Our 2017 Music Festival closed on October 30th with the traditional “Last Night of the Wombourne Proms” following a very successful week of musical entertainment.
For the first time our festival opened with a wine Reception at St Benedict Biscop Church which hosts the entire week of concerts and at 6:30pm the church comfortably accommodated the first of our festival goers, who had a free glass of wine whilst they mingled with the Festival Committee and Artistic Director.
At 7:30pm they took up their seats and enjoyed a very special opening concert featuring the internationally renowned “Kenfig Hill & District Male Voice Choir”, Conducted by Philip Juliff and accompanied by Rhian Jenkins.
The concert included a variety of choral music both traditional (Sung in Welsh) as well as modern and popular items… In addition, the choir brought along a Soprano Soloist, Madeline Robinson in her third year at the Birmingham Conservatoire who had, in the summer, performed in the role of Rose Maybud in the G & S Operetta, “Ruddigore”. The repertoire for the evening ranged from “Singin in the Rain” and “Mister Snow”(from Rogers & Hammerstein’s Carousel) to an anthem from the musical “Chess” and some traditional Welsh choir music.
To say the concert was a great success was an understatement and it clearly set the standard for both the quality of performance and concert attendances for the rest of the week.
Sunday evening was our traditional “Songs of Praise” led by our Artistic Director Josh Xerri and the St Benedict Church Choir. During the evening Josh introduced each item with some information before leading the congregation in the singing of some well known hymns. He varied the programme by entertaining us on the organ, playing pieces of church organ music and classical items, closing the concert with a well received version of “A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square”
On Monday was our “Tea & Cakes” Concert and this year we invited “The Wombourne School of Music” to entertain the assembled audience.
This was described as the “one of the best” of the Monday afternoon concerts which the festival has held. The entertainment ranged from a traditional “Afternoon Tea” recital given by Michael Thompson on Piano, through items played by Jen Barker on flute and Kim Lowings on Piano & Dulcimer. Our Special Guest, Alex Dougan, son of the Wolves Footballer, Derek Dougan, sang two of his recordings which brought a wonderful response from all present.
The afternoon closed with Julie Williams (Leader of the The School of Music) on keyboard, directing a “Medley Singalong” of old favourites which had the church joining in from the song sheets provided……everyone returned home having enjoyed some lovely cakes prepared by the Church Social committee and humming some of the “war time favourite tunes”
On Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday we continued with the Festival Choirs made up of schools from the area…. These concerts, in various forms, have always taken place on the midweek afternoons….and this year saw large school choirs (with over 40 pupils), two ukulele groups, as well as an almost full church on all afternoons…
This year was a “first” in three ways, (1) we had a concert where we had standing at the back of the church (2) we had our first High School performance, when Highfields High School Band took part in the Thursday concert and (3) the first concert which had an element when the two schools taking part came together at the end and joined in singing together. It was a real pleasure to see the energy, enthusiasm and enjoyment of all the children taking part…. All staff, pupils and parents can be proud of their performances.
(because of restrictions on putting pictures of pupils on the internet without parental permission, no photographs accompany this item)
The Friday Concert featuring “Josh Xerri and Friends” was, as always, very well received.
This is the 4th such concert whereby Josh brings along his friends and associates from the Birmingham Conservatoire to perform in concert at the church. In keeping with ALL such concerts they include such a group of highly talented young people that the standard of musicianship is second to none and it is accepted that when you attend these concerts you will be seeing stars of the future, who will go on to be national performers at places like the Royal Albert Hall or Birmingham Symphony Hall as well as at international venues all over the world. This year saw the return of the Barbershop group as well as Lily Allen-Dodd (who could not appear at the Summer Concert due to illness) and we saw, for the first time, Daniel Plant, who performed 3 pieces on the Bassoon which demonstrated both his talents and the range of the instrument by playing works by W.A. Mozart, C. Saint –Saens and G Schreck
This brought us to the Saturday Festival Finale with the “Last Night of the Proms” Concert featuring the very popular Jackfield Brass Band conducted by Simon Platford
The Jackfield Brass Band were at the closing festival concert in 2015 and were such a great success and were so well received that the festival Committee thought a return visit would draw in the crowds…
Our intuition was not mistaken and, for possibly the first time in the 9 years of the festival, we sold sufficient tickets to fill the church. At the time of doors closing there were very few “single” seats left to fill. Their performance well and truly lived up to their popularity and the Band raised the roof with popular items like “Soldier in the Park” (a well know opener to Brass Band concerts), Love in the 50’s (a medley of popular love songs of the era) and “Be My Love” (Euphonium Solo by Peter Woodley) to the Last Night of the Proms favourites such as “Fantasia on British Sea Songs”, “Rule Britannia, Jerusalem and Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance” Those who remembered to bring their flags were on their feet waving and raising the roof before joining in by holding hands to sing “Auld Lang Syne”
I cannot remember another closing festival concert when people who were leaving were paying so many compliments about the Band and the Concert.
We all went home uplifted and exhausted from the 2017 Wombourne Music Festival.