My recent musical activities

Since my last post, I have been very busy!

During December, Cologne Concert Brass appears 6 nights a week at the Christmas market in Cologne’s Alter Markt – this is the best of the markets in Cologne and has a wonderful Christmas feel. I managed 7 appearances this year culminating in a band party on the 23rd. (This is the last night for most markets in Germany).

Posted by Andrew Wooler on Friday, December 23, 2016

 

Prior to this, 2 gigs with the Bayer Symphoniker – the first one was a Broadway themed concert on the harbourside to celebrate the refurbishment of the Jetty to once again enable tourist boats on the Rhine to stop here in our lovely town. The next one was a superb concert in the Alten Kirche, Krefeld, featuring an Organ based programme. This included one of my favourite symphonies, The Saent-Saens, plus one I wasn’t familiar with but liked a lot: Alexandre Guilmant Symphony in D minor for Organ and Orchestra.

Bayer Symphoniker
 
Our next concert will include the John Williams Star Wars suite – really looking forward to that one!

My 2 new toys, a Yamaha C and a Monke Rotary C, have both been put to good use – I certainly seem to be playing on a C trumpet more often over here!

Cologne Concert Brass also provided a brass section for a superb concert in Rondorf featuring the Rutter Te Deum, excellently performed by a choir of music students from the Cologne area.
My final concert of the year is a midnight mass on Christmas Eve in Essen. This one has the Limbacher Turmbläser Messe as the main item plus whatever I can find for 2 trumpets/2 trombones in the next 2 hours! (a late request to play prior to the service and during Communion!).

Last, but certainly not least, I made a very short appearance on a recently released CD

This Came about via my good friend Peter Cook at The Academy of Rock who contributed a song about Donald Trump! And of course, you can’t have Trump without a Trumpet! So to end this post, here’s the video of that song – just 30 seconds long (as are all of the tracks on this album – it relates to an issue with online media sites and royalties) with my small contribution coming towards the end!

Until the next time,

Andy’s 2016 Musical Advent Calendar!

Here’s the complete list of my musical advent calendar!

1st December – we started with a little Nutcracker Suite from Les Brown and his Band of Renown!

2nd December – Jim Carrey’s funny White Christmas!

3rd December – time for a Rock number from iron Maiden

4th December – Silent Night from Sponge Cola

5th December – A bit of Latin today with a Bossa Nova “All I want for Christmas is You” from Marcela Mangabeira

6th December – time for some brass – some Canadian Brass to be precise!

7th December – Time for a big band again and it’s the WDR Big Band from Germany with Tochter Zion

8th December – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Gordon Goodwin style!

9th December – I Saw Three Ships from the hugely talented Jacob Collier

10th December – Jingle Bell Brighton Rocks featuring dancing legend Disco Pete!

11th December – Many have compared her voice to Karen but this is the unique Rumor – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

12th December – Daryl Hall and Shelby Lynne, Home for Christmas

13th December – Joy to the World from Cologne Concert Brass.

14th December – Johnny Mathis’s version of Sleigh Ride

15th December – Schneewaltzer – authentic from the Trachtenkapelle St. Barbara

16th December – The 12 days of Christmas or rather the 12 days of Progmas!

17th December – People Like Us – The Christmas Song

18th December – Festival Fanfare for Christmas by John Wasson

19th December – The late great Chris Squire: Three Kings from his Christmas Album with and his Swiss Choir

20th December – This one is PG! Christmas message from Kevin bloody Wilson & Jenny Talia

21st December – Adam Sandler – “The Christmas Song”

22nd December – All I Want For Christmas is You – My Chemical Romance

23rd December – The Killers – Don’t Shoot Me Santa

24th December – It wouldn’t be Christmas without them

25th December – Merry Christmas to you all!

It’s not just about playing!

As well as being a player myself, there is nothing quite like attending a great gig – and I have been to a few this year.

