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On Saturday 8th December, resplendent in Christmas jumpers, Santa hats and tinsel, we played in Loughborough precinct for charity.
We had nominated the Alzheimer’s Society as our Christmas Charity and offered to raise money by playing Christmas music and carols in Loughborough’s Carillon Prescient. We also have a raffle at our Christmas social and the proceeds go towards the chosen charity.
There are a number of challenges involved in playing in a precinct. One of these is how close the audience is to us - and people are interested and want to talk! So when one audience member commented (favourably) on Eddie’s bass clarinet and one of the bucket wielding charity collectors patted me on the shoulder and said “Hurry up, the passers-by only donate if you’re playing!” you can only take it in good part.
It’s a concert that I, personally, enjoy every year. Possibly because it’s slightly less formal than our other concerts but also because I love to see people stop and listen and sing along with the carols. And of course, we always choose a very good cause.
The music chosen included enduring favourites such as The Little Drummer Boy and Walking in the Air and a range of carols including as Hark the Herald Angels Sing and Good King Wenceslas.
Special thanks are due to Ian for braving the rain to collect chairs for us to use. He also designed a rather good poster advertising the charity.
A view from the Bandstand.
Loughborough Concert Band had the honour of being invited to play at the Service of Remembrance in Queen’s Park, commemorating the 100th Year since the signing of the Armistice Treaty at the end of the First World War. It really is a remarkable event and from the vantage point of the bandstand there is much to be seen.
We played as the congregation was coming in dressed in warm clothes and hats as the day was windy and not promising. They came in groups or singly, some pushing be-medalled veterans, some pushing children in buggies and some with toddlers riding on their shoulders.
The music chosen reflected the sadness and solemnity of the occasion and to name but a few Hymn to the Fallen, Prelude to the 49th Parallel and Chanson de Martin began our programme in suitable mood.
As well as the hymns and prayers the service included an account of how the news of peace broke on Loughborough 100 years ago, the celebrations by some and the mixed feelings inevitably held by those families who could never be the same again. It also included the moving Kohima Epitaph, inscribed to memorialise the Battle of Kohima:
When you go home
Tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow we gave our today.
The two minutes silence and the fall of poppies from the Carillon was broken by the blowing of a World War l whistle.
The band played while people went home: The British Legion March, Nimrod, WWl Medley and The Colditz March.
The wind had blown our banners and our music. We had cold feet and faces. But we were all glad to have been able to contribute to the memorial service held for a generation who did not live to take for granted, as we are able to do, the NHS, the rise of the supermarket and the music of the Beatles. They gave everything. We gave a couple of hours.
This concert took us to some new ground, St Mary’s in Melton Mowbray. The church is spectacular – full of soaring pillars topped by graceful arches. And it’s huge – like a cathedral. We had offered a concert to raise funds to support the Heart of St Mary’s re-ordering project. So much had been done – the organ (previously played by Sir Malcolm Sargent, no less) had travelled to Bideford in Devon for a complete overhaul, and the floor, which had been on several levels reached by ramps and steps, is now all one level throughout, to name but two features of the renovation. The lavatories, whether or not part of the refurbishment, won praise from one band member as the swishest ever used in a church!
The concert was a celebration of television and film music, and, bending the brief slightly, radio. The first half included medleys of Disney music and of Bond tunes. This last gave compere Eddie Pearson the chance to challenge the audience to name their favourite Bond. (Sean Connery was chosen. But audiences nearly always say that. Presumably that’s because they are faintly stunned at having the opportunity to talk to the compere!) The first half concluded with Big Country, piece hailed as a favourite by one happy audience member.
A well-earned refreshment break was followed by Galloping Home the theme from Black Beauty, a piece that was held off the top spot of all time favourite TV themes by the ever popular Hawaii 5-0. Now, there’s an idea for the band…The final piece of the evening was American Trilogy with an encore of Magnificent Men.
We had help from some very talented Deps including Sue Cornish and Christine Ranson on Clarinet, Gwyn Bailey on trumpet, Colin Pearson on drums and Steve Boyles on tuba who all stepped in for unavailable band members.
This concert took us back to a favourite venue, St Botolph’s Church, Shepshed. The concert was in aid of the Shepshed Foodbank. This began in 2014 when it was clear that some families had to walk to Loughborough and back to visit the foodbank at the Carpenter’s Arms. In the four years since then, the Shepshed Foodbank has grown. In 2014 is distributed four food packs and now in 2018 it distributes 38-45 packs of food per week.
The evening’s programme was shared with the Concorde Singers, who sang as a group and also as solo singers. Accompanied by pianist Chris Hill, their programme included traditional numbers, songs from musicals and classics from Gilbert and Sullivan. Our first flute, Yvonne Renouf, a Concorde singer as well as respected band member, sang Sting’s song Field of Gold as a solo. She had a very busy night! Audience members who spoke to me afterwards enthused about Concorde’s singing as well as the programme they had chosen.
