The band have organised the Christmas Eve Carols in Watlington since the mid 1970's.
This year the event was even bigger having been joined by the St. Leonards Bellringers and the first lantern parade.
A great success! - see the article from the Henley standard below:
A LANTERN parade took place for the first time before Watlington’s traditional Christmas Eve carols.
Residents and community groups had made the lanterns at workshops hosted by the Watlington artsHUB and Emily Cooling, of Creating Art, at the Methodist Church. For the parade, they lit their creations and then paraded through the town centre before gathering to sing with the Watlington Concert Band and Watlington Community Choir.
The evening began with bell ringing at St Leonard’s Church.
Thank you to everyone who came to our joint concert last Saturday with Chinnor Band and our amazing guest soloist Ailsa Russell from The Cory Band. It was a full house and it was lovely to do something with our friends at Chinnor Silver Band and the Chinnor Silver Training Band.
Sadly, it was the last Concert with our Conductor Ben Halstead , who has now taken a position with the Woodfalls Band. We wish him every success and thank him for all he has done for us in the last year.
We are delighted to announce our new Conductor - James Symington. James is a student bandmaster at the Royal Military School of Music and brings with him a wealth of knowledge. (see Bio on our website). We are really looking forward to our Christmas Concert with James on the 16th December.
The band enjoyed a busy lead up to Christmas and were delighted to see an audience filling St. Leonard's Church for our Christmas concert on the 17th December. We also enjoyed playing at the Christmas Fair and of course, under the Town Hall for the annual Carols on Christmas Eve.
At our first rehearsal back this week, we were pleased to welcome our new Conductor Ben Halstead, who got the band working immediately preparing for our next Concert. Ben Halstead grew up in Saddleworth, Greater Manchester and started to learn the cornet at the age of 9 through Oldham Borough Music Service. He studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (RWCMD), under Dr Robert Childs, Chris Turner and Tom Hutchinson, and gained a BMus (Hons) in 2015.
Ben has been part of the brass band scene for many years and has been a member of Flowers Band, Desford Colliery Band and currently plays soprano cornet with Brunel Brass. After music college, Ben toured Australia with Grimethorpe Colliery Band and also performed at the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo in Canada. His instrumental exploits have seen him perform in some of the greatest concert halls in the World including; Symphony Hall, The Sage, Sadler’s Wells Theatre, St David’s Hall, The Wales Millennium and The Royal Albert Hall.
It is with sadness we say farewell to Callum after a year with the band. Due to the huge number of commitments Callum has with other bands and his busy work schedule, he took the difficult decision to step back. The band really continued to grow under his leadership, and we look forward to working with him again.
After just over 2 years with the Band, our Conductor Ben has made the difficult decision to leave the band due to work and travel commitments. Ben continued all the good work that Dave had started and the band really enjoyed their time with him at the front.
Despite Covid and lockdown, the band still managed three concerts with Ben, the last being our Christmas Concert in December 21.
The band decided it was a good opportunity to play a trick on Ben. Ben announced the final piece of the concert - Christmas Festival, and as he counted the band in, they played instead Keel Row, the Life Guards trot, as Ben was a Life Guard. See his reaction below!
The band are delighted to introduce Ben Ruffer as our new Conductor. Ben started his musical journey as a Chorister at Chichester Cathedral before joining Trinity College of Music where he studied the Violin, Trumpet and Organ.
Having joined the Army in 2003, he was posted to The Band of The Life Guards. Ben took part in every State Ceremonial event both as a band member and State Trumpeter; including TRH Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Royal Wedding, Diamond Jubilee, Diplomatic Receptions, Festival of Remembrance and the Queen’s Birthday Parade, where he was the Field Officer’s Trumpeter twice.
22 years ago a chance meeting with Lady Mogg in the Churchyard led to the Watlington Band gaining a new conductor. Dave Pullen took up the challenge, despite having never conducted before, and during his time as conductor built the band up from just four players.
Dave started playing cornet at the age of 11 for Chinnor Silver Band before joining City of Oxford Band on Euphonium. He also played for Ercol Band and later with Kidlington Concert Brass.