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Beenham Wind Orchestra’s Tribute to the Natural World blew us all away





Beenham Wind Orchestra Spring Concert: A Tribute to the Natural World

at St Mary's Church, Thatcham

on Saturday, April 27

Review by RAY WILTON

Beenham Wind Orchestra Tribute to the Natural World, trumpets
Beenham Wind Orchestra Tribute to the Natural World, trumpets

I had the pleasure to watch Beenham Wind Orchestra’s concert – A Tribute to the Natural World at St. Mary’s Church, Thatcham.

This historic orchestra were playing to a very full church, and I was looking forward to a varied programme of pieces, under the strong but relaxed direction of Victoria Benjamin, and ably compered throughout by David Ware.

The performance was dedicated to Kay Gibbs, a long standing member of the orchestra who passed away earlier in April.

The opening piece was Vesuvius by Frank Ticheli, this started loudly and ended louder, and beautifully created the calm before the eruption, the developing tremors and built up powerfully to the eruption.

Earthdance by Michael Sweeney followed and started with a spell of gentle percussion, which with your eyes closed perfectly simulated the sound and feel of big raindrops falling on a forest floor, the following music building to a dramatic close.

Next was the standard Blue Moon by Richard Rodgers, the solo delivered in style by trombonist Ross Anderson.

Before the interval we were treated to the short symphony Give Us This Day by David Maslanka, this lengthy and powerful piece in two movements. The first was slow and thoughtful in mood, while the highly energized second movement switches between joyful and sternly sober, using deep long notes towards the end to represent the Bach chorale, Our Father in Heaven.

After the interval the concert opened with Hymn to the Sun With the Beat of Mother Earth by Japanese composer Satoshi Yagisawa who was commissioned to write it to mark the 40th anniversary of Tokai City Wind Band. A grant from Greenham Trust enables the group to buy the score. This was a strikingly different piece to the rest of the programme, powerful and delicate, and the orchestra using their voices as soft choral aahs, with the instruments returned building to the huge, filmic finish.

Two great solos in the second half, Alyse Ashton performed a stunning saxophone arrangement by Warren Barker of Over The Rainbow, and Lewis Anderson with a strong trumpet solo in When You Wish Upon a Star.

There was another Frank Ticheli piece, Sun Dance, which captured the sounds of being in a park in the summer, and finally Joy Of Life by Brian Balmages to complete the programme with its Cajun influences, and hints of blues and jazz. An uplifting piece to finish, with a spirited ending and climax.

The experience of live music is much broader than recorded music, it is audible and visceral. You share the emotions with the audience as a whole and the acoustics of St Mary’s Church brought out every detail of the music. A standing ovation said it all.

Beenham Wind Orchestra are not to be missed!

Dates for your diary: Sunday, June 2 at 3pm, Victoria Park Bandstand.

Friday, June 21, Band on the Rec, Beenham Village 7.30pm, barbecue and ice creams available. Visit www.beenhamwindorchestra.org

Jul 13, 2pm Englefield Flower Show & Village Fete, Englefield CE Primary School



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