TED OAKLEY’S SCRAPBOOK

October 03 

KINGS HEATH INSTITUTE

CONCERT BY THE PIERROT BANJO BAND

The popular palate is always calling for something novel in the way of amusement. It has tired of the orthodox concert of miscellaneous songs and instrumental selections, and it will ere long weary many of the drawing room entertainments which have latterly usurped the place of steady-going musical recital of classical pretensions. But not so far as Kings Heath is concerned, an entertainment quite unique in its character was provided on Wednesday evening for a large and approving audience, who heard for the first time the Warwickshire Amateur Pierrot Banjo Orchestra. This is a musical body which deserves some attention. It consists of a few musically gifted ladies and gentlemen collected for the most part from the residential circles of Handsworth, and has only been in existence for a few months, during the whole of which time it has played at several suburban resorts on behalf of charitable objects with the greatest success, its services having been given free. A feature of the orchestra is the costume worn – the Pierrot and Pierette – and in which the young ladies particularly look most becoming. Mr. Olly Oakley, the clever young banjoist, is the musical director, and Mrs. Anthony Browne, a Handsworth lady well known for her good works, is the hon. secretary. The orchestra consists of the following: Miss Wilcox, Mr. Olly Oakley, Miss Rose Wilcox, Mr Charles Lucas, Miss Florence Hewitt, Mr S. Brown Fisher, Miss Elsie Wilson, Mr. C. Howard Wilcox, Miss Ethel Browne, and Miss White as accompanist. A concert remarkable in many ways for its attractiveness was initiated with Stanley Hill’s march "Badminton", played with verve by the orchestra, after which Mr. Chas. A. Lucas amused with a droll ditty, entitled "The gay tomtit". Mr. Olly Oakley, who is no stranger, added to his laurels by his masterly execution of the zither-banjo solo, "Valse de Concert", and he had to oblige the audience with an encore. Lansing’s selection of negro minstrelsy, set for strings, "Darkies’ Dawn", was next played by the orchestra, winning unstinted plaudits. Miss Ethel Browne, who was slightly nervous, sang with Mr. Lucas, the humorous duet, "If you were me", to the entire appreciation of the audience, followed by Lansing’s sequence selection, "Darkies’ Dream", brilliantly performed by the orchestra. A feat of the programme was Mr. Olly Oakley’s zither-banjo solo, intermezzo from "Cavalliera Rusticana", for which he only escaped an encore by bowing his acknowledgements. Miss Ethel Browne, who had evidently recovered her composure, sang very prettily with Miss Elsie Wilson, the comical duet, "The Chinee Dolly". These two young ladies, with their guitars, and Messrs Oakley and Lucas, with their banjoes, were afterwards associated in playing Piccolimini’s sweet song, "Whisper and I shall hear". Mr. C. Howard Wilcox’s lively singing of "The dandy coloured coon" involved him in a re-demand, which he had to respond to, and part one concluded with the delightful "Lullaby" from "Ruy Blas", charmingly given by the orchestra, who here terminated their share of the concert. Part two was contributed to by – for the most part – professionals. Miss Constance York, the possessor of a beautiful voice, of wide range, sang Bishop’s "Tell me my heart", Gerald Lane’s "The golden promise", and Bucallossi’s "La zingara", all of which she vocalised like an artist. Mr. Hamlyn Crimp, who is too old a favourite to need introduction now, sang in good voice, "The sailor’s grave" and "Nina". Mrs. Mason, a member of the institute, gave evidence of her ability on the keyboard, with the pianoforte solos, "Nightingale and Zephyr", and L’Elegante". Buchanan’s exciting story, "Phil Blood’s Leap" found a capable reciter in Mr. G. W. Midgley, who gave a very dramatic rendering of it.

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