The annual British Open Brass Band competition held in Birmingham is always a much anticipated event in the Brass Banding calendar and is a highlight of the year for Birmingham Citadel Band. It always marks the start of a new “season” for the band and seems to come around earlier each year!
It is always an early start as well and when we arrived at the Symphony Hall at 8.15am there was already a buzz ahead of what promised to be an excellent day of Brass Banding once again. Birmingham Citadel Band started it’s programme at 9am and a good number of Brass Band enthusiasts had made the extra effort to be there for this early start to the day. As is customary for this event, the crowd grew in number with each piece we played and within a few pieces a large crowd was enjoying the music from the band - some have said the largest crowd for many years. The audience generally consists of Salvationists from all over the world as well as banding enthusiasts and players from the bands competing during the day. For such a knowledgable audience BCB has always found them to be most encouraging and today was no exception. Interest in the band and it’s repertoire means that there is always a long line of well wishers and questions about the pieces played at the end of the concert.
The band always seems to rise to occasion - no mean feat given the timing of this event immediately after the summer break - and the band and soloists performed to a very high standard. The marches “Praise” and “The Liberator” were ‘tight’ and full of colour and certainly served to bring many happy memories back for the current and former Salvation Army bandsmen who were listening. The more contemporary arrangements such as “Eine Feste Burg” certainly attracted lots of attention and Deputy Bandmaster Mark Sharman (Trombone) and Neil Blessett (Tenor Horn) represented the fine soloists that BCB are proud to have. The larger scale works of the Salvation Army were represented by the classic writing of Morley Calvert in “For Our Transgressions” and the more contemporary writings of James Curnow in “Joyous Celebration”.
Traditionally the Sunday after the Saturday Band Contest is designated as “Band Sunday” where the band are responsible for leading Sunday worship at Birmingham Citadel. This tradition was upheld and it was wonderful to see a number of visitors join with us who had been at the contest the day before. The theme adopted for the morning service was “For our Transgressions”, inspired by the Morley Calvert composition. Based on Isaiah Chapter 53 the meeting took the congregation on a challenging journey from Christ’s sacrifice to the sense that we are compelled to invest the resources afforded to us wisely. The congregation were challenged with the question “How will you invest your resources of time, talents and relationships this week?” before the band played “For Our Transgressions”.
This weekend proved, once again, to be a powerful time for BCB and we were encouraged by the comments offered on both Saturday and Sunday.
“It makes you proud to a Salvationist” “Inspirational!” “A great atmosphere”
Photographs: Pam Daff
He Can Break Every Fetter (Ken Downie)
Praise (Wilfred Heaton)
Jesus Answers Prayer (Ken Downie)
Trombone Solo: This I Know (Terry Camsey) – Soloist: Mark Sharman
Eine Feste burg (Andrew Mackereth)
For Our Transgressions (Morley Calvert)
Joyful, Joyful (Len Ballentine)
Tenor Horn Solo: Demelza (Hugh Nash) – Soloist: Neil Blessett
Shine Down (Andrew Blyth)
Joyous Celebration (James Curnow)
Swing Hosanna (Ty Watson)
The Liberator (George Marshall)