February 2012In Thomas Hardy's novel, Under the Greenwood Tree, the village band and choir of Mellstock set off on Christmas Eve, 140 years ago, to serenade the villagers, but had a rather mixed reception. Likewise, our Band, duly licensed, played carols door-to-door on the 19th and 21st December and in local pubs on Christmas Eve. The weather was kind and it was a great pleasure to meet people, who gave us good wishes, reminiscences of the Band in the past and requests, such as, "Old Mrs ... is in her nineties, can't leave the house and would love you to play for her", or, " Come in and play, we're having a party." We are most grateful for all your generosity, as we collected over six hundred pounds, which will go a long way towards meeting our running costs and keeping us blowing for your pleasure through the year. We were also hosted by the Old Boot Inn at Stanford Dingley on 22nd - not a spare inch of room, real ale and a real fire in the grate. Then on the 24th, a four-hour stint at Sainsburys, Calcot, where the foyer has the best acoustics for miles around.
Our first engagement of the New Year was as the guests of Pangbourne Rotary Club on 4 February at their Party Time for senior citizens in the Rosewood Hall of the Working Mens' Club. This is an annual pleasure for us and, welcomed by Master of Ceremonies, Rotarian Marius Hopley, we took our usual trip down memory lane (in reverse time travel for half the Band). In the first half, we played nostalgic tunes, such as Georgia on my mind, soloed by our Principal Cornet, Ania Koscia, Singin' in the rain and My way. In the second half we led a lusty sing-song to tunes fromThe Sound of Music, Elvis Presley, the Black and White Minstrels and Vera Lynn. As soon as everyone was safely home (having been cautioned not to frighten the teenagers on the way), it started snowing.
Our newly-launched Pangbourne All-Comers' Band, which meets between 6.30 and 7.45 pm on Wednesdays of Term Time in the Village Hall, gave its first concert at the Pangbourne Hall of Sound event on 16 December. It is open to beginners and reborn musicians of all ages on brass and woodwind for a termly subscription of ten pounds. In many cases, we can loan a suitable instrument.
In 2003, like many amateur music groups, we were concerned that provisions in the Licensing Bill before Parliament, would have put undue restraints on the availability of venues for performances of live music and so we petitioned the then Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and local MPs. We are pleased to learn that a private Member's bill, The Live Music Bill, is now ready for Royal Assent. This will remove much of the bureaucracy created by the Licensing Act of 2003 for small performances of live music.
Our next events will be a weekend workshop for brass players, led by the renowned composer, Derek Broadbent, on 14-15 April and our entry for the annual own choice contest of the Southern Counties Amateur Bands' Association at The Hawth, Crawley on 29 April, at which we will play Wilfred Heaton's Celestial Prospect.
Our Golden Jubilee year, 2012, will be celebrated with a grand concert and reunion evening in Bradfield College's concert hall on Saturday, 27 October. We shall be writing to invite all past players and supporters. Meanwhile, watch this space for details and do not hesitate to contact us for more information.
Added by stewart February 25, 2012 (7:35PM)
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