First up was Seth Lakeman in Oberhausen. I have been a big fan of Seth since first hearing him as support act to Jules Holland in Brighton. Whilst you will find his CD’s under “Folk Music” at your local record store, his music will appeal to a much wider audience than that. Judge for yourself:

Next up was my favourite band of all time, Yes. I have seen them a lot over the years but this was the first time I got to meet them. Sadly, Chris Squire is no longer with us but Billy Sherwood does a brilliant job and has history with the band. It was a great gig in a smallish venue in Bonn – I had a great seat and this was probably the best mix of any gig I have been to – possibly due to the venue size. At previous gigs, the keyboards were too much in the background for my liking and the bass over-dominated.
This will not be the last time I see these guys!

yesI couldn’t find any video from the Bonn gig but this one is the same tour from The Albert Hall:

Sadly, I was unable to find a reason for being at my offices in San Jose for the US leg of this tour which included part of “Topographic Oceans”. Hopefully, that will come to Europe next time around. I did though ask the band when they were going to resurrect “Relayer” – possibly the album most Yes fans want to hear performed live again. (I saw part of it in 1975 at Loftus Road – imho, their best album). From Alan White’s response, I wouldn’t totally rule it out for a future tour! Great to also talk football with Geoff Downes.
Pitbull

The next gig was one I enjoyed a lot more than i thought I was going to!

As part of a conference I attended in LA, the main act for our conference party was Pitbull!
Now, I wouldn’t normally go to a Rapper’s gig but this guy really surprised me. An excellent set, polished performance and a great backing band too.

 

 

More recently, I saw Deep Purple for the first time! And with Ian Gillan back in front of the band, this was always going to be a great gig – and it was. Forget Ritchie Blackmore, Steve Morse is a fabulous guitarist and whilst Jon Lord is sadly no longer with us, he bequeathed his Hammond rig to his successor, Don Airey. This was classic Purple.


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Deep Purple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was stood just behind the guy who posted this live footage from the gig at the Koenigpalast, Krefeld – normally an Ice Hockey venue!

And a brilliant support band too – De Woolf from Holland. Check out a live performance from the tour here:

A lot of great bands tour here – Status Quo & Judas Priest are here shortly – tickets are very expensive but may go anyway!

 

It’s been a while! A lot to catch up on

I hadn’t realised how long it had been since I wrote a musical post – probably because I hadn’t realised exactly how much musical activity I have had since Christmas! It has though been a busy time!

Staring off with Brass Bands, this year saw the my first ever appearance at the German Brass band Championships performing in the top section with Cologne Concert Brass.
Performing 2 works, “On Alderley Edge” and “Blackout”, we came 4th which for me is a personal best. A really well run contest which we sadly only comes around every other year.

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In April, I also had the pleasure of playing with our Academy Band on 3rd Cornet at the Spiker band Festival in the Netherlands. This was an eye opener for me as I wasn’t aware of how strong the British Brass band culture was in Friesland – this contest is only for lower section bands but the quality of performance was very high. We were very pleased to win our section along with a soloist prize for our brilliant Euphonium player and the Conductors prize for our MD in her first ever contest as MD.

IMG_2323A great social weekend too!

The only thing that exceeded the number of prizes we won was the contents of our fridge for the weekend!

 

 

 

In May, I performed for the first time publicly with the Bayer Symphoniker – an Orchestra based in Uerdingen where I now live. An enjoyable program which included Nielsen’s 2nd Symphony which was another first for me.

New Year Concert

We have a fine venue in the Seidenweberhais in Krefeld where this picture was taken during rehearsals.

 

 

Wessex Rotary

This was also an opportunity to use my latest toy, a rotary valve Bb Trumpet – despite the low price, this Wessex instrument is well built and has a superb tone. Despite promising myself to reduce the number of instruments I own, this is a must out here! (As is a C Trumpet which is next on my list!)

 

Back to Brass Bands, It was a real pleasure to be asked to conduct Coronation Brass during the annual Folklore Festival in Bitburg. This came about from Tim Lord who taught me to play some 50 years ago! It was a great weekend meeting old friends and making some new ones too! The band played exceptionally well during the visit and I am looking forward to being with them again next year!

Coronation Brass

As musical groups in Germany tend to take a Summer break, I wasn’t expecting to do much more after this. But that all changed with a message from a band I used to conduct a few years ago, Mid Sussex Brass, who needed an MD for their trip to Schmallenberg. (They were short of a Euphonium player so their regular MD played instead!).

