Monthly Archives: July 2013
MINI TOUR (4 – 8 June 2013)
The long-awaited mini tour of ‘middle-England’ took place in the first week of June. The following daily reports were prepared by various bandsmen covering the time we were away.
Day One (Tuesday 4th June)
John White, one of the first to leave home, reports on the first day’s journey –
0745 – It is appropriate I commence the tour with a view from those who travel the furthest. The Worthing detachment left sunny Worthing at 0745 leaving in the Corps minibus (by kind permission of the C.O., Major David Howarth). The detachment consisted of five musicians – Peter and Maurice Ozanne, Keith Kennard, Alan Slator and me; John White. Apparently the driver, Peter, almost gave himself a hernia loading Keith’s BBb tuba into the rear of the minibus. He’s not very well; high notes will be his forte on this tour I fancy.
Stopped en route to Tunbridge Wells at Dyke Road, Hove to pick up the Brighton detachment – Alan Moyse, Roy and Maureen Payne. The minibus seems to have more luggage and equipment than personnel. So we journey on towards that exclusive town of Royal Tunbridge Wells.
The weather is remarkable considering the awful start to the summer. Travelling through the Ashdown Forest was delightful and to see God’s goodness to us reflected in nature He has given us to enjoy. No sign of Pooh and his friends in the forest. As Pooh said – “Some people care too much. I think it’s called love”.
Well eventually we arrived at Tunbridge Wells at 0925 having negotiated the rush hour traffic in Worthing, Hove and Tunbridge Wells. Loaded the coach, and to alleviate Peter Ozanne’s suspected hernia I struggled with the BBb tuba from the minibus to the coach. Not too sure what all the fuss is about. A further detachment of twelve boarded the coach here. Left the 143rd Corps of The Salvation Army at 0950 in brilliant sunshine. God has been very good to us thus far with beautiful weather and good company.
Arrived at a further pick up point, Gravesend Corps No 468, where a further detachment of musicians and family were waiting. We were greeted with tea, coffee and light refreshments which was very welcoming and gratefully received by all. Thank you Brian for thinking about us in this regard.
Stopped at Thurrock Services on the M25 which should be the final pick up point. This was to pick up the finest soprano cornet player of his generation in the Army, Mr David Harrison of Hadleigh Temple Corps. He remains such an asset to the Fellowship Band.
Left Thurrock Services at 1150 en route to Kings Lynn.
At 1215 Major Norman Piper brought to us a thought for today encouraging us all to remain followers of God as dear children wherever we will be in the next few days. Reminding us of the various places we shall be, the hotels, the various Army centres and the places of interests we shall visit. Walking in love as Christ has loved us; Paul’s letter to the Christian church at Ephesus tells us this in Chapter 5.
It was near to lunch time so at 1300 we stopped on the A12 at a Tesco Superstore where we had access to the store shelves or restaurant. A lovely cooked meal was had at the restaurant; lasagne, vegetables and chips – my favourite, and at a reasonable price. Good food and fellowship couldn’t be better. Left at 1402 for the accommodation at Norwich.
Arrived at the Holiday Inn Norwich at 1510 where the coach was unloaded with personal belongings. Keith Thomas ably sought out the keys for the hotel rooms and we were able to enter the rooms and relax for a little while. For those who travelled from Worthing it has been a seven and half hour journey so we needed to unwind a little and have a cup of tea, which was very welcome.
Left Holiday Inn at 1600 for Sheringham slightly ahead of schedule. Oh dear – no we are not ahead of schedule – there are two musicians missing……..here they come, won’t say who they are but their initials are David Harrison and Andrew Stewart. They received an unappreciative slow hand clap upon entry to the coach. Still one missing though……he has just appeared. I give you the very late Mr Brian Hillyer. We finally left at 1606 for Sheringham. Still a beautiful sunny day, which does lift the spirits.
Approaching the outskirts of Sheringham to avoid the narrow town centre streets our driver drove down a narrow road under a railway bridge only to find the road ahead was closed. The only way out was the way we came in – but in reverse. The driver, Colin, cleverly reversed the huge coach back up the narrow road under the railway bridge and back out onto the main road expertly assisted by a retired Policeman who happened to be on the coach. Arrived at Sheringham at about 1715 but because of the narrow road the hall is located in the coach had to stop a considerable distance away. It was then all hands were required to unload equipment and instruments also to walk a fair distance to the hall. Everyone did this in true blitz spirit.
