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The 1812 Overture at Woodbridge

On the afternoon of Sunday 7th September, The Suffolk Concert Band gave a concert in St Mary’s Church, Woodbridge, the finale of which was a performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, for which the Woodbridge ringers had been asked to ring the bells at the appropriate time.

The concert should have been held in the open air on the Market Hill, but at the last minute, due to the showery nature of the weather, it was moved to inside the church.

As the ringing chamber is high up in the tower, a series of signals was arranged beforehand between the conductor, and someone stationed at the bottom of the tower, to relay to the ringers, via a buzzer, when to get ready to ring, when to start, and when to stop.

The conductor specifically asked us not to ring rounds or changes, but to ring haphazardly, as the bells of Moscow would have been rung in 1812. Because the bells do not sound very loud in the body of the church, to get the full effect of bells and orchestra, it was suggested that the audience went outside to listen (it wasn’t actually raining then), where they would be able to clearly hear both the orchestra and bells. From accounts received from the audience, the bells and orchestra blended well when heard in this way.

 The Concert Band are planning to perform in Woodbridge again next year, when it is to be hoped that the weather will be kinder so that the concert, including Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture complete with church bells, can be performed in the open air on the Market Hill.

 Bruce Wakefield