I had the pleasure and privilege of hearing the band twice this weekend. First on Saturday morning at Symphony Hall before the British Open Brass Band Contest.
The prospect of playing to people who have come to listen to some of the world’s finest bands in contest could be daunting, but the band and bandmaster rose to the occasion brilliantly. If there were any nerves they were well hidden as the Mall resonated to the inspiring sound of fine playing. The number of people standing to listen (there were so many that they couldn’t all see), was all the proof needed that this was a fine band in top form.
In a well balanced programme, every item had something to offer the discerning listener. For me, several items were particularly touching and exciting. “A Time for Peace” featured Horn soloist Neil Blessett. A lovely. beautifully unaffected interpretation played with full, warm tone. I always enjoy “The Golden Pen”, where Wilfred Heaton’s immense talent produces an exciting and challenging reminder of the old Sunday School chorus, lifting it to new heights of quality. “Euphony” once again showed us the virtuosity of David Taylor’s wonderful Euphonium technique and was as exciting to listen to as it was brilliant. It was great to see him give the Army salute during the thunderous applause. “Resurgam” has always been a favourite my mine and Gavin’s interpretation brought out the best in both the music and the message. Brass bands are rightly proud of their many fine marches and the Army has some of the best. William Broughton’s “The Roll Call” is a scintillating 6/8 march, full of wit and making the central feature of the Chorus When the Roll is called up yonder I’ll be there, marking the Army message bright and clear. (Very tasteful soprano playing in letter B).
Each section of the band made a good contribution to this performance. This is a well disciplined and musical band. It was a wonderful ‘shop window’ for the Army, its message and its music.
Sunday Morning at the Citadel
This was led by the band with the theme, “Guardian of my Soul”. The opening bars of “From Earth’s Confusion” had warmth and a settling effect which set the tone beautifully. It was lovely to have the young quartet (Breakthru) tastefully leading the prayer chorus (it took me back to my teens when I used to play bass guitar in a similar group at Norwich Citadel). The singing company bring life and energy whenever I hear them and they complimented the mood of the meeting beautifully. Nicola Redhead really woke us all up with her humour and interesting use of Deputy B/M Mark Sharman and then brought us back to the meeting theme quickly and to the point as she pointed out the closeness of God to children of all ages.
The Songsters continued the meeting theme with their sensitive reminder that even the sparrow is in God’s care. I love the way they sing from memory. The smiling attentive faces really do make an impact.
The main playing contribution from the band was Dean Goffin’s masterpiece “The Light of the World”.
B/M Gavin Lamplough introduced the Holman Hunt picture which inspired the music and the playing was deeply moving through Gavin’s impeccable interpretation. I may have heard and played this piece many times but I had tears in my eyes at the dramatic climax with its insistent knocking motive.
The message, again from Gavin was very thought provoking, especially to those of us who can often find we are too busy to open the heart’s door. The final song “I’ll go in the strength of the Lord” sent us on our way with vigour and confidence and as we sat digesting the meeting and the message, the band, under the Deputy B/M (Mark Sharman) brought us tranquillity and dignity with “I worship you”.