The following half an hour was taken up by arranging the platform and setting up in the usual manner. This was followed by tea and light refreshments. Some walked into the main town area and consumed fish and chips, which was very appropriate considering Sheringham is a fishing town. George required the band to play two pieces at 1830 as a sound check, which we did. Now we await the concert at 1930.
We thank God for travelling mercies and for all the blessings of today. I would like to say a big thank you on behalf of the band and families for the expert arrangements that have occurred today; to include Keith Thomas, Rowland Little and of course our driver Colin Richardson. All three are members of this band we are proud to serve in and represent.
Les Swift also reported on the first day –
We arrived at a sunny Tunbridge Wells hall at 9.25am and the bus was already being loaded. Colin was organising things and contingents from Maidstone, Chatham, Sutton, Thornton Heath and the home corps were busy loading instruments, luggage and uniforms. The Worthing and Brighton party soon arrived, having experienced a difficult journey which took over one and a half hours. Major John Smith, the C.O., then prayed with us, asking for a great tour, a safe journey for the band and especially for our driver.
We then made our way to Gravesend to collect the rest of the band with the exception of the ‘Essex’ boy! Gravesend corps in their usual style provided welcome refreshments. Their C.O. also prayed for the success of the tour.
The next stage of our journey was to collect Hadleigh’s finest ‘sop’ player at the Thurrock services on the M25.
Now complete with the full complement of bus passengers we headed for East Anglia, travelling through Essex into Suffolk and stopping on the outskirts of Ipswich for lunch. Norman Piper led the daily ‘Pause for thought’ as we travelled to our hotel in Norwich. Arriving at the hotel our tour leader, ‘Obergruppen Fuehrer Thomas’, gave us clear instructions what the schedule was prior to leaving for Sheringham.
Leaving the hotel we travelled to Sheringham by an interesting route which involved Colin’s first demonstration of his skill in driving the bus backwards, having decided to ignore a ‘Road Closed’ sign. We then found ourselves in the narrow streets of Sheringham, stopping at the end of Co-operation Street and walking to the hall while Colin found a place to park the coach.
Arriving at the lovely new hall at Sheringham we were welcomed by the corps officer, Major Alan Read. We then set up the band formation and did a brief ‘sound check’. The corps then provided the usual welcome ‘Army cup of tea’ before we prepared ourselves for the evening festival.
The band performed well on the first night of the tour and we played to a good appreciative crowd. In this ‘small’ Army World of ours many old friends were met and much talking and reminiscing took place, both before and after the festival. This is one of the joys of our movement.
Returning to our hotel in Norwich we all felt we had got off to a solid start to our tour.
Paul Harding reported on our opening programme –
On a warm June evening the SLFB commenced its tour in the modern surroundings of the Sheringham SA hall to a near capacity crowd.
Although a little tired after an early start and a fairly slow journey; nothing I understand to do with the expert coach driver for the week (our very own Colin Richardson) but due to the narrow lanes and highways of the beautiful Norfolk countryside.
The band commenced the festival at great pace and style with the William Turkington Festival March ‘Able’ revised and rescored by William Himes. This was followed immediately by the Cornet solo ‘I’d Rather Have Jesus’ played sensitively by Alan Moyse.
After an opening prayer Major Whittingham greeted the crowd and introduced the Dean Goffin favourite Sunday evening selection ‘To God be the Glory’ followed by another SA classic male voice piece ‘Sound the Battle Cry’.
With no rest at all it was time again for Alan Moyse to present the cornet solo ‘Clear Skies’. A ‘timeless’ cornet solo from the pen of Eric Ball, utilising the charming, lyrical melody of the same name. Its traditional theme and variation construction and its relative popularity should not lull the soloist into believing it to be easy, but as ever Alan gave a scintillating rendition.
The band has had a succession of first class euphonium soloists over the years, latterly our dearly loved Bram Chestney. Adrian Horwood continues this fine line of excellent players and presented yet another old classic ‘The Song of the Brother’ and as ever it was played faultlessly.
Next the recently restructured trombone section, new second trombone and Bass trombone (expertly played by John White), presented the trombone quartet ‘Trombone Vespers’. The piece starts with a slow prelude in the style of a male voice folk song before becoming more rhythmic in style. ‘Vesper Hymn’ and ‘A little star peeps o’er the hill’ are the tunes included.
