A near capacity Hall was greeted by Goff Richard’s arrangement of “Breezin’ Down Broadway”. As it zipped along we recalled many “Songs from the Shows”, this year’s theme.
Neil Blessett then took us in to a slightly more contemplative rendering of “Somewhere over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz”. His immaculate sound and musicianship was a joy to listen to.
We were then were transported to the backstreets of 1950’s New York for “West Side Story”. Dennis Wright’s skillful arrangement gave the Citadel Band plenty to draw on with its Latin rhythms and beat.
The guest vocal soloist for the evening was Sue Blyth, who brought us songs from “Les Miserables” and “Wicked”. Sue’s daughter, Abigail, ably assisted as duettist. Andrew Blyth was, as ever, an expert compere for the whole evening.
Singing, or should I say chanting, featured in the arrangement of the Lion King’s “Circle of Life” by Philip Harper. Jennie Blessett, 2nd cornet and star vocalist, proved to be an excellent leader amongst men!
Next, came a very “Naughty” (only joking) Josie Lamplough who was delightful as Matilda in the RSC’s hit song from its 2012 show.
The first half was then brought to a close with Gavin Lamplough’s band arrangement “Show Stoppers”. As tradition now dictates, junior members of the Cit appeared throughout the piece dressed in the appropriate costume. Pink Ladies and T Birds from “Grease”, Sky Masterson and Sarah Brown from “Guys and Dolls” and chorus girls from “Chicago” to name but a few.
The Citadel band began the second half with its tribute to the 100th year anniversary of the commencement of the Great War. Rob Wiffin’s arrangement, “Songs of the Great War” gave the audience chance to warm up its vocal chords.
Haunting images from the Tower of London with its art installation “Blood swept Lands and Seas of Red” and old newsreel complemented David Taylor’s euphonium solo “Benedictus”. The “Armed Man” by Karl Jenkins is a truly inspiring work; the Catholic Mass was commissioned by The Royal Armouries. David was superb in creating just the right atmosphere. The melody seemed to depict the sacrifice made by so many in that conflict.
Sue Blyth, also in reflective mood, gave her testimony in the form of “Love cannot fail” from Gowans and Larsson’s “Spirit”.
The mood lightened as the band moved into the traditional favourites of “Fantasy on British Sea Songs” and “Pomp and Circumstance”. Much flag waving accompanied Sue and the band in “Rule Britannia”.
The last strains of “Jerusalem” brought a fitting end to the night’s proceedings. Birmingham Citadel Band, once again, had delivered a wonderful programme.