Birmingham Citadel Band celebrated its 123rd Anniversary with the annual concert at the Adrian Boult Hall in Birmingham. This concert was to be the final appearance for the band at this venue before its demolition and subsequent relocated as the Birmingham Conservatoire moves to a new site. To make this special occasion one to remember the band were joined by three very special guests in William Himes, Derick Kane and Stephen Kane.
The day started with an afternoon workshop led by the three guests and it was a delight to see more than 25 youngsters from around the Birmingham area gather for this unique opportunity. A number of the children who participated had previously no connection with the band or the Salvation Army and so this was particularly pleasing to see. They prepared two pieces which were to be featured during the evening concert and gained immeasurable learning from such experienced musicians. It was particularly interesting to hear Stephen Kane talk of his own journey and how he manages to fit daily practice in...even if it is during his lunch break and in his car!
The evening concert started with the band giving an exciting reading of Saint-Saens’ “Marche Militaire Francaise”. The reaction of the large audience gathered certainly set the tone for what was an enthralling evening. The band also created moments of real poignancy with some beautiful playing, particularly in the playing of Nobes’ “Prelude on Lavenham”. Lighter moments were enjoyed with the stylish playing of “Hold that Fort” and the band gave a fantastic reading of Robert Redhead’s masterpiece “Corpus Christi”.
The soloists were on fine form. The outstanding Derick Kane opened with a new solo that started out life as an improvised item with the soloist and Peter Graham at the piano and has recently been transcribed for band by Paul Sharman. It showed the unbelievable skill and consistency of a euphonium player who has been at the “top of his game” for over 40 years and provided great contrast to his second solo: the beautiful “When He Cometh”. When Derick finished his last note (a pianissimo high D!) you could literally hear a pin drop!
Stephen Kane brought two outstanding solo items and showed just why he is Solo Baritone of the Number 1 ranked band in the World. Fresh from European success the previous weekend he played Evelyn Glennie’s sumptuous “Little Prayer” and a refreshing reading of “Song of the Brother”. For many this would have been the first time that they had heard this timeless classic on a Baritone but it really works! As an encore Father and Son played Derick’s duet “That’s the Spirit”.
The second half started with the Youth Brass playing compositions by Derick and Bill with the composers conducting before the second half with BCB included predominantly music from the pen of William Himes.
Particular highlights included Bill narrating “Jericho Revisited” which was great fun to watch as well as hear! It was wonderful to hear this outstanding musician and man of God talk about the ideas and circumstances surrounding the composition of his music and then take the baton to lead the band in “Three Kings Swing” and “American Civil War Fantasy”.
The last appearance from our soloists was a world premiere of Kenneth Downie’s “St. Clements”. Written for six euphoniums and band Derick and Stephen were joined by Bill Himes and the three BCB euphoniumists David Taylor, Craig Hughes and Keith Watts. This was a highlight for many.
The evening was a wonderful night and Bill Himes added immeasurably as compere. The soloists were a delight and the BCB in fine form.
Perhaps some of the many comments emailed by the audience members are the best summary of the evening:
Wonderful night at the Adrian Boult Hall!
A great day...all went home on a high!
A great night at ABH! Thanks for an inspired and enjoyable programme! Guests were really good, well worth listening to! The Band was at its best too!
It gave me a huge lift at a rather stressful point in my life. The band were so exciting.
A great night!
Bill Himes stayed on in Birmingham to lead worship at Birmingham Citadel the next day. It is fair to say that memories of the Sunday will last every but as long as those made on the Saturday. Bill also found time to work with Birmingham Citadel’s Junior Band and Choir on Sunday afternoon. They certainly worked him hard!
Photos by Graham Daff