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Notes from the Director of Music

The first concert of the new year is almost upon us and as you might expect rehearsals are well advanced. On 17th march we will be performing a concert of music entitled 'Superheroes'. The aim of the concert is to provide much needed funds to support a group of students from Ashby School who will be travelling to Nepal this summer to help with reconstruction work following the devastating earthquake of 2015. We will be using 'superheroes' in the broadest sense! The programme will include music from the likes of the classic Marvel movies like Thor, Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy. We will also be playing music from Star Wars, Star Trek and Avatar, to name but a few.


In June we will be performing our annual concert in support of the Ashby Rotary nominated charity for 2018, namely Hospice Hope. The theme of the concert is 'Music of the Wild West'. There will be many memorable film themes including The Magnificent Seven, Silverado, How The West Was Won, The Big Country and Gone With The Wind. We will also be including some of the classic TV series themes including Rawhide, Bronco, Maverick and Cheyenne. We are hoping everyone will enter into the spirit of the evening and come suitably attired!

Following the June concert we have quite a long break before our next concert in November, the annual Poppy Appeal concert. The concert this year will mark the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War I and we will be planning a special programme of music to mark the occasion.


ACB Christmas 2017

Ashby Concert Band - Christmas Concert 2017

Portrait of a Player : Daniel Wilde

Our featured player in this issue of Notations is one of the 1st trumpet players in the band, Daniel Wilde. Daniel joined the ACB almost seven years ago. Daniel took up the trumpet when he was just eight years old; at the time he was a member of Donisthorpe Scout Band where he had the choice of playing mallet percussion or trumpet - Daniel chose the trumpet and what an excellent choice that was to prove to be for Ashby Concert Band.

Music is an important part of Daniel's life. Favourite styles include jazz, big band, the music of the musicals and film sound tracks. Top of the musical favourites is West Side Story by the great Leonard Bernstein - the perfect blend of jazz styles and rhythms in the musical and film score genre. When it comes to film scores Daniel's favourite composer is the late John Barry - the master at "painting a picture in music and telling a story". Another favourite music genre is indi-rock - not something we play in a concert band! When asked if there was a style Daniel was not so keen on there was no hesitation in saying "Rap! - I can't stand it" says Daniel.

Daniel Wilde

When it comes to playing other instruments Daniel had a brief flirtation with the piano but it didn't work out too well. If he could choose a second instrument Daniel would once again turn to the brass section. Daniel loves the sound of the French Horn.

Outside of music Daniel's interests really do revolve around being outside, preferably walking, climbing or even caving! Daniel has been a scout since he was just five years old during which time he has been to Scotland, the English Lake District and even Crete walking and climbing some of the most picturesque and challenging mountain ranges. When he is not walking Daniel is running; Daniel completed the famous Four Inns Run - all 65 kilometres - in just 9 hours and 59 minutes.

All of this walking, climbing and fell running will all prove helpful in his next challenge. This summer Daniel will be travelling to Nepal as a member of a 'True Adventure' school expedition to work with the Dharapani School charity. For nine days Daniel will be helping to rebuild the Tokhara community following the devastating earthquake that befell the region in 2015. Daniel and his fellow students from Ashby School will also be running a school sports event to help raise much needed funds to help rejuvenate the region. The trip is not all work; during the three weeks away Daniel will also be walking the famous Annapurna Trail, hiking to an altitude of 5,500 metres - a real test of stamina and the lungs! The trail is described as "moderate to fairly challenging" and "makes numerous river crossings over steel and wooden suspension bridges"! We hope you have a good head for heights Daniel. Typically it takes 8 - 15 days to complete the trail although in May 2017 someone ran the whole thing in 68 hours and 22 minutes! (I bet he was a tuba player - Ed.)


Annapurna Massif

View of Annapurna Massif near Manang, Nepal : Photograph by Dmitry A. Mottl


Sadly we will be saying goodbye to Daniel this summer as he leaves Ashby Concert Band to hopefully take up studies at either Imperial College in London or Bristol University. Daniel is planning a career in aeronautics and will be studying for a degree in Aeronautical Engineering. In the future Daniel would love to return to France, his home for a number of years before coming to live in Ashby, where he hopes to fulfil his ambition to work with Airbus in Toulouse. Wherever Daniel ends up we are sure music will always be a central part of his life and his skills and abilities playing trumpet will be greatly valued. We would like to use this opportunity to wish Daniel all the very best for his future and to thank him for the outstanding contribution he has made to Ashby Concert Band.


