Friday, 19 May 2017

It's Showtime!

Northampton Concert Band are pleased to announce their next concert - Stage & Screen.

They will also be joined by guests from The Northampton Musical Theatre Group to add that extra bit of razzle-dazzle to the evening. Featuring music and songs from your favourite films and musicals this is one night you'll not want to miss.

Tickets: £10 Adults, £5 Students/Children.
Box office: Rachel 07561 390099 or buy online.
Abington Avenue United Reformed Church, Abington Avenue, Northampton NN1 4QA
Saturday 7:30pm 8th July
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Monday, 27 March 2017

Bands in the Park 2017

'Bands in the Park', hosted Northampton Brough Council, returns from this Sunday (2nd April) and runs until September 17th at the Victorian bandstand in Abington Park.
Come and enjoy traditional music from a large mix of bands in the beautiful and relaxed surroundings of Abington Park.

Northampton Concert Band will be performing in the park on June 11th 2 -5pm

For a full list of performers visit
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Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Spring Serenade - 25th March 2017 - Full Programme

Programme Overview

Earl of Oxfords March
Illyrian Dances
Cornet Concerto
Millennium Bridge
Congestion Charge
Thames Journey


Suite in E flat
Igor's Lament (from Venetian Spells)
Irish Tune from County Derry
Shepherds Hey
Legend of the Ninth - March Beyond the Wall
Pre Goodman Rag
Yiddish Dances (Freylachs)
Evocations - Royal Hunt of the Sun

Saturday 25th March 2017
Holy Sepulchre Church, Northampton
Conducted by Graham Tear

Earl of Oxfords March – William Byrd

Little is known about Byrd’s early life, though he once implied that he was born around 1540. It seems likely that he came under the influence of Thomas Tallis (1505-1585) at an early age as he later dedicated works to him as ‘my great teacher’.

Tallis was the finest English composer of his generation and his influence on Byrd’s music can be seen in many ways. Byrd was later to be hailed as ‘the father of English music’

It was probably written after 1588 when England was in a mood of national celebration after victory over the Spanish and French Armadas. The movement which Byrd calls Marche Before The Battell became known as The Earl of Oxford’s March, though it is not entirely clear why – it appears with that title in an early manuscript copy of the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. Written while Byrd was at the height of his powers, it still stirs the soul to this day.

Illyrian Dances - Guy Woolfenden

I. Rondeau
II. Aubade
III. Gigue

Guy Woolfenden composed over 150 scores for the Royal Shakespeare Company. This suite of dances is adapted from thematic material from a production of Twelfth Night, set in Illyria. The precise location of Illyria was not important to Shakespeare; what excited him was the resonance of the word itself and the romance of all far away, make-believe places. Illyria is “Never-Never Land”, and Woollfenden was intrigued with the idea of inventing dances for such a place.

Cornet Concerto – Denis Wright
Soloist: Chris Cox

I Allegro
II Canzonetta 
III Rondo

Denis Wright was an English composer and conductor of Brass Band music, he completed this concerto during 1941 while he was working in Glasgow for the BBC. The first performance of the concerto was broadcast from there with Harry Mortimer as the soloist with the BBC Military Band, it was a year later when the Brass Band version was first performed and it has been a standard for cornet soloists ever since.

Millennium Bridge - Nigel Hess
Congestion Charge
Thames Journey

The first two of these pieces by Nigel Hess are from a suite of 3 movements entitled New London Pictures, the missing movement being London Eye.

Millennium Bridge describes the journey across the new landmark bridge from the Tate Modern, crossing the busy river and onwards to St Paul’s Cathedral with its bells ringing over the great city.

Congestion Charge is a racy and comical romp depicting Londoners attempting to go about their business in the face of overwhelming odds – including traffic lights.

Our final item of our first half is Thames Journey, depicting the river that has shaped London. The piece begins at the river's source with just a few drops of water and gains strength as it begins to flow, crossing through Oxfordshire and Berkshire we hear many local themes along the way until passing the chimes of Big Ben and out to meet the sea.


