Last week I suffered from a bout of tonsillitis. Not the greatest thing for the Town crier. However by the weekend the penicillin was starting to take effect and on Sunday afternoon I went to Windsor’s Alexandra Park to help out as master of ceremonies for the opening of the new bandstand.
It was a beautifully warm late summer afternoon with the sun shining down and a large crowd of what looked like close to 1000 people had turned out. The Windsor boys school swing band did Stirling work in the role of a “warm up act” for the onlookers who arrived early. I do hope and expect we will see them headlining at the bandstand in the future.
At 2.30 the band of the household cavalry took to the new stage and struck up “god save the queen” just as their predecessors did 113 years ago when the gardens were first opened to the public back in July 1902.
A few numbers later they smartly marched off stage to huge applause from a very appreciative crowd.
I went to the front of the bandstand and read the short script that had been agreed, using a microphone, (which is not something I am used to using) . I introduced the next act, which was the Windsor Military wives choir. They sang five songs starting appropriately with “Sing” by Gary Barlow and Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, and finishing with “The rhythm of life”.
We now had a good flow of the previous act leaving the bandstand stage left while I came on from stage right and made announcements as the following act set up behind me. In this case the next act were a group of very young musicians from Langley Hall Primary Academy. They were all starting to learn about music and were accompanied by a few players from the Household Cavalry Band who helped them to keep time.
After just one tune (well, they were VERY young) they left the stage and I invited the Mayor up on to the Bandstand to say a few words. We then had a five minute break while the dignitaries posed for photographs.
With the tonsils now feeling a bit raw I took the opportunity find a bit of relief for my throat, but was slightly alarmed to be told by a passing friend that they were asking for £5 for a little pot of ice cream. I made do with a cup of tea.
All too soon I was back onto the Bandstand to introduce “Voci”, a chamber choir who managed some pretty spectacular harmonies on three songs. I was asked to also promote their upcoming concert, but at the same time was being asked by the event coordinator Martin Denny, to keep to script to avoid overrunning. In the good spirit of the day we all compromised with a very short plug and everyone seemed happy with the result.
Next came Maidenhead Operatic Society who loudly and cleanly performed some classic light opera songs which were very warmly received by the crowd.
My final duty was to thank them, and welcome The Band Of The Household Cavalry back to the stage. This time we corrected an earlier error in miss-naming the band’s Director of Music, Major Craig Hallett.
The band played a number of First World War songs. These were then repeated with the accompaniment of the Voci and MOS choirs and finally the audience were invited to join in too. With little union jacks all over the place and everyone singing “land of hope and glory” it was a terrific finale to what (from where I stood) looked and sounded a huge success.