The double bass - What's It All About?

When you think about a concert band you tend to think of a group of musicians playing instruments that have one thing in common - you blow into them! "Hold on" I hear you say! "What about all those percussion instruments?". How can we forget the percussion instruments? No concert band would be complete without a variety of things to hit, rattle and shake. This is the third in the series of "What's It All About" articles in Notations. In the last edition we covered 'The Trombone' - this time we are going to look at an instrument not normally associated with a concert band, the double bass.

The full symphonic concert band can contain a variety of instruments over and above wind and percussion. Most concert band arrangements have parts for harp; many have parts for piano or synthesiser keyboard. Essentially all concert band arrangements, however, have parts for the biggest instrument of the string family - the double bass.

Like the timpani in the percussion section, the double bass is one of those instruments that tends to catch the eye simply because of its size! Typically a symphonic concert band may contain up to four or even six double basses - "Why so many?" I hear you ask (see later in this article for an answer - Ed.). Ashby Concert Band can now boast our first double bass - Julie Holland who was previously on keyboard, usually playing a double bass part, has now bought her very own double bass and what a wonderful instrument it is!

The double bass, also called contrabass, string bass, bass, bass viol, bass fiddle or bull fiddle, French contrebasse, or German Kontrabass, is a stringed musical instrument; it is the lowest-pitched member of the violin family, sounding an octave lower than the cello. It has two basic designs - one shaped like a viol (or viola da gamba) and the other like a violin.


The string bass varies considerably in size, the largest normally being under 6 feet (1.8 metres) in total length. The body itself, without the neck, may be up to 4.5 feet (1.4 metres) for a full-size instrument, about 3.8 feet (1.2 metres) for a three-quarter size, and only slightly larger than a cello for the small chamber bass, or bassetto.

A double bass is usually strung with four heavy strings pitched E1-A1-D-G; a fifth string is occasionally added in jazz band basses, at the top of the register to allow high notes to be played more easily. Conversely in symphony orchestra basses, a fifth string is added below the E string, tuned to C. Many orchestral basses, rather than having a fifth string, have a mechanical device with levers that increases the length of the fourth string. With this device the pitch of the E string may be lowered to Eb, D, Db, or C, or clamped to sound E when the lower notes are not needed.


Double Bass Section

ACB entire double bass section.


It is interesting to note that the very first double bass instruments had only three strings; surprisingly these instruments had more presence and produced a louder sound. By evolving to four strings (which makes the instrument 'easier' to play) volume was lost and so typically string ensembles, especially orchestras, increased the number of instruments to four or even six.

Two styles of bass bow, which are made of horse hair, are currently used: the short and narrow French bow (like a violin bow), held palm downward, and the broader German bow (like a viol bow), held palm upward. The double bass also can be played pizzicato (by plucking with the fingers) - occasionally in symphonic orchestras and almost always in jazz and dance bands.

As with everything musical there is more to the double bass than meets the eye - despite the size of the instrument! One day, who knows, ACB may well be able to boast a full string bass section with four of these magnificent instruments lined up on the right hand side of the concert band. If that day ever comes we will have a whole new challenge - how to fit them in around the lectern in the church - just the sort of challenge our MD enjoys.

2018 Dates for your Diary

17th March 2018

'Superheroes Concert' - Holy Trinity Church - Ashby - 7.30 p.m.

Music for Superheroes.

9th June 2018

'Ashby Rotary Charity Concert' - Holy Trinity Church - Ashby - 7.30 p.m.

Music of the Wild West.

9th November 2018

'ACB Poppy Appeal Concert' - Holy Trinity Church - Ashby - 7.30 p.m.

A fund-raising concert on behalf of the Royal British Legion 2018 Poppy Appeal.


Supporters Acknowledgements

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

Mr & Mrs M Worth
Mr & Mrs K Spencer
Mrs M Ross
Margaret Ferguson
Joan Hardwick

Mr H K Berry MBE & Mrs C Berry
Mr & Mrs J Backhouse
Mr Derek & Mrs Teresa Hayes
Mr & Mrs Sowter
Alan Tricker
Mr & Mrs N Price


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