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Saturday 21st December 2019.
St Botolph’s Church, Shepshed.
Often seen as the start of Christmas, band members look forward to the Christmas Concert at St Botolphs. This year we were joined by the Loughborough Male Voice Choir, Lord Crashaw and the Mayor of Charnwood.
The varied programme gave the band a chance to show off the new role of member Maggie Styles. Maggie has put aside her beloved clarinet and has shot to fame as percussionist, giving a broader range to the percussion we can offer since there is only one drummer (Katie Campsall) and much need of percussion.
The band played a mixture of Carols – with which the congregation was encouraged to join in - and Christmas music. This last included jazz numbers, a modern piece written by local musician Dean Onyons, and pieces such as Prokovief’s Troika and from the world of film, The Polar Express.
The Loughborough Male Voice Choir also combined carols and other Christmas songs including Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – it may be your last! And the Revd Lydia Humphries gave an address in which she described the significance she finds in the humble Christmas cracker.
Since I restrain myself until this concert before I eat a mince pie, I can say that the mince pies, as always, did not disappoint and the entire evening raised £529.80 for church funds, and the raffle raised £231 for Passion.
This concluded the band’s Christmas concerts for 2019 and we look forward to the future.
It always starts with a quiet space…This annual concert is always a high point in the band’s calendar. It’s held in Loughborough’s Carillon Centre, and is always in aid of a Charity suggested by a band member and voted for by the band. This year it was for the Leicestershire Kidney Patients Association, a charity that had been of enormous support to one of our band members.
It’s a concert that calls for rigid concentration as people who know us walk past and call hello! Although there seemed fewer people out shopping than in previous years, the charity raised £130 in less than two hours. Those people who stopped to listen enjoyed our carols and selection of Christmas music. A Medieval Christmas, featuring Gaudete, Coventry Carol and In Dulce Jublio, was as well received as ever, as was All I want for Christmas is You. Busy shoppers were unable to resist the tune and danced outside Claire’s Accessories, finally joining in with We Wish You a Merry Christmas at the top of their voices.
Instruments were put away and our thoughtful Chairperson took the chairs back to the Baptist Church who kindly let us borrow them again, and the Carillon reverted to the quiet it had known before.
Raising the Roof. Concert with the Caroline Sharpe Singers for the Beacon Rotary Club.
This concert, held in Hodson Hall, Loughborough Grammar School, was held alongside the Caroline Sharpe Singers Singing for Fun group.
The Singing for Fun Group has grown since I last saw them and as their ranks have swelled, so has the quality of their sound. They were magnificent as they opened the evening with Let the river run and the band followed them with Marche Lorraine, a veritable show stopper of an opening number.
Other numbers in the evening included items where we accompanied the Singers such as a beautiful arrangement of Pacem, and the Shepherds Pipe Carol and more traditional Christmas Carols in which the audience were invited to join. They stood and sang their hearts out!
Other band pieces included Troika and Fairy Tale of New York.
The finale – Thank You for the music - was, appropriately enough, a joint piece, featuring both the Caroline Sharpe Singers and Loughborough Concert Band.
It was a lovely evening which included Christmas music and music from a wider repertoire, and marked a beautiful start to the season.
This was the annual Service of Remembrance held in Queens Park. It also marked the 75th Anniversary of the Normandy Landings and was held in a turbulent year, all sound reasons for people to come together to remember those who gave their lives in conflict. And come they did – people of Loughborough came to remember others in droves, despite the cold that made their breath smoke and caused hurried searches for hats and gloves. They came with relations and friends, several dogs, babies in buggies and the less able bodied in wheelchairs.
The Band played until the Civic Party was present and the Service began. We played quiet, thoughtful music such as Korb and Doever’s Highland Cathedral, Elgar’s Chanson de Matin and Revel’s Pavanne.
The service itself comprised readings and prayers and a tribute to those who died at the Battle of Kohima, many of whom were members of the largest multi-national volunteer force, the British Indian Army. It included the poppies that fell like tears form the Carillon Tower and ended with a blast of a World War One whistle.
After the Service, the band played more stirring pieces such as the British Legion March and Colditz March and the congregation responded to the more cheerful music. As the congregation dispersed I was reminded of the famous Kohima epitaph:
When you go home
Tell them of us and say
For your tomorrows we gave our today.
Saturday 28th September 2019.
All charities are laudable. Local charities are especially so and the concert for Shepshed Foodbank is one close to all our hearts, if only because of our close links with St Botolph’s.
The Shepshed Food bank was launched five years ago when it distributed eight parcels. Now, sad to say, there are forty-five parcels given every week. The work is done mainly by a 20 strong band of volunteers that the organiser, Glenis Wilcox, cannot thank enough. The concert raised over £600 for the foodbank and whilst it’s sad that such a charity exists, it’s far better not to waste food and it’s always a lovely concert to play in.
The band had deps to help us owing to regular band members being away and we had support on the Baritone Saxophone, the clarinet and the drums. For this last, we welcomed back Paul Boneham, an old friend of the band, who certainly put a spring in all our steps!
In addition to a varied programme from the band, we had the Caroline Sharpe Singers, resplendent in their black outfits with a bright scarf or ties. The band accompanied them on some songs, one of which was May it be. Thanks to compere Eddie Pearson, we now know this is a song written by Enya for It the Fellowship of the Ring and nothing to do with the Beatles song Let it be. Eddie certainly had his work cut out with such a varied programme and such enthusiastic performers! And it was worth it to hear how much the audience enjoyed and appreciated the playing.
Additional fund raising activity this week included a cake sale in support of Macmillan nurses on Thursday 26th September which raised £127.
Our first foray into Leicesters parks saw the band perform at Western Park bandstand. Very helpful council workers not only brought chairs for the band but also set out several rows for the audience to add to the existing park benches, and these were soon filled with an appreciative audience. They were entertained with a wide selection of pieces from traditional marches like Colonel Bogey to film and TV music including the themes to the BBC programmes Pot Black and Soldier, Soldier. Quieter pieces such as Unchained Melody and Ashokan Farewell contrasted with exciting music like Devils Galop (theme tune to Dick Barton, Special Agent on the radio) and all were introduced by our regular compere Eddie who kept the audience informed while the band wrestled with the music in rather blustery conditions. A very enjoyable afternoon and we hope to return again next year.
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.
LCB at St Botolph's Church, Shepshed