First Suite in E flat – Gustav Holst

I Chaconne
II Intermezzo
III March

In 1909, Holst composed the Suite No. 1 in E-flat, a revolutionary piece in that it was written exclusively for wind band. At that time, concert wind band repertoire consisted of reductions of pieces originally scored for orchestras, essentially program music. Holst wanted to make the concert band a serious concert medium, and this piece is seen as the first step in that direction.

Holst was well suited for this role as concert band composer; he played trombone in the Scottish Orchestra and the Carl Rosa Opera Company, and he was well acquainted with the working of wind instruments. It should also be noted that Holst played for seven years as a trombonist for the White Viennese Band. It was a seaside band which claimed to be foreign, and the members even spoke with phony accents, but in actuality, two-thirds of the group was from England. During this time period, audiences were more likely to go to a concert held by a foreign band than a British one. Talk about patriotism!

Igor's Lament - Venetian Spells – Martin Ellerby

Venetian Spells by Martin Ellerby is a suite of 4 movements each paying homage to a composer who has been associated with Venice in the past. It was commissioned by Timothy Reynish and is dedicated to him on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday. Rather like his previous Paris Sketches Ellerby's work pays tribute to a great city and in particular to various composers associated with it. 
The second movement, Pas-de-Deux (Igor’s Lament), is a dedication to the composer Stravinsky and the impresario Diaghilev who are both buried in the island cemetery of San Michele.

Irish Tune from County Derry – Percy Grainger

Australian-born Percy Grainger (1882-1961) was a piano prodigy turned composer who was known for his strange personal habits, his colorful prose, and his equally unusual music.
Irish Tune from County Derry is a setting of a now-famous tune from the Irish county of Derry in the north (also sometimes called Londonderry). This classic arrangement features beautiful, delicate part-writing for both woodwinds and brass, highlighting each family in turn.
While this tune is widely associated with the lyrics “Danny Boy”, it in fact, has a rich history of lyric settings of which “Danny Boy” is a relative latecomer. Another title for the music is “Londonderry Air”

Shepherd's Hey – Percy Grainger

Grainger made several different settings of Shepherd’s Hey, which is based on a folk tune collected by the British folk song expert Cecil Sharp. The tune itself is a Morris dance though Grainger himself insists on his 1913 piano solo score that “This setting is not suitable to dance Morris dances to.”

The March Beyond the Wall - The Legend of the Ninth - Peter Smalley

Much has been written and speculated about what happened to the Roman Ninth Legion. The main theory being that the 5,000 strong unit was lost marching north to Caledonia to put down a rebellion and was the inspiration for the 2011 film The Eagle.
Peter Smalley portrays this legend in this suite and in the opening movement we certainly get a sense of the legions arrival; North of the wall.

Pre Goodman Rag – Malcolm Arnold
Soloist: Colin Giles

Somewhere in Ireland, 1974. The telephone rings. A voice says, “Malcolm? Benny Goodman here.” Malcolm Arnold shouts, “Sod off!” and hangs up – thinking that he was the victim of a prank call. Arnold got another call: “Malcolm, this is Benny. I may be a bit stoned, but I think your concerto is just great!” and thus a great friendship was formed.
Arnold’s second Clarinet Concerto was dedicated to Benny Goodman and first performed by Benny as part of the Red Rocks Music Festival in 1974. The third movement, known as the Pre Goodman Rag is an outrageous ragtime parody with a hauntingly wistful middle section.

Freylachs - Yiddish Dances (Movement 5) – Adam Gorb

Written for Timothy Reynish’s 60th birthday in 1998, Yiddish Dances is very much a party piece. It brings together two of Adam Gorb’s abiding passions: the Symphonic Wind Orchestra and Klezmer – the folk music of the Yiddish-speaking people.
The 5th Movement - Freylachs is a very fast stomp in which themes from the other movements are interwoven, ending in a riotous Yiddish ‘booze-up’ for all concerned.

The Royal Hunt of the Sun - Evocations - Martin Ellerby

Martin Ellerby wrote: "Evocations is cast in four contrasting movements based on Spanish subjects. I have not used any nationalist folk elements but rather alluded to a Spanish atmosphere by means of melody, rhythm, harmony and orchestration filtered through my own listening experiences. The result is more that of an affectionate observer than of a native correspondent."

