Personal Development

Walking in the Shadows of Giants

In the early 19th Century, Gothic Architecture was still around in great abundance. However the community wanted a church so they raised funds to start building this church in 1827. The man in charge was Decimus Burton. However by 1974 the church was labelled as redundant to pastoral needs. The church was left abandoned and once again the community did not want to waste this beautiful building. The Tunbridge Wells Civic Society raised a petition to find a better public use for this building. They were granted 6 months. Within that time it was decided that Trinity would be a Community Arts Centre and a whopping £50, 000 was raised to fund the cause. By 1977 the lease was signed and the transaction complete it was now the Trinity Theatre.

In June of this year I set up, with the help of my Wadhurst Brass Band committee, a concert in the historic Trinity Theatre in Royal Tunbridge Wells. This theatre has seen the likes of Westlife, Take That and Rodger Waters (song writer for Pink Floyd) The concert was a programme of show-stopper tunes from the west end and was hosted by Louise Stewart, Former BBC South East political editor and a dedicated advocate of CRUK.

This was to be a reward for my Band for all thier work and input that helped us achieved yesteryears success. The opportunity to play in such a prestigious venue where we can put on a full show with lighting and sound technicians was such a temptation, I simply couldn’t resist!

Trinity auditorium

We were fortunate enough to be joined by three very talented singers for the occasion. Two of whom had performed in many a variety of concerts including a regular spot in Glyndebourne Opera House. Many Thanks to Tom and Charlie Snee and George Tero for thier incredible performances throughout the night.

From a conducting point of view there was an additional layer I had to think about while performing. I had previously been one of two conductors where there had been a choral master leading a choir and myself leading the band. As we had solo singers I had to look at the musical aspect for the singers as well as my band.

During the concert we asked Louise to talk about her experiences battling cancer and her parents who also suffered at the hands of this horrendous disease. In the middle of the second half we had a poignant dedication to all those who had ever suffered or lost thier battles with cancer. The band played “You’ll Never Walk Alone” with all the singers at the front. The audience joined in instantaneously and the whole hall united in a show of defiance against The Despicable cancer. Once again, music brought everyone together with a common purpose.

Firstly, while organising combining the band and vocalists, I had to make sure that the singers where happy to sing in the key that our music was in. In order to do this I had to prepare a vocal sheet. This meant taking the melody line from whichever instrument had it wherever it was in the score. In doing this, it also made sense, in some cases, to add the lyrics. This meant researching the lyrics to make sure the band phrasing and the lyrics matched up.

Secondly, whilst I was conducting the band – I had to make sure I was really clear to the singers when I cued them in. Any ambiguity in my beat pattern or body language could have lead to a catastrophically obvious mistake! luckily that only happened in a rehearsal leading up to the concert! In some cases I had to give the vocalists some vocal advise which was a stretch beyond my comfort zone (as I should not be allowed to sing, ever) however help was at hand when one of the bandsman, who was far more vocally adept, was able to run through a particularly trying piece with one of the vocalists.

Wadhurst Brass Band Perform “There’s no Business like Show Business” from “Annie Get Your Gun” arr. Goff Richards. Under direction of David Healy-Richards.

As part of the hire fee for this beautiful venue we were provided a technical manager who could advise us as to how to get the balance right for the singers it was difficult to tell from where I stood what was the best thing to do to get the best sound from our singers. I am glad we had our technical manager Katie, who turned out to be an old friend from my school orchestra days. Many thanks to Katie for her help with the lighting and sound.

In this project we managed to earn a further £2, 500 for CRUK it certainly developed me as a musician in that I learned about leading vocal soloists with a band. I learned what the necessary steps where to ensure a successful performance in this context. The production of the vocal lead sheet was a necessary tool in order to communicate and work with the Vocal soloists and discuss thier concerns if they had any. Over all, the thanks goes to the Wadhurst Brass Band, Ian Morgan chair of Cancer Research UK in Tunbridge Wells, The steward team at Trinity and the Technical Manager, my vocalists, band manager and Louise Stewart.


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