A weekend with Jack Stamp: bringing colour to black and white


The weekend of 5-6 October 2019 saw some 50 members of Eynsford Concert Band and 11 young musicians come together at The SPACE, Sevenoaks School for a very special weekend of music making. 

The reason? We were very privileged to be joined by Dr. Jack Stamp – a good friend of our honorary patron Dr. Nigel Clarke, who introduced us to Jack. Jack is a prolific composer and specialises in writing for wind band, so we were delighted when he agreed to write a commission for us!

An audience with Dr. Jack Stamp and Dr. Nigel Clarke

‘Reflections on Weston’, to be premiered during our 2019 Christmas Concert, is dedicated to the memory of Gordon (Joe) Stafford, one of ECB’s longest standing members, who passed away in early 2017. Joe had a famous connection – to Ralph Vaughan Williams – his wife had been Vaughan Williams’ housekeeper and he gave her away at their wedding. 

With Jack being such a passionate fan of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ work, such a connection was too good an opportunity to miss and, when we shared the story with him, he was excited to bring it to life in a composition for us.  ‘Reflections on Weston’ is based on the, relatively unknown, Vaughan Williams’ hymn ‘King’s Weston’ and brings together the hymn tune with an original theme to create a lively, yet reflective, tribute to Joe. 

The entire weekend was full of stories, learning and, of course, music making. Jack took us through a number of pieces that will feature on our December concert programme, including his ‘Gavorkna Fanfare’ and ‘Seasons Greetings.’ 

For John Powell’s music from ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ we were joined by 11 young musicians (and we hope future ECB Young Musicians’ Academy members). It was fantastic to share the experience with the next generation and hopefully inspire them to continue their music making. 

“Jack helped us realise that most, if not all, of us remember the one person who influenced us musically as a child”
Joanna Chapman

A highlight for many was the two masterclasses that Jack held with our conductors Steve Aitken and Andy Barclay (unfortunately Mike Smith was away on tour). We learnt just how difficult conducting is – the preparation and practice that is needed and the kit bag of ‘moves’ that every conductor needs to lead the players in their performance. Thank you from all of us to Steve and Andy for being such willing subjects!

Jack’s passion and enthusiasm for music is infectious. He held our attention through detailed rehearsals; regaled us with stories; boosted our confidence with compliments and left us with many ‘bons mots’ – my personal favourite was: 

“as musicians we bring colour to the black and white [of music notation]”. 

“Jack’s analogies really worked for me – for example; imagine [music] as a play on stage, and work out who is the lead role, the crowd scene or the scenery…and act accordingly”
Viv Astall

It was wonderful to further extend our international friendships. We’re very grateful to Jack for the experience and for his generosity and we all look forward to welcoming him back for the premiere of ‘Reflections on Weston’ in December.