After a long period of enforced but very necessary restrictions, how fantastic once again to be able to share with friends. For the anticipating and enthusiastic audience, away with the masks! Let’s get ‘Together’ in Concert.
For the first in this series of three concerts BCB welcomed special guests Gresley Colliery Band. And it is with particular pleasure that we welcomed their Musical Director, Craig Stevens, as it was not too many years ago (early 2000’s), that Craig was himself a valued member of BCB.
For both bands, technology with its video-conferencing and virtual band performances have kept us together and motivated, but tonight for the first time in two years let’s make music!
Gresley Colliery opened our evening, Craig crafting together a varied programme commencing with a very spirited ‘Make His Praise Glorious’ (Wolover arr.William Gordon). Published in 1995, perhaps a reminder to Craig of his SA and BCB background? Introducing then the trombone section, presenting Duke Ellington’s ‘It don’t mean a thing’, alongside principal trombonist Becca Pope, it was great to be reacquainted with 2 further BCB ‘associates’, Andrew Mackereth and Alwyn Green.
Gilbert Vinter is a name associated with the most challenging of brass band ‘test pieces’ published during the 1960’s, and it is his major work, ‘Spectrum’, first performed by bands at the British Open in 1969, that the band chose to feature in today’s concert. Congratulations to Gresley Colliery Band on both their performance this evening and of course for their 2nd placing in the recent 1st Section Area Championships. This success sees them both invited to the National Finals at the Albert Hall in October, and also promotion to the Championship Section in 2023.
The band completed their programme with a double dose of Latin excitement, featuring ‘Salsa Tres Prado’ (Philip Harper) and finally ‘Valero’ (J Swearingen arr. Sandy Smith).
Birmingham Citadel Band (Bandmaster Gavin Lamplough) commenced the second part of our programme with the Festival March ‘Able’ (William Turkington arr. W Himes 1988), contrasting it immediately with Andrew Wainwright’s ‘Be Thou My Vision’. Music arranged during the lockdown period, this evocative three verse setting of the hymn tune Slane was certainly enhanced by the multimedia presentation.
Then, in stark contrast, but music from the pen of yet another young Salvationist composer, Stephen Ponsford’s scintillating ‘Let There Be Light’.
Major Ray Steadman-Allen’s ‘In Quiet Pastures’, published in 1950, has undoubtedly stood the test of time and is as loved today as it was 70 years ago. Based on songs evolving from Psalm 23, the presentation was received very sensitively. And, as in any Salvation Army concert setting, the moment was not lost as Major Adrian Allman focused our thoughts on the difficulties that we are all experiencing in today’s uncertain world.
To conclude their segment of the concert, BCB presented Major Robert Redhead’s ‘Quintessence’. Written in 1978 the music explores, in five continuous and contrasting movements, depicting various aspects of the Salvationist’s life in Australia. Exciting music to listen to. And sincere compliments deserved here to Gina Hughes for her score reading skills on this her debut with responsibilities for the band’s multimedia presentation!
Congratulations also to Matthew Frost on his excellent concert debut as BCB’s principal cornet.
On now to the Grand Finale! The first logistical challenge, 60 + musicians ‘comfortablish’ on stage, achieved!
The march ‘Rolling Along’ (Williams Himes) written in 1993 was the choice for the massed bands (as representative of SA music) and certainly got the finale off to a great start.
Craig’s choice for the massed bands was ‘Mr Jums’ from Chris Hazell’s trilogy ‘Brass Cats’. As ever it proved to be an evergreen audience pleaser.
Eric Ball is of course renowned in Salvation Army circles and of also within the wider brass banding world. His ‘Kingdom Triumphant’ proved to be the perfect choice and such a magnificent, majestic way to conclude a wonderful evening together.
Huge thanks to Craig and Gresley Colliery Band for accepting the invitation to share in thisevening’s ‘Together’ venture. Thanks also to the organising secretaries of both bands, working together to make it all happen so smoothly under such difficult circumstances.
And, of course, a big thank you to our audience. We trust you also enjoyed the opportunity to once again share in the ‘live ‘music experience. We may perhaps see you again on Saturday 14th May when BCB will be sharing the concert platform at the Salvation Army, Cradley Heath, with the Langley Band.
Report by Keith Watts