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Abingdon Concert Band

music for wind orchestra since 1977

18 September 2021
by Chair

Reasons to be cheerful: 1,2,3!

It’s true! Things are looking up in the world of Abingdon Concert Band, and we hope the same applies to you and yours. We currently have at least 3 reasons to be cheerful and we want you to share in them with us.

Firstly, we are incredibly excited and proud to announce that Neil, our Musical Director has been awarded the title of Making Music’s ‘Best music creator for leisure-time music group’ 2021, for his composition, ‘Keep the Rhythm going’.
Some of us attended an online award ceremony a few weeks ago, and can testify that the other entries were also very good, so there was some stiff competition! But our Neil is a very worthy winner, and we are delighted for him!
The judges’ comments included; ‘This composition left the panel smiling all the way through.’ and ‘Exhilarating & rhythmically driven, a[nother] piece that was spot-on for the occasion’.
Here you can watch the debut online performance of the piece in a video that Neil also put together, featuring over 100 musicians!

Secondly, we were possibly even more excited than we were about Neil’s award when we had our first rehearsal since March 2020 on Thursday last week! It felt fantastic to be making music together again, and we actually didn’t sound too bad! We have refreshed our music folders and are looking forward to entertaining live audiences again!

Finally, and continuing on that note, we have a date confirmed for our winter concert! We hope you will join us on 4th December at St. Michael and All Angels’ church in Abingdon. Watch this space for more details closer to the time!

31 May 2021
by Chair

More virtual performances

As we carefully return to normal life the band are still performing virtually and we wanted to share our recent releases.

If you watched our Christmas concert you would have heard the exciting news that we were working with Grammy Award-winning, EMMY and BAFTA nominated composer Lorne Balfe. Lorne arranged his theme to “His Dark Materials” especially for us so it was a fantastic premiere for the band. Also an appropriate local connection, with the books being set and author Philip Pullman living just up the road in Oxford! We opened up the performance to all interested musicians and had a huge number of responses. Once again, our MD Neil Brownless took on the heroic task of pulling all the recordings together and to great success. To quote Lorne himself “It’s been such an honour to see over 160 phenomenal musicians come together to perform the main theme from #HisDarkMaterials. Congratulations to everyone at @abingdonconcert on an incredible feat”.

Watch the performance here on YouTube: His Dark Materials Main Theme

The last year has allowed us to collaborate with other musicians too and we were delighted to team up with XBY Concert Band. XBY is made up of former member of Bromley Youth Concert Band. Their MD Dennis Mycroft and Neil set the bands a musical challenge, performing Philip Sparke’s lively piece Merry-Go-Round. It was great to work with XBY and we hope we can maybe do something face-to-face with them one day.

We’re now working on what could be our final virtual performance. These have been tough times for musicians, from professionals whose livelihoods depend on it, to amateurs who miss playing together, and so many more whose jobs are connected to live music. We hope in the coming months we can return to playing and performing in person. But for now watch out for our rendition of the theme to the video game “Evil Genius” created by Oxford-based Rebellion.

All our performances can be viewed on our Abingdon Concert Band YouTube Channel.

10 January 2021
by Chair

Participate in our next virtual performance

Happy New Year! We hope this finds you keeping well. Whilst we were unable to put on a 2020 Christmas concert in person we had a fantastic response to our virtual concert which has now been viewed on YouTube by more than 800 people! We were also able to get out for two socially distanced carolling sessions at Millets Farm. It was so wonderful to be able to play with other musicians again.

We have decided to put together another massed band virtual performance which you can get involved with if you play a woodwind or brass instrument (or cymbals/timpani for percussionists). This performance will be a brand new arrangement of the theme to the BBC series His Dark Materials, which composer Lorne Balfe has kindly arranged for concert band especially for this video. If you or a musical friend would like to take part please email and tell us what instrument you play, to receive a part and guide track. The deadline for recordings is 7th February, after which our Musical Director, Neil, will be busy editing to put the video together. We’ve had over 100 people sign up to take part already and are aiming to get more than 200 musicians involved.

If you haven’t watched our last massed band video where we played Keep the Rhythm Going written by our Musical Director then you can watch it here.

Stay safe, and we hope to see you soon.

20 April 2020
by Chair

ACB goes virtual!

Even a national lockdown doesn’t stop ACB from making music! We have all continued finding joy in music in these difficult times, so we wanted to share this with you.

Our Musical Director Neil Brownless has worked some considerable technical magic, making us all appear together in this video. We hope you enjoy our performance of Do you Hear the People Sing? from Les Misérables, and we look forward to seeing you before too long.

At the moment all of our summer engagements look very unlikely to go ahead, as even when the rules are relaxed we won’t have been able to rehearse together. However, we do have very exciting plans for Christmastime this year, so please check back here for updates soon.

25 February 2020
by Chair

Sounds of the Summer

Spring is in the air and ACB are already looking forward to a summer of music making!

Sadly, due to the coronavirus outbreak, we have had to cancel our Spring concert, Windows of the World. We hope to share our music with you another time soon.

We’re hoping that things  will  be back to normal again soon as we’re still making plans to entertain you from Abingdon to Swanage!

17th May – Abingdon Airshow TBC

27th June – LoveBeer Festival, Milton, 2pm

28th June – Henley Mill Meadows Bandstand, 2pm

5th July – The Bandstand, Swanage

Yes, that’s right an ACB trip to the seaside! As I write this our Treasurer is working on the feasibility of an ice-cream budget and we can’t tell you how excited we are about entertaining the music lovers of the Dorset coast. Keep your fingers crossed for a sunny day and join us if you can!

