"Making music at the heart of the east midlands"

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Notes from the Director of Music

In September 1996 I joined the newly formed Staunton Wind Orchestra as an alto saxophone player. Back then the group boasted a membership of about fifteen players, most with little or no experience of playing in a large ensemble. Twenty years later I am privileged to be the Director of Music of one of the finest community wind bands in the East Midlands. Renamed Ashby Concert Band in 2004 the band now boasts a membership of over fifty very talented and experienced players.

During the past twenty years the Band has gone from strength to strength. In 1996 we would stage concerts in and around the area local to Castle Donington and hope that the numbers in our audience would exceed the numbers in the band! Now we are fortunate to have a dedicated and committed audience who frequently out-number us four-to-one.


Twenty years ago all of the pieces played by the band were 'beginner band' standard, indeed some of the arrangements were so simplified they bore little resemblance to the original piece of music. Now, with twenty years of experience and new very talented members joining the band we play advanced standard pieces transcribed exactly from the original music, representing a real and enjoyable challenge to the players and providing a far more rewarding concert experience for our audience members.


ACB 20th Anniversary Photo

Ashby Concert Band 2016


In this our 20th Anniversary year we have some great concerts and music planned. The band may already boast a music library of over 270 pieces but there is always room for more new music in the filing cabinets.

Amongst the new pieces we will be playing this year are two popular classical pieces of music. Smetana wrote a great deal of classical music including some light opera such as 'The Bartered Bride'. One particularly well known piece from this opera is the Polka and we will be playing this piece for the first time at our concert in October in Ashby. We will also be playing a fun classical piece entitled 'Tahiti Trot'. If you know "Tea for Two' from the musical 'No, No, Nanette' then you will know Tahiti Trot. Shostakovich wrote it in response to a challenge from the conductor Nikolai Malko: after the two listened to the song at Malko's house, Malko bet 100 roubles that Shostakovich could not completely re-orchestrate the song from memory in under an hour. Shostakovich took him up on the challenge and won, finishing the orchestration in around 45 minutes.

It would be surprising if we did not purchase some new film music to add to our repertoire and this year we have several new pieces including 'Viktor's Tale' from the film 'The Terminal' starring Tom Hanks, and a full transcription of the main theme from the classic film 'Star Wars'. We will perform Viktor's Tale for the first time in Whitby but you will have to wait until Christmas to hear Star Wars.

Finally we will be playing a concert band transcription of 'The Seville Suite' by Bill Whelan. The 'Seville Suite' portrays in music the Irish defeat at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601 which signalled the collapse of the old Gaelic order. The Seville Suite was inspired by the exploits of ''Red'' Hugh O' Donnell, the Earl of Tirconaill, from the Battle of Kinsale until his eventual arrival in Galicia to the celebratory welcome of the Spanish Earl of Caracena. This particular arrangement by Johan de Meij features a part for orchestral harp and we are delighted to be able to announce that ACB will be performing with a local harpist for the first time at our concert in October.

And if all that wasn't enough - well you will just have to come along and hear for yourself all the other new and exciting pieces we will be playing, alongside a host of our most favourite pieces chosen by members of the Band. I look forward to seeing you at our concerts in 2016.


ACB Horn Section

ACB French Horn Section

Portrait of a Player : Rosemary Watson


My name is Rosemary and I play 3rd clarinet in Ashby Concert Band.

Clarinet was not my first instrument. Whilst at primary school I took up learning to play the piano. There was the opportunity to learn the clarinet as well but because I was already learning piano I missed out on being given a loan instrument. It was many years later that I finally bought a clarinet and started having lessons. Over time the clarinet has become more and more important to me and has provided me with the opportunity to pursue my keen interest in music.


Before joining ACB I played for a brief period with Normans Training Band, indeed that was where I met fellow band members George and Suzanne. I was one of the original founding members of Ashby Concert Band so in September I will have been in the Band for twenty years.

My likes and dislikes in music have changed quite a bit over the years. In my youth my idols were the Everly Brothers, in fact my first record - that would be vinyl - was a 78 r.p.m. (I was reminded by our dear Director of Music that they only ever appeared in black and white - Cheek!). I was also a big fan of the Rolling Stones and might once have quite fancied the idea of seeing them perform in Havana, Cuba - but not now.

My tastes in music have moved on a little over the years. I did the folk scene for a while and then moved to 'trad jazz'. I've never really liked modern jazz though - I'm really not quite sure what it is trying to say to me.

