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END OF THE ROAD - Jeans' tenure at GUS comes to a close

CONCERT REVIEW - Tredegar shines at Newbury Spring Festival

SADLY MISSED - Richard Evans laid to rest

BIDDING FAREWELL - Stephen Allen says goodbye to Lancaster British Brass Band

Review: Wantage performs The Snowman

Thursday 23 December, 2021

Wantage Band – The Snowman Concert | Conductor: Paul Holland | The Beacon, Wantage | Sunday, December 12, 2021

Wantage Band took to the stage for the fourth in quick succession recently to entertain an expectant audience with some Christmas music, carols and the main event, The Snowman. To nearly sell out the venue for the concerts was a great effort from the organisation and I am sure the money raised from the weekend will be very welcome for the band’s bandroom extension project, which is under way.

The Polar Express, by Alan Silvestri, arranged by Klaas van der Woude, was a great opening piece for the concert, a well-known work that was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience and really set the scene for the afternoon of entertainment. The beautiful balance came across well and everyone was clearly enjoying the opening. The audience was encouraged at the start to get involved and sing along if they wanted, a great way to keep them engaged.

Symphonic Highlights from Frozen, arranged by Stephen Bulla, was another crowd pleaser for kids and adults alike, with lots of singing along to this one. Do you Want to Build a Snowman was especially popular, until the band arrived at Let it Go, at which point the singing really took off.

Lucas Wong, second euphonium, provided the arrangement of Somewhere in my Memory, from Home Alone, by John Williams. It was a well-thought out arrangement with plenty for the percussion and showcased some fine keyboard playing, which delighted the audience.

]So, then, to The Snowman, music by Howard Blake arranged by Philip Littlemore. The animated film came from the book by Raymond Briggs, which was first published in 1978. This 26-minute film is a Christmas staple enjoyed by many generations; some were seeing the film for the first time and others were reminiscing years gone by.

This full, film arrangement by Philip Littlemore has proven very popular for bands looking to draw a good audience over the Christmas period and add much needed funds to keep them going in the year ahead. It has also been a great opportunity to show the public the beautiful sounds of a brass band and hope they will come to future events.

The effort put in by MD Paul Holland and the band was time well spent. The film is littered with moments where music and action must be in sync and in the majority the challenge was well met. The film, of course, relies on the music to give the sense of adventure, from the excitement of the snowfall, the snowman coming to life, the trip out on the motorbike and of course, the iconic moment when they both take off and the title music starts.

The arrangement for brass band is well thought out and really works well throughout the film; you do find that you are watching the film and not noticing it is a live brass band providing the music. This must be the intention for arranger and band. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance, as did the audience.

You can’t have a Christmas concert without Jingle Bells and the audience really did get into the spirit of Christmas during this rendition of Derek Ashmore’s arrangement, despite this being the end of the concert and many of the children having been sitting for almost an hour. They clapped along to the final piece and there was a warm round of applause for the band, clearly appreciated by those in attendance.

This concert was a great success. Much of it was aimed at youngsters, with crayons and colouring in as part of the programmes on sale, but the introduction of brass and percussion to such a young audience was fantastic. Keeping the concert at an hour suited the age group well.

Over the course of four performances, more than 900 tickets were sold and the notes of congratulations to the band for the wonderful concerts have been flooding in.

Well done to the Wantage Band for putting on such a great weekend of performances, important to the band for both the income from the ticket sales and also the opportunity to introduce youngsters and their parents to the magical world of brass bands.

Rob Tompkins

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]Issue 6121 digital December 16, 2021