HelenEdith's Blog

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Archive for the ‘Beckenham Concert Band’ Category

The first wind band I played in and still the one I have the strongest ties to

Beckenham Concert Band at Hever Castle

Posted by HelenEdith on December 20, 2009

Hever Castle at Christmas

Today the Beckenham Concert Band performed at Hever Castle as part of their “Magic of Christmas” festivities. We had a marquee to play in, and it contained a heater and some lighting, but it was still pretty cold. I was rather glad that I wore two pairs of trousers. 🙂

The music requested by Hever Castle was Christmas music, but we also slipped in some numbers from “Oliver” in addition to the various Christmas carols and other assorted Christmas pieces like Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride”.

We expected our audience to be transitory as people visited the various attractions around the Castle, but there was one group of dedicated blanket-clad ladies who stayed for the whole performance! They jumped up and down whenever we played anything lively, which is probably all that kept them from being frozen to the spot, as there was real snow on the ground with the temperature to match. 😀

When we finished playing, there was still a little bit of light left and I put my camera up on my tripod for a few shots. I’ve included a picture of Hever Castle with a Christmas tree in front of it, but I got several other very pretty pictures and might even feel motivated to put them up on my website when I get a spare hour or two.

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Old but good: The hazards of outdoor playing

Posted by HelenEdith on August 25, 2009

I’ve been looking back through the contents of my Writings Page and found this:

4th May, 1998

I thought that I would share what happened to me today with you all, as you will probably get a smile out of it.

I have just been playing with the Beckenham Concert Band at a church fete. The band was set up under some trees. Part way through our performance, something wet landed on my arm. I hoped against hope that it was a drip of water off one of the trees, but when we got to the end of the number we were playing, and I had a chance to look, alas, it was not water which had landed upon my sleeve. I was in the direct firing line of a bird. 😯 Just what I wanted to fall foul of. 😉 The saxophone player sitting to my right said that she saw what landed on me go by her at an angle, and counted herself lucky that she didn’t lean forward at that moment! I was relieved that it landed on me and not my instrument.

I suppose that this is the ideal time to share an old schoolyard ditty with you:

A little birdie flying high
Once dropped a message from the sky.
And as it fell upon my eye
I thanked the Lord that cows can’t fly!

Helen (off to do some washing)

Just as well we didn’t have the purple jackets back in those days: it might have meant a trip to the dry cleaner…

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Beckenham Concert Band: Horniman Gardens Bandstand

Posted by HelenEdith on August 16, 2009

Horniman Gardens Bandstand being prepared for a Beckenham Concert Band performance

Horniman Gardens Bandstand being prepared for a Beckenham Concert Band performance

This afternoon I had an outing with the Beckenham Concert Band. We played on the bandstand in the Horniman Gardens, where there are 16 acres of formal and natural landscapes. The bandstand is tucked in among them, and didn’t look very large from a distance, but it accommodated our whole band, so I think that its appearance was deceptive.

Here is our programme:

  • 001 Blaze Away
  • 044 Swingin’ Safari
  • 032 Teddy bears’ picnic
  • 014 Oklahoma
  • 070 Bandology
  • 216 Instant Concert
  • 376 King Cotton
  • 718 Jesus Christ Superstar


  • 128 Semper Fidelis
  • 275 Costa Brava
  • 432 Wizard of Oz Fantasy
  • 538 Raiders March
  • 243 Blue Tango
  • 060 Aces High
  • 066 Hootenanny
  • 337 High School Cadets
  • 658 The Symphonic Beatles

This is a bandstand which I’d never previously had occasion to perform on, and it is in a beautiful setting. We plan on going back one day when I’m not performing to look properly at the gardens and the museum. I think I might bring my tripod: there’s a view from by the bandstand which encompasses the Battersea Power Station and the arch of the new Wembley Stadium, but even with shake reduction activated on my camera, I didn’t get a good picture.

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Beckenham Concert Band: last rehearsal before Horniman Gardens Bandstand

Posted by HelenEdith on August 11, 2009

This evening, I took some time off from Marlowe Music Week and went to the Beckenham Concert Band rehearsal. The Marlowe activity was string orchestra with soloists, and I wasn’t involved with that this year. Last year I played Henry Hargrave’s Bassoon Concerto No.1 with the string orchestra, but I didn’t practise anything for this year – and Malcolm turned out to have plenty of would-be soloists, so my absence wasn’t a problem. 🙂

The Beckenham Concert Band are performing on the bandstand in the Horniman Gardens next Sunday, so attendance at their rehearsal was a good thing. I got to sort out both the Bassoon 1 and Bassoon 2 pads, as the other bassoonist couldn’t make it this evening, although he will be there on Sunday. I’ve brought both pads home with me, so I have the option of practising in the next few days. Maybe I should do so: there’s an exposed bit in Jesus Christ Superstar involving a tricky D flat!

