What follows is mainly a record. It might seem a bit
protracted when read as an entertainment.
Many of us have been to a ‘play in a concertina
band’ event. Have you ever stopped to think what it might be like to run one
(not asked of those we all know and respect from established annual venues)?
a few years now in the peace of rural Norfolk a small group of 8 or 9 of us have
been meeting every month to play a few concertina ensemble pieces. So delightful
are these evenings that even journeying to be there from next-door counties too,
is well worthwhile.
Barrett is a masterly arranger and seeker-out of tunes to play, so the tradition
has been established that it is usually in their house at Mattishall that we all
meet. Except for one Anglo baritone we all play various English system
concertinas. Our pieces range from early English, through Light Classical, Music
hall, and Traditional.
year, fired up after the usual visits to Witney, Kilve, and similar venues, we
discussed again the idea of hosting our own Band Day and decided this time that
we would attempt to plan a day for mid 2005. E-mails were soon flying
around. Should our tiny group be blessed with a name, if so what? Would
‘Anglia’ be confused with Anglo? Should it be prefixed by East, and should
‘Anglia’ end with an ‘n’ anyway? These weighty matters were resolved
eventually (with due deference to our good friends in the West Country) by
calling ourselves, with great originality, ‘The East Anglia Concertina
could we hold this musical day? Much of the delight in living in deepest Norfolk
stems from its backwater situation away from principal transport routes but that
was not helpful to our plans. “Stamford!” exclaimed David Nind, one of our
more distant enthusiasts, “I always wanted to have a Band Day in my home town.
It is right next to the A1, has a railway station and lots of facilities and the
rest of you can all drive over to where I live for a change”. So, we
were ‘sorted’ as they say, and David was duly appointed as prime mover, and
to choose a Sunday date when car-parking in Stamford would not only be easy, but
many would turn up, fifteen, fifty, or who knows? Almost everything follows the
answer to that, and room size in particular. The Stamford Arts Centre, well into
the spirit of things, offered David various options but said if we chose Sunday
June 19th we could have ‘The Ballroom’, seating up to 100, for
the special price of £100 which we promptly accepted. Later they also offered
at no extra charge, the use of an adjacent room as well, useful for ‘party
piece’ practice. Our start time was planned as 10.00 am, finishing at 4.30 pm,
allowing us to be clear of the room by 5 pm.
and publicity were clearly going to be important in persuading players to come
to our day. The event should have a name we thought, and as monthly meetings
make for slow progress more e-mail debates took place resulting in the title
‘SqueezEast’ and a wonderful poster from David apparently depicting two
typical characters from our group. As well as putting the poster and background
details on David’s website which we used as a point of focus
and information, we also advertised in ‘Mardles’ (Suffolk and area folk
magazine), circularized the ICA e-mail list, put up posters at events such as
Kilve (March), and Swaledale, and generally plagued and nagged as many
concertina playing friends and contacts that we could think of.
Paul spent many hours choosing and arranging pieces specifically suitable for
‘SqueezEast’. Many were arranged for 2 or 3 treble concertinas, plus
up to 2 baritones and a bass (in both treble and bass clef) and included ‘Loch
Lomond’ ‘O Waly Waly’, ‘Carolan’s Concerto’, and Liberty Bell’. He
also adapted an ‘outside’ arrangement of ‘I Dream of Jeanie with the Light
Brown Hair’. Some of these we played briefly at monthly meetings for the
purpose of trial and adjustment but we deliberately avoided ‘rehearsal’ so
that we ran no risk of discomforting our guests on the day. The one piece we did
rehearse was ‘Andante Tranquillo’ which we planned as an ‘EACP party
piece’ (yes we were already using the abbreviated title). For manuscript we
decided to print about 20 copies of each treble part, 10 of baritone, 5 of bass
(treble clef) and 3 bass (bass clef).
food on the day was a step too far we decided, especially as places to eat in
Stamford are plentiful. We would just provide tea, coffee, soft drinks, biscuits
etc which would be prepared and served by press-ganged members of David’s
family. If we charged everyone just £5 each, and also held a Raffle, we
calculated we would just about be successful in covering our costs.
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