A friendship between Leek Salvation Army and Birmingham Citadel Band goes back a long time. So it was with great pleasure that we could help them celebrate their 129th Corps anniversary. The band, once again, was made to feel at home very quickly and old friendships were rekindled and built upon, whilst new ones formed.
As the audience settled and the first note was struck, ‘Make His Praise Glorious’ was played and we knew we were in for a fantastic night of music making and worship. The mood was quickly changed as the band played the beautiful and challenging ‘Prelude on Lavenham’. The first half featured two of the five soloist of the night, ranging from Deputy Bandmaster Mark Sharman playing Peter Graham’s Trombone solo ‘Fiesta’ giving us a Latin feel to Downie’s Horn Solo ‘Piper O’ Dundee, performed by Andrew Dickinson. The first half ended with Martin Cordner ‘Escape Velocity’. This work seeks to capture the essence of the race in life and in Biblical terms, the idea of humanity's struggle against the pull of the world as it seeks to 'escape' into the restful presence of God. It features dark, minor-key chords and a driving rock rhythm and culminates in a glorious presentation of the popular Hillsongs anthem; His eye is on the Sparrow (I will run to you). The words of the chorus say:
And I will run to You,
To Your words of truth;
Not by might, not by power
But by the Spirit of God.
Yes, I will run the race,
Till I see Your face.
Oh, let me live in the glory of Your grace.
There is also a brief reference to the old hymn Saved by Grace. Verse three of Catherine Baird's song says:
O Love, forever claim my eyes!
Thy beauty be my chosen prize;
I cast my load on timeless grace
That my free soul may run the race.
The second half featured the other three soloists, starting with a Euphonium solo ‘A Troika? Tidy!’ played by David Taylor. This is taken from Karl Jenkins' Euphonium Concerto, an extended work given its world premiere by euphonium soloist David Childs and the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Owain Arwel Hughes in St. David's Hall, Cardiff during the last night of the 2009 Welsh Proms. 'A Troika? Tidy!’ which would normally form the fourth movement of the concerto, begins with menace before the soloist has the opportunity exploit phenomenal technique. With a beautiful change of gear towards the end, a rapturous interlude is ushered in leading to a brief cadenza with staggering pyrotechnics in a variety of cross-rhythms conducted over the incessant chug of sleigh-bells.
Edward Dixon provided great entertainment as he brought to us the Tuba solo ‘The Cuckoo’, before the band played ‘Julbilo Jubilo!’. The last solo of the evening came from our principle horn player Neil Blessett who blessed us with Peter Graham’s ‘Time for Peace’. Neil then brought to us the closing thoughts before the band played its final piece of the night Eric Ball’s famous ‘Triumph of Peace’. This fitted well with it being remembrance weekend and gave the listener challenge with the words associated being:
Peace in our time, O Lord, to all the peoples – peace!
To conclude a really good evening of music making and worship, the Band played a good old fashioned Salvation Army march ‘The Liberator’ conducted by the recently appointed Deputy Bandmaster from Leek Corps, none other than our own Paul Dickinson who was a member of BCB for many years before relocating with his job.