Friday, December 26, 2008

Pangbourne Concert

Janette forwarded this letter from the Headteacher of Englefield Primary School.
It is lovely to know that our concert was so well received, as I think it was also very enjoyable for us, playing a good programme in such a wonderful venue.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Carol singing by tractor

On Wednesday 17 December 2008, 14 of us gathered at the The Six Bells, to clamber aboard a trailer, pulled by Marcus Allum on his tractor. We set off with a few singers, down Clay Lane, into the Strouds, Stoneyfield, Back Lane and the Victory Hall, finishing up at the Six Bells. Glynnis allowed us to play in the pub, and then provided mince pies. It was fairly chilly, but not freezing or wet, and we all had a great time! We collected for Macmillan Cancer Support, a charity close to our hearts at the moment.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pangbourne Concert with Englefield School

Two firsts for the band yesterday - a concert in the Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel just outside Pangbourne, and given in conjunction with Englefield Primary School.

The Memorial Chapel is a building within the grounds of Pangbourne College. It presents only a small face to the outside, but when you go in you realise it is like entering a ship from the bow, because the building opens up to something quite large inside.

The chapel makes a graceful ship, and with its excellent accoustics, a perfect concert venue.

The concert began with the School Choir who sang several songs including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, and The Hippopotamus - with the audience joining in the muddy bits!

Then the large and varied School Band performed Oh When the Saints, Coming Round the Mountain, and Jingle Bells.

After a short interval - and when the saxophones had found their parts - we took the stage for the second half. Pirates of the Caribbean made a resounding start, Jungle Book a pleasant contrast, while Baa Baa Black Sheep, with our conductor Robert Roscoe’s help, became an education. We even sang to the audience in Mazama - was that another first? Fortunately for the audience, the expert singers took over again when we accompanied the School Choir in Over the Rainbow and a song from Oliver!.

(Photo by Eleanor, click to enlarge).

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Children's concert

Our next concert is from 4.00pm to 5.30pm on Sunday 23 November 2008 in the Falklands Memorial Chapel, Pangbourne College.

We are teaming up with Englefield Primary School to bring you a variety of music, designed to entertain and to encourage young people to enjoy music.

The programme will include tunes from Jungle Book, Oliver, Pirates of the Carribean and Baa Baa Black Sheep (as you have never heard it before!).

Entrance is FREE, but donations will be welcomed.

Friday, September 26, 2008

2008 Annual report

Registered Charity – number 1087848

Report of the Committee for the year ended 31 July 2008

Chairman – Simon Witcomb, Secretary - Janette Macpherson, Treasurer – Fiona Benjamin, Librarian - Ann Moore, Marketing and Publicity – Alyse Ashton, Eleanor Brooks, Lynne Ellis, Mel Poyda, Jean Rollinson

We have always been fortunate with our conductors, but none more so than with Robert Roscoe, who has been with us now since September 2006. Robert is very well-known, having spent most of his career with the Berkshire Music Service. He is currently employed part-time at Chetham’s School of Music but travels back to Beenham on Friday evenings to lead us. Over the summer fete period, we were delighted to welcome guest conductors David Wirdnam and Andrew McBirnie. The band wished Andrew every success in his emigration to America.

Constitution and object
The band is a registered charity, and its constitution is available to all members. The object of the band is to advance the education of the public by raising the aesthetic taste through the performance of music.

Membership and rehearsals
We have had 41 paying members during the year. We rehearsed every Friday during term time from 7.30pm to 9.45pm in Beenham School Hall.

A copy of the accounts for the year to 31 July 2008 is attached. The band made a loss of £992. This was partly due to the higher than usual expenditure on new music and higher expenses from concerts. The balance to carry forward to 2008/09 is £2,091. It will be proposed at the AGM that subscriptions will remain the same as last year, £85 for the year or £30 per term. Being a charity, we are able to recover income tax on subscriptions.

We are building a library of music comprising arrangements of popular tunes and marches, music from shows and films, and light classical music, as well as pieces written specifically for wind band. An up to list of pieces currently in our library is available on our website.

