Birmingham Citadel Band were once again pleased to be able to perform in the foyer of Birmingham Symphony Hall before the commencement of the British Open. As usual, it was an early start for the band but with people starting to gather early, the band all arrived and set up, ready to provide pre-contest music for those in attendance.
The band’s programme started with a new item to the band, ‘Intrada: Bless the Lord’ by Phil Rayment. This lively opener was then followed by the Cornet Solo, ‘Share My Yoke’ (Joy Webb; arr. Bosanko), performed beautifully by the band’s Principal Cornet, Nicola Redhead. The words that this tune is associated with, talk about how God is with us and is able to support and carry us through difficult times. The chorus reads:
Share my yoke and find that I am joined with you.
Your slightest movement I shall feel and be there too!
Share my yoke and come the way that I must go!
In our “togetherness” my peace you’ll know;
The world beholding us will see it so!
The next item on the programme was ‘Jubilo Jubilo’ by Martin Cordner. This item has proved to be very popular with audiences in previous performances (although less so with some members of BCB!!) and again showed a lighter side to the band and entertained those listening. Another switch in mood followed, as Principal Horn, Neil Blessett, brought the Horn Solo, ‘A Time for Peace’ (Peter Graham) to us. This melody was taken from part of a larger work, ‘The Essence of Time’, and Neil yet again showed his musicianship and beautiful tone while performing this lovely melody.
‘Escape Velocity’ by Martin Cordner was the next piece on the band’s programme and this was a “first outing” of this piece for BCB. Another solo followed when Principal Euphonium, David Taylor, performed “Troika? Tidy!” by Karl Jenkins. This piece of music is a technical challenge for both soloist and the accompanying band and both rose to the challenge, with David particularly impressing the listening audience with his technical prowess and ability.
Once the buzz from David’s solo settled down, the band went straight into ‘Hold that Fort’ by Sam Creamer. Sam is an Australian salvationist who is quickly gaining a reputation for writing brass band music in styles that might not be the norm for a brass band. This piece is no exception and his ‘funk’ interpretation of this old army tune is an excellent example of this exciting composer’s work. As is often the case with BCB programmes, another change in mood followed with the performance of ‘Prelude on the Hymn Tune Lavenham’ by Geoffrey Nobes. This is a beautiful arrangement that has become a favourite of the band with some really powerful words connected to the tune, the last verse of which reads:
Lord, there are times when the questions run fast –
times when I fear that my faith may not last.
Help me, support me, Lord, help me get through.
Lead me through darkness till light shines anew.
As BCB were coming to the end of their performance, the next piece they played was the magnificent ‘Triumph of Peace’ by Eric Ball. This is a well-known piece of music, by a composer who is known throughout the brass banding world and features the song ‘Peace in our time, O Lord’. Although this piece was written in 1939, the lyrics of the final verse below, are just as relevant today as they ever were:
Peace in our time, O Lord,
To all the peoples - peace!
Peace that shall build a glad new world,
And make for life's increase.
O living Christ, who still Dost all our burdens share,
Come now and dwell within the hearts
Of all men everywhere.
An army tradition is to finish a concert with a rousing march and BCB were not to disappoint with a rendition of William Himes’ ‘The Witness’, after which we were able to meet up with friends old and new before the British Open began. This is an excellent ministry opportunity for the band, which is not taken lightly, and we hope that we were able to both bless and entertain those in attendance that morning in equal measure.