Following a successful run-out of the Area test piece in Brighton in February 2020, Saints were looking forward to putting the finishing touches to the piece ahead of the Areas in Stevenage in March. Unfortunately, before this was possible, the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK.
Along with every other band in the country, all rehearsing and performing became impossible due to the lockdown restrictions. Ultimately, the Area contest for the London and Southern Counties region was cancelled and the band has not been able to rehearse together since.
However, this does not mean the band have been completely inactive during this period. With a lot of help from the band’s previous MD Nigel Howard and his video-editing skills, Saints have put together two ‘distance’ performances.
The first saw each band member record their part to the popular Alan Fernie arrangement of ‘Baggy Trousers’. This has always proved a hit with the crowd whenever we have performed it and therefore was an obvious choice for our first foray into the world of ‘virtual banding’. A link to the final recording of all 31 different parts being mixed together being found on Saints’ YouTube channel here.
With Wokingham Armed Forces Day sadly being cancelled for 2020, again due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Saints were approached by Wokingham Town Council to prepare a further virtual band performance of a march. Armed Forces Day is an event at which Saints regularly perform and are proud to lead the parade through the town centre, so we were happy to oblige, choosing to record a march close to the band’s heart. ‘The Wokingham March’, arranged by the band’s second cornet player and former Bandmaster Steve Block, proved a popular choice and again the final recording can be found on our YouTube channel here.
Whilst bands across the country are now slowly being able to return to some semblance of normality and beginning to rehearse again (albeit with a considerable number or restrictions and required safety precautions) Saints have taken the decision not to return to regular rehearsals at present, but very much look forward to doing so as soon as we can safely.
This year Saints are doing something very different with our annual Chrismas Concert, namely a very special showing of the classic Christmas film The Snowman with the band playing the full soundtrack to the movie. This will be followed by more festive favourites and carols.
So bring your friends, family and snowmen to the magical event of the season on the 14th of December at Wokingham Baptist Church, with the concert starting at 6pm.
Tickets are £10 for adults and £5 for under 18s, available at:
https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/stsebswokingham or by calling 07724 073 307.
Due to the relocation of existing members of the band, we are seeking the following players to join our friendly band:
We are well-established within the second section and are proud of our friendly and sociable yet hardworking and ambitious band.
The band has a sensible and varied schedule of concerts and contests throughout the year. As the town band for Wokingham, we also undertake a number of civic duties including participation in the annual Winter Carnival and fireworks parade.
Any players are of course always welcome to come and play – just get in touch first to check we are rehearsing to avoid a wasted trip!
Following on from the success of last year’s Reading Festival of Brass, Saints were delighted to be invited once again by the Reading Spring Gardens Band to perform at this year’s event. Not resting on its laurels, the event had also grown in size from last year, with the addition of the Tadley Concert Brass band. This year’s concert moved to a new venue at the Michael Malnick Centre Theatre at Leighton Park School Reading, in order to accommodate both more musicians and spectators!
The concert itself was tinged with some sadness, due to the passing of Reading Spring Gardens’ conductor David Ruel in the days leading up to it. David was well-known and a friend to many in the brass-banding community across the country. We hope that the concert served as a fitting tribute to his memory and we were proud to be able to have been a part of this.
As with last year’s Reading Festival of Brass, this was a concert with a twist. While the purpose as always was to present an entertaining programme of music, the concert also had a slight contesting element to it. While no prizes were on offer, editor of 4BarsRest Iwan Fox was in attendance, marking each band on their performance, which had to fulfil a certain number of criteria. Each band was required to perform an overture, a march, a solo, and hymn, and then a final item of each band’s own choosing.
Performing first, Saints opened the concert with the overture Henry the Fifth by Ralph Vaughn Williams. As our solo item, Saints’ Flugel player Michael Bird performed Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s One Day, described by the composer as music which follows in the footsteps of Pat Methany’s music, who is famous for his easy listening jazz styles. Our march number came from the catalogue of Salvation Army music, Star Lake by Eric Ball, as did our hymn requirement, which was fulfilled by Darren Shaw’s Guardian of My Soul – an arrangement which combines the composer’s own song I Worship You with the well-known hymn O Jesus, I have Promised, both of which contain the lyric Guardian of my Soul. Our own-choice finale returned to the pen of Paul Lovatt-Cooper, with standing ranks of cornet and trombone players performing Horizons.
After being entertained by both Tadley Concert Brass and Reading Spring Gardens, we returned to the stage for a massed band finale of all three bands together performing Roy Newsome’s march Belmont and The Lost Chord.