I have always loved classical music although for many years I was not a fan of chamber music, much preferring the stirring sound of a full concert orchestra, especially when playing the music of my favourite composer Shostakovich, although I love all Russian classical music. However, one day I went to see a play called 'Death and the Maiden' - a complicated anti-government story set in a fictional Latin American country. There is a particularly unpleasant scene in the play during which 'Death of a Maiden' composed by Schubert is played. It just blew me away and from that day my opinion of chamber music changed and it is now one of my favourite genres.

Apart from ACB the other passion in my life is amateur dramatics, not that I act on stage or anything like that! I really enjoy getting involved in the back stage activities and stage management. I am always inspired by the fact that with every production there is a magic moment when it all comes together, when the play takes on a life of its own. Very much like ACB when after hours and hours of rehearsal the music suddenly seems to come to life and we seem to realise the synergy necessary to turn an average performance into a memorable one.

Talking of memorable moments there have been so many over the past twenty years with ACB. If I had to choose one in particular it would have to be the concert at the De Montfort Hall in 2011. That was truly a night to remember. If I had to choose a favourite piece, well that is really difficult although from our present repertoire I think I would choose 'Last of the Mohicans'; it is an impressive and emotional piece and an absolute pleasure to play. Having said that, we are always getting new music and I have to say two of our newest and as yet unperformed pieces I do really like, namely 'Viktor's Tale' and the 'Polka' from the Bartered Bride.

We play so much good music in ACB it is difficult to pick a favourite. I have really enjoyed concerts in the past when we played with choirs or singers. The 'Twenties Night' we performed several years ago was great fun and so nice to hear other band members showing their talents. I've also enjoyed classical concerts when we have performed concerto pieces, as we did just two years ago when our oboe player Laura performed the Marcello Oboe concerto and way back in 2004 when Chris Jeans performed the Ferdinand David Trombone Concerto.

ACB has been at the centre of my social life for so many years and has brought me such pleasure. I have loved seeing the way the band has grown and developed over the years, especially with all the wonderful instruments we now have at our disposal, like four French horns, a euphonium, a cor anglais, and the wonderful baritone saxophone, not to mention the amazing array of instruments we now have in percussion. All these things allow us to play music we could never have considered twenty years ago. I consider myself very lucky to be a member of the Band and I am so looking forward to many more years making music with Ashby Concert Band.


The Adventures of Elmer

Elmer our ACB mascot has been busy again this time meeting and greeting budding potential musicians at our Christmas concert. Moving our Christmas concert start time to 4.30 p.m. was a big hit with families in Ashby; we recorded our biggest ever attendance of young people - exactly what we wanted at Christmas time.




Anniversary Tour

At the beginning of June the Band will be setting off to the beautiful North Yorkshire coast. The band has undertaken several overseas tours in the past but for this special birthday year we decided to stay in the UK so that as many of the band members and their families as possible could join the tour; there will be 80 of us descending on the small fishing port of Whitby. We are performing a special evening concert in the spectacular St Hilda's church to raise money for the RNLI which is close to the hearts of the local community. We have time during our stay to explore the area then before we head back home we are performing a band stand afternoon concert in Peasholme Park in Scarborough which is just a short drive down the coast from our base in Whitby. Hopefully we will get some warm weather and a good crowd to play to, the park has a nice cafe to keep the audience fuelled with ice cream and/or hot drinks depending on the temperature!


Anniversary Dinner

The next event on Friday 24th June will be a celebratory dinner at Newton Solney, where we had a fantastic evening to celebrate our 15th birthday. Again patrons will be invited to join us for the evening and of course new patrons are welcome at any time. What better way is there to support your favourite concert band than by joining us in time to help us celebrate 20 years of music making in North West Leicestershire!

Becoming a Patron costs just £20 a year, you get your name in all of our programmes and newsletters, seat reservations for concerts, invitations to our special events and of course, the knowledge that you are helping local musicians to keep music live in the community.


Anniversary Concert

Our final Anniversary event will be a celebratory concert on the 8th October in Holy Trinity Church in our home town of Ashby de la Zouch. We are anticipating a record audience at the concert so it will be important that you purchase tickets as soon as they become available.

Date for your Diary

21st May 2016

'Music from the Big Screen' - The Palace - Ibstock - 7.30 p.m.

A concert of your favourite music from the big-screen.

3rd June 2016

'Music from the Movies' - St Hilda's Church - Whitby - 7.30 p.m.

A fund-raising concert on behalf of Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

2nd July 2016

'Music from Screen and Stage' - Holy Trinity Church - Ashby - 7.30 p.m.

A fund-raising concert on behalf of Wishes4Kids and the Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance, with support from Ashby Rotary.


Supporters Acknowledgements

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

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

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


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