Conducted by Craig Williams
The Annual Christmas Concert by the Band at St. John's Church in Walsall Wood, has always been a huge favourite for the Band and audience alike, so it was no surprise that the Church was fall at 6.05pm - 25 minutes early!
And the weather was full of rain and wind, but none of the white stuff that caused the cancellation of this Event last year!
So we were on..................................!
Walking through the audience, it was hard for the writer to realise that his first such Concert was some 42 years ago - but the excitement was the same!
The Service began with a welcome from the retiring (of 15 years) Vicar, Nigel Carter, before the first carol with the Band in the background (for some of the time) - 'O Come, All Ye Faithful' and jolly good it was too, before the Band set off on their journey with a cracking performance of 'Christmas Festival' by Leroy Anderson. The next piece was preceeded by a poem setting the scene, read by Conductor Craig Williams, before a short but very sweet version of 'The Nutcracker Overture' byTchaikovsky arranged by Denis Wright - super delicate stuff, much admired by the audience too! And the assorted children were very happy with, 'The Snowman' by Howard Blake arranged by Philip Sparke, that ended the Band's first slot with such style.
'Ding Dong, Merrily on High' followed, before the delightful Walsall Wood School Choir set about their fantastic slot in the programme - they were terrific and very, very confident!
The Band returned to accompany 'Hark the Herald Sing', before starting their second set, avec 8/9 children from the Choir and their Mothers jingling some sleigh bells and one of the Mother's Conducting, 'Sleigh Ride' by Leroy Anderson - and very spitited they all were too! 'Parafrase for Euphonium and Brass Band' by W J Kirkpatrick arranged by Torstein Aagard-Nilson featured the brilliant Euphonium Soloist - Yu Han Yang on sparkling form - worth the entrance money on its own! 'Santa Clausetrophobia' arranged by Sandy Smith closed the Band's Second slot with everyone singing and on their feet!
'Good King Wenceslas' was sung by everyone in true festive spirit, before the St. John's Church Choir contributed 'Born in the Night' and 'What Child is This?' - small in number, but big in commitment!
The Band were in the background of 'The First Nowell', before the magnificent 'Kingdom Triumphant' by Eric Ball was given the full Staffs Treatment and the audience treated to a very special performance, that really did merit the standing ovation afterwards. 'Movement Gives Emotion' and that was certainly true of 'Schneewaltzer' arranged by Goff Richards, that certainly had the muscles aching after it ended! The Band ended with a commanding performance of 'Hallelujah Chorus' by Handel.
'We Wish You a Merry Christmas' closed a fantastic Concert - thanks to all performers and the audience for easily getting the 'Christmas Spirit' into all of us - and no alcohol in sight!
The Final Blessing and Prayer ended, before the Band wished everyone a 'Happy Christmas' with a rousing version of 'White Christmas' arranged by Philip Sparke.
The Chairman of the Band said, 'That was a terrific Concert, very much enjoyed by performers and audience alike - it has been and remains one of the highlights of Christmas for the Band, that never fails to deliver. In recent years, that has been down to the efforts and charisma of outgoing Vicar - Nigel Carter. In the 15 years that he has been Vicar of St John's, his enthusiasm and charm has never waned - The Staffordshire Band would like to thank him for all the work and support he has given the the Band over his time at St, John's, and wish him a very happy retirement indeed!'
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