Coventry City Band had visited Birmingham Citadel some weeks ago and so, for BCB, this was a “return festival” which further cemented the fellowship of the two corps. Many folk from Coventry, Birmingham and beyond were present and the evening was further enhanced by the singing of Coventry City Songsters.
For the band, this was the first major festival of the new season and the programme featured several new pieces which have been added to the repertoire.
Brand new additions were Martin Cordner’s “Fanfare and Flourishes”, Kevin Norbury’s “Hallelujah Parade” and “Kerygma” by Stephen Ponsford. Despite having to negotiate some rather unique acoustics, the band gave confident performances of all three pieces and I’m sure they will continue to be featured in the future.
In contrast to these contemporary works, more traditional music was featured. Herbert Rive’s finely crafted march “Spirit of Joy”was heartily received, this in stark contrast to the silence which was evident after the closing chord of Ray Steadman-Allen’s transcription of the elegiac melody “The Last Spring” by Greig. Judging by the remarks heard prior to the festival, on knowing that Eric Ball’s “Songs of the Morning” was going to be featured, the inclusion of this brass band classic was a popular choice and its performance was met with enthusiastic applause!
The featured soloists of the band were on particularly good form. Gavin Lamplough’s performance of Eric Leidzen’s cornet solo “Tucker” and David Taylor’s rendition of Norman Bearcroft’s euphonium solo “The Better World” thrilled the audience, which greeted both soloists with prolonged applause to acknowledge their dexterity and artistry of these fine, but taxing solos.
Neil Blessett’s warm and rich tenor horn tone was evident as he brought the Goff Richards arrangement of “Somewhere over the Rainbow”. Again, this was much appreciated by the audience.
As well as Neil’s solo, other more secular numbers were presented. The band has realised that much of this kind of music can be used in an effective way to present the Christian message in a more accessible medium. “The Crimson Tide”, original music by Hans Zimmer, is one such example and the powerful multi-media presentation fully enhanced the music.
The visual images on the screen featured throughout the programme (expertly handled by Malcolm Hayward), and another example of this was when the Trombone ensemble brought the up-beat number from “Sister Act” –“I will follow him”.
The evening had featured music for all tastes. Whether it was being swept along by the Western, hoe-down rhythms of Cordner’s “Round-up” or whether it was quietly hearing Band Sergeant Ian Kershaw’s words from Scripture and then hearing Dean Jones’ lovely arrangement of “Written in Red”, it was evident from the comments afterwards that BCB had not only brought their music for entertainment, but, more importantly, had delivered a strong spiritual message which we hope will have blessed and encouraged someone.
Words: BM Graham W. Lamplough
Pictures: Tom Brown
“Fanfare and flourishes” (Martin Cordner)
“Fall Afresh” (Andrew Mackereth)
March: “Spirit of Joy” (Herbert Rive)
Cornet Solo: “Tucker” (Erik Leidzen) Soloist: Gavin Lamplough
Elegiac Melody:“The Last Spring” (Grieg arr. Steadman-Allen)
Coventry City Songsters
Suite: “Songs of the Morning” (Eric Ball)
“Round-up” (Martin Cordner)
“Hallelujah Parade” (Kevin Norbury)
Cong. Song “Who is on the Lord’s side?”
Euphonium Solo: “The Better World” (Norman Bearcroft) Soloist: David Taylor
Trombone feature: “I will follow Him” (arr. Goff Richards)
“The Crimson Tide”
Tenor Horn Solo: “Somewhere over the Rainbow” (arr.Goff Richards) Soloist: Neil Blessett
Coventry City Songsters
Song Arrangement: “Written in Red” (Dean Jones)
“Kerygma” (Stephen Ponsford)
“Irish Blessing” (Stephen Bradnum)