Performances and events
23 September 2007 Cold Ash day
17 November 2007 Journey and Celebration, Corn Exchange
14 December 2007 Christmas concert
21 December 2007 Carols round the village
22/23 February 2008 Ufton Court weekend
16 March 2008 Spring concert, St Mary’s Church Thatcham with the Andover Light Orchestra
17 May 2008 St Mary’s Church, Mortimer
7 June 2008 Beenham Church
15 June 2008 Forbury Gardens, Reading
28 June 2008 Hungerford
18 July 2008 Concert on the Rec
26 July 2008 Englefield Flower Show

Main concerts
Our November 2007 concert in the Corn Exchange was titled Journey and Celebration. Although the programme was exciting and innovative, we did not manage to sell as many tickets as usual, which was disappointing.

In March we were joined by the Andover Light Orchestra for our Spring Concert in Thatcham, which was well received and we hope that we will be able to join them in the future for a return visit.

Band Tour to Belgium
30 members of the band enjoyed a bank holiday weekend in Belgium in late May. The first day the band headed to Bruges where they played in a spacious and rather exotic bandstand to a warm crowd of locals who were lingering over lunch. Despite some competition from a marching band of bagpipers, they had a lovely sunny afternoon and played brilliantly! They headed back to Ypres to give an evening performance at the Menin Gate. This was profoundly moving in all respects and players watched numerous groups of visitors pay their respects and lay the most wonderful selection of flowers and wreaths. The Band’s own specially prepared wreath was laid by Simon on behalf of the band and the Newbury British Legion. Everyone felt immensely privileged to have been able to play two hymns and be included in the ceremony.
The following morning, they headed for Bruges and despite being prepared for torrential rain, they ended up playing in glorious sunny weather and having the most lovely afternoon. Later in the evening they arrived back in Ypres where many attended the Menin Gate ceremony for a second time.
The final morning was spent sight seeing and shopping. After a quick stop at Calais for some essentials, the band finally made it home to torrential rain and got very wet unloading the bus, but a lovely weekend was had by all. It is hoped that the next tour will be in May 2010.

Marketing and publicity

This year we’ve focussed on revitalising our publicity with a view to increasing awareness about Beenham band, membership and audience sizes. Our website has been replaced by a blog (many thanks to Tim Skinner for this) which makes it quick to update and easy for members of the band to contribute their thoughts and ideas. We’ve also reinvigorated our approach to publicity by setting up a new mailing list, building contacts with local press and radio as well as websites. Members of the band have kindly agreed to manage getting posters and information out to local venue and notice boards. Lastly, we’re actively building our ‘friends’ mailing list by inviting comments after each event and gathering email addresses and quotes we can use.

Our main aim is to ensure that all members enjoy making good music, whilst meeting the objective of the charity.

Simon Witcomb – Chairman 26 September 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

AGM Friday 26 September 2008

Please come to band this Friday, brimming with ideas to discuss at the AGM.

Monday, September 15, 2008

José Marshall

José Marshall died peacefully on Sunday morning, 14 September 2008.

She joined the band as a clarinettist in March 2000, and was an active and cheerful member. She will be missed by all of us.

The funeral service will be held on Monday, 22nd September at St John the Evangelist in Newbury at 11.30. At Jo's request, if people wish to do so they may make donations to Cancer Research or if preferred, flowers may be sent. The full details of arrangements, including the name of the undertaker to whom flowers or donations may be sent will be in the Daily Telegraph on Wednesday or in the Newbury Weekly news on Thursday 18 September 2008.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Quotes from our audiences!

We all thoroughly enjoy playing - but what do our audiences think? We've started asking them for their views....

Here are a few comments from members of the audience at the concert in Mortimer St Mary's and our July outdoor concert at the Rec in Beenham.

"A lovely, varied programme, thank you for your dedication" (audience member, St Mary's, Mortimer)

"Well would've been a fantastic evening if it hadn't been for our good old english summer!! Looking forward to next year eh. You guys were brilliant!. Cathy & Brian Breslin

"Great sports playing in the rain!" Linda Beakhouse

Friday, September 5, 2008

Dates for 2008

September: 5, 12, 19, 26
October: 3, 10, 17, 24, 31
November: 7, 14, 21, 28
December: 5, 12, 19

Other dates:
Committee meeting: 10 September
Cold ASh Play Day: 21 September (10-4)
AGM: 26 September
Concert: 23 November (Falkland Memorial Chapel, Pangbourne)
Christmas meal: 6 December (Six Bells)
Carols round Beenham: 17 December
Christmas concert: 19 December

Thursday, September 4, 2008

New Start!

