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Notes from the Director of Music

The last time I wrote to you way back in September of 2011 we were just a few weeks away from our Joint Anniversary Concert with the Seaforth Highlanders at De Montfort Hall in Leicester. Six months on the concert is becoming a distant memory and we are on the verge of heading off once more to Pithiviers in France to give our second Twinning Concert.

The De Montfort concert may now be almost six months ago but the memory of that fantastic night will be a long time fading from the minds of every band member who took part and members of the audience who expressed their appreciation for our music with such exuberance. From the moment the two bands struck up with our first piece ‘Distant Hills’ we all knew it was going to be a great evening.


I can honestly say that not one member of either band wanted that evening to end – they would gladly have stayed on that expansive stage in that wonderful hall and played all night long. When it did finally end we were all overwhelmed by the standing ovation we received from more than 700 people in the audience. All the hard work and commitment and all the planning and preparation resulted in an evening which could not have been improved upon, and I must once again record my heartfelt thanks to every member of both bands for making the evening such a great success.

With De Montfort out of the way we moved quickly on to our annual Concert of Remembrance, once again ably assisted by the Seaforth Highlanders, and finally to our Christmas Concert. Both concerts were a great success, although we felt somewhat constrained having experienced the spacious De Montfort stage.

Since the beginning of the year we have been working toward our concert in Pithiviers on the 9th June. I am planning a similar format to the concert we gave way back in 2006. The first half will be a programme of music that shows off some of the best of British concert band music with pieces like the Holst 2nd Suite in F, Variations on Scarborough Fair, the beautiful Welsh lullaby Suo Gan, the famous Bourgeois ‘Serenade’ with its complex time signatures (like 11/8 and 13/8), and Elgar’s Pomp & Circumstance March No. 4. In the second half we are going to push back the frontiers and play a programme of music inspired by the American Wild West and battle for Independence, with well known pieces like The Magnificent Seven, Silverado, The Last of the Mohicans and Dances with Wolves, to name but a few.

And just to ensure we are kept busy we will be doing our part to celebrate the 2012 Olympics, the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic and of course the Queen’s Jubilee with concerts at Ibstock in May (when they are also celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the opening of The Palace cinema) and Ashby in June (when we will be helping to raise money to repair the roof at Holy Trinity Church). To round things off before our summer break we are going back to Newark on Trent to play in the grounds of the Castle on 8th July.

I look forward to seeing you in Ibstock or Ashby – or even Pithiviers! Thank you again for your continued support.

Portrait of a Player

Ben was born into a musical family with both his parents being instrumental peripatetic teachers. He was taught the violin by his mother from the age of four and soon progressed to piano, drums and percussion. By the time Ben was ten years old he’d started learning to play trombone, taught by his Dad. In the next four years Ben progressed through his local music centre groups into the Staffordshire County Youth groups including the Youth Wind Orchestra, and Youth Jazz Orchestra. During his A-Level years he made the swap from tenor trombone to bass trombone and as a result was offered a place as principal bass trombone in the Staffordshire Youth Orchestra and the Midlands Youth Orchestra. After his A-Level exams he gained a place to study music at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff where he had lessons with some of the best trombone players the world has seen; Christopher Mowatt, for example, was the head of the brass department.


Ben wasn’t entirely sure what he should be doing when he left college so for two years he returned to the job he had while he was at school - selling tropical fish at a garden centre! He was then made aware that County Music Services were looking for brass teachers so as of September 2005 he started teaching brass instruments as a peripatetic teacher to the children of Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Leicestershire.

Spare time doesn’t seem to present itself very much to Ben. As well as being a committed member of Ashby Concert Band he spends a lot of time playing in various groups including Leicestershire Co-op (Snibston) Band; he has also been performing in a chamber ensemble with pieces arranged especially for the instruments in that group with each member playing a solo or two to show off their instrument and its capabilities. As a specialist bass trombone player Ben is quite a rarity and is often asked to play for orchestras, both professional and amateur, as well as in local theatres.  He also finds himself arranging music quite often for two brass ensembles he conducts at local music centres. More recently he has been playing in a Ska band ‘Fighting Evil is Cool!’ - a completely different genre of music!

If he’s not making music Ben will be looking after his animals. At the last count there were 19 lizards, and 13 snakes! However, with spring arriving those numbers are soon going to rise. Most of the babies from his animals go to specialist pet shops who know how to look after them properly - so if you want a pet snake or lizard you’ll need to ask him quickly! He finds it fascinating and relaxing, to just sit and watch them after a long day at work. All in all Ben has his hands full with his reptiles and the children he teaches - although the reptiles are often much better behaved both bring their rewards. If Ben does get any other time to himself he likes to try his hand at new things – most recently woodcarving and hypnotism! (Ah-ha! Ben is obviously working on hypnotising me with his playing! – Adrian).

New Percussion Instruments
Bass Drum I am delighted to tell you that we have had a new arrival in the timpani department. A fourth timpani was safely delivered to Sian, our timpanist, in March; both are doing well and are very happy! And there is more! Ashby Concert Band is now the proud owner of a 32 inch Concert Bass drum – now that is what you call a drum. And there is still more! In April we will take delivery of a 28 inch tam-tam – otherwise known as a big gong! You won’t have any problems spotting them when you next come to one of our concerts. tam-tam
Date for your Diary

26th May 2012

The Palace - Ibstock - 7.30 p.m.

An evening of film music to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the opening of the 'The Palace Picture House' in Ibstock way back in 1912. We will also be celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee with an arrangement of Walton's Orb & Sceptre March, and the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic with music from the film of the same name.

9th June 2012

Pithiviers - France - 8.30 p.m.

An evening of film music to celebrate the Twinning between Pithiviers and Ashby de la Zouch. The first half of the concert will be a collection of pieces by British composers of music written for concert band. The second half will be a programme of music inspired by the history of America, covering the War of Independence, the American Civil War and of course the Wild West.

23rd June 2012

Fund Raising Concert for the Holy Trinity Church Roof Appeal - Ashby - 7.30 p.m.

8th July 2012

Newark Castle Grounds Sunday Afternoon Concert - 2.00 p.m.

15th December 2012

Christmas Concert - Holy Trinity Church, Ashby de la Zouch- 7.30 p.m.

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
Mr. & Mrs. N. Price

Mrs. J. Hardwick
Mrs. K Stephens
Dr. A. Tricker
Mrs. T. Hayes

Mr. & Mrs. H.K. Berry
Mr. & Mrs. J. Backhouse
Mr. W. Pratt
Mr. D. Hayes

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