The latest visit in the regular exchange between Waltham St. Lawrence Silver Band and our German partners Musikveirein Friesheim (MVF), from Erfstadt, near Cologne, took place between 16th and 19th July 2010. Though the time was short, the bands packed in a lot of activity, both musical and social, and a great time was had by all.
Highlight of the weekend was the wedding between WSL chairman Jane Lynn and her firefighter fiance and regular band supporter Ben Midgley. Not many people have a full brass band to play at their wedding, even fewer have two complete bands in the church and at the reception, and just to ensure this was a unique occasion, an overture was premiered and the bride played a flugel solo as well!
As well as performing at the wedding, the bands put on a joint concert together with the tribute band Taking Care of Elvis at Twyford's Loddon Hall on Sunday evening. The show was sold out, a rare experience for most bands.
MVF arrived on the Friday afternoon, having travelled all day by coach and ferry, and after a snack and brief rest with their hosts for the weekend, some 50 players plus a few family and friends somehow managed to pack themselves into the Neville Hall in Waltham for a joint rehearsal. The bride-to-be was lured away to the pub while MVF rehearsed a special surprise for the wedding on Saturday. Following the practice, the bands enjoyed a buffet supper at the Shurlock Inn.
On Saturday the German visitors toured Windsor in the morning, going straight to the church in Easthampstead, Bracknell, for the wedding ceremony in the afternoon. Both bands played. Before the service Waltham, at the back of the church, performed pieces chosen by Jane, with Trumpet Voluntary to herald the bride's arrival. The bands accompanied one hymn each during the service, then MVF, at the front, played Highland Cathedral while the newly-weds signed the register, and WSL played High on a Hill at the back. The two bands took it in turn to play repeat strains of Mendelsohn's Wedding March, coming together for the finale, as the bride and groom walked down the aisle, Jane in her wedding dress and Ben in his fireman's uniform.
The bands then went on to St Anne's Manor in Wokingham for the reception. MVF were first to put on a half-hour programme, which included a very special piece. Jane and Ben were presented with a box - and what was in the box? A score, for the Trumptonshire Overture, composed by MVF deputy conductor, Martin Kirchharz! Aware that the couple are fans of the classic TV programme (and have a Trumptonshire plaque outside their house), Martin created this very special gift on the basis of themes from Camberwick Green and Trumpton for the band to present on the big day. Gobsmacked would be a good description of Jane's reaction; we have the photo to prove it (but we won't publish it unless we have to). The bands then played Hootenanny together, followed by a programme by WSL which included flugel solo I Know Why, played perfectly by the bride in her wedding dress. The evening continued with a buffet and disco.
On Sunday, the visitors spent the morning and early afternoon in London, returning for the evening concert at the Loddon Hall in Twyford. This is a good-sized hall with a proper stage that plays very nicely. Tables were laid out as well as chairs, and a ploughman's supper was served in the course of the evening as the two bands presented their programmes in turn. The bar also did some very good business, though the visitors didn't manage to make it run out of beer as they had done at the previous day's reception. The final performance was by the tribute band led by by Waltham St. Lawrence's very own Elvis, Ben Portsmouth, with space cleared at the front of the auditorium for people to jive, shimmy and jitterbug ad lib.
On Monday morning, it was time for farewells at the Shurlock Inn in Shurlock Row as our guests set off for the long journey home. There's no doubt that everybody had a wonderful weekend, and we look forward to the next exchange, with WSL due to visit Germany in 2012.
Auf Wiedersehen, liebe Freunde!