On Saturday 3rd March Birmingham Citadel Band made the relatively short 35 mile trip to Burton-on-Trent. A receptive audience gathered in the traditional Salvation Army hall and there was a real sense that we were to enjoy a fabulous night.
After opening with “Eine Feste Burg” by Andrew Mackereth, the band presented Ken Downie’s beautiful music “Peace”. Unlike most Salvation Army repertoire this music is not associated with any particular words but was used by the band to create an atmosphere which prepared the audience for the opening prayer and gave them the opportunity to rest in God’s presence. The band showed great control in a good reading of Wilfred Heaton’s “Victory for Me” before the first soloist of the night, Neil Blessett displayed his rich Tenor Horn tone in Goff Richards’ “Demelza”. The second soloist of the evening was Mark Sharman who sensitively presented a new solo for Trombone, “Somebody Prayed for Me”. The solo, written for the Principal Trombone of the Canadian Staff Band, Craig Lewis, emphasises the comforting thought that even when things are so difficult that you simply don’t know what to pray for, someone is praying on your behalf. Many people commented during the interval just how helpful they had found this piece of music.
The band ended the first half with two iconic pieces: the first very new and the second quite new. Morley Calvert’s music “For Our Transgressions” is an interpretation of the words from Isaiah, “He was wounded for our transgressions”, and the bands playing of this wonderful music was controlled, intense and with a beautiful tone - a highlight of the night. The final piece of the first half is becoming a modern day classic and Paul Lovatt-Cooper fully utilises the different strengths of a brass band: frenetic scales, strong powerful lines, sensitive lyrical phrases and colourful scoring. The playing of this music was met by prolonged applause.
Deputy Bandmaster Mark Sharman took the baton for the opening piece of the second half “Shalom” which has a strong Greek flavour! This energetic playing was followed by a congregational song when the audience sang heartily. Principal Euphonium player David Taylor presented “Harlequin” with great aplomb. The applause following the final note reflected just how much the audience appreciated the musical “pyrotechnics” on show in this solo.
This solo was followed by the final soloist of the night, Edward Dixon, who presented Leigh Baker’s light-hearted arrangement of the Disney song “The Bare Necessities”. The band did it’s best to out-do the soloist and the audience appreciated this fun item.
For frequent followers of the band, BCB introduced five new pieces to its repertoire this evening and one of these works was Barrie Gott’s rarely played “Moses, Get Down!”. This is a rock arrangement of the well-known spiritual “Go down Moses”.
The final major work of the evening was Eric Ball’s timeless “The Kingdom Triumphant”. The bands interpretation was fresh whilst still staying faithful to the intentions of the composer of this wonderful music. It was a great end to a great night of music.
Photos: Graham Daff and Craig Stevens
Eine Feste Burg (Andrew Mackereth)
Peace (Ken Downie)
Victory for Me! (Wilfred Heaton)
Tenor Horn Solo: Demelza (Hugh Nash) – Neil Blessett
Ask! (Peter Graham)
Trombone Solo: Somebody Prayed (Peter van der Horden) – Mark Sharman
For Our Transgressions (Morley Calvert)
Vitae Aeternum (Paul Lovatt-Cooper)
Shalom (Erik Silferberg)
Congregational Song – “Praise to the Lord the Almighty”
Euphonium Solo: Harlequin (Philip Sparke) – David Taylor
Tuba Solo: Bare Necessities (arr. Leigh Baker) – Edward Dixon
Moses, Get Down! (Barrie Gott)
Jesus Answers Prayer (Ken Downie)
The Kingdom Triumphant (Eric Ball)
The Liberator (George Marshall)