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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
The first Wednesday of 2023 saw Waltham Band resume rehearsals at the Neville Hall, looking forward to a packed year of concerts, outdoor engagements and simply the pleasure of making music together. Having enjoyed working on Neverland as a development exercise, we're now challenging ourselves with Philip Sparke's Triptych and Drake Rimmer's arrangement of Rimsky-Korsakov's Sheherazade.
The committee elected at the band AGM on 25th January includes Paul Chapman as its new Chairman, and at long last a Secretary has come forward - in fact two Secretaries sharing the job! Thanks to Martin Coaley and Frankii Wiseman for that.
The band is delighted to welcome new member Jo Aston on baritone. She's enjoying picking up an instrument again after a 20-year gap, and we hope this is the first of a number of vacancies to be filled this year, including First Horn, Solo Trombone and Percussion.
We're now working hard to prepare for our Spring Concert on 1st April, where we will share the stage once again with the Occasions Singers. See you there!