthem, as local MP Theresa May unveiled a plaque by a tree planted to mark the Queen's platinum jubilee.

Birthday bash

03 Apr 2022

Massed music mates mark Steve Block's 75th

Players from Waltham and Saint Sebastian's bands and other friends from WSL musical director Steve Block's long career in music, totalling over 50 musicians, descended on the bandstand in Henley Mill Meadows on Sunday afternoon for a 45-minute performance marking his 75th birthday.

With all the cornets standing either side of the bandstand and larger instruments on it, playing commenced with a rousing rendering of Blaze Away and closed with the inevitable Floral Dance. Togetherness and intonation was remarkably good for such a large ensemble, apart from the final singing of "Happy Birthday" in at least three different keys.

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the meet-up on the bandstand, followed by a 2-hour river cruise on the Thames with tea, cakes and beer, with musical accompaniment from a brass quintet.

Annual General Meeting 2022

02 Feb 2022

The band's AGM was held in person at the Neville Hall on 2nd February, followed by a brief rehearsal.

Band chairman Jane Lynn noted in her report that the band had played out at five public engagements over the past year, and that positive comments had been received regarding the Carols Round the Pound event. We had welcomed several new players, though there had also been a few departures. It looked as if the anticipated visit to Musikverein Friesheim, our partner band in Germany, already postponed from 2021, would not go ahead, as the village had been affected by the disastrous flooding around Erftstadt at the end of the year.

In his Musical Director's report, Steve Block welcomed the return to rehearsals in person, and looked forward to adoption of a more normal layout once "social distancing" could be reduced [implemented from thebeginning of March]. Steve was looking forward to the band's first post-lockdown indoor concert on 21st May. 

Treasurer Keith Penton reported that the band had more or less broken even over the 15 months to the end of 2021 (bringing the financial year into line with the calendar year), partly thanks to a successful Christmas Crowdfunder campaign that covered some of the usual income from engagements. There were still substantial reserves in the bank.

Officers and committee were elected as follows:

Chairman Jane Lynn
Secretary VACANCY
Treasurer Keith Penton
Committee members
Ben Midgley (Equipment Officer)
Debbie Morton  
Clair Williams  
Jane Pullen  

Non-committee posts

Steve Saunders presentation

19 Dec 2021

Carols and a retirement gift

On the morning of 19th December a small group gathered on the balcony of the apartments where Steve and Margaret Saunders now live to play some carols for Steve, prior to handing him a retirement gift. Other residents were also present, and sang the carols they chose using the songsheets that were given out. Steve himself picked up a baritone and played as well.

The decanter, with an inscribed tag, marks the band's gratitude to Steve for his service of over 45 years to the band until his retirement due to ill health. In that time he mainly played cornet, but also filled gaps on bass and beritone as needed, and was for many years a very hard-working band Secretary. Margaret was also thanked for her active support for the band, especially in organizing catering for the annual seniors' meal and other events. We wish them all the very best for the future.

Christmas round-up

16 Dec 2021

What we did this Christmas

Wednesday 15th December was the band's last public engagement of 2021, playing behind the bandroom for the traditional Carols Round the Pound. It was a very mild evening, and a good crowd gathered and sang heartily, accompanied by a good turnout of the band. As well as carols the band played a few programme pieces, opening with the bouncy march Christmas Joy and the recently acquired Let it Go from Frozen. Owing to the ongoing pandemic, the event was held entirely outdoors, so no mince pies or other refreshments were served. Nevertheless, a jolly good time was had by all.

The previous Sunday, Waltham band made its regular appearance at the Old Windsor Christmas Fayre, with a mixture of carols and festive programme pieces. The event was very well attended, and plenty of people stopped to listen. The guest conductor was Tom Torley, currently studying at the Royal College of Music, who cut his performing teeth on baritone and euphonium with the band and went on to be a star performer.

The band was out on Milley Road on 1st December and Waltham Street and Halls Lane on the 8th, playing carols door to door, and got a warm reception from householders.

A new engagement on Saturday 4th December was Caversham Court Gardens Christmas tree sale by the Thames in Reading, where a nonet played carols for an hour for an appreciative audience. On 5th December, a 15-strong ensemble played for the Hurst tree-lighting ceremony, including a community carol session.

Remembrance Sunday

14 Nov 2021

Ceremonies in Waltham, Bray & Holyport

Playing the British Legion march, Waltham band led the procession in Waltham St. Lawrence and parade in Bray to the local war memorials, and played hymns, the Last Post and Reveille, and national anthem for the services. The band also played for the service in Holyport.

