Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Christmas Caroling

Brings back happy memories Hark the Herald Angels Sing—trumpet fanfares—descants—brass bands—choirs—decorations—the works.

 I have always enjoyed playing Christmas Carols, it all started when I was about 14 years of age and was a member of the Rowntree's Cocoa Works Band in York. Every year the band played carols for the city's various hospitals and nursing homes. This tradition continued every year until I left the band.
 When I was 20 years of age I joined the Royal Artillery Band in Woolwich, London so for the next 22 years there was always lots of Christmas Concert performances.

 I became player/manager of the world renown brass group The Wallace Collection so for the next 13 years there were Christmas Carol concerts to be performed. The high light every year was performing at the Royal Albert Hall with The Bach Choir with Sir David Willcocks the conductor keeping us all together. We played two concerts back to back to a packed Royal Albert Hall. By the way Katherine the Duchess of Kent always sang with the choir but only on the afternoon performance—she always loved it. Sadly this time came to an end when John Wallace CBE was appointed Principle of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, a position he still holds to this day. The Wallace Collection years had came to an end.

 When I left The Royal Artillery Band I decided to form my own brass group called Thames Fanfare Brass Ensemble which by the way is now in it's 26th year so my own group still manages to play carols at Christmas. Only two years ago we were engaged to play carols for three days at the St. Modwen Shopping Centre at the Elephant and Castle, London and for the Regent Street Association a couple of days in South Molton Street.London.

 Three years ago my Herald Trumpeters were asked to perform a fanfare for the start of a celebrity Christmas concert for the charity Kids for Kids, the concert was a great success and the following year we returned again but this time with my brass quintet Thames Fanfare Brass. The concert was again a great success and much needed money was raised.

 After the concert I talked to the founder of the charity Patricia Parker MBE and I suggested that we might be able to raise money next year by playing carols at one of the railway stations, so around July time arrangements were put in place for us to perform at Euston Station before the celebrity concert date.

 29th November  I made my way to Euston Station for a 12-30pm start armed with trumpet, music stands, carol books amp, backing cd's father Christmas hats and with warm clothes on, I was  allocated a spot at the station  where we would be allowed to perform and we should not move from there  (health and safety reasons) lets put this way it was cold, draughty and not the best position to be had, never mind we just got on with it.

Out came all the old favourites rocking around the Christmas tree, Jingle Bells, Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole then I would play for half an hour on the trumpet, this combination went on until 4-00 pm when I was joined by another two trumpets......trombone, French horn and a euphonium ,so now with the added instruments and a bigger brass sound the collecting buckets were starting to rattle. 7-00 pm arrived I was well shattered and could not feel my lips any more, the lads were great and very supportive of the cause.

 The very next day bright and early I received a telephone call from Patrice Parker who was truly over the moon with excitement that we had managed to raise £679-33p.

Now on the 16 December my brass group were performing at All Saints church Fulham, Candlelit Christmas Concert sponsored by Sciteb Ltd hosted by the celebrity Eamonn Holmes of Sky television and readers The Baroness Rendell of Babergh CDE.Lord Cope of Berkeley PC,Alistair Burt MP and Richard Wilson OBE.

 What with Richard Wilson, Ruth Rendell the choir of the Danes Hill school, St Andrews Singers, saxophone solo and the very popular Post Horn gallop played by yours truly, carol descants and fanfares and the witty TV presenter Eamonn Holmes we were in for a great concert  and a night to remember which we did knowing that the charity Kids for Kids had raised just under £10,000 and I remember leaving the concert with a good feel factor Christmas period had arrived,

 Why is a goat/donkey so important in Darfur?

 Because without a goat/donkey life is virtually impossible in the vast  expanse that is Darfur even small children walk miles across the desert to reach water -a goat/donkey is a life saver, transforming the life of a thirsty child.

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