Fortunately for me the same people were equally enthusiastic about the band’s performance! The programme incorporated rousing marches (The Thunderer,) a soothing trombone solo played by Mark Greenaway (Song for Trombone,) evocative pieces such as Galloping Home, and Big Country and the whole evening was brought to a close by American Trilogy. This, the final piece of the evening, demonstrated to all how much Katie Campsall, our drummer and percussionist, has developed in the short time she has been with us, a tribute to her hard work.
The whole evening was a beautiful celebration of music. Singers and instrumentalists played their hearts out for a cause that is dear to many. Refreshments were provided by St Botolph’s that were gratefully received by audience members as well as musicians. We are fortunate in the people we have to help us – Dave Coble rehearses and guides us and Eddie Pearson was the compere for the evening, Dave Coble and Wendy Miller set up our seats and the music stands. All we have to do is play! But it’s a real team effort – everyone plays a part in making a memorable evening. We look forward to more of them.
To be honest the weather forecast for this particular Sunday, despite the long heat wave, was not encouraging. Canny band members kept half an eye to their emails in case the worst happened and the concert was cancelled. But since no email came, we all arrived in good time and peered up at the sky like sailors.
The programme was chosen, as so often, to demonstrate the diversity of the band’s repertoire. We went from the driving march Light of Foot to the hauntingly beautiful Song for Trombone (with a solo spot from Mark Greenaway.) We played the evocative Coronation Scot, especially for the railway enthusiasts, Yesterday for those of us still gripped by Beatlemania and Sea shanties because, after all, we are an island nation.
And by then the sun had come out! The audience swelled, the ice cream seller had a queue and people ate picnics. England on a sunny Sunday with a band to listen to!
The second half of the programme began with Star Wars, moved on through Handel’s Royal Fireworks and a piece that proved very popular, Shostakovich’s Waltz Number 2. The Chilli Sauce Rag reminded us it was nearly time for tea and the whole afternoon was brought to a flamboyant end with Hootenanny.
We had spent a lovely afternoon at a beautiful location. Thank you to Newark Town Council for inviting us, the audience for being so enthusiastic and appreciative, to the presenter from Radio Newark who opened and closed the afternoon, to Eddie Pearson who compered us and to Dave Coble who planned the programme, rehearsed us ( even when we grumble!) and conducted us.
A larger than usual crowd sheltered under hedges and trees and umbrellas as they tried to get into shade on one of the hottest days of a very hot summer. And the park was busy with a Scout event and for some time we had no chairs to use in the band stand. However, we got the word that we had to collect our own and the band never blinked and went to collect them. (Except the Alto Saxophone players who sit on the bench at the back!)
The resulting hold ups did mean the audience had a longer wait than planned but were rewarded for their patience with a programme to please all listeners.
We started with the rousing Light of Foot and progressed through the lively waltz, Belle of the Ball. Other favourites included Coronation Scot, Yesterday, Sea Shanties and Star Wars. Come Fly With Me received a cheer as did Magnificent Men and Hootenanny.
With extreme heat (and hardly time for a half time ice cream!) and the chair problem, band members showed their character as well has their musical talents. We all realise that these are the snags of playing outdoors – we cannot predict the weather or how busy park staff are. But it’s always a rewarding concert as families spread rugs and listen with ice creams or a picnic. Long may it continue!
We were asked by Loughborough Lions to perform a Last Night of the Proms Concert with all the old favourites from the BBC’s Last Night. One difference was that ours was scheduled before the BBC had even started the 2018 programme!
Planning a programme for such concerts is always a challenge. Everyone in the audience is waiting for British Sea Songs, Jerusalem and Pomp and Circumstance. However, Band leader, Dave Coble, is an old hand at planning such concerts and, as ever, he rose to the challenge. He provided a programme that suited all tastes as they waited for the big moment.
The first half started with the rousing Luftwaffe March and continued with Leroy Anderson’s Belle of the Ball and Debussy’s Girl with the Flaxen Hair. A medley of Seekers music had toes tapping as did Sir Paul McCartney’s Yesterday. The first half of the evening closed with Gilbert and Sullivan’s overture to Yeoman of the Guard.
An interesting thing for band members is that occasionally, and usually due to the demands of the room we are playing in, we sit next to different players. And for a piece such as The Coronation Scot by Vivian Ellis, which features a variety of instruments as we replicate the sounds of the stream train, this can lead to some discoveries. So I can report with certainty that band was safely left at the station by Catherine Leyland on bassoon, having previously featured the euphonium (Steve Simpson.)
The second half of the evening started with Star Wars, then moved to Handel’s Royal Fireworks and Shostakovich’s Romance from The Gadfly, featuring Zoe Felton on alto saxophone. And then came the old favourites and they were greeted with flag waving, singing and cheers.
The whole evening was compered by Yvonne Renouf who doubled her role as first flute and gave us a much needed breather between pieces.