I had my mobile phone switched on, which was a bit naughty of me, and it went off during the rehearsal. I answered it before anybody recognised the Light Cavalry Overture (my ringtone) and it was Stephen to say that he’d come home without his house keys and could I please not be too late home. When the last rehearsal piece was announced as The Symphonic Beatles, I took the opportunity to pack up and go home a bit early. I can play the piece, so I didn’t really need to rehearse it, but it’s not a piece I would play from choice, as I don’t like The Beatles. I think that a harmony used by Paul McCartney offends my ears.

With my head start on packing up, I left the rehearsal just before 10pm and was home shortly after ten past ten. Stephen emerged from his car and I let him in. He took his diabetic pills, emptied the washing machine for me, and went straight up to bed. Now that I’ve hung up my washing and written this piece, I’d better follow him. I’ve got a concert tomorrow morning!

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Beckenham Concert Band at Coolings

Posted by HelenEdith on July 22, 2009

Assembling my bassoon at Coolings - photo by Stephen Andrews

Assembling my bassoon at Coolings - photo by Stephen Andrews

The Beckenham Concert Band played an outdoor concert at Coolings in what has become an annual event in Arthur’s Garden, located behind Arthur’s Coffee Shop.

He is our playlist:

  • 001 Blaze Away
  • 070 Bandology
  • 128 Semper Fidelis
  • 197 Fantasia on British Sea Songs
  • 216 Instant Concert
  • 275 Costa Brava
  • 282 Irish Rhapsody
  • 376 King Cotton
  • 432 Wizard of Oz Fantasy
  • 454 Songs in the Key of Life
  • 511 The Magnificent Seven
  • 632 Tony Bennett Unplugged
  • 658 The Symphonic Beatles
  • 679 76 Trombones
  • 681 Queen in Concert

It did clearly state on the end of the playlist that it was just that and not a running order, but I wasn’t expecting to see that at the end and didn’t notice it and started the concert with the wrong pieces on my music stand!

The numbers against the pieces on the playlist are the band’s internal catalogue numbers. This band has been in existence since 1977 (that’s over 30 years!) and in that time it has built up a huge repertoire of sheet music.

It was very windy last Sunday. I lowered the legs on the tripod portion of my music stand until they were flat to the ground and firmly anchored the two nearest to me by putting my feet on them. I also had my foot on my pad of sheet music until Viv, the baratone sax player, who was my neighbour, commented that she was sitting on her pad of music. That seemed like a good idea, so I emulated her. Viv was very impressed by the performance of our new perspex music holders. They definitely did better than clothes pegs in the windy conditions, although I did put a peg across the windward side of my music holder to make sure that the wind didn’t get inside and rip my music out.

We finished with the Fantasia on British Sea Songs, and when we got to the end of the Hornpipe, we got a round of spontaneous applause. 🙂 This was great, as it gave me a moment to catch my breath for the rest of the piece. 🙂

We brought Stephen’s Mum with us. She always enjoys a trip to Coolings – with or without music! She probably spends less money when she’s listening to music though, but I think she has plans to return for some plants that she’s got her eyes on. 🙂

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A rather busy week

Posted by HelenEdith on June 27, 2009

My new Bonmarche outfit

My new Bonmarche outfit

I have had a busy time over the past 7 days. You may have already read about my exploits with Maidstone Winds and the Beckenham Concert Band which took place last weekend. Knowing that I wasn’t going to get a “Saturday”, I prearranged to take Monday as Annual Leave so that I could have my “Saturday” then and chill out a bit.

In the event, I managed to sleep a little later on Monday morning, but wouldn’t say that I had an entirely restful day as Stephen and I went shopping. We started in Orpington, where we fortified ourselves for our foray into the shops by visiting McDonald’s. Suitably fuelled, we visited the Asian supermarket, where I can usually find something nice. I stocked up on sweet chilli sauce this time, and found a Thai curry paste which didn’t contain coconut. I also found a jar of coriander paste. I love coriander and this looks so much more interesting than ground coriander but not nearly as much work as growing my own.

