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Cold Ash Band & Wantage Band

Two talented ensembles provide the Sunday evening entertainment in Newbury.



Conductors: Jemma Johnstone & Chris King
St Nicolas Church
Newbury
Sunday 2nd June

With the Newbury Spring Festival recently hosting Flowers Band, it was great to have the opportunity so soon to hear another top flight band in action, as Wantage enjoyed a warm welcome as guests of Cold Ash Brass.

MD Jemma Johnstone (who also plays with Wantage) led her band in an upbeat opening; PLC’s ‘Home of Legends’  followed by a fine rendition by Ben Herbert (euphonium) of ‘Be My Love’.  Sure-fire audience hits with ‘Climb Every Mountain’  and the trombone trio, ‘I Will Follow Him’  were enthusiastically received.

Tom Davoren’s gentle hearth-glowing ‘Embers’  was an evocative contrast, featuring a lovely cornet lead by Dom Simes, before the set closed with the foot-tapping ‘Libertango’  which had the audience swaying along to the tango rhythms.

Tom Davoren’s gentle hearth-glowing ‘Embers’  was an evocative contrast, featuring a lovely cornet lead by Dom Simes, before the set closed with the foot-tapping ‘Libertango’  which had the audience swaying along to the tango rhythms.

Rip roaring

After a little stage setting Wantage opened with a rip-roaring overture to the operetta ‘Candide’  – frenetic and exciting as they quickly accustomed themselves to the lively acoustic. 

A beautifully moulded ‘Elegy’  from John Ireland’s ‘A Downland Suite’  featured the tender leads of principal cornet, Richard Straker and solo euphonium, Sam Wyne, whilst ‘Blue Rondo a la Turk’  hit its groove led by trombonist Grace Hancock. The first half closed with Peter Graham’s clever Salvationist amalgam ‘Shine as the Light’,  sparky and triumphant.

Well balanced

After the fine selection of half-time cake and drinks Wantage returned with a short set, led by the rhythmical diverse melodies of ‘Nightingale Dances’  and Chris King’s lovely arrangement of Bach’s ‘Siciliano’  played with subtle nuance by Imogen Fewster.

‘Riverdance’  followed by ‘Cry of the Celts’  was a little bit of Celtic overload perhaps, but it was a joy to hear tenor horn soloist Archie Pattenden play ‘A Time for Peace’  by Peter Graham as an interlude during the Peter Graham arranged suite. 

Jemma stepped forward for the classic 1970s hit, ‘Music’  driven by a terrific percussion section, before Chris led on ‘The Lost Chord’  – the final chords bringing many in a highly entertainment audience to their feet.

Two well balanced joint items rounded things off. 

Jemma stepped forward for the classic 1970s hit, ‘Music’  driven by a terrific percussion section, before Chris led on ‘The Lost Chord’  – the final chords bringing many in a highly entertained audience to their feet.

Those who’d eschewed the final of 'Britain’s Got Talent' to attend certainly made the right decision.

Fiona Bennett

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