A pair of Foxy HuntersA queen on the throne, The Queen on 'the throne', Father Christmas, and a milk float with a difference were all part of Wiltshire’s oldest and most vibrant illuminated carnival last night (Saturday).
117 years has not dulled the spirit of Pewsey residents who, if they weren’t in fancy dress in the procession, had turned out in traditionally-large numbers to cheer on the participants.
As always, the Carnival Queen and her attendants led the procession, but were followed not long afterwards by Her Majesty herself, or at least someone posing as her – a walking entrant sitting in a toilet, the legend Still On The Throne alluding to Elizabeth II’s record-breaking reign.
There were more topical floats – one in the form of the milk float with a life-sized cow implored local people to pay a fair price for their milk.
There was an early showing for Father Christmas and his elves, courtesy of the Party Animals, and as always a good smattering of popular culture references – the recently-resurrected TV classic Thunderbirds, Disney’s enduring Frozen, and the unescapable Minions.
And from the baby the the pouch of a kangaroo as part of the Cotton Eye Joey float, to the Pewsey Old Broilers – who used their Dun Clucking float to announce their retirement from Carnival – the event managed to appeal to every generation.
- Click any image to enlarge
An Elf from the Party Animals Christmas floatCarnival Queen Daisy-Mae Phythian and attendant Chelsea WeirKennet Valley Brass Bavarian Band Make Love Not WarMinions 2015Pewsey Hasbeens Thunderbirds Are GoPewsey Legions Two Tribes floatPewsey Old BroilersPVADS Madness-themed floatStill on the ThroneThe Major WrecksThe milk float campaigns for fair milk prices for farmersThe youngest participant Cotton Eye Joey
On Sunday (September 13), at St Peter's Church, in a concert organisedd by the Mayor of Marlborough, Councillor Margaret Rose, The Cook and Stanley Piano Duet provided a large audience with a varied range of works.
Berendina Cook and Matthew Stanley had met in 1984 whilst they were music students at the Royal Holloway College, University of London and have continued to play together ever since. They have become established as one of the leading specialists in Piano Duet work, and have played in venues all over the world. International recognition came when in 1996 they won no less than three prizes at the International Piano Duet Competition in Tokyo
The recital began with Mozart's Sonata in C (which may have originally been intended for two pianos.) A spirited allegro opens the piece, contrasting with a gentle andante, before launching into a jaunty allegretto, the main theme returning time and time again.
Schubert was a very able pianist and wrote extensively for the duet. His lovely Rondo in A may well have been written for him to play alongside one of his gifted pupils, probably one of the daughters of his patron, Prince Esterhazy. The work is based on a gentle, poignant theme around which the four hands interweave in a series of atmospheric and intimate variations. Such beauty, from a composer close to death from a terminal illness!
What a contrast this made to the bombastic and extrovert Valses Bourgeois by the larger-than-life Lord Berners. Berners was one of the flamboyant figures of Britain in the 1920’s. A gifted musician, poet, novelist, artist and erstwhile diplomat, his social life revolved around the Sitwells, William Walton and Constant Lambert as well as the Mitford sisters. His hospitality at Faringdon House, where he kept a flock of doves dyed in vibrant colours, was legendary. These Valses, are, not surprisingly, larger than life - showy, brash, satirical, and harmonically edgy. Furthermore, they were brilliantly played - a very suitable end to the first half.
The second half began with a Suite in Three Movements by York Bowen, a sadly neglected composer these days, but one of the recognised musical talents of the interwar years. He was also a talented horn player and piano teacher. His Suite, probably written for his own use, is very difficult and requires substantial changes in mood. The wonderful central movement is a Nocturne, initially a gentle reflective piece which steadily rises to a disturbing climax. The last movement, Dance, is another tour de force.
Debussy’s Petite Suite is well-known to duet lovers and was beautifully played. The four movements begin with En Bateau, (a serene evening on a boat rudely interrupted by a nasty squall!) and includes a striking Minuet before finishing with a very well-known Ballet.
The programme finished with a piano duet version of Gershwin’s famous Rhapsody in Blue, better known in its original version for piano and orchestra. Indeed the work loses something of its variety of colour in this version for duet. Nevertheless, it was played with great style and made a very suitable climax to the evening’s music.
It was most fitting because George Gershwin died at the age of 38 from a brain tumour, thus cutting short a very flourishing career. Berendina’s own son died of a brain tumour in 2000 at the age of 14, while the Town Mayor’s son-in-law suffered the same fate. The concert, appropriately, was to raise money for The Brain Tumour Charity which will remain the Mayor’s Charity of choice throughout her year in office. This was a worthy and most enjoyable start - a very successful concert.
A reconstruction of 17th century life at The Merchant's House in MarlboroughThree of the Marlborough area’s cultural landmarks will be throwing their doors open next weekend for Heritage Open Days.
Wilton Windmill – the last working windmill in Wessex - will hold an open day on Sunday, September 13 from noon until 5pm. Children’s games and free guided tours are all aprt of the package.
Nearby, visitors will be able to see the world's oldest working beam engines at the Crofton pumping station. Although the pumping station will not be 'in steam', volunteers will be given guided tours of the facility.
The Grade I listed Crofton Beam Engines - complete with original Boulton & Watt beam engine dating from 1812, and a Harvey of Hayle Cornish beam engine built in 1846 and rebuilt in 1905 - will be open in Saturday and Sunday, September 12 and 13, from 10.30am until 4.30pm.
And entry will be free at The Merchant’s House on Sunday, September 13, with free tours starting at 10.30am, noon, and 1.130pm.
The House of Thomas Bayly was built following the Great Fire of Marlborough in 1653, and reconstructions of life in the 17th century will take place around the house and gardens.
For information about Heritage Open Days events locally and further afield, log on to www.heritageopendays.org.uk