Concert at the Blaenavon Workingmen’s Institute, February 18th, 2006.
What a great occasion for a sad occasion! Sad because the concert was a tribute to two men whose names were synonymous with Blaenavon Town Band. Bill Baldock was band chairman and Gareth Protherough band treasurer. Their passing left a big gap, not only in the band but in other spheres as well. It was felt that a concert with the band, the Blaenavon Male Voice Choir and the Blaenavon Ladies Choir would be a great occasion to honour the memory of two gentlemen. The proceeds would be donated to Velindre Hospital for cancer research.
For such a worthy cause the printing of tickets and posters was given by Lee Freeman free of charge as was the programmes by Edge Printers Cardiff. Stan Stennett was approached to be the chairman of the concert and he readily agreed.
And so the concert commenced. ‘Men of Harlech’ introduced the band, conductor Alun Hathaway, and this was followed by a march, ‘Old Comrades’, conducted by another friend of the band, Andrew Jones. Soprano cornetist Andrew Watkins played ‘On with the motley’ and the band spot ended with ‘Ticket to ride’, complete with signalman Martin Adams and whistler David Langley. The organisation of the two choirs was such that the band stayed on the stage whilst a platform in front of it accommodated each choir in turn as they waited at the back of the hall. Stan Stennett took the opportunity to remind the audience that he is still a class act with an endless stream of jokes as the choirs filed onto and off the platform.
Blaenavon Ladies Choir was conducted by John Jolly, who has had associations with the band in the past and they presented excerpts from ‘My Fair Lady’ and ‘The wind beneath my wings’. As the ladies walked off, so the men of the choir walked on. Under their conductor, Mr Gareth Whitcombe, they sang ‘The bandits chorus’, ‘Myfanwy’ and ‘Me and my shadow’. To conclude the first half the band played by request, ‘You’ll never walk alone’, perhaps all the more poignant because Liverpool had just beaten those other Northerners whose name escapes me 1-0 in the FA Cup.
The male choir sang ‘Adiemus’ and ‘Les Miserables’ selection and the ladies sang ‘The Webber collection’ and ‘Angels through the night’. The town band played ‘Vitae Lux’ and ‘Trailblaze’. In between these two pieces, Alun Hathaway showed why he is one of the country’s top percussionists with a brilliant xylophone solo, ‘On the track’.
No concert featuring a band and choirs would be complete without a massed item and this was ‘Morte Christe’, arranged for the band by John Jolly. I nearly forgot to mention that one of the objectives of the concert was to raise money for Velindre. A cheque was presented to Mr John Burnett, the general manager of the charity, for nearly £3000, and still a little more to come.
A concert like this takes a lot of hard work and Paul Miles, secretary of the band, did just that. A big thank you to Paul. Such was the impact of the concert and so enjoyable, people are asking for a repeat performance. People of Blaenavon and the Eastern Valley, it’s up to you!