The Festival was once again a great success and we were delighted to be a part of it. We look forward to similar success at the Reading Festival of Brass 2020!
Saints were extremely honoured to be asked to provide music during the funeral service for the honorary alderman of Wokingham, Mr Bob Wyatt.
The funeral of the former mayor of Wokingham took place in All Saints Church, preceded by a funeral procession which paid tribute to one of his great passions in life: the Austin Seven motorcar.
Before and after the service, the band played a number of military and army marches, again reflecting another of Mr Wyatt’s great interests. During the service, Saints provided the music to Jerusalem, Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, and I Vow to Thee My Country. The Last Post was also played by the band’s cornet player and Wokingham Town Council’s honorary bugler, Damon Emes.
Saints have always been very proud to support the people and community of Wokingham and always take great pride in performing our civic duties. It was a privilege to be able to play our part in celebrating the life of Bob Wyatt – a man who had done so much for the town of Wokingham for so long.
On 24 February 2019, Saints made the relatively short trip around the M25 to The Hawth Theatre in Crawley for the SCABA Spring Contest. This has become a yearly event in the Saints calendar as the ideal opportunity to give the Regional test piece a run-out under competitive conditions away from the safety of the bandroom!
Competing in the Second Section, Saints performed the march Praise by Wilfred Heaton as our own choice march number, before this year’s Regional Test Piece Rise of the Phoenix by Darrol Barry as our major work. Unsurprisingly, every other band performed the same test piece, giving us the chance to see where we stood a few weeks before the Regional Finals themselves.
Once all bands had performed and the adjudicator, Melvin White, had tallied his scores, we were delighted to find out that we had placed in second overall – meaning that we got to take home exactly the same trophy we won the year before!
Thank you again to SCABA for running another successful Spring Contest – it is an invaluable opportunity for us to practice the Regional piece under contest conditions.
Onwards and upwards to Stevenage in a few weeks for the Regional Finals!
It has been another successful Christmas season for Saints, with concerts and carols being performed both locally and live via satellite to as far as Australia!
On 27th November 2018, the band again led the Christmas parade around the town at the Wokingham Winter Carnival. The town centre was packed with people as the procession weaved its way around the town before concluding in the centre. This year we were also extremely excited to support the young musicians of the Berkshire Maestros Bracknell and Wokingham Music Centre, who led the crowds in the lead up to the turning-on of the town’s Christmas lights. The musical future of the town is very much in safe hands!
On 1st December 2018, the band performed as Day 1 of the Wokingham Living Advent Calendar at Wokingham Town Hall. Supporting the Thames Valley Hospice, the advent calendar showcases local artists each day leading up to Christmas. This year our performance was broadcast live via Facebook to a number of viewers down under, making it a truly international event!
Finally, in-between numerous carolling appearances at local supermarkets, housing estates and shopping centres, we performed our own Christmas concert on 14th December 2018 at Wokingham Town Hall. Playing to another packed house, the band performed a varied concert of carols (as selected by followers of the band’s Facebook and Twitter pages in the lead-up to the concert), well-known Christmas numbers, as well as some non-Christmas music also.
The highlight for many was the band’s performance of Philip Harper’s The Greatest Storyteller, a piece of work arranged for the Cory Band’s Brass in Concert entertainment programme in 2017 to commemorate the life of Roald Dahl. The piece comprises three tunes from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda, and gave a number of soloists from the band a chance to shine. Soprano Cornet Llewellyn Wells featured in the title number from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, while our euphonium duo of Rosie Saxton and Mark Lowe performed together during Pure Imagination. Finally, Principle Cornet George Sandford led the finale of When I Grow Up.
Finally, our Christmas concert gave us the chance to reward particular members of the band for their hard work and contribution to Saints over the course of the previous year. This year, 2nd Baritone player and Contest Secretary Leighton Cornelius was voted Bandsman of the Year by the rest of the band, while Bb Bass Josh Moorhouse was awarded the MD’s Musician of the Year award, with both being richly deserved.
Like hundreds of other bands up and down the country, Saints once again were proud to do our bit for Remembrance Sunday, remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
This year, in addition to supporting Remembrance Sunday itself, Saints performed a Remembrance-inspired concert at the Market in Wokingham town centre on 27 October 2018. On an extremely cold Saturday morning, the band performed a number of pieces to a large number of appreciative shoppers, comprising a number of band classics as well as more poignant military marches and hymns.
On Remembrance Sunday itself, Saints first led the march at Wargrave before returning to Wokingham town centre to lead the procession to the All Saints Church. It was amazing to see the streets of the town packed with people paying their respects and we were again immensely privileged to be able to play our part in this.