The Reading Spring Gardens Brass Band welcomed an appreciative audience to its concert of ‘Christmas Music & Carols’ at its rehearsal home of Christ Church, Woodley on Saturday 17th December, 2016. Band Chairman, Wayne Welch, described the evening as “memorable” and expressed a great sense of pride in the band’s performance which “reflected the renewed enthusiasm” enjoyed under the baton of newly appointed Musical Director, David Ruel – a respected conductor and band trainer, best-known locally for his long and successful associations both as conductor and compére of The Friary (Meux) Guildford Brass Band and The Cobham Band.
With humour and style, David first introduced the 27-strong band in true brass band fashion with the march ‘Christmas Joy’ followed by a varied programme of ‘Christmas Music’, which included ‘A Winter’s Tale’, ‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ and ‘A Christmas Bolero’; ‘and Carols’ such as ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’, ‘Silent Night’ and ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’; closing with the classic Christmas favourite ‘White Christmas’.
Among the many highlights of the evening was a duet performance of ‘Babe in a Manger’ by the band’s euphonium players Mick Fowkes and Julia Bonewell; and a selection of carols performed by the band’s training band ‘Watkins Brass’ conducted by Peter McMillan.
Unfortunately, it was Peter’s last appearance with Watkins Brass following his announcement earlier in the month that he was stepping down due to work pressures. Band Secretary, Lesley Thomas said “I would like to thank Peter for all his hard work and commitment, who hands over to David’s son Matthew, who has kindly agreed following Wayne’s gentle persuasion to head the training band in the new year”. Wayne stated “When Peter told me that I would need to find someone else to take on the training band in the new year, Matthew’s name immediately came to mind”.
Matthew is actively involved in several brass band organisations including Tredegar Town Band (currently ranked number 7 in the brass band world rankings) and 4barsrest.com, the popular online brass band magazine, and is known more locally for his association with the championship section band, Friary Guildford. Matthew will continue Peter’s good work and develop a long term structured plan of player development, which it is hoped will lead to a new generation of young brass players eventually joining the main band itself.
This festive month also saw the band well received while performing Christmas music and carols at the Duchess of Kent Hospice in Reading, Henley Golf Club and Cadogan Lodge in Caversham, in addition to collecting money in support of the band at Tesco on Portman Road and Morrisons on Basingstoke Road in Reading. The band is deeply grateful for the support it has received.
This Christmas saw the mark of a new beginning for the band which shows great promise for 2017. The band wishes to continue to improve its consistency and standard of playing both in rehearsals and on the concert stage under David’s musical direction. If you would like to be a part of our future success, new members are always welcome. If you would like to come along to a rehearsal, are interested in joining, or perhaps know someone aged 17 or under who is learning a brass instrument and may be interested in joining Watkins Brass, please contact us.