With last year's events having been cancelled due to the pandemic, it was something of a relief to be able to go ahead with this year's ceremonies, and that the weather did nothing to hamper them.

You can view video of the band marching in WSL on YouTube.

Harvest festival

03 Oct 2021

The band was this year able to make its traditional contribution to the Harvest Festival service at WSL Parish Church on 3rd October, accompanying the hymns in the service itself and playing Dear Lord and Father of Mankind beforehand. The congregation was seen out to The Floral Dance.

Ploughing contest

26 Sep 2021

Our first public engagement since 2019!

A full band turned out in a field in Waltham St. Lawrence on Sunday 26th September to perform the first public engagement since Christmas 2019, the Royal East Berks Agricultural Association's annual ploughing contest and show. Spread across two gazebos and an event shelter to maintain the required distancing between players, the band presented a packed one-hour programme which went down very well with the sizeable audience. Everyone enjoyed playing for the public once more, just doing what we do. Feedback from the organisers was very positive, and we already have a provisional booking for next year!

Rehearsals resume

19 May 2021

Rehearsals resume after a very long break

Taking heed of the special provisions for ensembles to meet indoors, including 2-metre spacing between players and other anti-Covid measures, on 19th May WSL band was at last able to join together for rehearsal for the first time since early March 2020. An unusual arrangement saw us forming a grid right up to the edges and corners of the hall, with the conductor standing in the doorway, wearing a visor.

While the setting brought with it difficulties hearing each other properly and keeping in time, everyone was very pleased to have the opportunity to make music together after such a long break. We played a few hymns to warm up, several other pieces including Cruella de Vil and I'll Walk with God, and rounded off the evening with Sousa's Liberty Bell.

Virtual band performances

01 May 2021

While we are currently not in a position to get together to rehearse, let alone perform in public as a band, we have used the technology to come together to make music, as you can see on our YouTube video channel. Using a backing track to synchronize their parts, members have recorded themselves at home playing a couple of pieces, and our MD Steve Block has taken the videos and compiled them into the videos. It's hard work, and we'd so much rather be back in the bandroom, but things have come together well, as you can see and hear.

Available now: Barnard Castle (march by Goff Richards)
Amparito Roca (Jaime Texidor's paso doble)
The British Legion March (Thomas Bidgood)
2020 Christmas Carols
Stääne  (Cologne Carnival song with MVF)
The Wellerman (sea shanty)
 

 

COVID-19

25 Mar 2020

Banding activity hit by virus outbreak

Rehearsals were suspended from 18th March until further notice due to COVID-19. The emergency has also meant that some of the events we looked forward to, such as the pensioners' tea part at the end of April and the Spring Concert in May, will not be able to proceed as planned. We do hope to make up for some missed events later in the year.

Meanwhile, band members are using the increased time at home to practise even more than usual, and have their parts for specific pieces that our MD would like to work on when we can safely get together once more.

Peter Williams

25 Mar 2020

We were sad to learn that our friend and former member Peter Williams passed away on 21st March. Peter played bass trombone with the band for a number of years up to 2017, when he felt at 85 that he could not longer keep up a full diary of banding commitments. He nevertheless kept up his playing with ensembles in Henley and Reading.

We will remember him fondly as a kind, considerate and very positive person, and extend our condolences to Barbara and the rest of his family.

2020 Annual General Meeting

22 Jan 2020

Waltham St. Lawrence Silver Band AGM was held at the Neville Hall on 22nd January, followed by a brief rehearsal.

The meeting received reports from the Chairman and Musical Director highlighting the successful events and musical development during 2019, including hosting German exchange partners Musikverein Friesheim for a very enjoyable weekend visit in June. The spring and autumn stage concerts had been very successful. The band had gained two new members, while one had moved away, leaving a vacancy on 2nd cornet. Financially, there had been major outlay on a pair of timpani and uniforms, while income from engagements and carolling had been good.

The band were delighted that Wendy Craig had agreed to continue as honorary President. A new committee was elected, with a continuing vacancy in the post of Secretary (see Contacts page for committee list). 

The final ballot for Bandperson of the Year saw hard-working librarian Ian French named as the winner, and the award was handed over at the conclusion of the meeting. 

2020 is here

08 Jan 2020

New year's rehearsals begin

The first rehearsal of 2020 was held on 8th January, with the band primed to continue the musical development seen over the past few years. As well as pieces that may be included in the Spring Concert on 23rd May, on the stands was Neverland, music by Christopher Bond specially commissioned as the 4th section test piece for the 2020 area qualifiers of the national championships. The band does not engage in contesting, and has no intention of doing so, but this piece, an evocation of J M Barry's book Peter Pan, struck MD Steve Block as something both worthwhile in its own right for inclusion in a future concert, and also suitable as a training exercise. Players agreed it was well worth getting their teeth into, and looked forward to continuing working on Neverland.