To round off the first half the band presented an all time favourite from the pen of Eric Ball, ‘Songs of the Morning’. Major Whittingham explained that he had intentionally included some of the “good old army” classics specifically for the audience gathered in Sheringham because he felt this type of traditional music with associated words would be appreciated, which it certainly was.
The congregational song ‘We’re an Army fighting for a glorious King’ got off to a difficult start, with no-one accepting responsibility for giving the tune book number rather than the song book number to Sheringham’s multimedia expert, resulting in the wrong words appearing on the screen; but after the distribution of Song Books we actually had a good sing.
A brief Bible reading and thought was presented by Stuart Gilbert and this was followed immediately by Ivor Bosanko’s ‘His Provision’ originally published as a songster piece in 1985. The words of encouragement plainly speak through this most beautifully written piece of music which was sensitively played under the direction of our associate conductor Darrell Scholes.
After a brief interval Darrell put the band through its paces in the march ‘Praise’ by Wilfred Heaton, yet again another SA classic appreciated by the gathered crowd.
It was a source of encouragement to the band to see a number of SA personalities in the audience with a tradition of SA banding over the years at the highest level, and members from the Anglian Fellowship band present. It certainly kept us on our toes!
Next John Rodgers presented the Eb Tuba solo ‘Standing on the promises’ by Erik Silverberg, rarely heard these days but one that the audience could again associate words with and ably played by John.
The penultimate item, unusually placed at this point in the programme, was the Joy Webb vocal solo ‘There will be God’ movingly sung by Leslie Swift with vocal backing by the male chorus.
The final item of a long evening was from the pen of Ray Steadman-Allen, ‘Melodies of Dvorak’. In the words of Major Whittingham it is arranged from the classics with familiar melodies. A test of stamina for the band to finish with a 10 minute piece but as ever they were well “up for it” and just when they thought it was finished for the night, an encore performance of the March ‘Mighty to Save’.
The audience showed their appreciation of a very enjoyable evening with prolonged applause, and the band had started their three concert tour of middle England with a great performance of brass band playing and Christian fellowship, ably led by the forever youthful Major George Whittingham (where does he get his energy from?).
John Payne from Sheringham Corps provided the following report –
A well-filled Hall greeted the South London Fellowship Band on a very pleasant Tuesday evening, as they presented the first Concert in their short Tour under the leadership of Major George Whittingham.
The Band commenced the evening with the Festival March ‘Able’ arranged by William Himes before Principal Cornet (Alan Moyse) presented the same composer’s beautiful arrangement of ‘I’d Rather Have Jesus’.
Dean Goffin’s Selection ‘To God be the Glory’ revived many memories before the Band sang ‘Sound the Battle Cry’. Alan Moyse again featured as soloist in ‘Clear Skies’ (Eric Ball), Adrian Horwood (Euphonium) contributed ‘The Song of the Brother’ (Erik Leidzen) and John Rodgers (Tuba) presented ‘Standing on the Promises’ (Erik Silfverberg). The Trombone Section was featured in Ray Steadman-Allen’s ‘Trombone Vespers’.
More memories were revived by the playing of ‘Songs of the Morning’ (Eric Ball), ‘Praise’ (Wilfred Heaton) and ‘Melodies of Dvorak’ (Ray Steadman-Allen).
Moments of reflection and devotion shared by Stuart Gilbert were concluded with some very sensitive playing of Ivor Bosanko’s ‘His Provision’.
This was certainly “Music for a Summer’s Evening” with something for everyone and very much enjoyed by all present.
Day Two (Wednesday 5th June)
Norman Piper reported on our second day away from home –
Having had a long day on Tuesday, breakfast time on Wednesday was punctuated by reports of having slept like a log, being out like a light, and similar phrases of a comfortable night’s sleep. The sad news of the death of Don Middleton was given to the party this morning. Our memories of a real Christian gentleman and thoughts for his family were foremost just now and on through our time together.
Having arrived in the area in overcast conditions we set off in similar cool overcast weather heading first of all to Kings Lynn for coffee at the Dukes Head Hotel. John Moye shared some of his heritage with us during his thought for the day. This included agricultural, banding Salvation Army and local heritage which he brought to us with the Parable of the Sower. Our opportunities on tour likened to sowing the seed.