In these uncertain times, please do check here for the latest updates in case of further changes.

30 November 2019
by Chair

Time for a Christmas Overture

Another busy and successful year for Abingdon Concert Band draws to a close!

After our regional success in Cheltenham last year, we went on to be awarded gold again at the National Concert Band Festival at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester in April. This was followed by a summer of great fun engagements at Abingdon Airshow, Henley Mill Meadows and Forbury Gardens in Reading. But, never fear! There is still plenty of time for musical merriment!

Our next concert,  A Christmas Overture, is on Saturday 14th December at 4pm, in St Michael  and All Angels’ church in Abingdon – our favourite Christmas venue! You can buy tickets in advance here, or on the door from 3.30pm on the day. We’re looking forward to sharing a varied programme with you, including long-standing favourites like The Lion King and Fairytale of New York alongside more recent additions to our library, like our Christmas medley with a twist; Minor Alterations, not to mention other new pieces we hope you will enjoy.

If you can’t make it to the concert (or even if you can!), why not come along and enjoy a carol or two, to add some seasonal cheer to your shopping! Find us on:

  • Saturday 30th November, 11.00-12.30 at the Abingdon Christmas Extravaganza
  • Sunday 1st December, 11.00-15.00 at Millets Farm near Abingdon
  • Saturday 7th December, 11.30-15.30 at Waitrose, Botley Rd
  • Sunday 8th December, 11.30-15.00 at Sainsbury’s, Heyford Hill
  • 15th December, 11.30-15.30 at Waitrose, Botley Rd.
  • Thursday 19th December, 19.00-20.00 at Sainsbury’s, Heyford Hill
  • Saturday 21st December, 11.00-14.00 at M&S, Didcot
  • Saturday 21st December, 17.00-18.00 at The Plum Pudding, Milton
  • Sunday 22nd December, 11.00-14.00 at Millets Farm

As the band continues to celebrate its musical journey, we are also looking forward to our Spring concert on 4th April, with the theme of Windows on the World. Come back soon for more details.

Seasons greetings and a very happy new year!

27 November 2018
by Chair

We are GOLD!

We’ve spent the last few months working hard on the details of our performance of 3 pieces for a regional event as part of the National Concert Band Festival. Off we went to Cheltenham on Sunday, hoping that we might do a little better than the bronze award we received the last time we played at the festival about 10 years ago…

The performance went well and some of us may have begun to hope we might merit a silver award. I’m not sure anyone – except maybe Neil, our Musical Director – dared hope for anything more! Imagine our surprise and delight when it was announced that we are the recipients of a gold award. We couldn’t believe it!

The judges said they enjoyed our performances of Eine Kleine Yiddishe Ragmusik by Adam Gorb, October by Eric Whitacre, and Khvarenah: City of Light by Alga Mau, which was actually the winning entry to our composition competition back in 2015. They noted that we are a diverse community group and that our pleasure in playing music together was evident. The written comments included phrases such as ‘plenty of style’, ‘nice atmosphere’ and ‘good tone colour’. We couldn’t be more pleased!

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, we have been invited to play at the national event at the Royal Northern College of Music in April. We are really thrilled to have this exciting new experience to look forward to.

Don’t forget that your next opportunity to hear your gold award-winning band in concert is at 4pm on Saturday 15th December at St. Michael and All Angels’ church in Abingdon. We look forward to welcoming you to our Abingdon Christmas Carol.

28 October 2018
by Chair

Christmas is coming…!

Our wonderful summer of music making at Henley, the Abingdon Airshow and the Nag’s Head pub is already fading into memory, but never fear, we are busy preparing more musical delights for you to enjoy!

For the moment we are eagerly anticipating  our return to the National Concert Band Festival in Cheltenham on 25th November. We’re excited to get some feedback from critics instead of our regular audience who know and love us! We hope the adjudicators will love us as much as you do!

From November we’ll also be starting to get ready to entertain with our twist on Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol, which we will punctuate the only way we know how – with some rousing seasonal melodies! We are really looking forward to seeing Ben Morel-Allen dressed in his finest Victorian garb, to bring the tale to life alongside our soundtrack carefully selected by our MD, Neil Brownless.

Alongside this, catch us if you can at one of our favourite carolling venues. We’ll be at Millets Farm on 22nd December. The perfect day to go & buy your sprouts…


11 February 2018
by Chair

Making plans for the summer!

This summer you’ll have some chances to hear Abingdon Concert Band out and about, playing favourites for all the family.

Try a different day out at the Abingdon Air & Country Show on 6th May. This year’s event will celebrate 100 years of the Royal Air Force. We’ll be playing Dam Busters, that’s for sure!

At Henley Mill Meadows on 23rd June, spread out a picnic blanket and let us entertain you as you watch the boats.

Picture a sunny afternoon on 14th July in the Nag’s Head pub garden in Abingdon, with something refreshing to drink as you listen. We’re talking to our good friend Jim at LoveBeer, hoping he might brew us some more Hornblower. Check out the Hornblower story here, if you missed what we got up to last summer in our 40th anniversary year. 

Check our events calendar cloer to the time for further information including times. We look forward to entertaining you on a sunny day before too long!

11 February 2018
by Chair

24th March concert: Back to the Music Part I

We’re currently working hard on an entertaining programme of music to take you on a journey through space and time, featuring plenty of recognisable favourites for you to hum on the way home. See our Events page for more details.

This one promises to be popular, so snap up your tickets online at Eventbrite, or pop into The Bookstore or the Newbury Building Society.

We look forward to seeing you there.