"Making music at the heart of the east midlands"

ACB Logo

Notes from the Director of Music

Welcome to another year of music making with Ashby Concert Band. Once again we have a number of great concerts lined up to perform throughout the year starting with a concert in May in support of the North West Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust. The Trust is not only keen to raise money to support the amazing work carried out by an army of volunteers to protect the wildlife and flora of the county but also to raise awareness of the work with a younger generation, in particular children of school age.


With that in mind the concert is being performed at the early time of 4.30 p.m. on Saturday 20th May at our usual venue of Holy Trinity Church in Ashby. The programme of music is designed to appeal to a younger audience whilst at the same time being enjoyable to our dedicated supporters and followers.

We have some really fun pieces that we hope will appeal to younger members of our audience, in particular 'The Grasshopper Dance' by Ernest Bucalossi, 'Lakeshore Picnic' by David Lovrien, a great arrangement by John Philip Sousa of a setting by Percy Grainger of that traditional classic 'An English Country Garden', a really fun arrangement of the traditional tune 'Turkey In The Straw' complete with some amazing sound effects, and finally the Rimsky-Korsakoff classic 'The Flight of the Bumble Bee' with a virtuoso performance by - well you will just have to attend to find out which ACB soloist will be playing this amazing piece!

On a slightly more serious note, but no less well known and enjoyable, we will be performing the wonderful 'Last Spring' by Edvard Grieg, another Percy Grainger classic 'Shepherd's Hey' the dynamic 'Appalachian Spring' by Aaron Copeland and the entire suite of country dances 'Capriol Suite' by Peter Warlock. Finally I have been busy producing an arrangement of the wonderful piece by George Butterworth 'The Banks of Green Willow' which is set to become a firm favourite for the band and we hope also for our audience.


ACB Christmas 2016

Ashby Concert Band - Christmas Concert 2016


The detail of our concerts later in the year is still at the planning stage, however,we do know that in July we will be performing a concert in support of Ashby Rotary when we will help them to celebrate their 70th Anniversary. The music for the concert will be a collection of well known and much loved film themes that span the last 70 years.

In November we will once again perform our annual Poppy Appeal concert in support of the Royal British Legion. It is far too early at this stage to give details of the music, however, we will once again be joined by members of the Seaforth Highlanders Pipe and Drum Band under the directorship of Pipe Major Steve Bozon. The focus will be on a concert of music which portrays the very best of British composers, both past and present. There will of course be more detail in our Autumn newsletter.

As usual we will round the year out with our annual Christmas Concert, without doubt a night not to be missed!


Elmer - The Dark Knight

ACB 20th Anniversary Concert
October 2016

Portrait of a Player : Mitch Gardner

Our featured player only joined the Band in September 2015 and regrettably will be leaving the Band this summer! However, during the short time Mitch will have been with the band he has made a very significant impact.

Mitch first took up music making at the tender age of just seven. As with most people his first instrument was the recorder but even at that young age Mitch was looking for more of a challenge and he was soon getting to grips with a Bb clarinet. As if that wasn't sufficient a challenge Mitch wanted more and so when just eight years old he obtained his first guitar, which he tells me is now hanging on the wall of his bedroom! Two instruments would be enough for most people but not for Mitch. When Mitch hit 10 years old his first drum kit appeared on the scene. If only Mitch had six arms he would have been a one-man band.

Mitch Gardner

It goes without saying that Mitch was heavily into music throughout his school life, actively putting himself forward for any opportunity to play. Stage productions tended to be top of the list at school but bands of every sort were to benefit from Mitch's talents on guitar and drums.

Mitch left school in 2014 and rather than go straight to university to study music of some sort Mitch decided it would be better to get more experience of music making and music performance and who better to join than Ashby Concert Band. Initially Mitch joined as a clarinet player and to test his resolve and commitment (by our mean Director of Music!) Mitch was asked to play the notoriously tricky Eb and/or Alto clarinets. As with everything Mitch took up the challenge and was soon performing some really tricky solo passages with great confidence.

However, it is not unknown for concert band arrangements not to have either Eb or Alto clarinet parts and clearly Mitch had to do something! It quickly became apparent that Mitch had a great talent for hitting things so auxiliary percussion was an obvious opportunity. No matter how small - a triangle - or how big - a 32" concert bass drum - Mitch was equally at home shaking, rattling, rolling or just plain hitting. Few people appreciate just how much musical colour is contributed by the auxiliary percussion department to a given performance. Mitch was in his element.