Lovely to see so many of the members still in the band and thanks to them for another super weekend of banding fun!

Andy talking to the audience

Now that the break is over (!), there’s a lot more music making to come: Rehearsals are underway with the Bayer Symphoniker for a concert of Organ music including the Saint-Saens Organ Symphony and a short concert “From Broadway to the Rhine” here in my home town later this month.
I also have the opportunity to conduct the Cologne Concert Brass Academy Band at the local Gemeindefest in our rehearsal home of Koeln-Rondorf as well as the senior band’s annual concert preparations. Also this month, I have the pleasure of teaming up again with my old friend Dave Clarke and students from his Oerly Musikschule in Oerlinghausen in a concert that has both a swing band and bagpipes!

Celtic meets swing

I hasten to add, I am playing in the Swing band!

Having programmed “Highland Cathedral” with Mid Sussex a couple of weeks ago, it will be interesting to do this again with Bagpipes!

 

 

And then it is December – 3 Orchestral gigs already lined up plus the Cologne Christmas Market gig with Cologne Concert Brass. If you are planning a Market visit, come along to Cologne and enjoy festive music and Gluhwein! (And don’t forget to buy at least one of our CD’s!).

I won’t leave it so long next time!

Andy’s 2015 Advent Calendar!

December 1st and we started with Captain Picard!

December 2nd – Billy Idol with “Run Run Rudolph”

December 3rd – time for some heavy metal!

December 4th – time for that punk Rudolph!

December 5th – Jingle Bells, techo style!

December 6th – from the OJ Simpson Christmas Album!

December 7th – Hard rock Jingle Bells

December 8th – Christmas in New Orleans with Louis Armstrong

December 9th – Some Christmas class from Ella Fitzgerald

December 10th – Duke Pearson with Sleigh Ride

December 11th – It wouldn’t be Christmas without Mr. Bean!

December 12th – Keith Emerson with Silent Night

December 13th – The musical world lost Chris Squire this year – here he is with fellow Yes man Alan White

December 14th – Wouldn’t be Christmas without some nutcracker – this time from ELP:

December 15th – Cologne Concert Brass bringing some Joy To the World

December 16th – More Joy – this time from the Prog Orchestra

December 17th – Some Class(ical) from the London Symphony Orchestra!

December 18th – Oscar Peterson

December 19th – Brian Setzer with Jingle Bells

December 20th – Carol of the Bells from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra

December 21st – Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band with Santa baby!

December 22nd – Even more Ukele this time!v Last Christmas by Wham no less!

December 23rd – The fabulous Arturo Sandoval – more Jingle Bells!

December 24th – Jingle Bells Ron Goodwin style from the fab Sussex Symphony Orchestra – I’m in this one!

December 25th – Happy Christmas everyone! Not Mud, but the original Elvis recording of “It’ll be lonely this Christmas”.

 

 

2015 – A new country, a new music scene!

With a long history of brass bands in my musical life, following my move to Germany, I had no great expectations of being able to continue playing this genre of music. But boy, was I wrong!

When I first got here, I had a short spell rehearsing with a Symphonic Wind Orchestra – my thanks to the great team at Werkskapelle der Böhlerwerke in Dusseldorf for the warm welcome. They run the Symphonic band though only in the winter months with a focus on more traditional Schützenfest activities for the bulks of the year. I have to admit that marching these days is not my favourite musical activity so I continued my search for a British style Brass Band.

A chance email to the President of Cologne Concert Brass led to an opportunity to initially sit on the end of the front row cornets which has since seen me return for a short while to my brass band instrument of choice, Soprano Cornet.

I have to say this is probably the best brass band I have had the pleasure of playing with and a great bunch of guys and gals – a band I really feel at home with. Judge for yourself from this contest performance of Phillip Sparke’s “A London Overture” from the 2013 German Brass band Open contest:

The band has a superb set up with 3 bands of varying levels – it has also been a real pleasure to be working from time to time with the Academy Band although sometimes a test of my German language skills! (really must get the hang of not calling them crotchets and quavers!).

purcelltopop5

Next up though is a change of style for the period of the Cologne Christmas Markets where the band provide small ensembles every day except Sundays from 23rd November through to a band party on 23rd December.  I will be there on Wednesdays and Sundays during this period. We also dress the part for this event!:

The next big event for us though is the German Championships in Bad Kissingen where we will be competing in the top section. If we were to win this, we would get an invite to the European Championships in 2017 – that is something I could never have achieved back in the UK!

