A special day: St George's Day, the 400th Anniversary of William Shakespeare's death, and the great Marlow Bandfest 2016! No fewer than six wind bands played a set each at All Saints church. And what a foot-tapping time we had of it!
Click on any of the thumbnails for a larger image
First on were the Bisham Concert Band, with a set conducted by their MD, Michael Pegram. They showed what a concert band (also known as a symphonic wind band) can do when it plays with precision and real attention to detail. Their performance included a wonderful trumpet solo by Frances Pearson in an arrangement of Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez (pictured) and a blast through a whole stack of film themes in Hooray for Hollywood.
Next up, the first of the youth bands for the day. The Senior Wind Ensemble of the Chiltern Music Academy were conducted by Simon Davie (except for when he brought up a young man from the front row to take the baton!). CMA have really made a name locally since starting up in September 2014 and they lived up to their motto: "Play, Passion & Performance". The young players (pictured getting ready to play) seemed to enjoy themselves as much as the audience did!
The third band was even newer: the Borlase Brass Ensemble has only been going since the start of the academic year, organised by the pupils themselves. Also the smallest of the bands in the Fest, they gave a warm-hearted performance that included Can't buy me love, I wanna be like you and Can't take my eyes off you. Loved the tuba sound!
After the interval, we had the return of an old friend: the BB (Senior Big Band) from the HW Music Centre. When they played for us last year they were a bit short in numbers (and entirely without trombones!). Well, in the intervening twelve months they have grown in number, in experience and in quality. Under the inimitable guidance of Patrick Gazard, they gave us a blistering set which the audience thoroughly enjoyed. Highlight: Snakehips Swings Again, featuring the music of local legend Ken "Snakehips" Johnson.
Time for another change of mood, with the only true brass band of the day: the Chiltern Hills Brass. Under the baton of Gordon Davies they delivered a fine set which reflected national themes, starting with Kenneth Alford's very appropriate The Standard of St George. The 'competition' piece Mermaid of Zennor was perhaps less of a crowd-pleaser but some lovely quartet playing in the Irish Blessing set things up for a brilliant finish in the shape of Shostakovitch's Folk Festival. Not something you hear every day!
And so to the final band of the 2016 Bandfest. Opening with the RAF Fly Past and closing with a mix of the Last Post and Abide with Me, it could only be the RAF Halton Voluntary Concert Band, with Michael Pegram back at the podium. In between they gave us some fine solos and a great medley of Frank Sinatra hits. Like the whole day, there was truly something for everyone to enjoy!
Big thanks to all the bands and in particular to Martin and Maureen at All Saints' Parish Church, as well as to our generous sponsors, Dawkes Music.