Mitch Gardner

When our resident timpani player was put out of action by a serious medical condition which prevented her from playing Mitch was the obvious candidate to step up and play timpani and this has to be where he has made his biggest contribution demonstrating his mastery of the instrument in a very short space of time and giving some dazzling and electrifying performances in our concerts in the second half of 2016.

When he is not playing and making music Mitch is gainfully employed selling top-notch hi-fi systems at a local specialist shop in Ashby. Here Mitch can marry his love of all things musical with all things technological. Mitch is passionate about music in general and finds it hard to say which is his favourite musical genre. When pushed though it is, not surprisingly, film.

When Mitch leaves ACB in the summer he is off to Leeds University to study music and composition. Mitch wants his future to be in the world of film music composition where he can excel in every aspect of music making and music technology. One day Mitch dreams of clutching his own golden Oscar figurine having secured Best Score award in Los Angeles - hopefully they will have sorted out opening the correct envelope by then!

When he's not making music Mitch reads (books on music and composition), ardently follows Formula-E electric racing cars, and goes running. Without doubt 24 hours in a day is just not enough for Mitch.

Hopefully, one day in the future, Mitch will return to Ashby Concert Band to conduct his own Oscar winning film score, and what a great concert of music that will be! Every one in Ashby Concert Band wishes you all the very best for the future. Your time with us has been too short.


Conducting - What's It All About?

If there is one thing that all large music ensembles have in common, whether they be a concert orchestra, a concert band, a brass band or a dance band, they all have a conductor. Conducting always used to be a male dominated role but in the age in which we now live female conductors feature amongst the top conductors in the world more and more frequently. So what does the conductor do?

First and foremost the conductor is there to inspire the performers - making the performers want to do their very best. If you read any recognised text on conducting a conductor must develop in each of his or her performers a

  • desire to belong to the group
  • a pride of membership
  • the willingness to practise the music in their own time
  • the willingness to attend rehearsals regularly and punctually despite conflicts and inconveniences
  • the willingness to work hard at rehearsals and not just have a pleasant time running through the easy parts
  • and
  • the desire to give the utmost, technically and emotionally, when the concert performance takes place.

  • No mention is ever made of actually waving your arms or the baton - that little white stick thing - around at the front.


    In the ideal world it has to be said that if all the hard work is done at rehearsal the conductor should need to do little more than ensure that everyone starts together and most importantly ends together. However, we don't live in an ideal world and few things ever go completely to plan and that is where the conductor can and should step in and do all in his or her power to keep things on the straight and narrow so that hopefully the attentive audience is blissfully unaware of the near impending trip into the chasm!

    Conductors rely heavily on their memory to guide them through a performance but just in case memory fails there is always the trusty orchestral score to lean on. Concert band scores tend to be all very similar but some composers, arrangers or publishers delight in playing games and tricks designed to catch out the person with the baton.

    Star Wars Score

    Part of the 'Star Wars - Main Theme' score

    The typical score can be a tricky thing to navigate. Every one is different in some subtle way. Instruments move about from score to score - some even go missing all together! They are also festooned with Latin, French or even German words giving instruction on how the score should be interpreted and the music played. Many are best ignored.

    One significant downside of being a conductor is that no one, not even the very best photographer in the world, can ever take a flattering photograph of you in action. Eyes shut, mouth open are common place - or just a look of general drunkenness. It is fair to say that most conductors look their best from the back. Classic FM provide "16 steps to being an absolutely epic conductor"- the first of which is 'You must have amazing curly hair'!

    Joking and light-heartedness aside being the Conductor and Director of Music of Ashby Concert Band is the greatest privilege of all. Every week I get to spend two hours with a group of incredibly talented musicians who have given up their time to come together to communicate with their chosen instrument - to make music for their own pleasure and the pleasure of others.

    It is incredibly satisfying when, after many weeks of rehearsals, we finally get to perform a concert of music for our amazing audiences. Whether we are playing film music, stage music, popular music or classical music the pleasure which the concert band can give, the emotion that can be generated makes all the hard work worthwhile.

    The credit for the performance must always go to the musicians of the band. If it were not for them the conductor's role would be a very lonely one.


    Star Wars Score

    Watch my hands.

    2017 Dates for your Diary

    20th May

    'Wildlife Trust Concert' - Holy Trinity Church - Ashby - 4.30 p.m.

    Music and wildlife come together.

    8th July

    'Rotary 70th Anniversary Concert' - Holy Trinity Church - Ashby - 7.30 p.m.

    70 Years of Film Music

    10th November

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

    A fund-raising concert on behalf of the Royal British Legion annual 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
    Kay Stephens
    Paul Hillman

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


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