I have also been looking to get into the Orchestral scene here – that has taken longer to do but I finally have my first gig on Christmas Eve in Essen for a performance of Mozart’s Mass in C Minor. This came about as a result of contacting a fine local Orchestra, the Bayer Symphoniker with whom I am hoping to perform Nielsen’s 2nd Symphony in May. Fingers crossed that all comes together!

Finally, this year gave me an opportunity to reconnect with a couple of old friends over here. Firstly, Tim Lord who taught me to play and to whom I owe my lifetime of fun as a musician. Tim has been organising band trips to the town of Bitburg for many years now with the band now being run by the talented Max Joseph under the name of Coronation Brass. I joined them in Bitburg this year for a great weekend of music making and of course the delights of the local brewery!

The other was my old army colleague and friend Dave Clark – Dave runs a very successful music school Oerly Music over here and it was a real pleasure to perform with his big band at the Oerlinghausen Schützenverein Family Day in June.

Oerly Big Band

2016 promises to be an exciting year – I will no doubt be updating this blog more often now that my musical life here is starting to take off!

Andy’s 2014 Advent Calendar!

On the first day of December, Duke Ellington reinvented The Nutcracker!:

 

On the 2nd day of December, Chris Squire of Yes and his Swiss Choir:

On the 3rd day of December, Maynard Ferguson with Christmas for Moderns:

On the 4th day of December, the inimitable Spike Jones murdering more of The Nutcracker:

On the 5th day of December, the awesome Wayne Bergeron with “O Holy Night”

On the 6th day of December, The Sussex Symphony Orchestra with Ron Goodwin’s arr of Jingle Bells. (look out for me in this!)

On the 7th day of December Santa Claus is Coming to Town Latin style – features Arturo Sandoval

On the 8th day of December, a “Christmas Rock Medley”:

On the 9th day of December, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra with “A Christmas Canon”:

On the 10th day of December, the alternative band aid!:

On the 11th day of December, the legendary Larry the Cable Guy sings Christmas Carols:

On the 12th day of December, Jeff Foxworthy tells us about the Redneck 12 days of Christmas:

On the 13th day of December, Achmed the Dead Terrorist sings carols:

On the 14th day of December, Greg Lake still believes in Father Christmas

On the 15th day of December, Sky’s version of the Toika fro Lt Kije:

On the 16th day of December, Canadian Brass with “Ding Dong Merrily on High”:

On the 17th day of December, The Carpenters Sleigh Ride:

On the 18th day of December, the original Sleigh Ride from the Boston Pops:

On the 19th day of December, yet another Sleigh Ride but this time in 7/8 time!:

On the 20th day of December, A Very Proggy Christmas! (Little Drummer Boy cover)

On the 21st day of December. Alice Cooper!

On the 22nd day of December, Jessica Simpson and Ozzie Osbourne!:

On 23rd day of December, the gorgeous voice of Linda Ronstadt

On 24th day of December, Uckfield Concert Brass from a Christmas Eve TV appearance:

On Christmas day, the last one from The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl with Fairytale of New York. Happy Christmas to you all!

One door closes, another one opens! Reflections of my musical life in Brighton.

I am writing this as I start the last couple of gigs before I leave the UK to move to Germany where a whole new, as yet unknown, musical scene awaits me! So this post is all about reflecting on some of the people I have had the pleasure of working with over my time in Brighton – some you will know from previous posts!

Firstly, the band I first played with when I moved here was The Dave Masters Big Band – some great guys in the band which has since become the Brighton Big Band, we rehearsed above The Prince Albert pub in those days! Here, I bumped into Bill Douse whom I had replaced at the Sounds of Swing when he went off to join Tony Strudwick’s band. (Something I was later to do replacing him!) Thanks to Peter Cowlett, we can hear the band from those days as a tape of a 1988 live gig at The King & Queen in Brighton came to light!