The first rehearsal of the new year on Friday 5 September 2008: 7.30pm in Beenham School.
There will be lots of interesting new music!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Katie's getting married

Dear Beenham Band,
It is with great pleasure that I announce that Michael and I were engaged two weeks ago. The wedding will be in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA October 19, 2008. I'll send an open invite to the band, anyone who can make it is invited! We can't wait to get to England, and I can't wait to see you all again, hopefully sometime soon.
Work continues well. I will be applying for conducting graduate programs in spring 09. Hopefully in London and Helsinki, with my favorite being the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. Will give a shout if I can pass through Beenham.
Love to all,

Monday, July 28, 2008

Englefield flower show

Our last engagement before the summer break: the Englefield flower show, held in a field behind the primary school, Andrew McBirnie conducting.

A well arranged venue for the band - we were under an awning in the middle of the field with the various stalls arranged around us in a ring: a large captive audience!

We opened with the glorious Hootenanny, and closed, upbeat, with the Dambusters.

Charlie left soon after the interval, telling us he “only had time for one” - so we played One once with him.

Warm and sultry, it was a great afternoon for the band to play, and for people to sit and listen as they supped their tea and cake, reading their bookstall haul.

Not many hats on the band this time, but as you can see, Lynn sported a fine boater.

The flower show’s competitive entries were in a marquee off to the side, and it was pleasant indeed to wander round afterwards and see the enormous gladioli, colourful sweet peas, assorted cakes, perfect vegetables, varied garden designs, and fine photography.

Decidedly warm though.

(Click on pics to enlarge).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Isabella Welfare

Hello everyone. A child is born, 2 weeks early as it turns out! After a long labour (23hrs from arriving at hospital, but “only” 14hrs from the gas & air stage), Jo gave birth to our first child at 2.41 this morning – a little girl who we have named Isabella Agnes Lesley (middle names after both grandmothers!), weighing in at 7lb 10oz.

Isabella needed a little assistance to come out from forceps as she was the wrong way round, but everything is perfect – although her head is a little bit pointy at the moment (like her dad), but she does have a lot of hair (unlike her dad). Anyway, mother and baby are doing well and here’s a photo to be going on with. Dad is currently assembling a buggy and carseat but will be going back to visit the girls very soon, and hopefully they will both come home tomorrow.

So I won't be at Englefield and will return to playing with the band in Summer 2009. Sure I will be along before then, though.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Hey - look at the link at the bottom of the left hand side, to access all the wonderful photos that the Thatcham Photography Club have taken over the last three weeks!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Band on the Rec 2008

There was a beer tent, photographers’ tent, barbeque and band for this year’s “Band on the Rec”.

As we started playing, people brought out their chairs and umbrellas and settled down to enjoy themselves.

Hootenanny made for a vibrant start, and we moved on to Oklahoma, the Dambusters march, Colonel Bogey, Les Miserables, Vaughan Williams’ Folk Song Suite, and more.

From time to time it rained and drizzled, but having started we carried on.

Ann Zebedee played her euphonium crouched under a large umbrella; Robert conducted under a broad rimmed floppy hat; and some wore coats; but others seemed oblivious to all but the music.

Perhaps we tempted fate by stopping for an interval, because soon afterwards the sky darkened, the rain set in in earnest, and the second half edged out to next year. Well, it was good while it lasted!

Meanwhile, under their brollies, our phlegmatic audience carried on eating their picnics, quaffing their beer and champagne, and playing on the swings. What’s a bit of weather?

Then it was off to the Six Bells - the favoured haunt of band members late on a Friday evening.

My music, which is hanging pegged out over the bath, seems to have dried now, although it is no longer smooth or flat. In years to come, as it undulates over someone’s music stand, each sheet will be a testament to the spirit of the Beenham Band, 2008.

Well done, Simon!

(Click on pics to enlarge)

Friday, July 18, 2008


New players
We are actively seeking players to fill the gaps in the band. Do talk to everyone you meet! We are particularly searching for percussion, trumpet, oboe and tuba. Oh! and French Horn!

Future Events
Please put these in your diary!