The Royal Hunt of the Sun which closes the work evokes the spirit of the ritual dances of Spain. The subject matter is a play by Peter Shaffer concerning the conquest of Peru by the Spanish in the 16th century.
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Saturday, 18 February 2017

"Check out" how much we raised!

Colin Giles (L) with Mark Gibson (R), AAURC

Colin Giles (L) with Ivan Brown (R), Bethany Homestead
Following our fantastic Christmas concert, Northampton Concert Band raised a total of £900 to be shared between Abington Avenue United Reformed Church and Bethany Homestead.

Our chairperson, Colin Giles, was delighted to hand over two, unreasonably oversized, cheques for £450 to representatives from both organisations during our rehearsal last week. (Good luck to the person who has to post those over the bank counter)

The Christmas concert was performed in honour of Harold Colman, former conductor of the band, who was fondly remembered at the fundraising event. Harold resided at Bethany Homestead, with his wife Cathy, in his later years and was a regular attendee at church services at Abington Avenue United Reformed Church.

Northampton Concert Band's next concert will be in aid of  Marie Curie on Saturday, 25th March 2017 , 7:30pm at Church of the Holy Sepulchre where we will be performing music composed by masters of British wind band music in a concert entitled "Spring Serenade", conducted by Graham Tear.
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Friday, 25 November 2016

Christmas Concert 2016 - Full Programme

Programme Overview

Barnard Castle 
Dance of the Tumblers 
A Lincolnshire Posy 
Elegy on a RAF theme 
Lucy Long 
John Williams Swings 


Let the Bells Ring 
Once in Royal David’s City 
Hark! The Herald 
A Christmas Overture 
The Christmas Song
Northampton Concert Band presents their annual Christmas Concert conducted by Graham Tear.

10th December 2016 @ 7:30pm
Abington Avenue United Reformed Church, Northampton, NN1 4QA


Barnard Castle
Goff Richards
Goff Richards, sometimes credited as Godfrey Richards, was a prominent English brass band arranger and composer. He was well known for his original brass compositions such as “Trailblaze”, “Doyen”, “Exploding Brass!” and the marches “The Jaguar” and “Barnard Castle”. He died on 25 June 2011 in Cheshire, following an illness, at the age of 66. Barnard Castle is a market town in Teesdale, County Durham, England. It is named after the castle around which it grew up.

Dance of the Tumblers
Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov
arr. Terry Vosvein
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (b. March 18th, 1844, d. June 21st, 1908) is known for his lavish pieces such as Scheherazade and Capriccio Espagnol, and his many operas.
“Dance of the Tumblers” is taken from the opera The Snow Maiden, a fairytale, which premiered in 1882. It features in a scene when the Tsar hosts a feast in celebration of the coming of spring following the tragic death of the Snow Maiden after a 15 year reign.

A Lincolnshire Posy
Percy Grainger
  • Dublin Bay (1)
  • Horkstow Grange (2)
  • The Lost Lady found (6)
We present 3 movements from A Lincolnshire Posy

A Lincolnshire Posy was written by Percy Grainger in 1937 for the American Bandmasters Association.It is considered to be Grainger’s masterpiece. The work consists of six movements each based on folk songs that Grainger heard whilst on travels in Lincolnshire in 1905.
Grainger wrote: "Each number is intended to be a kind of musical portrait of the singer who sang its underlying melody... a musical portrait of the singer's personality no less than of his habits of song, his regular or irregular wonts of rhythm, his preference for gaunt or ornately arabesque delivery, his contrasts of legato and staccato, his tendency towards breadth or delicacy of tone."
Grainger dedicated his "bunch of Wildflowers" to "the old folksingers who sang so sweetly to me."

Elegy on the Royal Air Force March Past
Barrie Hingley
The original score for the Royal Air Force March Past was completed by Sir Walford Davis in 1918. The second part of the march, the trio, was composed by Sir George Dyson. It is this trio section that Wing Commander Barrie Hingley OBE used as inspiration for this reflective Elegy. Hingley is a former Principal Director of Music at the Royal Air Force and one of the service's most prolific composers.

