In my review of the Thornden Community Wind Band’s Christmas concert, I mentioned that their next concert would be with the 14th Eastleigh Scout and Guide Band (The Spitfires). Ruby Barefoot commented that he would add the date to his diary. Well, Ruby, I hope you managed to get tickets because this was a concert not to be missed.
The two highly skilled bands proved that the whole is so much greater than the sum of the parts with a varied programme of entertaining music.
As you would expect, there were marches, including a drum solo from the Spitfires’ Corps of Drums, but also music from the movies (Disney for this concert – most of which I recognised) and the pop charts – including Billy Joel, The Beatles and Queen (all of which I recognised). There was also a piece of music written for a brass band, but translated (is that the right word?) for a wind band.
Thornden Hall was packed – a testament to the reputation of both bands – and, with over 90 musicians, there wasn’t much room on the stage either. The musicians were kept under control by Greg Walker, Director of Music of both bands, and Ed March, Deputy Director of Music of Thornden Community Wind Band. The pieces were introduced with customary light-heartedness and corny jokes.
To give a small taste of the concert, here is the opening piece – Invincible by Two Steps from Hell.
The tiered seating of Thornden Hall gave the audience an excellent view of the musicians; we could see as well as hear the musicians, and follow the music as the themes were taken up by different sections of the band.
I particularly appreciated this viewpoint during the Corps of Drums drum solo. Yes, I knew it was complicated, needed split-second timing and that one hand beats a different rhythm to the other. But I hadn’t realised that the technique also requires bringing the drumsticks to a stationary position just above the drum a half-beat before it is hit.
Another benefit of this vantage point was that I could spot two younger players among the teenage and adult musicians. I later found out that one of them was only eight years old. I’m awed that someone so young can play so well. At that age, I was struggling to play “Three Blind Mice” on a recorder – come to think of it, I still am.
We went into the interval marvelling at the selection of Adele songs sung by a 16-year old member of the Spitfires. Wow! What an wonderful voice. As I relaxed and listen to the music, my eyes wandered round the rest of the band. And each time they came back to the singer I was amazed that such quality and depth of singer could be coming from someone so young.
The concert closed with a selection of music by Queen. This medley, Greg explained, was not played by many wind bands. Partly because you need a large band to do the music justice, but also because you need a very good band because it is so technically challenging. We were lucky enough to have both in Thornden Hall on Saturday night.
Two post-scripts to add to this review.
The concert was raising money for Hampshire Scouts’ expedition to Tanzania in the summer. Here they will be helping to build and decorate a hospital, before going on to a mini-jamboree with Tanzanian scouts.
Thornden Community Wind Band is always on the lookout for new recruits. If you play a wind instrument – or used to but think you’ve forgotten – and would like to be part of a band, now’s your chance.