Major concert of 2008
We are aiming to book the Corn Exchange in spring / summer. We are looking for an audience draw and are considering several options:
A joint concert
A celebrity
A soloist
Making it a charity concert

Englefield Flower Show Saturday 26th July
Arrive 2pm – fete is 2.30 – 4.30.
Black bottoms and white tops please

Falkland Memorial Chapel Sunday 23rd November 2008 4-5.30
Charity concert in aid of Englefield School and Falkland War Memorial Chapel
Rehearsal 2pm the same day.
School first half – 30 minutes
Second half – Beenham Band 45 minutes
Finale: consider yourself joint with school

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Band on the Rec

Start time: 7.30pm
Set up: from 6pm (to help the photographers put up the Marquee)
Dress: white tops, black bottoms
Encourage your friends and family to come!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Invasion of the Bodysnappers

Now I’ve had a chance to look at my latest haul of pics from last Friday’s session at band, I notice something very strange, for I see from the photos that we were not alone.

From the hall’s corners and sides - and I can only think they must have been flitting around the hall all night - are pointed bodysnappers.

Surprisingly, no one seems to notice them!

The question is, was this the long foretold visitation from the Thatcham Photographic Club?

Had they come to snap Andrew McBirnie’s departure to the nether reaches of the USA?

One day, I guess, we will find out …

(Click on photos to enlarge).

Monday, June 30, 2008

Focus on the Saxes

The sun shone on the saxophones at Hungerford.

See just what they do during The Stripper.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Band To Tea: Hungerford Fete

This fete was almost a secret. Luckily Simon made himself useful as a mobile sign and I found my way in. Others were not so lucky, eh Daphne?!

We settled ourselves in a shady corner of the field and proceeded to entertain the crowds.

Andrew McBirnie slotted in easily to conduct us once again, and led the band briskly through the programme.

Pegs were in increasing demand as the afternoon went on, but Louise Bell came to the rescue and avoided several players getting in a flap.

The beer tent was disguised as an information desk, and perhaps for that reason most of the band took to the tea and cake tent for their refreshment: the cream and strawberry cake was best!

Others went shopping.

A knowledgeable chap with plenty of gold round his neck led the appreciation. To judge from the applause I’d say Copacabana was the audience favourite this time, but Pirates of the Caribbean, the Great Escape, and The Stripper went down well too. (More nominations welcome).

When we were thanked for nearing the end of our performance we took the hint and made our getaway ...

(Click on photos to enlarge).

Friday, June 27, 2008

Robert rehearses Gallimaufry

One of the pieces we played last week was Guy Woolfenden's Gallimaufry.

Here is Robert Roscoe wielding the baton in one of those quiet trombone sections (click on pic for larger version).

It strikes me some of the movements have slightly odd names: Inn and Out, Starts and Fits, Father and Son (and there are more).

I expect we'll perform it publicly in a few months, so those of you who aren't playing can come and hear us then.

Meanwhile, you can listen to this 1988 performance by a Gwynedd youth band.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

News from Katie Roehl

I am doing quite well - working and living in Dallas, TX. I work as the Managing Director for the Orchestra of New Spain ( Unfortunately it is all administrative and no conducting, but I'm still practicing and taking lessons! And in case you were wondering, I am still dating my beau of 1 1/2 years, Michael Fiddler. We were sweethearts at Wheaton College, and he is also in Dallas. He lives about 30 minutes away and is getting his masters degree in applied linguistics. I've attached a picture of us (a bit old, but the only one I have on my work computer. He's only 6" 6'!). I don't have a ring yet, but I expect one before the end of the year. (!)
Laura is also doing well. She moved back to Minneapolis from California to take classes at the uni close to my parents' home. Please pass on my update to the band, and invite them to email me at this address (katieroehl [AT] My life has slowed down some now, and welcome some updates!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Finding music on the internet

Sometimes I've tried using Google to look for online music recordings, but it's hard work.

Now I've found, which is amazing! It's really good at finding and playing all sorts of recordings.

I think their site gets quite busy sometimes, so if you can't get through straight away you may need to try again at a quieter time.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

St Mary's Mortimer Concert - Review

'This review was written by John Meager in "The Vine" - a newsletter of the United Mortimer Benefice.

"I said in my Notes for last month's issue that the Beenham Band concert in the St. Mary's Festival would be an exciting experience and I am glad to say I was not wrong. I realise that statement is open to personal opinion but for me it was as much as, and in some pieces more than I expected. The promise of "popular classical music" can evoke a number of differing conceptions of the fare on offer but the Band and its programme compilers and Conductor, Robert Roscoe, who has wide experience of wind ensembles, obviously knew the market as far as Mortimer is concerned. The inclusion of a name unknown, Adam Gorb, might have put some people off but unless you had read the May edition of The Vine you wouldn't have known that before arriving.