Christmas Concert 2019

15 Dec 2019

Another great show

Sharing the programme once again with the Barberettes, Waltham Band's Christmas Concert on 15th December was a great success, with an audience of over 100 at the Loddon Hall in Twyford joining in for several seasonal favourites. The early start at 5.30 p.m. made for a family-friendly event. Both sets of performers were on very good form, as you can see and hear if you look at the YouTube videos (see link below).

The band opened with Leroy Anderson's classic Christmas Festival, featuring the first appearance of Jingle Bells. This was followed by audience participation in the Frank Bernaerts arrangement of It's Beginning to Look Like Christmas, then Infant Holy, as featured in the New Christmas Collection and another Leroy Anderson piece, Sleigh Ride. The first set by the Barberettes included Carol of the Bells and the second appearance of Jingle Bells. The band's second set included the Philip Sparke arrangement of Howard Blake's The Snowman, together with Barberettes leader Emma Lelliot singing Walking in the Air. The first half closed with Jingle Bells again, this time in the guise of Jingle Bell Rock.

The second half opened with Eric Leidzen's march Christmas Joy (including Jingle Bells quote), followed by Sandy Smith's fun piece SantaclaustrophobiaJingle Bells contrived to get an echo in the closing bars of The Christmas Song, followed by Derek Ashmore's arrangement of none other than Jingle Bells, closing the band's first set. The Barberetttes' second-half set included the Boar's Head CarolWinter Wonderland and Feliz Navidad, and had sections of the audience up and down to participate in The Twelve Days of Christmas. The band were awarded the prize for best section for their consistently sonorous rendering of "five gold rings". 

The band's second set opened with Goff Richards's Disney Fantasy, followed by White Christmas with the audience singing along. The concert closed with everyone playing or singing We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

The evening was a great all-round success, and we look forward to our next concert, the Spring Concert on 23rd May 2020.

Click here to view the videos on the band's YouTube channel.

Old Windsor Christmas Fair

08 Dec 2019

A good-sized band put on a full programme of Christmas concert pieces and carols for the Old Windsor Christmas Fair on 8th December. Basd news: strong winds had blown away the tent put up to shelter the band. Good news: it didn't rain, though it was pretty chilly. The band were very grateful for the teas and coffees provided at the excellent Good Day Cafe during the mid-session break.

Tree night

01 Dec 2019

St Nicholas Night in Hurst

The band kicked off its Christmas carolling season in Hurst, playing in the recreation ground for the St Nicholas Night ceremony and ligthing of the village Christmas tree on Sunday 1st December.

Street carolling started along Waltham St. Lawrence Street and Hall's Lane on the Wednesday evening.

 

Remembrance Sunday 2019

10 Nov 2019

Ceremonies in Waltham, Bray and Holyport

The band attended Remembrance Sunday ceremonies in Waltham St. Lawrence, Bray and Holyport, leading the procession to the war memorial both in WSL and Bray to the sound of the British Legion March.

Follow this link to see video of the start of the march in Waltham St. Lawrence.

Harvest festival

06 Oct 2019

The band provided musical accompaniment for the Waltham St. Lawrence parish church's harvest festival service on 6th October. As well as the hymns, it performed Parry's Dear Lord and Father of Mankind as the congregation settled in, and Thomas Bidgood's march Sons of the Brave after the service.

Open Day at Richmond Fire Station

07 Sep 2019

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.

Littlewick Show

26 Aug 2019

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.

Forbury Gardens

25 Aug 2019

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.

Maidenhead amphitheatre

03 Aug 2019

A new and novel venue

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).

Cookham Riverside

13 Jul 2019

The band played for the annual garden party at Riverside nursing home in Cookham on a rather warm and sticky Saturday afternoon. An appreciative audience rewarded the performance with generous applause from the marquees on the lawn and from the terrace.

Guards Association garden party

23 Jun 2019

Sunday afternoon under the willow tree

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).

WSL Parish Fete

15 Jun 2019

Singin' in the rain

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.

German exchange visit

08 Jun 2019

A very enjoyable weekend with our partner band MVF

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.

Read the full report

Seniors Party

01 Jun 2019

Afternoon tea and concert at the Neville Hall

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.

Spring Concert 2019

04 May 2019

A great evening's entertainment

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.

Follow this link for a full report.

Henley Mill Meadows

28 Apr 2019

Sunday bandstand concert

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).

Woodley precinct

06 Apr 2019

A packed programme for the shoppers

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.