Waltham St. Lawrence Silver Band

News

2022 Christmas round-up

31 Dec 2022

Waltham band ended the year 2022 with a busy and rewarding Christmas schedule. Small groups played carols for a Christmas tree sale in Caversham and the Hurst St Nicholas Night tree-lighting ceremony on the first December weekend, and accompanied Maidenhead Rotary Club singers collecting at Sainsbury's on 18th, 19th and 23rd December. Groups were out on two evenings performing street carolling in Milley Road, The Street and Halls Lane, and also played at two private parties.

The full band put on a concert at Loddon Hall, Twyford, and played for the Old Windsor Christmas Fayre (see separate reports) on 10th & 11th December, and led community carols in Waltham St. Lawrence at the popular Round the Pound event on 21st December.

The steady improvement in playing quality was evident at all the events. It's also clear from the reception everywhere that people are glad to be getting together and hearing live music again.

Old Windsor Christmas Fayre

11 Dec 2022

Waltham band entertained the crowds at the Old Windsor Christmas Fayre on Sunday 11th December. It was a well attended event, with many stopping to listen to the band play. The programme included some full arrangements performed at the previous evening's concert in Twyford, with traditional carols in between.

The Clerk of the Parish Council wrote to thank the band for the high quality of performance, and to provisionally book for 2023.

Christmas Concert at Loddon Hall

10 Dec 2022

The band presented its first Christmas concert since 2019 at the Loddon Hall, Twyford, on 10th December. What the audience lacked in numbers (an unfortunate clash with a World Cup football match), it made up in enthusiastic participation in singing of carols. Joining us for the first time as guest performers were the Occasions Singers, who delivered a set in each half; the band look forward to future collaboration with this excellent group.

Hurst St Nicholas Night

4 Dec 2022

The band provided a set of players for the Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Hurst's recreation ground, playing numerous carols once the gates were open, accompanying community singing of several traditional ones, and performing We Wish You a Merry Christmas after the switch-on.

Remembrance Sunday

13 Nov 2022

The band was privileged to join the community in Waltham St. Lawrence, Bray and Holyport on Remembrance Sunday to lead the parades and provide accompaniment for hymns. We marched to Slaidburn and The British Legion March in WSL, and The British Legion in Bray, and played the last section of the Legion march after the ceremony in Holyport.

The Last Post was played by Gerry Townsend in Waltham, Peter Yates in Bray and Paul Chapman in Holyport.

The band is grateful to Tony Ingles for use of his photos of the events.

Harvest festival

2 Oct 2022

The band made its traditional contribution to the Harvest Festival service at WSL Parish Church on 2nd October, accompanying the hymns in the service itself and playing Goff Richards' Light as Air beforehand. The congregation was seen out to the march Blaze Away.

REBAA ploughing match, Hare Hatch

25 Sep 2022

A full band gathered in a large field near Hare Hatch on Sunday 25th to provide music for the Royal East Berks Agricultural Association's annual ploughing match, playing two sets between 1100 and 1230. The performance was rounded off by a rendering of the Gordon Jacobs arrangement of the National Anthem to mark the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

The well attended event included displays of tractors and small traction engines, while the ploughing itself was carried out by some beautiful horses. Several people approached the musical director to express their appreciation of the band's playing.

Forbury Gardens bandstand concert

21 Aug 2022

The band played to a large and enthusiastic audience in Reading's Forbury Gardens on the afternoon of Sunday 21st August. It was very warm and sunny, but not too hot by this summer's standards. With a little help from our friends, there was a full complement on all sections, and the resulting sound was very good.

Alexandra Gardens bandstand concert

7 Aug 2022

It was jackets off from the start for a concert on the lovely Alexandra Gardens bandstand in Windsor on the afternoon of Sunday 7th August. The very hot weather meant fewer people on the (brown) grass than usual, but there were some nevertheless, and others taking advantage of the shade of the trees behind the bandstand to sit and listen.

A full band played a full programme in two sets, bracketed by Blaze Away & Highland Cathedral, Breezin' Down Broadway & The Floral Dance. Denis Wright's arrangement of West Side Story has had a revival thanks to the latest remake, and Sweet Caroline is still going strong as the 2022 Jubilee anthem. The attempt to break the drought by playing Alan Fernie's Rain was not successful, while Autumn Leaves didn't seem entirely out of place for early August.

It was a pleasure to be playing out in the park again, and the enthusiastic audience included a quartet of ladies dancing to The Wellerman and Baggy Trousers.

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

3 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

3 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.