Birmingham Citadel Band made the long journey to the North East of England with a real sense of excitement for what promised to be a great weekend in Sunderland.
We had learned that our visit to Sunderland coincided with the annual “Brass in Concert” Brass Band competition just a few miles down the road at the Sage, Gateshead and to further compound issues two neighbouring Salvation Army corps had visiting musical groups but the organisers need not have worried.
A large expectant crowd gathered for the Saturday evening concert and it was clear that we were in for an excellent evening. There was a genuine warmth in their welcome and this only served to make the band connect with the audience. From the opening fanfare chords of “Make His Praise Glorious” the band settled quickly into the acoustic and Neil Blessett’s beautiful tenor horn solo “You Love Me” provided a lovely contrast for the listener. Deputy Bandmaster Mark Sharman was the other soloist in the first half bringing a relaxed jazz interpretation to the latin solo “Fiesta” by Peter Graham. To cater for more traditional tastes the band played Thomas Rive’s beautiful setting of the hymn tune “Colne” and the first half was brought to a close with Edward Gregson’s majestic “Variations on Laudate Dominum”.
The second half featured two more soloists in David Taylor, who gave yet another outstanding performance of Norman Bearcroft’s “Locomotion”, and percussionist Rob Hayward who played the marimba solo “Zimba Zamba”. As well as delighting the audience this also set the tone for a lighter section of the programme that also featured latin sounds in “Jubilo Jubilo” (Martin Cordner). The poignancy of Paul Sharman’s “Everlasting Hope” was felt as several members of the audience were still coming to terms with the loss of a loved one and much-loved member of the church at Sunderland Monkwearmouth. The words Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow seemed to not only bring comfort in that situation but also in a wider context as we still struggled to comprehend the news reports that were filtering through of the previous night’s happenings in Paris.
After a pause for thought with Major Steve White, the band concluded with the cinematic sounds of Steven Ponsford’s “The Day of the Lord”.
The Sunday morning service at Sunderland Monkwearmouth was led by the band an Major Steve White. The band featured music including Richard Phillips’ “Churchbury”, the emotive “I’ll Walk with God” and a beautiful tenor horn solo by Andrew Dickinson based on the melody “Nothing But Thy Blood”. Major Steve White challenged the congregation with thoughts on “Leaping” in your faith before the band concluded with Olaf Ritman’s “To Thy Cross I Come Lord”.
The Sunday afternoon festival was once again a feast of musical contrasts. From music from the orchestral world (“Marche Militaire Francaise”) to Ray Steadman-Allen’s timeless meditation “In Quiet Pastures” and Sam Creamer’s contemporary funk arrangement “Hold that Fort”, there was something for everyone. The band featured two more soloists in young trumpet virtuoso Matthew Frost (“Flourish”) and tubist Edward Dixon brought a touch of humour with Leigh Baker’s “Bare Necessities”.
The band followed Major Steve White’s message with Kevin Norbury’s “Gaudete” which brought the weekend to a rousing close before playing the encore march, “King’s Highway”.
Saturday 15th November 2015
1.Make His Praise Glorious (arr. William Gordon)
2.Horn Solo: You Love Me (Paul Sharman) – Soloist: Neil Blessett
3.Skydance (Martin Cordner)
4.Trombone Solo: Fiesta (Peter Graham) Soloist: Mark Sharman
5.Colne (Thomas Rive)
6.Variations on Laudate Dominum (Edward Gregson)
7.Call of the Gospel (Martin Cordner)
8.Congregational Song: Crown Him with Many Crowns
9.Euphonium Solo: Locomotion (Norman Bearcroft) Soloist: David Taylor
10.Jubilo Jubilo (Martin Cordner)
11.Marimba Solo: Zimba Zamba (Goff Richards) Soloist: Robert Hayward
12.Everlasting Hope (Paul Sharman)
THOUGHT – “Look”
13.The Day of the Lord (Steven Ponsford)
14.The Liberator (George Marshall)
Sunday 16th November 2015
1.Everybody Praise His Holy Name (arr. Nik King)
2.Amazing Grace (William Himes)
3.March Militaire Francaise (Saint-Saens; arr. Kenyon)
4.Sunderland Monkwearmouth SONGSTERS
5.Trumpet Solo: Flourish (Paul Sharman) Soloist: Matthew Frost
7.Tuba Solo: Bare Necessities (Leigh Baker) Soloist: Edward Dixon
8.In Quiet Pastures (Ray Steadman-Allen)
9.Hold that Fort! (Sam Creamer)
MESSAGE – “Live”
10.Bow the Knee (Samuel Shelley)
11.Gaudete (Kevin Norbury)
12.The King’s Highway (Erik Leidzen)