When walking along the High Street to McDonald’s, we noticed that Bonmarche appeared to have some good deals, so when we came back by their shop, we went in. Stephen was forebearing in a manly sort of way while I admired clothes and tried some on, but he did go and check the sale rack at the back of the shop and came up with a pleated floral skirt in sage green tones. It was a 24 rather than a 22 and was a fraction loose when I tried it on, but it’s not going to fall off me and at the price, if I ever manage to lose sufficient weight so that it does start falling off, I won’t mind listing it on eBay. I also chose two tops from their “buy 2 for £12” range. One is an earthy green which goes perfectly with the skirt, while the other is brown, and goes pretty well with a pair of stone trousers I’ve had sitting on the shelf at home. My final choice in Bonmarche was a swimsuit. It’s black with hot pink stripes radiating across it. All I can say about it is that it fits. I cannot say it flatters, but I suspect that no swimsuit will. Now I’ve just got to get up the nerve to appear in public in it. Maybe if I use it, I can shrink my stomach to the point where the swimsuit becomes more flattering! 😀

Then we hit the Walnuts, where we had several targets in mind. The first was Wilkinsons where I wanted to stock up on multipacks of tights. I also got myself a half dozen ballpoint pens, and when I got home, I found I still had 3 left from the last time I’d stocked up! Never mind, I get through pens as I do the cryptic crossword from the Glasgow Herald and I do a selection of the Killer Sudoku puzzles from Killer Sudoku Online and this keeps the ink flowing! Stephen managed to add some items to the basket while we were in Wilkinsons as well, but chip-and-pin at the checkout was frighteningly easy. 😯

We managed to bypass Thorntons but next door is Julian Graves and that is a place I definitely can’t pass. I had a pack of aniseed balls and several packs of my favourite vanilla filled fondant sticks. I can’t find a link to them right now, but they’re gorgeous. 😛

Next in our line of sight was the 99p Shop. You can tell that we’re the last of the big spenders! 😀 I’m sure I found some nice Jalfrezi sauce in there last time we were there, but there wasn’t any there this week. 😦 That’s the trouble with such establishments: they pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap, but when they’re gone, they gone! They did have some cans of beef stew which looked like a useful addition to our larder shelf, so I had a few of those. I hope I like them, as I think I’ve got four to get through. Stephen will help me with them, though. Stephen found some compost starter at a fraction of the price that it costs in a garden centre, so we had a couple of boxes of that, and Stephen’s going to get around to putting our new compost bin into service. We’ve got a queue of curled-up lettuce, soggy cucumber, limp carrots and black bananas to start it off. 😎

By this time, we’d accumulated as many carrier bags as we wanted to carry, so we decided that it was time to head back to the car. Stephen had been meaning to put in an appearance in Biggin Hill at the Harris HospisCare shop to help with the heavy lifting, but we’d spent so long trawling the shops that he realised that he wasn’t going to make it. He also needed to visit his Mum, and as Orpington was already half way there, it didn’t make sense to return home for his vehicle, so we decided to both go and visit his Mum.

Our route took us past Polhill and we decided to go in there and have a look around. A coachload of visitors were just leaving as we arrived. People actually go on days out to Polhill! It’s got a good cafeteria and there’s a lot of retail space there as well. We phoned Stephen’s Mum from the car park to see if she wanted anything, and she did, but most of it wasn’t stuff that we could find at Polhill. So we went into Polhill on our own behalf. I like browsing in the shop at the front. I think it was originally a farm shop, but I wouldn’t describe it as that now. Funnily enough, they were also selling coriander paste, but I think I may have got a better deal at the Asian supermarket in Orpington.

Out in the garden tools section of Polhill’s extensive retail space, Stephen found a hoe attachment for a system he owns, so we had to pay for that on our way out. (The shop where I browsed has their own tills. I expect they run as a franchise within the complex.)

Then it was down the hill. All the routes heading towards Westerham and Sevenoaks go down a significant hill. I assume that the hill we went down is called Polhill. If you go through Knockholt, you go down Star Hill, while if you go through Biggin Hill, you go down Westerham Hill. Stephen doesn’t like taking his Reliant Rialto up Westerham Hill. It’s reasonably steep, and I think the Reliant won’t climb it in 3rd gear but 2nd gear is a bit too low. My Nissan 200SX sails up it in 3rd gear unless I get stuck behind a slow-moving vehicle, in which case even my Nissan needs to go down into 2nd.

We detoured into Riverhead to Tesco to pick up some things for Stephen’s Mum. We picked up some things for us, too, with the combined grocery bill coming to around £50.

Then we actually made it to Stephen’s Mum’s place! Minnie, one of the black cats, came out onto the footpath to greet us. Minnie seems to have adopted me, and I wonder whether she has learnt the sound of my car. We delivered the groceries and put things away. Stephen loosened the top on each milk container, as Jessie has trouble unscrewing them otherwise. Stephen tries to make sure that he loosens lids and caps of anything Jessie is likely to want.

