"Making music at the heart of the east midlands"

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Notes from the Director of Music

It's the middle of February and with Christmas just a distant memory Ashby Concert Band is once again looking forward to another year of great concerts.

Our first concert is on March 23rd when we have been asked to give a Celebration Concert to help raise much needed funds for the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust (Northwest Group). The music for the concert has been, in general, inspired by the countryside and is all from the classical genre. You will need to attend the concert to find out exactly what we will be playing but with composers like Vaughan Williams, Wagner, Sibelius, Lehar, Delibes and Strauss I can guarantee an evening of excellent music.


In April we have been asked by Ashby Rotary to give a concert to celebrate St George's Day. The music will be drawn from some of the best that England has to offer, and what an eclectic mix it promises to be.

When we think of English composers just who springs to mind? Well thoughts immediately turn to Elgar (Pomp & Circumstance), Vaughan Williams (The English Folk Song Suite) and Holst (The Planets and 'I Vow To Thee My Country'). But we need to take care not to be constrained by the classical music heritage this country has to offer.

The music of Lennon & McCartney and Andrew Lloyd Webber will, I am sure, endure for a great many years to come. But what about Tony Hatch (Emmerdale Farm and Crossroads), Simon May (Eastenders) or Eric Spears (Coronation Street). James Bond would not be James Bond were it not for the music of John Barry and Monty Norman, and surely everyone loves the delightful simplicity of 'The Last of the Summer Wine' by Ronnie Hazelhurst. The concert promises to be a night of musical delights - a real Pandora's Box of treasures. Indeed there is such a wealth of outstanding music that has come from the pen of English composers that we can only hope to scratch the surface in one concert.

As you might expect The Rotary Club are hoping to raise money to help good causes in the region so please put the date in the diary - Saturday 20th April - and I look forward to seeing you at Holy Trinity Church. Oh yes, and bring your singing voice with you - we are looking for lots of audience participation!


ACB and SfH - Remembrance 2012

ACB and the Seaforth Highlanders performing Highland Cathedral
Concert of Remembrance - November 2012


Once we have our March and April concerts behind us it will be November before the Band is called upon to give its next concert. Once again we have been invited back to The Palace in Ibstock to give a concert of 'Music from the Musicals'. Firm favourites like Fiddler on the Roof, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables and Miss Saigon will be filling the air of the concert hall. I'll be giving more details of this concert, along with the pieces we hope to play when I write to you in our Summer News Letter due out in August/September.

And finally the date is already confirmed for our Annual Christmas Concert - it will be on Saturday 14th December 2013 at our usual venue of Holy Trinity Church in Ashby.

Once again I look forward to seeing you at our concert and can I thank you for your continued support for Ashby Concert Band.

Portrait of a Player

For this edition of Notations we have decided to turn the spotlight onto one of our brass players –Alison Hughes.

Alison joined ACB as a flautist way back in 2004. It was only after she had been playing with the band for 2 years that she asked to make the move to brass, and in particular cornet.

Other than the fact that you blow into both a trumpet and a flute the two instruments have little else in common and it is indeed rare for woodwind players, especially those who have achieved Grade 8 on their chosen instrument, to make the difficult transition to brass, and in particular trumpet. Well done Alison!


Alison was born in Birkenhead but at an early age her family moved north to live in Morecambe just south of the English Lake District. Like so many people Alison embarked upon her journey into music via recorder playing at school. Alison was fortunate to attend a boarding school in Windermere in the heart of the Lake District. The recorder provided a natural progression to flute which Alison took up at the age of twelve. Alison left home to attend University in Bath where she studied Applied Biology. Whilst at university Alison continued to play flute in a small flute band. All was going well in the nascent flautist's life until, as a result of an industrial placement to Stowmarket in Suffolk, Alison started playing for a concert band in Bury St. Edmunds and whilst doing so someone tempted her with a cornet. (Beware of brass players bearing gifts - Adrian)

With a degree, flute and trumpet in hand Alison was fortunate enough to secure employment near Breedon carrying out trials on crop pesticides. No sooner had she moved into the area than she was looking for somewhere to play, and in those days Staunton Wind Orchestra was right on her doorstep.