As is often the case when giving concerts, the performers are a bit strapped for rehearsal time so those in the audience who came early had a good idea what the encore would be since what they heard then did not appear in the printed programme. That programme included the names of the various instruments, which was particularly useful since I would imagine the composition of Wind Band is not generally known. At first explanation it would seem an incongruous combination with the popular conception of those in the Brass Band blowing for all they are worth alongside the more sedate woodwind instruments of the orchestra. It is not unknown, though, for woodwind to be capable of producing piercing tones and a degree of volume from a quantity of instruments, and in the Band at the concert there were twenty seven in the woodwind section against fourteen in the brass. In addition there were two outsiders on percussion and timpani who were immaculate in their timing throughout the evening, even after the interval!

The evening opened with a small selection of Sir Arthur Sullivan's compositions from the Gondoliers and The Mikado; an opportunity for the brass players to get their embouchure into trim and the woodwind to assess the competition. The popular English Folk Song Suite, written by Ralph Vaughan Williams for military band, essentially the make up of the Beenham Band, followed that opening item. The piece comprises three movements based on the folk songs Seventeen Come Sunday, My Bonny Boy and Blow Away The Morning Dew. By now the ensemble was coming together and the piece was sensitively played and well recognised with applause. Gordon Jacob is an underrated composer and his Scherzetto for a clarinet ensemble was well played, and I particularly liked the foundation of the bas clarinet. While a pupil of Ralph Vaughan Williams, and at his request, Gordon Jacob wrote an orchestral arrangement of the English Folk Song Suite. He seemed to favour the wind section of the orchestra as a considerable number of his compositions are for those instruments. He died in 1984, a month short of his 89th birthday, and during that long life had contributed to both "serious" and "light" music as well as teach at the Royal College of Music for forty-two years until retirement in 1966.

The Band is due to tour in Belgium shortly and their next item was Belgium Folk Overture by the American composer Warren Barker. It was very enthusiastically played and although I have to own up to not recognising any of the Folk Tunes it will doubtless go down well on tour. The Dvorak Slavonic Dances is standard repertoire for an orchestra and I am not quite sure whether it was a success in its arrangement. It was played with gusto and sensitivity when needed, though, and was a good final piece for the first half. I did wonder whether there was an urgent need for the interval as the last movement was taken at a breakneck speed, and given the difference in production of the sounds between Brass and Woodwind it turned out, for me, to be a bit of a rush. I would say the brass won despite their lower numbers!

The second half opened well with the first of Adam Gorb's compositions Bridgewater Breeze. The title refers to Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. Having no experience of his writing I wasn't too sure whether a modern composer's work would go down well in this concert. Here again I was pleasantly surprised since this piece had everything I would want to hear and expect from someone in charge of the School of Composition and Contemporary Music at one or our music teaching colleges. The various sections were well contrasted in rhythm and tempi and the style was what I, in my untutored mind, would refer to as popular classical but with a touch of what reminded me of Gershwin thrown in. None of that twelve-tone stuff put together by the likes of Stockhausen of whom, when asked whether he had played any of his works, Sir Thomas Beecham said "no, but I might have trodden in some". Not in the order of the programme but sensible to mention now is Adam Gorb's second piece in the night's entertainment, the most aptly titled Eine Kleine Yiddish Ragmusik. Adam is of Jewish roots and so the rhythms and note and harmonic progressions are in his makeup as second nature. The construction of the piece was excellent. It had humour and the expected rapid changes of key and tempi. Both pieces, obviously, had been well rehearsed and were played with confidence and enjoyment.

Westminster Waltz followed the first of Adam Gorb's pieces and must have been known to the majority of the audience. Its composer, Robert Farnon, was Canadian, and in the Second World War was that country's equivalent of USA's Glenn Miller. Both were in charge of their country's Allied Expeditionary Force Band, sent overseas to Europe and beyond. The piece, obviously an arrangement of the original that has strings predominating, was delightfully played and showed the brass can play waltz time as easily and smoothly as the woodwind.

