St. Mary's Church, Woodbridge
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The summer of 2008 has not been kind to organisers of outdoor events and the afternoon of Sunday, 7th. September was no exception. The Suffolk Concert Band was to perform an open air concert on the Market Hill in Woodbridge. This annual treat is very popular and well supported: a free afternoon sitting on the delightful square, listening to this very gifted group of musicians under their conductor, Roger Jones.

But, frequent showers and leaden skies put the concert in jeopardy. Then, along came the Revd. Kevan McCormack, Rector of St. Mary’s, offering the Parish Church, just off the square, as the venue. The band quickly set up their position and the show was on!

As always when Roger Jones conducts, we were treated to a variety of musical styles, many pieces written especially for this band. Well-known items included the William Tell Overture, Grand March from ‘Aida’, excerpts from ‘Oklahoma’ and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and the ever popular ‘Radetsky March’ with enthusiastic audience participation! Of the less familiar were ‘New York 1927’ which included much agility from the percussionist as he played drums and a whistle simultaneously, ‘Navy Blue’ based on sea songs and ‘Scherzpolka’ which portrayed a drunken conductor and an equally tipsy band! Not that Roger or his band was anything but sober!

The finale to this most enjoyable afternoon was a magnificent performance of The 1812 Overture, accompanied at the climax by the church bells of St. Mary’s. Many of the audience braved the rain to stand outside in the churchyard to fully appreciate the sounds coming from within the church and from the tower. A very moving and memorable experience, with the Rector in charge of communication between musicians and bell ringers! Surprisingly, the timing was perfect!

As former colleagues at The Royal Hospital School, Holbrook, where Roger still teaches, much friendly banter passed between Kevan and himself, to the amusement of all present. Roger thanked Kevan for offering St. Mary’s and rescuing the day; the bell ringers for their contribution; The Kings Head for their sponsorship and the audience who braved the weather to support them. Those who enjoy Roger’s concerts as much as I do will be pleased to know that he will be entertaining Woodbridge again at the annual New Year’s Day concert in the Community Centre. We hope to see you all there.

As for me, I’m already looking forward to the next performance by Roger and the Suffolk Concert Band in 2009, knowing that the weather cannot mar this excellent concert – providing the Rector and conductor are still friends, of course!

St. Mary’s Press Officer.