Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Church concert in memory of clarinetist and singer sells out

Church concert in memory of clarinetist and singer sells out

A TRUMPETER, a school choir and an a capella group were among the acts at a church concert in memory of a Wargrave musician.

The annual concert at St Mary’s Church in Mill Green featured 10 acts who performed for more than two hours on Saturday night.

This year’s sell-out event was dedicated to the memory of Alan Baird, who had performed in every concert until his sudden death earlier this year, aged 87.

Mr Baird’s family, including his wife Tess, were guests of honour and sat in the front row.

There was also a special celebration as family members Jo Evans and Emily Muirhead performed Danny Boy, Edith Piaf’s La Vie en Rose and The Very Thought of You by Ray Noble.

Mr Baird had played the saxophone and clarinet and also used to sing at the concert.

He was playing at the funeral of another Wargrave resident in March when he was taken ill and died in hospital the following day.

Hundreds of people attended the concert, which opened with a rendition of Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer with Alison Wilkins on the piano and the audience joining in.

Trumpeter Paul Speed performed Bach’s Badinerie, for which children in the audience were asked to guess how many notes he played in a minute.

Children from the Robert Piggott Junior School choir sang Someone’s Watching Over Me by Hilary Duff and When Children Rule the World from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Whistle Down the Wind. They were directed by Stephanie Daisley.

Daniel Blades and Anya Laschinger sang Irving Berlin’s Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better from the musical Annie Get Your Gun and violinist Finn Wyatt played Johannes Brahms’s Andante from String Sextet.

Mr Speed returned to play Tomaso Albinoni’s Sonata St Marc and cellist Laura Anstee performed Sonata in A Major by César Franck. She had also played at Mr Baird’s funeral.

A cappella group Apollo5 then took to the stage, singing their versions of Beata Viscera by William Byrd, Scarborough Fair, The Way You Look Tonight from the film Swing Time and Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now, complete with their own dance moves.

Andy Ferguson, one of the church’s lay ministers, led the audience in a performance of a traditional Welsh folk song, Sosban Fach. Mr Ferguson, who is Welsh, taught the crowd how to pronounce some of the words before asking them to sing along with him.

He also referred to the Welsh rugby team’s record-breaking
72-24 win over Tonga earlier in the day, saying: “It’s a great day for a Welsh celebration.”

After the interval, the Wargrave Community Choir performed Sammy Davis Jr’s Rhythm of Life from the film Sweet Charity, a medley of songs from the musical Les Misérables, ELO’s Mr Blue Sky and One Day Like This by Elbow.

They were directed by Jonny Fitzpatrick.

Liz Drew played Paul Reade’s Prelude from The Victorian Kitchen Garden, In a Sentimental Mood by Duke Ellington and Richard Rodgers’s Blue Moon.

Then Mr Speed returned for a rendition of Brazilian choro song Tico-Tico by Zequinha de Abreu. The concert concluded with Apollo5 performing Simon and Garfunkel’s The 59th Street Bridge Song, Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love with special guest Matthew James, Java Jive by Ben Oakland and Scotty Morris’s Mambo Swing.

Musical director Peter Dart said: “I’m very happy with our concert this year. Many people said it was the best yet.

“Wargrave is blessed with an abundance of very talented musicians as well as a community choir and a really enthusiastic bunch of singers from the local junior school.”

Paying tribute to Mr Baird, he said: “Alan was always at the centre of our regular Sunday choir and also the concert, where he usually led some audience participation by playing the clarinet.

“Only last year he was taking people ‘somewhere over the rainbow’. Tess Baird told me that she could not have been more touched and everyone present felt that the musical tribute by his family was just perfect.

“Many other musicians also made programme choices in memory of Alan. It was a fitting tribute.”

The event is expected to have raised more than £2,000 for the church’s new parish centre, which could be finished by Christmas.

Next year’s concert will be held on Saturday, November 16.

Mr Dart said: “Next year we will be able to accommodate at least an extra 30 people because the space at the back of the church put aside for refreshments will move into the new parish centre.

“Our next big concert will be part of the Wargrave Festival on Monday, June 17, when the world famous Academy of St Martin in the Fields will be making a return visit.”

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