The arrangement of George Gershwin's Somebody Loves Me for saxophone quartet was fabulous and fabulously played. I was out of sight of the performers so I was somewhat perturbed to hear somebody in the audience say, after the concert, that there were five saxophonists! I don't care how many there were. For me it was the highlight of the concert. There is something about the sensuousness of the instrument, whatever the register, that lends itself to that style and a warmth that comes form the caressing of notes that the saxophone is eminently capable of that made it very appealing. It started life as a song that was how the quartet (?) played it.

As will have been detected there was music from a variety of countries in this concert and the programme finished with La Cumparsita, which means "the little parade". It was written by Gerardo Matos Rodriguez, a Uruguayan composer, and is the cultural and popular anthem of that country despite Argentina trying to hi-jack it by using it as their marching music at the opening ceremony of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Uruguay were not best pleased and their Government lodged a protest! The strong tango rhythm was well interpreted with marked rise and fall, as in the dance, and produced a fitting end to the evening since all present must have known the predominant tune.

I say "end of the evening" but those early birds knew there had to be an encore and how fitting that it turned out to be The Dambusters March with the coincidence of the remembrance of that event in the Second World War current in the minds of those old enough to be alive at the time, including many in the audience. The Beenham Band is a group of gifted but essentially amateur musicians. The standard of playing on the night was extremely high and produced a thoroughly enjoyable concert, admirably and precisely conducted by Robert Roscoe. They will find appreciative audiences during their Belgian tour. "

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Calling all Band Children!

Do any of you have any children (aged 12-18) who play a brass or woodwind instrument or percussion who would like to join with the Berkshire and Hampshire Army Cadet Force Bands for their trip to Holland from 13 - 20 August? We have a few spare spaces for youngsters - cost £150 all inclusive apart from pocket money. Accommodation at barracks in Arnhem and we will be playing at Menin Gate on the way home. Tom, Tony, Charlie, Nicola (cornet) and Louise will be going. If you're interested see me at Band on Friday.

Pic: Combined Berks and Hants ACF Bands marching from Menin Gate last year (Tom is on the left) - click to enlarge.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ladies in Black

Getting ready to leave the hotel to give our first concert in Ostend. Lynn, Helen, Gay and Anne.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Stripper in the Forbury Gardens ...

It’s “Good Afternoon!” from the Forbury Gardens bandstand in Reading.

The large crowd’s loving it: early ripples of appreciation turning into great waves of applause as we romp through the second half of our performance.

Pirates of the Caribbean, The Stripper, Hootenanny, Pink Panther, the Stars and Stripes - it’s all there!

The sun is out and playing warmly on the backs of the lower brass and percussion. A gentle breeze chills some of the clarinet section who reach for extra layers. But a bright and cheerful day.

And our guest conductor, David Wirdnam, is in good form, patient and cheerful, as he guides us along with a little wry humour, getting back into the saddle with his old band. Nice to see you again, David!

Not too many beers in the interval, but quite a few ice creams. Some of the audience come over to say hello, and Tony sells one enthusiast the idea of joining the Brock Barracks cadet band when she is 12.

A very fine man even tells us how good it is to hear trombones who are not afraid to play out!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Future performances in 2008

July 26: Englefield Flower Show from 2.00pm to 4.00pm
Nov 23: Children's concert 4.00pm in the Falkland Chapel, Pangbourne

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Two Trombones

Richard and Chris in St Mary's church, Mortimer.

A before and after picture of fatherhood ...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Taking paternity leave...

A few band members already know about this, but I thought I'd bosh it up on the blog. My wife, Jo, is due to give birth to our first child on the 6th of August (my patchy rehearsal attendance is now explained! So much DIY to do), so I will be taking some "paternity leave" from the band for the Winter and Spring terms to deal with this new bundle of joy.

I hope to return for the Summer Term of 2009, when I will celebrate (?) 10 years of playing with Beenham Band - when I joined there were about 10 of us in total. I did go AWOL between July 2002 and September 2004, but I was working abroad so I did have an excuse...I hope that "getting back in the saddle" will be easier than I found it then...

I'm sure that the trombones will cope with a 25% drop in output manfully - perhaps Daphne can retire her earplugs too!


Monday, June 9, 2008

pictures from Belgium

playing at Menin Gate

Playing at Menin Gate

Lynne and Kay with wreath

Lynn and Kaye with wreath

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Playing in the open

I really enjoyed playing at the fête on Saturday, but I'd forgotten the 'pleasures' of playing outside - including clothes-pegs.

