Birmingham Citadel Band enjoyed a fabulous weekend in Bristol with the Bristol Easton Corps. Father-and-Son duo, David and Marc Richardson, give us an insight into a weekend of great music, friendship, spiritual highs and ground-breaking firsts for the band! This included a live webcast of the Saturday evening festival which was viewed by people from Canada, USA and Sweden to name but a few.
David Richardson writes about the Saturday evening Festival........
A view from under the flag – Saturday night at Bristol Easton
It was a privilege for Birmingham Citadel Band to be invited to undertake a weekend campaign at Bristol Easton.
Having received a warm welcome and excellent tea it was time for me to take my seat on the EEb bass section, this being situated directly under the flag.
Before a note was played one could feel that the good number in the audience were welcoming and open to a good night.
The concert opened with a specially written piece by Paul Sharman entitled ‘Amazed’ - a lively opener sure to receive further exposure when available on wider release.
The band then moved into a more contemplative mood with the playing of Kenneth Downie’s ‘Peace’; an original composition intended to provoke a thoughtful atmosphere. This was enhanced, as were many of the evenings items, with a well prepared AV presentation.
The third item of the evening drew on a brass band classic and the unique music of Wilfred Heaton was featured in his ground breaking composition ‘Victory for Me.’
This is a composition where the rhythms and rests share equal importance and in my view justice was done.
It is no coincidence that the first half of the bands programmes contain quite a large percentage of contemplative and reflective music. This was evidenced in the choices of both solo items chosen by the soloists in this first part of the programme. The first of these was ‘Demelza’ played by Neil Blessett who once again showed his mastery of a slow melody.
Following the much lighter ‘Lift up your Voice’ (Bulla), Mark Sharman then brought us the trombone solo ‘Somebody Prayed’ (van der Horden). Once again a delightful atmosphere was created. The composer of this piece, a Canadian, was able to watch and listen to his piece being played via a live web link.
The thought provoking music continued as the band presented Calvert’s ‘For our Transgressions’ and the audiences reception to this music made you feel that they had bought into what the composer and the band were trying to portray. ‘Vitae Aeternum’ (Lovatt-Cooper) was the final item of the first half, a large work by an up and coming composer which builds to a grand finale via a delightfully melodic middle section. The percussion section certainly earned their corn in the final movement.
‘Moses, Get Down’ (Gott), the congregational song ‘Praise to the Lord, the Almighty’ and ‘Shalom’ (Silvferberg) started the second half in lively fashion and this continued with the Euphonium solo ‘Harlequin’ (Sparke) played by David Taylor. In his time at the Birmingham Conservatoire David won several performance awards and those who experienced his playing on this occasion were left in no doubt as to why!
Now for something completely different. It was time for Edward Dixon to bring the Tuba solo ‘The Bare Necesseities’ (arr. Baker). Unfortunately for Edward band discipline seemed to disintegrate with people trying to get in on the act resulting in Edward leaving his post and having to be persuaded to return. This was all done in the best possible taste and seemed to be enjoyed by all. It was time to draw breath and Himes’ delightful fusion of the old and new in ‘Soli Deo Gloria’ gave us a peaceful interlude.
The final item of the evening was a true brass band classic: Eric Ball’s ‘The Kingdom Triumphant’ - a band favourite which received a tremendous ovation from the audience which from a players point of view made the evening feel even more worthwhile. Again the AV presentation ensured that Eric Ball’s portrayal of the nativity and the second coming was clear and helped in the bands mission to spread the good news of the gospel.
Recently the band has adopted ‘The Liberator’ (Marshall) as it’s signature march and this was played to bring the evening to a rousing conclusion.
Marc Richardson writes about the Sunday..........
Having being well looked-after by our billets, the band returned to Bristol Easton for the 10:30 morning service. The band set the early tone of the meeting with the lovely arrangement by Trevor Davies of ‘From Earth’s Confusion’. Band Sergeant Ian Kershaw then began a time of prayer by introducing E + R = O, where (E) events out of our control, plus our response (R) to those events, can produce either a positive or negative outcome (O). This challenge to respond positively, even in the difficult times, fitted into the overall theme of the meeting - ‘One life to live – Oh may I live for thee’.