We gave all of the cats a cuddle and then we came home. I’m not sure that you would describe the day as exactly “chilling out”, but I quite enjoyed it anyway.

The rest of the week could have been an anticlimax after all that, but actually continued to be really busy. I attended the office on Tuesday and then went out in the evening to a Beckenham Concert Band rehearsal. I am trying to attend rehearsals regularly for the Summer as I’ve signed up to do a concert in mid July and another at the start of August. When we get to the end of the summer, I’ll take stock and consider whether I want to continue attending regular rehearsals. It just wasn’t possible when I was doing the car commute to Basildon for my job, but now I’m London based again, I hope that I may have the capacity, and it’s a fun and enjoyable thing that I could be doing.

The musical activities didn’t stop on Tuesday. It seems that I’ve played as much in the past 7 days as I’ve played for the whole of the rest of this year, and on Wednesday I attended a Marlowe Ensemble play-through. This is held about every six weeks, when the regular ensemble members are augmented by players such as myself in order to attempt some larger scale works. We aren’t rehearsing for a concert: the aim of the evening is to borrow music from the library, play it through, and then return it. Our fare on Wednesday night was:

  • Beethoven – Symphony No.2 – 2nd and 4th movements, as we’d done the 1st and 3rd movements last time we met;
  • Weber – Oberon Overture;
  • Mendelssohn Bartholdy – Symphony No.3 in A Minor

I was fortunate enough to recruit the services of a second bassoon for the evening. I’d seen him the night before at Beckenham and found that he didn’t have to rehearse for the Hayes Symphony Orchestra this week, and he was pleased to come along. He was just glad that I’d warned him about the roadworks in Sidcup at present, or he would have had trouble finding the place where we play!

I did try using my one remaining cane reed, but it just wasn’t working well. I tried adjusting the wires with my pliers, but it needs more than that to get it going as a couple of notes were horridly unstable. I didn’t really think that my plastic reed was up to orchestra yet, as I haven’t been playing on this one for long and plastic reeds take time to mellow, but it was any port in a storm and with all the playing I’d already done this week, I’ve apparently gone some distance down the mellowing process, although I still don’t think it’s the equal of the one that split at about this time last year, which I’d played on almost exclusively for about six or seven years. (Yes, I did say years. I haven’t been playing a great deal, but the longevity of a plastic reed appears to be pretty good provided that you don’t abuse it.)

On Thursday, all I had to do was go to work, which was a bit of a relief! 🙂 We had our Monthly Staff Briefing in the afternoon, and I put my hand up and asked a couple of awkward questions, whose content I won’t go into here. I did get reasonably satisfactory answers, which was encouraging. I stayed quite late in the office and finished off the job I was supposed to be doing last week but got interrupted so that it slipped into this week.

Friday was another routine day in the office. Or in the case of a lot of people, I think it may have been a routine day at home. Friday seems to be a popular day for home-working and the office was a bit like the Marie Celeste. I rarely home-work on a Friday, but then the rationale behind my home-working is to break up my commute, so I usually have a day at home in the middle of the week. However, I have to admit that I arranged to work at home on the day most convenient to me this week, which was Wednesday, when the Marlowe Ensemble were starting at 7:30pm and my time was at a premium! 🙂

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Beckenham Concert Band – NSPCC Concert at Halstead

Posted by HelenEdith on June 23, 2009

The Beckenham Concert Band performing at the St Barnabas Church Fete, 4th May, 2009

The Beckenham Concert Band performing at the St Barnabas Church Fete, 4th May, 2009

For a musician without a “regular” band, I had a busy weekend last weekend. Having spent Saturday in Maidstone rehearsing and then performing numbers from the movies with Maidstone Winds, on Sunday I had a somewhat more local engagement with the Beckenham Concert Band, with whom I played regularly for a number of years.

The Beckenham Concert Band provided part of an open air benefit concert for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children which was held in the grounds of a private house in the village of Halstead, which is near Knockholt in Kent.

The band started arriving at 5pm, and we were in position in our marquee by 5:30pm. A singer kicked off the concert, after which the band played a programme consisting of:

  • Blaze Away
  • Sullivan – Pirates of Penzance numbers
  • The first two of Three Paintings by Toulouse-Lautrec
  • Symphonic Beatles
  • Blue and the Gray
  • Tony Bennett Unplugged
  • Instant Concert
  • Queen – “We will rock you”, “Another one bites the dust”, etc
  • Irish Rhapsody

After the band section of the concert was a complete, another singer performed.