It was through playing in Dave’s band that I met local drummer Paul Turner – I have posted short clips before but managed to track down the full performance of our Glen Miler Medley with James Stewart on BBC’s “Wogan” show. Paul is doing very well indeed out in LA these days and it has been great to catch up with him via Facebook recently.

I mentioned earlier that I had replaced Bill Douse in the Sounds of Swing – next up, I was to replace him with the Tony Strudwick Orchestra. Bill very kindly suggested me when he decided to leave and this led to a 10 yr stint as Tony’s lead trumpet! I had a long spell away from the band but over the last couple of years have been a regular dep – this included 2 great tours of Cyprus where this video was shot:

I have met a lot of great players over the years working with Tony and it was particularly nice to work again with Nick Trish who is the current lead trumpet. Nick & I have been doing 2 trumpet gigs of late in Chichester Cathedral which is a great place to play! I’d like to also highlight a couple of guys whose talent deserves wider exposure. Firstly, the hugely talented Terry Finch who I roomed with on one of the Cyprus tours. Watching him at an open mike night in Beer Street,Paphos was a real treat! Here he is with one of his own compositions:

Next up, David Allen who was on the tour as a singer – and when you hear his cover version of “Dancing In The Dark”, you’ll wan’t to hear more!

This weekend also sees the end of a 17 year relationship with The Sussex Symphony Orchestra, during which time I served both as Chair and Trustee for over 10 years. We played some great concerts and had the pleasure of working with Katherine Jenkins, Aled Jones and even the comedian Jim Davidson during that time! Sadly, I miss one of my favourite gigs with them at the annual Christmas Concert – a true brass fest of fanfares, carols with fanfares and more notes in on piece than we often get in a whole concert! This clip from a couple of years ago is one of those tunes – Ron Goodwin’s classy arrangement of “Jingle Bells”!

Another band I have been a regular dep with is the brilliant “Straight No Chaser” Big Band – if you haven’t heard them, check out there website for the next gig, here’s a sample from their Soundcloud site – not one I played on but that doesn’t matter! The chart is a Paul Busby original btw.

Finally, Brass Bands have of course been a big part of my musical life for years. I had a 9 yr spell as MD of Mid Sussex Brass guiding them to many contest successes during that time and prior to that, a couple of years at the helm of The Hangleton Band. This included the band appearing on BBC’s “Hearts of Gold” as part of a stunt on Brighton seafront! As a player, I have for a number of years helped out “Brighton & Hove City Brass” at contests and my last gig here will in fact be with them at the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain in Cheltenham where the band qualified to represent this area in the 4th Section finals. Last but not least, for the whole of the time I have been in Brighton, I have played and periodically conducted “Uckfield Concert Brass”. This is a great band and I leave behind many friends there – but one thing I will not miss is this:

You can hear the band playing Sussex By The Sea – a tune I doubt I will hear much in the Rheinland!

And it’s not just the players – Brighton has a real wealth of talented composers too – in particular, it has been a real pleasure to meet, perform and record the works of Paul Carr whose music is just sublime! Here’s his Air for Orchestra we performed in 2008. If this doesn’t move you, then I don’t know what will!

From my brief deps with Straight No Chaser, I met the awesomely talented Simon D’Souza whose music lives on through this recording he did with the band shortly before he passed away. The compositions on this album are all Simon originals – as proceeds go to charity, download your own copy!


And so, to all of the great musicians I have worked with over the last 25 yrs or so in Brighton, it is farewell.  Many of you have become good friends and I will miss you all.

As for the future, you will have to read the next blog – I have found a very good Symphonic Wind Band as a starting point but watch this space! To end this post, I leave you with one of my most favourite pieces which we managed to get on film last year:

2014 – so far!

Because of my day job, my musical life over recent years has become somewhat itinerant and most of my gigs now are as a dep performer. My last post talked about this from my perspective as a conductor.