It is always a pleasure during away weekends to listen to the contributions from the ‘home’ sections and following a children’s item led by Bandsman Graham Andrews, we were then blessed by the contribution of the Bristol Easton Singing Company.
Before the spoken message was given, the band played Kenneth Downie’s beautiful arrangement of ‘In the love of Jesus’ to lead into this time of reflection. Bandmaster Gavin Lamplough then spoke on the subject of ‘One life to live’, encouraging us not to concern ourselves with living longer, or striving to give the appearance of longer life, but to lead lives of meaning...to make a difference...to live ‘for Thee’. The band then played the middle section of Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s ‘Fire in the blood’. This section features two emotive melodies, ‘Lord, you know that we love You’ and ‘I love You Lord’, sensitively played by soloists Nicola Redhead (principal cornet) and David Taylor (principal euphonium) respectively, testifying that our love for God makes living our lives for him our heart’s one desire.
The meeting concluded with the congregational song ‘I dare to be different’ as a declaration that we will live our lives differently, and live them only for Christ. Finally the band played, in way of benediction, Andrew Blyth’s wonderful arrangement of ‘This is my Father’s world’ to close a well-received meeting ,with comments afterwards suggesting that the message of the band was clearly heard and understood by those who gathered there.
After a quick cup of tea (as well as the odd biscuit!) and some shared fellowship with the members of Bristol Easton Corps, the band marched a short distance to a local housing estate where the open-air was to be held. The band played a mix of secular and non-secular music, as Band Sergeant Ian Kershaw led those listening through the short concert. Again, the contribution of the band was well-received; with some listeners promising to return to the hall for the Band’s evening service and other connections made with the local residents there.
Following further fantastic hospitality from our billets, the band returned for the final time to the sounds of Bristol Easton Young People’s Band, who impressed us with their contributions before and during the evening service. The band kicked off their programme, led by Assistant Band Sergeant Rob O’Connor, with the triumphant sounds of Andrew Mackereth’s ‘Ein’ Feste Burg’ contrasting with their next item, the more reflective ‘Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness’, beautifully arranged by Howard Davies.
The band are lucky enough to have a number of excellent soloists and another, International Staff Band member Andrew Dickinson was next, performing the Tenor Horn solo ‘The Piper of Dundee’, arranged by Kenneth Downie. The band continued, with the mambo-inspired Peter Graham arrangement of ‘Ask!’ before another well-received contribution from Bristol Easton Songsters.
Before the band’s major contribution of the night, the band played Kenneth Downies’ moving arrangement of ‘Joy of Loving Hearts’ and the audience enjoyed the final soloists of the weekend, as Norman Bearcroft’s classic euphonium duet ‘Timepiece’ was ably-performed by David Taylor and Keith Watts. The evening’s major work came in the shape of Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s ‘Fire in the Blood’. Having performed the middle section in the morning meeting, the band performed this ever-popular piece in its entirety, with the band’s ever-present multimedia and this exciting piece of music coming together to provide a fitting finale to the weekend.
The heart-felt thanks of both Bristol Easton and Birmingham Citadel corps were then expressed in the traditional manor. Special thanks go to the billets and all those who provided such wonderful hospitality, as well as to the sections and corps officers at Bristol Easton who kindly took a back seat to allow the band to lead the worship this weekend. To the band locals from both bands who have organised the weekend and to Malcolm Hayward, who works so quietly on the multimedia which enriches the band’s ministry, we also give our thanks. And so, as all band weekends should, the band ended with a rousing rendition of a march - Albert Jakeway’s ‘Rosehill’. A fantastic weekend was had by all, and from comments received both during the weekend and since, the message of the band was both clear and received by the people who heard it. We pray that our Lord will continue to bless the band’s ministry and the people who worshipped with us over this weekend.