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 fĂȘte 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