Finishing off 2012 in style, the St. Sebastian Wokingham Band performed their Annual Christmas concert at the Wokingham Theatre in aid of the Wokingham Cancer Care Trust. MD Lee Woodward promised the audience an eclectic mix of music that would not fail to get the meanest Scrooge into the festive spirit and even a world premiere!
Philip Sparke’s ‘A Christmas Herald’ was an effective opener grabbing the attention of all sat in the audience, proving that all were awake, the band continued in traditional style with the old favourite, Leroy Anderson’s ‘A Christmas Festival Overture’. Christmas could now officially begin. Providing a slight respite, it was now the turn of the audience with community carols, Hark the Herald and In the Bleak Mid-winter.
Joining the band on stage was the very talented, local singer Laura Thain, who sang the festive big band favourites, Winter Wonderland and Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire. After thunderous applause it was once again the band’s turn.
Featuring the band’s warm sounding horn section, Howard Snell’s arrangement of Vivaldi’s ‘Winter’ brought the icy chills to a rather wet Wokingham aided by the authentic sounds of a harpsichord played by 2nd trom Matt Butchers. In complete contrast and in homage to Brass Band of Battle Creek’s Rex Richardson and Chris Jaudes, 2nd cornet Llewellyn Wells and soprano Wayne Filer performed Santa Claus is Coming to Town complete with jazzy screaming trumpets.
This time, in order to give the audience a breather, The wonderfully poetic Pauline Dibb entertained by reciting ‘My Little Sat-Nav’, a poem showing the similarities between the navigation device and Pauline’s husband. Leading the way to the interval, Philip Sparke’s, A Medieval Christmas, containing three Christmas favourites dating back to the 14th century that are still popular today.
As promised, the World Premiere of Christmas Lights, composed by Major Glen Jones, Director of Music of the Band of the Royal Logistic Corps began the 2nd half. Christmas Lights describes the excitement of children throughout the festive period. Originally written for wind band, this was arranged by the band’s Soprano, Wayne Filer. Continuing on, Asst Principal Cornet, Dorinda Bray and Flugal, Lynsey Willis wowed the audience with a beautiful and lyrical performance of Lloyd-Webber’s Pie Jesu.
Allowing the band to take a deserved rest, local Barbershop quartet, Masterclef (not Masterchef as was announced) astounded the band and audience with their close harmony singing of favourite songs of yesteryear.
Once again, the expertise of Philip Sparke was used, this time with an arrangement of Mykola Leontovych’s Ukrainian Bell Carol. A relatively unknown piece by name but instantly recognisable when heard, made famous on the 1990 Christmas hit movie, Home Alone then later used on an advert by Garmin for their range of Sat-Navs.
After another bout of community carol singing, the audience were left speechless by a performance of A Winter’s Night. Based on the carol Silent Night, arranged by Rick Kirby for wind band and adapted for brass band once again by Soprano Wayne Filer, and accompanied by Matt Butchers again on piano set the stage for a rhapsodic variation on the well-known carol that concluded with brass quartet and the remainder singing (yes, singing) a verse of Silent Night.
With the concert drawing to a close, the finale A Christmas Fantasy by Gordon Langford allowed each section of the band one final opportunity to show off and also a chance for the audience to sing through a selection of their favourite carols. All that was left was to conclude in traditional style with We wish you a Merry Christmas.