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Sunday 21st July 2019.
This was the third time we had played at the Newark Castle Sunday Afternoon Concerts. It’s a lovely concert to play as the audience comes ready for a good time, bringing folding chairs and picnic teas. This year the audience was the largest we had seen in our visits there, at over 300 people. According to one of the organisers the largest they had seen so far this summer. They were an enthusiastic and knowledgeable audience, talking to us in the interval about our instruments and about the instruments they had played in the past: their applause rang out around the site. We were lucky to receive many comments that can best be summed up by one lady who came to the bandstand when we were packing up to say it was the best concert they had had this year and the choice of music was incredible. And as a member of Newark Town Council she attended all of them so felt she was in a position to know!
As for the concert itself, we all arrived in good time to get our music pegged down to defy the stiff breeze. The afternoon was forecast to be dry with sunny intervals and the breeze took the edge off the heat of the sun, though it did play havoc with unpegged music. Some extra early band members took advantage of the lack of queue in order to have a pre-concert ice cream before the audience had settled. As this was holiday season we were lucky enough to have talented deps to cover key instruments of euphonium, flute, oboe and clarinet and we set off to the rousing strains of Colonel Bogey. The concert was a mix of dramatic pieces (such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Coronation Scott and Colditz March) and more thoughtful pieces such as I Don’t Know how to Love him, Hallelujah and the beautiful Ashokan Farewell.
Newark has always been a happy venue for us and this year was no different – in fact it was better than ever. We are always glad to play there.
It’s a sign of success when the same venue invites you to return, but it’s a real challenge too. Obviously we wish to maintain the standard but we also need to play things that are different from the previous programme. And they ask for the old favourites of Jerusalem, Sea songs and Pomp and Circumstance so it’s nice to give them the right music to build up to the grand finale. And, once again, Dave Coble pulled off a programme that did that.
Colonel Bogey evokes memories of watching The Bridge over the River Kwai and keeping a stiff upper lip and always gives our compere, Eddie Pearson, the chance to remind us of how the title of the piece was chosen. The stirring sounds of Pirates of the Carribean get right into the blood and Black and White Rag is a tricky piece designed to get toes tapping. The first half ended on a rousing note with the William Tell Fantasia, a favourite of Katie our drummer.
The second half built tension: the audience knows what is coming and wait with song sheets in hand. Devil’s Galop is another stirring piece with a breathless run to a cliff hanger ending and Music for a Darkened Theatre (a recent favourite) set a really good contrast with the joyous Last Night of the Proms pieces
And come it did! From the first bars of No Place like Home in Sea Songs, the audience was sitting up and alert. When it came to Pomp and Circumstance they were their feet, stamping, singing and waving flags whenever the time was right.
It was a marvellous concert, rounded off by a standing ovation. Sadly for me, I had to miss playing and this report is only available due to the help of a team of people: Maggie Styles who agreed to me using her Facebook post and helped me get the atmosphere of the evening, Zoe Felton and Mark Sadler, who made notes for me. Thank you all!
In what is becoming an annual event, our concert in May was a return to All Saints’ Church Thurcaston. This event is held to raise funds for the upkeep of this beautiful church on Anstey Lane. The concert is always well received and the band members are treated as old friends!
The programme comprised of largely new pieces but did include old favourites such as Magnificent Men and Coronation Scot. One brand new piece, Black and White Rag, was introduced by Eddie Pearson our evening’s compere, as once being well known as the theme music for Pot Black, a television programme that did much to popularise the game of snooker.
The programme also included Romance from The Gadfly, with the solo taken by Zoe Felton on alto saxophone.
I spoke to audience members during the interval who were really enjoying the evening. “I wanted to dance down the aisle” one lady told me. Others loved our rendition of the William Tell Fantasia again recalling the link it has with the Lone Ranger!
Due to the time of year, it was still light when we left and band members were able to drive home by the pale yellow light of an enormous full moon. But how many were lucky enough to witness the mist rising from the River Soar, filling the road with an eerie silver light?
Afternoon Delight concert at Mountsorrel Memorial Centre, Sunday 28th April 2019.
This afternoon concert threw up more than the usual share of challenges for the band. A number of players were coming back from holiday, one couple practically calling in en route for home and others playing between doing the post travel grocery shopping and putting it all away! Another player had to race home for forgotten music and the rest of us simply had a new venue to get used to. Fortunately we had the dual rocks of Dave Coble wielding the baton and Eddie Pearson compering. So we’ll always be ok in a pub quiz if there’s a question about the origins of Colonel Bogey. (And if you weren’t listening, it has nothing to do with noses!)
We played a programme that included many new pieces including Waltz Number 2, William Tell Fantasia, National Emblem, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot and the Devil’s Galop as well as firm favourites such as The Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines. Devil’s Galop was introduced to the audience as the theme from Dick Barton, Special Agent which raised a ripple of recognition from the audience. Nothing dates an audience like the pieces they recognise!
The audience was small but very select and extremely appreciative. All the afternoon’s challenges melted away with the positive comments and whole hearted applause. As she left the car park, one lady wound down her window to say “thank you - it was superb afternoon!”
Nothing more need be said!
This annual event has evolved over the ten years that Passion has been in existence. The ecumenical project for the young people of Shepshed has, in previous years, seen choirs from all the churches that started it. This year it featured a children’s choir from Newcroft School, the Caroline Sharpe Singers and a choir from Christchurch Methodist with Chero Voce, as well as the Band.
The children’s choir upstaged all of us. The children are from the entire primary age range, some as young as four years old. They melted hearts as the little ones at the front held hands throughout their performance. And such was the enthusiasm to take solos for I’d like to Teach the World to Sing they performed a very neat dance to allow each soloist to take the front. Not unlike Band Aid when they recorded Do They Know it’s Christmas! They also joined in at every opportunity, clapping along to A Tribute to Elvis, jigging about on their chairs and performing a hand jive.
The Caroline Sharpe Singers performed two sets in typically professional style and the Methodist Choir with Chero Voce sang songs from Les Miserables.
The Band played familiar numbers as well as some new ones such as Music for a Darkened Theatre. Mark Sadler performed his first solo in Bohemian Rhapsody and our drummer Katie provided a role model for the children of Newcroft as they imitated her performance.
The whole evening was rounded off with excerpts from the Last Night of the Proms programme. The audience, encouraged by the choirs, sang their hearts out and waved flags, including a Welsh Flag, showing that this patriotic music can speak to all nations!
The whole evening raised a grand total of £1164.70 for Passion.
Saturday 22nd December, saw us back in the comfort of St Botolph’s Church, Shepshed, for the annual concert. The comfort this time included a very welcome cuppa after our warm up, before the concert even began!
For this concert we were joined by the Loughborough Male Voice Choir, under the musical direction of Chris Hill. When Chris’s many talents took him to the organ or the piano his role was ably filled by Gerry Brennon. The choir sang with the mellifluous quality we have come to enjoy from them but we had not realised they included mouth organ in their repertoire! This was included by Michael Godwin and it provided a beautiful and tuneful contrast.
In our turn we played carols for the audience to join in with and Christmas music such as the theme from Frozen, Troika by Sergei Prokofiev and Fairy Tale of New York. However, the piece that brought the hairs standing on the back of necks was Medieval Christmas, and it received many compliments from the knowledgeable audience. And rightly so as the second movement is a powerfully evocative piece of music.
As ever, we were looked after by Musical Director, Dave Coble and the evening was compered by Eddie Pearson. Refreshments were provided by Passion, Shepshed’s youth charity and we’ll be back playing in the concert for Passion early in 2019.
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.
LCB at St Botolph's Church, Shepshed