Intrada: Bless the Lord (Phil Rayment) commenced proceedings for a capacity audience at the Hagley Road Retirement Village. The piece incorporates a personal favourite of mine from the Song Book; Stand up and Bless the Lord along with a contemporary song that has entered the church recently entitled Bless the Lord of my Soul (10,000 reasons).
This was quickly followed by the march Hillcrest (Bill Broughton). The music’s style brings to mind the sounds of the “wild west” whilst including a legato section on the hymn Praise God from whom all blessings flow reflecting the numerous awards Bill has received for his television and film score work.
You Love Me was originally published as a song in 1993 with the words:
“When I look into the night, I see displayed your power and might. As I survey the galaxy, I am amazed that you love me.”
Neil Blessett beautifully played this arrangement by Paul Sharman and helped us to remember that despite the wonder and vastness of God’s creation, he still loves each one of individually. This appropriately led into a time of prayer.
Welcomes and introductions having been made, it was time to continue the programme. The Magic Flute arranged by Michael Kenyon is an overture to Mozart’s last opera written in 1791 opening with a brief Adagio which then leads into a main Allegro. It brilliantly demonstrates the composer’s inventiveness and skill.
Principal Euphonium David Taylor bought variations of the Scottish poem Auld Lang Syne; famously sung every New Year. A difficult and demanding piece for the soloist, David was able to show his phenomenal technique and skill and the response from the audience at the end showed this.
How Charming is Thy Name (Robert Redhead) is a mediation that opens with the words “O my Jesus”. The first verse says these words:
“O my Jesus, my Jesus, how charming is thy name!
Like music it falls on my ear;
Thy love to me is all my joy,
My all for Thee will I employ.
O Jesus, my Jesus, how charming is thy name!
Like music it falls on my ear”
The piece continues through a time of reflection before rising in intensity. Visions of the valley and shadow of death appear as the thoughts of the third verse “When I die, when I die, Thou my Comforter shalt be”. The music then pauses, which allows the reality to dawn that there is always divine love before leading into a final verse of praise of triumph:
“Then to Heaven, then to Heaven in triumph I shall rise
My Saviour to see and adore;
Thy praise my theme, Thy Love my song,
Will form my bliss the whole day long.
O Jesus, my Jesus, how charming is Thy name!
Like music it falls on my ear “
To finish off the first half, the band made a flying visit over the Irish Sea to Ireland. Riverdance originated as a interval performance performed by Michael Flatley and Jean Butler during the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest which Ireland hosted. It has since been expanded into a stage show consisting of mainly Irish music and dance. Ray Farr has written this arrangement for Brass Band; a special mention should be made to Tom (Cornet) and Karen (Flugelhorn) for their solos in the piece.
After an interval, the second half commenced off with a Hollywood theme. Kevin Larsson wrote the march entitled On we March. Written for the Pasadena Tabernacle Band in Los Angeles, hence the Hollywood reference, the piece features two well known Army songs, The Lord’s Command (On We March) and Who is on the Lord’s Side.
Martin Cordner’s Escape Velocity was written to capture the essence of the race of life, where spiritually a person’s struggle to escape into the restful presence of the lord, whilst having to pull against the busy day-to-day lives we all face.
Andrew Dickinson (Solo Horn) brought the final solo of the night sending the audience on a flying visit to Scotland with Kenneth Downie’s, The Piper of Dundee. Andrew was able to demonstrate his complete mastery of the instrument and produced an excellent performance.
Sam Creamer is starting to grow a reputation for his compositions that bring a new style of Salvation Army music. High Over all is a Samba arrangement of the tune Hardy Norseman which is associated with the words Jesus, the name high over all.
The Trombone section let their hair down by bringing an arrangement of It’s Not Unusual; famously sung by Tom Jones in the swinging 60s. With audience participation both they and the band were able to go back to their youth days.
As the Army is so well at doing, the mood quickly changed as the band played a reflective piece entitled Prelude on Lavenham by Geoffrey Nobes. Writing this report in the wake of the Manchester bombing the words of Nick Fawcett, with which the tune is associated, seem so pertinent:
Lord, there are times when I have to ask, ‘Why?’
Times when catastrophe gives faith the lie.
Innocents suffer and evil holds sway
Grant me some answers Lord, teach me your way.
Major Adrian provided a few words of thought before the band played its’ final piece of the night.
Martin Cordner used the film scores of Bruce Broughton and John Williams to create a framework for his piece The Adventurers. The composer uses three songs to speak of Christ’s guidance in the midst of life. “He Leadeth me! O blessed thought”, with a Hollywood theme, and for the middle movement Thomas Mack’s “By His hand He leadeth me”, which has become a popular songster piece over recent years. Martin uses Penny Babb’s “Saviour, lead me lest I stray” as a rousing finale. As Christians we journey through life in a relationship with God and with others, part of a very important plan for us all.
The band were thrilled to be able to play in a new location and were pleased to see such a full hall of people who wanted to hear a group of musicians who use their talents to bring listeners into a knowledge of God’s love and spread the message of the Christian Gospel.
Intrada: Bless the Lord (Phil Rayment)
Hillcrest (Bruce Broughton)
Horn Solo: You Love Me (Paul Sharman) – Soloist: Neil Blessett
Overture: Magic Flute (Mozart; arr. Kenyon)
Euphonium Solo: Auld Lang Syne (Keith Wilkinson) Soloist: David Taylor
How Charming is Thy Name (Robert Redhead)
Riverdance (Bill Whelan; arr. Ray Farr)
On We March (Kevin Larsson)
Congregational Song: Crown Him with Many Crowns
Escape Velocity (Martin Cordner)
Horn Solo: Piper O Dundee (Kenneth Downie) – Soloist: Andrew Dickinson
High Over All (Sam Creamer)
Trombone Feature: It’s Not Unusual (Phil Lawrence)
Prelude on Lavenham (Geoffrey Nobes)
The Adventurers (Martin Cordner)
Highlights of the programme