For a third year Birmingham Citadel Band returned to Tamworth to play at Coton Green Church. The band is always well received in the modern and purpose built Evangelical Church and we were delighted to return for the 2011 season.
The band opened with a fanfare in the form of Andrew Mackereth’s arrangement of the 16th Century hymn and followed this majestic opening the band played Kenneth Downie’s expansive arrangement “He Can Break Every Fetter”. This wonderful arrangement with its colourful harmonic progressions gives the band the opportunity to show an “organ-like” quality of tone.
Following the introductions the Band played Wilfred Heaton’s “Victory for Me”. Heaton was a composer who struggled to gain wide spread popularity as a composer during his lifetime, largely due to his intellectual music being hard to access by most Salvation Army Bands of the day. In his later years he did see increasing amounts of his work published and performed both in Salvation Army circles and the larger brass banding community, including test pieces for competitions. “Victory for Me”, typically for Heaton, is a piece that although not technically complex, calls for a great amount of musicality and the band relished the opportunity to do just that.
Two soloists were featured in the first half with Principal Horn, Neil Blessett, displaying his trademark tonal qualities in “Demelza” and Deputy Bandmaster Mark Sharman (Principal Trombone) adopting a “Don Lusher approach” to play the jazz arrangement: “This I Know”. Both soloists acquitted themselves well before the band presented the Salvation Army classic “For Our Transgressions”. This deeply spiritual and intense music was well received and was followed by some thoughts from Edward Dixon.
The first half ended with a debut performance of Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s “Vitae Aeternum”. This work was Paul’s first large scale composition for the Black Dyke Band and has, in recent years, become popular with audiences and bands alike. This evening proved to be no exception as the bands reading was greeted with prolonged applause and a standing ovation.
The second half was much lighter in terms of the repertoire played. This was in evidence from the outset when the band played a swing arrangement by the Danish Salvationist Erik Silfverberg: “The Pearl”. Deputy Bandmaster Mark Sharman then led the band in William Himes’ “I have decided to follow Jesus” - a piece that takes its inspiration from Ravel’s Bolero - before we heard from two more soloists.
David Taylor has enjoyed a fantastic year completing his MA studies at Birmingham Conservatoire, whilst winning a number of competitions along the way, and his solo performances with BCB have been of equally high standard. “Brillante” by Peter Graham is one of the pieces which have provided a platform for his talents in recent months and he once again wowed the audience with his virtuoso technique. Bringing just as much pleasure was Edward Dixon’s light-hearted performance of Leigh Baker’s “The Bare Necessities”. The usual antics brought much hilarity to the evening. Rounding off this section of the programme was Peter Graham’s “Ask!” - a latin american slant on the Salvation Army chorus “Ask and it shall be given” by Gowans and Larsson.
The evening ended with two more pieces in a more serious vein. Firstly, Ken Downie’s “Jesus Answers Prayer” provided the audience with time for contemplation. In his introductions Bandmaster Gavin Lamplough explained since the last visit to Coton Green the band had gone on somewhat of a “roller coaster” journey. With undoubtable highs (like the Canadian Tour) have come unfathomable lows and the traumatic illness and subsequent passing of Bandmaster Graham Lamplough had affected BCB in many ways. But BM Lamplough made it clear that the band were still left in no doubt that the promise that “Jesus answers prayer”. He may not answer prayers how we would like to think He should, but He always answers.
The evening finished with James Curnow’s “Joyous Celebration” and ended another enjoyable visit to Tamworth. This was the first “full length programme” under the leadership of BM Gavin Lamplough and we hope that we will continue to connect with many more responsive audiences like this one during the coming years.
Photographs: John Dickinson, Steve White and Graham Daff
Eine Feste Burg (Andrew Mackereth)
He Can Break Every Fetter (Ken Downie)
Victory for Me! (Wilfred Heaton)
Tenor Horn Solo: Demelza (Hugh Nash) – Neil Blessett
Trombone Solo: This I Know (Terry Camsey) – Mark Sharman
For Our Transgressions (Morley Calvert)
Vitae Aeternum (Paul Lovatt-Cooper)
The Pearl! (Erik Silfverberg)
Congregational Song - Praise to the Lord, the Almighty!
Bolero – I Have Decided to Follow Jesus (William Himes)
Euphonium Solo: Brillante (Peter Graham) – David Taylor
Tuba Solo: Bare Necessities (arr. Baker) – Edward Dixon
Ask! (Peter Graham)
Jesus Answers Prayer (Ken Downie)
Joyous Celebration (James Curnow)