Lucy Long
Fred Godfrey
Bassoon solo - Will Gold
Adolphus Frederick (Fred) Godfrey trained at the Royal Academy of Music in London, taking over as Bandmaster of the Coldstream Guards after his father’s death. His compositions include the Marguerite Waltzes, a piccolo solo Yankee Doodle, and Recollections of England which featured in the early London Promenade concerts.
Lucy Long was premiered in Blackpool, written for and played by the orchestra’s seventeen-year-old bassoonist Philip Langdale. The work also featured in the very first London Promenade concert conducted by Henry J Wood at the Queen’s Hall on Saturday 10 August 1895.

Nigel Hess
Commissioned by the Royal Air Force, 'Scramble!' is a concert overture for symphonic wind band inspired by images of the RAF's airfields during the Battle of Britain, immortalised for ever in such films as Reach for the Skies.
The pastoral opening depicts the lull before the storm: the young pilots sitting in wicker chairs outside their barracks on a sunlit morning. The peace is, of course, deceptive; suddenly amid siren sounds, there is a shout of 'Scramble!', and a rush to the waiting planes. In no time at all the Squadron is airborne, heading for a skirmish over the English Channel and beyond. A lyrical central section featuring a solo cornet depicts the stillness many pilots described as they flew to engage with the enemy before the battle breaks out once more. For those who returned, it would be only a short while before, once again, they would hear the familiar shout of 'Scramble!'

John Williams Swings
arr. Jay Bocook
Film scoring master John Williams has written music for a variety of genres and style, and this entertaining and powerful medley showcases his jazz roots. This selection includes “Cantina Band” from Star Wars, the main theme from Catch Me If You Can, and the rousing “Swing, Swing, Swing” from the movie 1941.


L.O.L. - Listen to LOL
Robert Buckley
Robert (Bob) Buckley was born in Brighton, England – he now divides his time between Vancouver, Montreal, and Holland. He has a diverse career as a composer, arranger, performer, producer, recording artist and conductor. LOL (Laugh Out Loud) is a bonkers, cartoony piece of music guaranteed to wake you up after the interval. It was written for the Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy in celebration of their 75th anniversary as an opportunity to display their dazzling technical facility and humour.

Let the Bells Ring - Listen to Let the Bells Ring
Robert Buckley
Based on the familiar Ukrainian Bell Carol, Robert Buckley has taken a rhapsodic approach mixing original ideas along with this well-known melody. Originally composed by Mykola Dmytrovich Leontovych, the Ukrainian Bell Carol is part of a large choral work entitled Shchedryk. It was first performed by students of Kiev University in December 1916. The tune is an adaptation of an old ‘shchedrivka’, a song traditionally sung on Ukrainian New Year’s Eve, Leontovych added his own lyrics which concern the legend claiming that when Jesus was born, all the bells on earth started ringing in his honour.

Audience Carol: Once in Royal David’s City

Eric Whitacre
Originally written for 8 voices, Whitacre’s Sleep is a setting of the 1923 Robert Frost poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. Though Whitacre was denied using Frost’s text as his estate maintains very strict controls on musical settings of his works.

Audience Carol: Hark! The Herald

A Christmas Overture
Nigel Hess
This vivacious and colourful Christmas Overture, originally commissioned as an orchestral work by John Rutter for his 2007 Christmas Festival, proved an instant success with audience and orchestra alike. Traditional carols, skilfully juxtaposed and interwoven, provide the thematic material. They are, in order of appearance, Ding Dong! Merrily On High; Deck The Halls, Il Est Né Le Divin Enfant, Infant Holy, Infant Lowly, Personent Hodie, We Wish You A Merry Christmas and Angels, From the Realms Of Glory, which brings the overture to a majestic close.

The Christmas Song
Mel Tormé & Robert Wells
According to Tormé, the song was written during a blistering hot summer in 1945. In an effort to "stay cool by thinking cool". I saw a spiral pad on Wells' piano with four lines written in pencil", Tormé recalled. "They started, 'Chestnuts roasting..., Jack Frost nipping..., Yuletide carols..., Folks dressed up like Eskimos.' Bob didn't think he was writing a song lyric. He said he thought if he could immerse himself in winter he could cool off. Forty minutes later that song was written. I wrote all the music and some of the lyrics."

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