Alison loves all kinds of music but does have a slight preference for classical music and film scores. Amongst Alison's favourite pieces of music are Gabriel's Oboe and Cavalleria Rusticana, and she would love to play "Calon Lan" - a Welsh classic. Surprisingly though, when asked what three records she would take to her Desert Island the answer was "Oh nothing classical - you can't sing along to that!" Instead Alison would take Dire Straits "Brothers in Arms", Bruce Springsteen "Born in the U.S.A." and anything by Green Day. As for a book, it would have to be 'Lord of the Rings'.

When not teaching Science and A Level Biology at a school near Derby, Alison loves to play her much loved trumpet in Ashby Concert Band, do a bit of Zumba to keep fit, and enjoys taking her new border terrier, Messer, for walks in the local countryside. Asked if she has any goals for the future Alison's response was "Yes - I'd like to learn to play the piano". Excellent!


The Trumpet Family


Modern brass instruments in full cry, notably seried ranks of trumpets and trombones, can create a blaze of sound. This is not just due to the amount of effort that goes into blowing them. The sound is due to the narrow metal tube, cylindrical bore, and wide flared bell.

Bb Trumpet
Bass Trumpet

The 'big daddy' of the trumpets is the formidable Bass Trumpet shown on the left. This is indeed a huge instrument with the same pitch and range as a tenor trombone. It is considered by many to be a 'divine instrument' - man may blow it, but only God knows what will come out of the end!

At the other end of the scale in terms of size is the diminuative Piccolo Trumpet. Like its big brother the Bass Trumpet it too sports four valves in order to control and tame its fickle intonation. Like the Bass these instruments are rarely seen in a concert band, saving themselves for Ten-Piece Brass groups and symphonic orchestras.

Piccolo Trumpet

The flugelhorn is also related to the trumpet but it has a truely distinctive and plaintive quality of sound. The larger bore and bigger bell result in a mellowness of tone that is seductive in nature. The flugelhorn is a mainstay of brass bands and concert bands although it appears only occasionally in orchestral works. The flugelhorn figured prominently in may of Burt Bacharach's 1960s pop song arrangements, and was also much loved by the very popular Bert Kaempfert orchestra. It was also played by Paul McCartney on some Beatles songs.

In an attempt to aid in the playing of the trumpet and provide a full chromatic capability a number of different valve designs have been proposed, including the complex looking rotary valve, favoured by many accomplished players over the more traditional (and cheaper) piston valve.

Rotary Valve

The mellow tones of the brass band are topped by the cornet, which leads the band and plays solo passages. It was invented by adding valves to the coiled post horn. The cornet produces the same notes as the trumpet, however, it makes a less piercing sound because the bore widens out more before the bell. The cornet has been used by many famous jazz musicians including the father of jazz Buddy Bolden, Duke Ellington Orchestra members Bubber Miley and Rex Stewart, and Bix Beiderbecke.

The history of the trumpet is long and complex. It is now fully accepted in all symphonic orchestras and concert bands (although not brass bands where it gives way to the cornet). Many great works have been written for the trumpet by classical and modern composers in particular Haydn, Hummel, Handel and Bach. The trumpet provides a central role in all jazz and big band sounds. Louis Armstrong revolutionised jazz playing in the 1920s with his brilliant trumpet playing, forging the first solo style by creating daring improvisations accompanied only by the rhythm section. Others were quick to follow his style including Dizzy Gillespie, Chet Baker, Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis.

Date for your Diary

23rd March 2013

Fund Raising Concert for the Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust (North West Group) - Holy Trinity Church - Ashby - 7.30 p.m.

A concert of light popular classical music for a spring evening.

20th April 2013

St. George's Day Concert - Holy Trinity Church - Ashby - 7.30 p.m.

An evening of the best of English music, poetry and prose.

2nd November 2013

Music from The Musicals - The Palace - Ibstock - 7.30 p.m.

An evening of the very best of music from the West End and Broadway.

14th December 2013

The Ashby Concert Band Annual Christmas Concert - 7.30 p.m. - Holy Trinity Church, Ashby.

Supporters Acknowledgements

Ashby Concert Band is especially grateful for the continued and extended support of our Patrons:

Mrs M Tuckey
Mr & Mrs K Spencer
Mrs M Ross
Joan Hardwick
Kay Stephens
Alan Tricker

Mr H K Berry MBE & Mrs C Berry
Mr & Mrs J Backhouse
Mr Derek & Mrs Teresa Hayes
Mr & Mrs D Thompson
Richard & Sharon Tapping

and for the assistance given to the band by Johnson, Murkett & Hurst, Accountants of Ashby de la Zouch.