Christ Church Music in Marlow
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Marlow Festival of
Wind & Brass Music
By far our most ambitious project to date: three concerts, a jazz night and two workshops spread over three weeks of May 2015.
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The Classical Sax - Sat 9th May
Alastair Penman (saxes) and Edward Liddall (piano) got the festival off to a flying start, with a programme of great virtuosity that moved from the classic conservatoire repertoire of the 19th Century to a wide range of pieces from the 20th.
Alastair is a highly talented young player. His performance of Bozza's Aria, perhaps the best-known classical tune for the alto, showed off his mellow tone; while in Jean Matitia's Devil's Rag and Lou Cabridan (the Bumblebee) from Paule Maurice's Tableaux de Provence he gave a masterclass of technique and speed around the instrument. Equally impressive was Edward's impeccable accompaniment. The concert also included Debussy's Rapsodie, some of the Childrens' Songs by Chick Corea and concluded with the Pequena Czarda by Pedro Itturalde.
Chiltern Brass Quintet - Sun 10th May
Beauty of sound and great precision of ensemble playing were features of this concert by the CBQ. They interspersed the familiar with the less-so: Victor Ewald's Quintet No 3 was wholly new to me and a great discovery. The second half opened with a beautiful arrangement of Lauridsen's O Magnum Mysterium, played from the balcony of a darkened church, and included Alan Fernie's complex arrangement of Send in the Clowns. Setting off these slower numbers were a rumbustious American Carnival and a barnstorming Stars and Stripes Forever, both from the arranging pen of Stephen Roberts.
The only disappointment was the size of the audience, which was well below our norm. The rest of Marlow missed a fine evening's music.
The "Best Bands in the Land" - Sat 16th May
OK, it was a corny title for the day but this was a fantastic concert by four local concert, brass and big bands. Thanks to All Saints Marlow for allowing us to use their church (much bigger than our own!).
First on, the Bisham Concert Band has been working to achieve consistently higher standards under its musical director Michael Pegram, striving for precise intonation and wide dynamics. The programme included two fine solos, notably Ronnie Tredwell's performance of Pegram's own Swingtime for Clarinet. The final number was a really exciting performance of the music from Pirates of the Caribbean.
Next, the Chiltern Hills Brass under the baton of Gordon Davies showed what a range of sound an all-brass outfit can produce. Their set included Billy Strayhorn's wonderfully moody Chelsea Bridge, Ray Noble's Cherokee, a fine arrangement of the Band of Brothers music and a Kalinka which started slowly before working up to warp speed.
After an interval, the Maidenhead Concert Band, conducted by Peter Ripper, took to the stage for a set of verve and enthusiasm, let down slightly in a couple of numbers by lapses of tuning. Their final piece was a Tommy Newsom arrangement of Duke Ellington pieces, Symphonic Duke, which really got the audience's toes tapping.
The evening was rounded off by the always-outstanding Big Band from the High Wycombe Music Centre, conducted by the one and only Patrick Gazard. The band played some of his own tunes as well as well-known numbers including Fly me to the Moon. Young soloists were much in evidence and all performed magnificently. Perhaps the highlight of the set was a great version of Willow Weep for Me, the most famous jazz tune composed by a woman.
Amateur classical workshop - Sun 17th May
Twenty-one local wind musicans gathered to play together and enjoy a variety of pieces ranging from duets, through quartets, octets and more to an arrangement of the Dambusters in which all joined. One of the participants commented: "it is a long time since I enjoyed making music to such an extent", and recalled playing a couple of the pieces in a concert over half a century ago!
A special mention too should go to Jean's delicious cakes and Richard's amazing scones. A wind ensemble marches on its stomach.
All the money raised through this workshop day will be donated to Christian Aid.
Jazz Double Header - Tues 19th May
A terrific evening at the Royal British Legion, featuring two of the UK's top jazzmen: Derek Nash (saxes) and Martin Shaw (trumpet). Their contrasting styles worked well together: Derek muscular and driving, Martin more cerebral and reflective, always with a beautiful tone. As they announced to the large audience, this was their third gig together in a row "which in jazz amounts to a European tour".
Their set included Stella by Starlight, Blackbird, Secret Love, In a Mellow Tone, My Little Suede Shoes and Lullaby of the Leaves. The Frank Toms Trio was as solid as ever behind the frontmen, and a particular highlight was the debut of Patrick Gazard, sitting in on drums for one number!
Another first class Marlow Jazz Club evening, thanks to Michael Eagleton.
Jazz Improvisation Workshop - Sat 23rd May
The last event of the Festival, and an opportunity for a bunch of local amateurs to get in the groove with a bit of jazz impro!
The session was led by local tutor Jon Woodhouse, and the participants played a mix of his own compositions and a few "standards" for good measure. Some were pretty new to impro, some had been trying it out for a few years, but all were happy just to have a go and have fun as well.
In the afternoon a professional rhythm section trio joined us to give everyone the chance to play with a live band, and the workshop - and our 2015 Festival - ended with an informal concert. It's been a blast!
Gallery - classical workshop day. Click on any image for an enlargement.
Gallery - Chiltern Brass Quintet. Click on any image for an enlargement.
Gallery - Alastair Penman / Edward Liddall. Click on any image for an enlargement.
Gallery - Best Bands in the Land. Click on any image for an enlargement.
Gallery - Jazz Night. Click on any image for an enlargement.
Gallery - Jazz Impro Workshop. Click on any image for an enlargement.