Is there a more "professional" solution to keeping the music from flying everywhere while we're playing, and still be able to play? I've seen wind-irons which the R.A.F.A. band use, but these seem to make life just as difficult for fast turns as clothes-pegs. Anyone got any bright ideas?


Friday, June 6, 2008

Love in the band!

We shall soon be celebrating two weddings:

Marcus Allum (our official fixer) with Tessa
Matt Butcher (erstwhile trombonist and conductor) with Jen (erstwhile cornettist)

Belgium Tour

The Band had a great time in Belgium.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Beenham Church Open Day

We are playing for Beenham Church's Open Day on Saturday 6 June 2008, from 2pm - 4pm. Do come along to hear us!

Tom Verrier

I met with Tom Verrier and his family on Tuesday 3 June 2008. His wife, Lisa, is charming, and his children, Katherine (7) and Christopher (5) were exceptional. We went to Windsor Castle and Legoland. He was on his way from China to Italy. He has strong links with wind bands in Valencia, so that may be a tour option?

Belgian Tour

23rd - 26th May 2008 the Band went on tour to Belgium, staying at Ypres and playing at the Menin Gate, Ostende and Brugge.

Beenham Church on Saturday

There will be a concert by the band on Saturday at Beenham Church, 2pm - 4pm.

See you there!

June Newsletter

Band Tour

Well we think you enjoyed it! Positive feedback has been rolling in, and we formally declare the Belgium Tour a success!

Many thanks to Lynne for the phenomenal amount of energy she put in that enabled the rest of us to have such a good time!

Lynne has given feedback to the tour company, and has started making enquiries about a future tour. We are probably looking at going for the same weekend next year, so are investigating options. We have enquired about train travel as well as coaches this time. There would be an option to go in the summer if band members would prefer this— please let Lynne know your feelings. At the moment the impression we have is that by going over the bank holiday weekend people can lose the minimum amount of time off work, and it doesn’t interfere with family holidays in August.

Save now!

Anyone who thinks they might like to go on tour next year can start saving straight away so that you don’t notice a big bill! If you use internet banking it is really easy to set up a standing order, or otherwise pop into your branch and do it in person. We suggest saving £50 a month from now. At the moment this is fully refundable if you decide not to go, and you will only be asked to make a commitment once we know where we are going and when! Any interest will be used to offset the tour costs. Details from Fiona.

Photo request

Do you have any good photos of the tour? We are going to find a way to put them on the website for all to see. Watch this space for instructions!

Dates for your diary
  • Saturday 7th June Beenham Church Fete. Turn up 1.30. Parking in field beyond church.
  • 15th June Forbury Gardens Reading – parking in retail park opposite eg Toys R Us. 3-4.30.
  • 28th June Hungerford – 12.30 – 2.30
  • 18th July Band on the rec – 7.30 – 9.30
  • 26th Englefield Flower Show 2-4
  • November concert to be confirmed.
  • 5th September first rehearsal for the autumn term
  • 21st September Cold Ash play day 10-4 bring lunch
  • 31st October half term – we are still rehearsing
  • 6th December Dinner at 6 Bells
  • 17th December carol singing round the village
  • Friday 19th Christmas concert

Monday, April 7, 2008

History of Beenham Band

The first Beenham Band is thought to have started over 100 years ago in 1890 and, according to Parish records, the original instruments were purchased by contributions from the members and by subscriptions from friends. The Bandmaster at the time, William Wigmore, appears as a Methodist trustee in 1891. An 1892 article in the Newbury Weekly News, reporting the Seven Sisters Show, states that:

'At two o'clock the Beenham Brass Band marched on to the ground playing an inspiring march and this opened the proceedings'.
During the Second World War, the band, along with many other social activities, had to cease. However, it started up again in 1946-47, primarily by the bass player George Gilbert, using the instruments from the original band.

It seems to have been particularly active in the 1950s and on Remembrance Day would start at the hall and march down to the church for the service. The 'Last Post' would be played and then they would all march back.

A picture of the Beenham Band, thought to date from 1948-49, showing that ladies too played an important part.

This one appears to be taking place in Theale in the 1950s with the houses in Englefield Road visible in the background. Leading the band is John Watts (standing).

