9 Aug 2023
Amy Jones, who plays tenor horn with Wantage Band, writes about her experience of playing in the grounds of Westminster Abbey.
WSB Perform at Westminster
Summer this year fell on Wednesday 9th August, which also happened to be the day Wantage Silver Band went to Westminster!
The spirit of the Wantage organisation was buzzing as players from Wantage A to Z congregated outside the band hall, alongside friends and family, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the two coaches - which were expertly maneuvered into the car park by both drivers. Things to note from outside of the coach window; Windsor Castle, the M40, Wembley Stadium, the River Thames, the many bridges residing over it (could you name them all?) and a very special mention goes to London traffic!
Thankfully we didn’t have to wait with our instruments and equipment in the long queues outside the Abbey, instead, all hands were on deck transporting percussion through a small entrance into the gardens. It was a truly magnificent setting which I would not have known was in the middle of London if not for the remarkable presence of Big Ben towering over me from my seat.
The concert commenced with a welcome from the Dean of Westminster Abbey, a fine introduction for our first piece - aptly named Prelude for an Occasion. Music poured into all corners of the gardens, even heard from outside the Abbey! Both bands, one conducted by Chris King, the other conducted by Gareth Coulson, enjoyed playing to an audience enamored by musicianship and some familiar tunes. One such was Is This The Way To Amarillo performed by Gareth’s band (accompanied by the chimes of Big Ben) which received a large applause. I very much enjoyed clapping along to this piece alongside everybody else present in the gardens - it was a great moment!
The stars of the concert were the brilliant soloists who did themselves and WSB proud; Brian Thomas, Joseph Hindson, Josh Hollick and a duet from Gary Wilkinson and Terry Carton. This lineup showcased players at different stages of their musical journey and I’m sure were inspirational to many. To conclude the concert, both bands came together to perform two joint items Baggy Trousers and Crazy Little Thing Called Love led by Gareth, and of course the national anthem.
Hard Work Pays Off
The success of the day came down to the hard work and dedication shown by all players, making it an extremely rewarding experience to be involved in! Especially tackling Music for a Festival which Chris managed to pull together in just three rehearsals - and lots of home practice from the players, I’m sure. There were some intense family rehearsals going on in the Jones household!
It was especially nice to have some time after all the hard work and concentration to fully enjoy the Abbey - and even go on a tour in if you were fortunate enough! I’m very much looking forward to going back next year!
Amy Jones (Tenor Horn player in Wantage Band)