This concert was held on a beautiful evening. The trees were in blossom and the evening was warm and sunny. The organisers of the concert asked us to play in a Royal vein as this was a day of a Royal wedding, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Chelsea beat Manchester United in the FA Cup Final (not something for which we were asked to play commemorative music!) and the audience was in the right mood for a party!
And the band provided the music. We took them through a march (Luftwaffe March) and jazz classics such as Take Five, and well known favourites such as Yesterday and I Know Him so Well as well as old favourites such as the medley The Best of the Seekers.
The second half of the concert included the Royal connection: Royal Review, The Royal Fireworks and Pomp and Circumstance Number 4.
Solos were taken by Zoe Felton on Alto Saxophone, Kevin Massey on Trumpet and Steve Simpson on Euphonium. The role of compere was taken for this concert by the lead flautist, Yvonne Renouf who entertained us with such nuggets as that of Paul McCartney who apparently considered writing a song called Scrambled Egg, and changing it, for the better, to Yesterday.
Sunday 8th April 2018
Lark Hill Retirement Home
It has to be said from the outset that some band members dressed for cool outdoor weather so the warmth of the air temperature caused a few flushed faces by the interval! That was nothing, however, compared to the warmth of the reception that the Lark Hill residents afforded us.
The programme was carefully planned with a view to the residents’ likely preferences and it was certainly a hit. We could hear murmurs of pleased recognition as Eddie Pearson, our compere for the event, announced such numbers as The Best of the Seekers or Les Miserables. The band took them on a journey of flight (Luftwaffe March and Come Fly with Me,) train travel (Coronation Scot,) space-time travel (Doctor Who and Star wars) and we finished with Magnificent Men - another musical reference to flight. However, without doubt, the best received piece was Floral Dance, Mr Wogan still being held in great affection.
Band members featured in the programme were Keven Massey (trumpet) and Steve Simpson (Euphonium) on I know him so well as well as Zoe Felton for Take Five. Further special mention needs to be made of Katie Campsall, our youngest band member who played her first concert with us as our drummer.
Many members of the audience came to thank us and tell us how much they enjoyed the concert and our playing. It’s always good to get feedback and tells us were we’re getting things right. Here’s to the next one!
Saturday February 24th 2018.
The annual Passion Concert is always something we look forward to. There is usually a good audience and we have the opportunity to play whilst supporting of singers and hear other bands and choirs. And all in such a good cause!
Passion was set up in 2009 by Churches Together. Members of the group had identified a need to offer a safe place for young people, right in the heart of the community. It’s a costly enterprise. Their website says it costs around £2000 a month to keep Passion going, so an event like the concert is a very valuable fundraising source.
The evening was compered by Howard Ketton, formerly minister of the Baptist Church in Shepshed, and started with the band playing Ron Goodwin’s Luftwaffe March. We maintained the airborne theme with Come Fly with Me and then St Botolph’s Church Choir took to the stage. Some of their members commemorated the centenary of the struggle for women’s suffrage by wearing the Suffragette sash as they sang the songs of World War One.
The band played two more numbers and then were joined by Louise, a Passion soloist, who sang Somewhere from West Side Story and I’m Gonna Wash that Man Right out of my Hair from South Pacific.
We closed the first half with a medley from the hit show Les Miserables. After the interval and two opening pieces, the Methodist Church Choir sang songs from My Fair Lady, presumably all rehearsing on the street where you live!
The whole concert ended with a magnificent piece of community singing as the band and all choirs joined the audience for the Last Night of the Proms.
We were a bit depleted with the winter taking its toll on band members but we were very lucky to have such talented deps to call on. It was a fantastic evening which raised the magnificent sum of £1019.45 for Passion.
As always, December was a busy month for the band, which we attacked without a permanent drummer to hold us together. However, the show must go on, and we soldiered on through a busy period with the help from a dep drummer for the concert at St Botolph’s on 21st December.
There were two programmes of brass music for the Loughborough Baptist Church and for Greenfields. At the Baptist Church the group helped raise £400 for Barnardos and at Greenfields they helped to raise £1300 for Glebe House, a charity for which Greenfields had been fundraising throughout the year.
On Saturday 9th December the whole band played in the Carillon shopping precinct raising £221 for the band’s Christmas Charity of Cancer Research.
On 21st December the whole band presented a Concert of Christmas music at St Botolph’s Church. The programmed was shared with Serenade, the choir whose popularity was proven by their growing numbers.
The band’s contribution to the evening included Christmas music such as Christmas Festival and music from the film Polar Express. We also played carols which the audience was encouraged, by our compere Eddie Pearson, to join in with. He also mentioned that the Shepherd’s Pipe Carol was a play on words: did you get it?
The exit “silent” collection and refreshment donations added £821 to church funds.
Another year I’ll try to keep a running tally of how much we help raise for charities, both local and national, in the course of a year, just for interest. As it is, in December 2017, we raised, or helped to raise, £2742 for charity. For doing something we love. Not bad, eh?
LCB at St Botolph's Church, Shepshed