From then, until as recently as 1963, Beenham Band would play at many of the village fetes and functions, as well as taking part in local and regional competitions.

One memorable occasion, in a competition at Cholsey, Beenham Band won the prize for the best march tune, beating the favourites Tadley into second place. They would also go around the various big houses in the village at Christmas time playing to raise money for the uniform fund.
A photograph, probably taken in the early 1950s shows the members of the Beenham Band marching through Theale, with the Crown Public House in the background. Leading the march is John Watts, followed by Fred Nurton (bass), Fred Allum (euphonium), Bert Churchill (1st trombone) and George Gilbert (bass).
On another occasion the band went to Westminster Central Hall to take part in a performance of mass bands being conducted by Harry Mortimer, a famous band leader at that time.

The instruments were all made from brass, hence the name, although some were plated with silver. The leader of the band for many years was John Watts, seen striding in front of the band in many of the accompanying photographs. Another popular character was William 'Bill' Brazier who played the big drum. Rumour has it that when he became too old to carry the drum himself he would co-opt a young lad to carry the drum while Bill strode along behind banging it!

At the height of its popularity, the band had more than 30 members actively taking part. Gradually however the members dispersed, some going to other bands in the area such as Tadley and Pangbourne, which still have their bands today. Sadly, Beenham no longer has a Brass Band but the picture below shows the band and its members in its heyday.

The present Beenham Band was formed in 1999 as part of the village's millennium celebrations, with the help of a grant from the Parish Council. From very modest beginnings (there were six performers taking part in the first concert in Beenham Church), it has grown to its present size of 35 members.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Photos from Ufton Court 2008

Here are a few photos from Ufton Court.

First Tom doing some impromptu conducting in the Great Hall.

Next playing penny whistle games in the Green Room.

Janette appealing to the gods for inspiration:

Fiona unable to control herself and falling out of her chair laughing:

And Charlie mesmerising Dave:

Next morning it was a fried breakfast, with ingredients smuggled in:

Then we had a new conductor ...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

February Newsletter


We are very pleased to be working with Andy Smets this term and thank him for all the work he is putting in to choosing the repertoire.

Dates for Your Diary
  • May 17th St Mary’s Mortimer
  • Beenham Church Saturday 7th June
  • Concert on the Rec 18th July 7.30 – 9.30
  • Englefield Flower Show 26th July 2-4pm
Friends of the Band

If there is anyone you know who would like to go on the Friends email list please send Eleanor their address at


7.30 16th March, St Mary’s Church Thatcham.

5pm church open

Please arrive no later than 5.30pm for 5.45 rehearsal.

6.45 clear stage

First half Andover Light Orchestra.

There will be simple refreshments (just wine and soft drinks) in the interval.

There will not be a raffle on this occasion.

Ticket prices: £8, £6 OAPs and children free

Dress code: ladies all black. Men black trousers, jackets and bow ties, white shirts.


Please note that due to a booking of the school hall, on 15th Feb we will be in the Victory Hall – just outside school. Parking is in the school playground, but please do not arrive before 7.15pm.


We are travelling by coach through the Channel Tunnel. We do not have details of venues yet but plans are now well advanced. We have to pay the remainder of the money soon so please pay Fiona the balance by 1st March. We can still take additional players – see Lynne Ellis.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Welcome to Beenham Band

Combining the power of brass and percussion with a full woodwind and sax section, Beenham Band is one of Berkshire's premiere amateur concert bands.

Beenham band is delighted to welcome to you to its new home on the world wide web. Here you can keep up to date with the latest news from the band, get vital information about where the band will be perfoming next or learn about the history of the band. Why not get in touch to add yourself to our mailing list or read about which pieces the band is perfecting right now?

Use the menu on the left to navigate through the site. Enjoy you visit!

Be sure to join us for Journey & Celebration, the band's 2007 Corn Exchange Concert. Find out more, click here!

Find out about the band's last concert at St Mary's Thatcham with an exclusive interview with soloist Caroline Woodhouse!

Band Plays in Newbury

Last month the band played all night in a Guinness Book of Records record attempt.

They were almost successful in beating the Tooting Brass Ensemble's 13 hour 15 minute non-stop toot set on 21st January 1892, but unfortunately managed only 13 hours and 12 minutes.

Oh well, try again soon!