Summer Wind Concert at St Leonards Church, Saturday June 17th 2023
A very enjoyable evening was had by all at last Saturday’s concert by WOL, WOCI and WOC (West Oxfordshire Learners, West Oxfordshire Clarinets Intermediate and West Oxfordshire Clarinets) under the inspiring baton of local teacher and music impresario, Wendy Marks.
One of the lovely things about these concerts (apart from the dedication, hard work and enthusiasm of the amateur players of all ages) is that Wendy talks her audience through the pieces, and on this occasion had chosen to highlight the work of several women composers, including Debbie Wiseman, who has written for film and TV as well as recent royal celebrations. A member of WOL explained to the audience that Wiseman had written a piece called Together during Covid and waived her copyright, offering both a simple and a more advanced version of the tune for people to play alone (initially) and then together when they could; It had been requested that WOL perform it, and they played it (and a wide variety of other music) beautifully. This piece, as well as many others, had been specially arranged by Wendy for the groups she teaches and conducts.
WOL, a predominantly adult group, includes wind players of different sized saxophones and clarinets, flutes, oboes and trombones with many players having only recently begun to perform. WOCI are slightly more experienced clarinet players, and WOC, the advanced group, includes FIVE different sizes of clarinet!
It was WOCI’s first public performance and they rose to the occasion admirably. They played a wide variety of music, including Handel, Haydn and Mozart, but I most enjoyed Smile (originally a tune by Charlie Chaplin) and Moon River. Both these pieces were difficult, involving slow, quiet passages, but were beautifully played. Hopefully we will be able to see these players progress and develop over future performances.
WOC played, amongst other pieces, Rossini’s William Tell Overture, keeping perfectly together, and some fine early music, including Byrd’s Earl of Salisbury’s Pavane. A Dvorak Wind Serenade, had been arranged by Wendy to showcase the bigger clarinets, and though ambitious, was nicely played. The band finished on a high with Reunion Rock, leaving us definitely wanting more. (Julia Shay)