The Ruddick Arts Centre, Edgbaston was the venue for the commencement of BCB’s 125th Anniversary Celebrations. A weekend which as it progressed conjured up so many happy memories of the band’s consistent ministry in Birmingham and indeed further afield over the years.
The opportunity to reminisce (and to ‘shake hands’ with old faces) was taken full advantage of as members of the band, past and present, met up prior to getting down to work in rehearsal.
Welcomed by Bandmaster Gavin Lamplough we commenced our fellowship together in prayer, Gavin reminding us all of the true purpose that has been the band’s objective over the years, that of sharing the Gospel message through our music making.
For some, this was perhaps the first opportunity in a number of months (or perhaps even years) to get behind that mouthpiece. But throughout the next 2 hours how carefully and thoroughly were we re-guided through some of the music that over the years, under various leaders, had been very much part of the band’s repertoire.
For the first part of our evening programme our returning bandsmen guests joined the audience. We were thrilled to welcome back one of our own, Bandmaster Paul Sharman (Regents Hall), as compere. Paul so very ably guided us through the programme, introducing music perhaps very much part of today’s BCB repertoire and featuring very well received soloists from around the band. The first half however concluded with ‘The Present Age’, music that has been featured and challenged BCB both musically and spiritually over the years, this very much setting the scene for what was to come in the second half.
With the band now reinforced by our returning band members, representative repertoire from the past six decades of BCB recognised the considerable influence of our past leaders: the opening march ‘Birmingham Citadel’ a salute to Bandmaster Bert Langworthy and ‘Sound out the Proclamation) just the briefest recognition to Bandmaster Bram William’s 27 years of faithful bandmastership. ‘Poem’ and ‘Let there be Praise’ were our sincere thank you to Wesley Kendrick and David Nicholson for their leadership from 1983 through until 1997.
Bandmaster Paul Sharman, took over the baton for the next segment of the concert, presenting his own ‘Psalm of Thanks’ commissioned by Bandmaster Graham Lamplough in 2008 for BCB. Very fittingly this was followed by Paul’s ‘Everlasting Hope’, written in memory of Graham who so sadly passed away in 2011.
During the evening a video compilation featuring a number of former bandsmen, unable to attend, presented their own special memories of being part of BCB over the years.
Eric Ball’s majestic ‘Triumph of Peace’ has been enjoyed and featured in BCB programmes possibly in each of the past six decades and tonight, in the final segment of our concert, came back so refreshingly vibrant.
But as our benediction, Stephen Bradnum’s beautiful arrangement of ‘The Irish Blessing’, so poignant to the current personnel of the band, but with sentiments shared by all those present, brought our evening to a fitting conclusion.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Our celebrations however continued into the Sunday with Major Adrian Allman leading our worship together. And for former members of the band that had remained with us for the day, the Open Air and march back to the Citadel would no doubt have stirred many more memories of their service perhaps for some back in the old Bull Ring days.
And to conclude a wonderful weekend the opportunity to further share memories with old friends was made possible as we enjoyed lunch together.
A big thank you to the BCB leadership team for making all this happen.
Report: Keith Watts
Photos: Graham Daff
Videos: Robert O'Connor
1st Half Highlights Video
2nd Half Highlights Video
To watch some complete performances from the Gala, please visit the BCB YouTube page by clicking here.