Birmingham Citadel Band had the immense privilege of being invited to perform as part of the “I’ll Fight” Congress 2012. The Salvation Army's Territorial Congress 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the Founder, William Booth's famous “I'll Fight” speech at the Royal Albert Hall. Special guest for the weekend was current General of the Salvation Army, General Linda Bond, and the International Staff Band and International Staff Songsters were in fine form.
And so it was a great honour for Birmingham Citadel Band to be invited to perform on the Saturday. Three corps sections were invited (BCB, Stowmarket Songsters and Sunderland Monkwearmouth Band) and they shared two concerts. The first concert for BCB was outside the Royal Albert Hall in the scorching London sunshine. Such was the heat of the sun that it actually melted the polish on the shoes of our bandsmen! Despite the heat BCB showed that they were in fine form from the opening fanfare of Andrew Mackereth’s “Eine Feste Berg”. They presented a programme including two of our soloists (Neil Blessett - Horn and Mark Sharman - Trombone) who were very well received by the large appreciative audience.
After the 40 minute programme in the heat the band then moved to the Royal College of Music’s Britten Theatre to present their second concert. This concert had been sold out for some months and the audience received the bands programme enthusiastically following introductions from ISB Principal Euphonium player Derick Kane.
The band started with “The Liberator” and followed with the beautiful music of Ken Downie (“Peace”). One member of the audience felt compelled to post in twitter during the playing of this music what a special atmosphere was created during the band’s playing of this music. The audible “Wow!” after the final note of Wilf Heaton’s “Victory for Me!” was played further emphasised the audience appreciation before they were treated to a world premiere. Bandmaster Lamplough commissioned former bandsman and ISB member Paul Sharman to compose a piece especially for the occasion and Paul responded with “Amazed!”. Paul’s music proved to be a real ‘crowd pleaser’ and the hearty applause reflected this.
Then came our soloist: Principal Euphonium David Taylor. David played Phillip Sparke’s “Harlequin”, a demanding solo in two distinct sections. It calls for lyricism, control in the upper register and an outstanding technique and David proved that he has all of this in abundance. It was a fantastic performance by both David and the band, with the members of BCB being required to be at their very best in a very ‘involve’ accompaniment. As the music came to an exciting close the audience’s prolonged applause reflected their enjoyment and appreciation.
Deputy Bandmaster Mark Sharman then led the band in a more reflective work, music from the film “The Crimson Tide”. The descriptive music was enhanced by the multimedia (Marc Richardson) and you could hear a pin drop as the final chord drifted from the auditorium.
The band finished with a superb performance of Eric Ball’s masterpiece “The Kingdom Triumphant”. As Bandmaster Lamplough introduced it there were murmurs of approval from the audience and the band’s musical and, at times, powerful reading provided a suitable finale to the concert. Many words of encouragement have been passed to the band since the Congress but as one person remarked there was still so much power in the final bars of this glorious music whilst the band remained in control providing a rich, warm sound. Another commented how they were moved to tears.
It really was a great privilege for the band and it will be added to the many wonderful memories from special experiences over many years. The band were pleased to share in the evening congress before returning to Birmingham, proud of being part of such a special day.
Photographs: Pam Daff and Steve White
Ein’ Feste Burg (Mackereth)
Joy of Loving Hearts (Downie)
Tenor Horn Solo: Demelza (Nash) Soloist: Neil Blessett
Trom Solo: Somebody Prayed (van der Horden) Soloist: Mark Sharman
Moses, Get Down! (Gott)
Soli Deo Gloria (Himes)
Before His Throne (Sharman)
The Liberator (Marshall)
Victory for Me! (Heaton)
Euphonium Solo: Harlequin (Sparke) Soloist: David Taylor
The Crimson Tide (Zimmer)
The Kingdom Triumphant (Ball)