As a player, I was asked a short while back to guest at a rehearsal with the Jetstream Big Band.I had played with them once before when they had a different bandleader. So, I arrived, expecting to be on 3rd or 4th trumpet, and was handed the lead trumpet pad and was introduced to their new leader, Raul D’Oliveira who is an absolute legend as a player! The opportunity to sit next to Raul and hear him play was an unexpected pleasure and one which you too can enjoy from this clip of his appearance on BBC TV’s “Songs of Praise”:

Whilst not playing on this occasion, I was very pleased to be support Simon D’Souza’s work which has been released on CD by the fabulous “Straight No Chaser” Big Band. Simon was sadly diagnosed with a tumour in 2012 and wanted to get a lot of his music recorded whilst he still has the chance. Please support Simon’s charity and buy the cd “Navigation”!  

Navigation

The first Sussex Symphony concert this year was a real treat – I am a great lover of Elgar and Nimrod in particular so to perform The Enigma Variations in Hove Town Hall recently was a real treat and how nice to be at a venue that is less cavernous than St. Bartholomew’s church!  Judge for yourself:

This was also a good test of my mini HD flipvideo which did a great job for something so small!

It was also really nice to get an opportunity to play lead trumpet again with the Tony Strudwick Orchestra recently – a position I had previously held back in the late 80’s for approx. 10 years.

Of course, the year hasn’t been without brass bands either! Playing tuned percussion for a change, Uckfield Concert Brass actually had a gig we could walk to! And proving that brass bands are as much showbiz as anything else:

There’s No Business Like Show Business!

(Recorded at Church of the Good Shepherd, Brighton during a concert for Brighton Rotary.)

I also had a rare opportunity to play inside Chichester Cathedral for the Judges Service in early March. Having signed a disclaimer, myself and Nick Trish climbed the spiral stairs to the rood loft above the aisle and played fanfare trumpets for hymns and the National Anthem.

My most recent gig was with Brighton & Hove City Brass where I played with them at the London & Southern Counties regional competition – if you get in the top 3, this gets you invited to the National Championship Contest later in the year. I’m please to say that the band performed extremely well on the day and did indeed get that 3rd placing! Well done!

Brighton & Hove City Brass

So, what’s next? More fanfares in March, Verdi Requiem in April and more brass band contesting both with my own band, Uckfield Concert Brass and helping Brighton & Hove once more. Plenty to keep the lip muscles in good shape!

And tonight’s guest conductor is………..

This year, it has been a real pleasure to have been asked to conduct a number of bands in the area either at rehearsal or for concerts. Being a guest conductor is always fun as generally, the musicians are aware that things won’t necessarily be the same as under their regular conductor – a fact I mention to them at the start of any rehearsal!

From an interpretation perspective, all conductors are generally always right so it’s never a reflection on the resident MD if something is done in a different way – something else that I always mention up front so that they know that next week, when the boss is back, his reading of the score is also correct!

First up during the year was an opportunity to run through “Dimensions” with my good friends at Brighton & Hove City Brass whilst their MD was on vacation. This was useful for me as a player too as I performed this with them at a contest during the year which I’m pleased to say the band won!

The next band I worked with was LGB Brass – the last time I was booked to conduct this band, they were called Glynde & Beddingham Band and despite being booked to wave one stick, I landed up with 2 and played drums instead! We spent a very windy but enjoyable 90 minutes together on Eastbourne Bandstand whilst their regular MD was away.

The last conducting engagement of the year was a fun affair in Hastings with Battle Town Band – a band I have not worked with before. Despite not being aware that they start their rehearsals early, we were able to prepare for the concert the following week at a Masonic Christmas event. The evening include a very amusing “12 Days of Christmas” with each table standing up and singing a different part of the song – as you can see, the cameraman didn’t know where to look next!

It’s been a fun year and I also managed to guest on cornet at a rehearsal of the fabulous Mission Peak Brass Band in California – as I travel there a lot, I hope to do so again next year.

If I happen to turn up at your rehearsal in place of your regular conductor, with tongue firmly in cheek, here’s a few tips:

  • If you see a latin word of phrase above the stave, it means “watch Andy” – all of them mean “watch Andy”!
  • Whilst my tempo and your regular MD’s tempos may be different, we are both right!
  • For concerts, the jokes WILL be awful!
  • I may bring something with me that I don’t believe you will have played before!

Happy New Year to you all!