It was an ideal early evening for an outdoor concert: dry and warm, but not too hot – and to make life easy for the musicians, there wasn’t even a gentle breeze to play havoc with our sheet music. I still managed to turn a page and end up with the sheet music in my lap once, but that was my own fault!

After leaving the venue at Halstead, I popped down the hill and called in on Stephen’s Mum. I took the precaution of taking some clothes to change into, as I just knew that the cats would want to sit on my lap, and it was better that I wasn’t dressed in my good black and white clothes for that!

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Entry for August 07, 2007 – Light music rehearsal and band rehearsal

Posted by HelenEdith on August 7, 2007

Today’s Marlowe Music Week activity was a rehearsal of the light music to be performed tomorrow at the coffee morning where we have our one and only paying audience for the week. We ran through the whole programme and ironed out a few bumps and wrinkles.

Most of the musicians then headed off for lunch with one of the cellists at her place, but I returned home, where I discovered that Stephen had gone down to his Mum’s, so I was home alone.

I made myself some lunch and sat down with a Greater Than Killer Sudoku (here’s the latest one: http://www.killersudokuonline.com/#gtkweekly) and it didn’t seem long before Stephen was home again. As this week is a holiday, if I spend the afternoons chilling out with a Killer Sudoku, then so be it.

As the Marlowe Activity this evening didn’t require bassoons, I put in an appearance at the Beckenham Concert Band’s rehearsal. We spent the evening working on Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances and Falla’s Ritual Fire Dance. After mostly playing things straight through with the orchestra earlier in the day, it was interesting to sit down with the band and really dissect some quite challenging music.

I took back the purple band jacket I wore on the bandstand in Greenwich Park the other weekend. The band’s next outing is in Surrey and I’m undecided about whether to put my hand up for it. I’ve been on that particular gig for the past two years, and as I’m not a “regular” in the band, I don’t feel that I have to do it if I don’t want to this year. By taking the jacket back, I don’t have it hanging up at home acting as an influence making me do that gig (and travelling there!) but if I change my mind and decide nearer the time that I want to go, the wardrobe department will be happy to lend it to me again. Meanwhile they’re just as happy to have it hanging up in the band’s wardrobe than at my house.

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Entry for July 29, 2007 – Greenwich Park Bandstand

Posted by HelenEdith on July 29, 2007

This afternoon I joined the Beckenham Concert Band on the bandstand in Greenwich Park.

We played from 2pm to 5pm with a half hour break in the middle.

Fortunately the weather decided to be kind to us, and we had a good audience spread around the park. The organised ones had brought something to sit on, and the rest just sat on the grass.

My bassoon attracted a certain amount of attention, with several people coming up to the bandstand and asking me what it was.

The picture was taken by Stephen during a trombone solo, for which Trevor the trombonist was standing up.

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Entry for July 22, 2007 – Band at Coolings Nursery

Posted by HelenEdith on July 22, 2007

I had an outing with the Beckenham Concert Band today. We played in Arthur’s Garden at Coolings Nurseries in Knockholt, Kent. This has become a regular band engagement, and one that, although I’m not a regular, I try to turn out for.

We picked up Stephen’s Mum (who lives quite locally) and brought her with us. She can’t walk very far, so she brought her wheelchair along. Coolings has a huge site. There is a retail area at the front, and once you walk through that, you get out into the outdoor area where plants for sale are set out. Once you’ve walked through that extensive area, you get to the restaurant, and Arthur’s garden is behind that. Definitely a job for the wheelchair where Jessie is concerned!

The band set up under a canopy which provided a bit of shade, and the audience sat on chairs on the lawn facing the band. There were some outdoor tables towards the rear of the audience area for those who wished to bring refreshments outside with them.

We played a range of songs from the shows and tributes to performers such as Frank Sinatra, and it seemed to go down well with the audience. Each year the audience at Coolings gets bigger, so I think they’re coming back for more and bringing their friends along as well.

The garden centre probably did good business after the concert was finished, and Harris HospisCare were also present and were pleased to accept donations. I hadn’t realised that there was a Harris HospisCare connection at the Coolings concert, but as Stephen works for Harris HospisCare, that was one more reason why I’m glad I could participate.

After the concert was over, we took Jessie home and I saw all seven of her cats. I also went out in her back garden, primarily to look at her red budleia. It was actually more of a purple colour. She’s also got a white budleia, on which we saw some red admiral butterflies, but they wouldn’t get into photogenic positions for me.

Today’s photo is of some budleia buds right at the top of the white budleia, against the background of the blue sky. We were lucky that we got some blue sky for our concert today, considering the amount of rain we’ve been having. There’s more forecast for tomorrow, but today stayed dry.

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