The countryside had been well lit by sunshine for most of Tuesday; the colours were now less bright but still beautiful. Coffee was good. Tea, iced water and biscuits, if you were quick enough! Some time was available to see something of the town.
The next destination was Bicker. There was some confusion whether we had to bicker over a buffet lunch but in the end we ate without argument!
From lunch we headed towards Derby heading to the hall from the hotel; all went smoothly once it was established that we enter through the back entrance, not the front.
Following the festival we walked back to the hotel. Some of us headed off to find a Chinese eatery. This turned out to be a vain expedition. Wednesday evening turned out to be an off night for such establishments. A small group of us actually ended up in MacDonald’s where some eyebrows were raised by Rowland’s taste in Happy Meal. He rejected the toy so I can only assume that he already had the complete set!
And so to bed once more. To dream of the morrow promising delights of York and Pondasher territory.
Eric Rapp also reported on our second day’s journey –
Arriving back at our Holiday Inn approaching midnight, following our much appreciated programme at Sheringham, meant that Day 1 of our 4 day tour had been extremely tiring; but the same spirit of excitement and anticipation was apparent as we tucked in to our much looked forward to Full English breakfast on Day 2.
The atmosphere George had created at Sheringham left everyone in no doubt we were on a mission. Brass Bands are fine but without the wonderfully motivated enthusiasm that Salvationist’s have we are as ‘sounding brass’. The SLFB has, from its’ inception, had a desire to preach and spread the word of God’s saving grace. We have always striven to carry this through and this was the spirit in which we commenced our journey to Derby.
Breakfast was rather muted after hearing the sad news that our own Don Middleton had been Promoted to Glory. Following so quickly on the news of Bram Chestney’s Promotion from which we, as a band, are still reeling this was a double blow. With a group of men our age this is only to be expected of course and while we mourn the loss of good friends we rejoice in the fact that our men ‘did good’ and enhanced the Kingdom while with us on earth.
Our thoughts and prayers flood to envelope both Ruth and Hazel and their families.
Back on the coach and Keith Thomas voiced a prayer on behalf of the band. Don was remembered with a genuine sincerity. We have lost another extremely intelligent and greatly talented member. Many of us will be attending the funeral celebrations for Bram this week – so all in all it’s been a tough couple of weeks for the band.
John Moye was next to the microphone and shared a Scripture reading with us, including a rundown of his past life and a brief history of the country traditions of Stowmarket and East Anglia.
We all wondered who would be next to the microphone – and we didn’t have long to wait. Into the breach stepped Pam Thomas. She actually told two jokes ———- and these were greeted with a reverent silence.
Our coffee break this morning was spent at The Dukes Head – right in the centre of Kings Lynn and built some time in the 1700’s. We were reminded of the travel guide description of Kings Lynn ‘———- a sleepy market town’. Quite!!
Lunch at Bicker consisted of a finger buffet. This was enjoyable and nicely presented but some felt that a ‘real’ lunch was wanted and would have been even more appreciated.
At this stage I feel I must mention our driver, our own Colin Richardson, who has steered his enormous 52 seater coach through some very narrow gaps and reversed with equal dexterity. We have reached our various destinations at the time scheduled. He is a credit to the 1st cornet section.
After off-loading instruments and bags outside the SA Hall we found we were in the wrong place – our entrance was the tradesmen’s round the back of the building, so back on the coach with the big instruments, ladies and the aged clambered back on for the short ride to the rear of the building.
A goodly number of people in for the festival. They are really to be commended – A Wednesday night is not the easiest night to muster a crowd to hear a veteran’s band from London. We are blessed with first class soloists and Alan, Darrell and Adrian have really done us proud so far. Their contributions have been musical, safe and classy and one can’t say better than that. Mention must be made of the Derby Bandmaster, Alan Losh, who really put himself out to make us feel welcome and who was asked to conduct our final ‘encore’ march.
Some bandsmen set off for a Chinese while the rest of us staggered back to our Holiday Inn for a well deserved shower – bed or whatever.
Day 2 ended with a feeling of quiet satisfaction of a job well done and again, a feeling of anticipation of what was to come on Day 3. Tired but Happy.
Derby Central Programme
Andy Stewart reported on our second programme –
Looking forward to tonight’s programme with a few changes from Sheringham. After a leisurely drive across from Norwich, including a ‘concise’ history of the Moye family that kept those of us in the back of the coach completely enthralled, we arrived in Derby and disembarked at a most luxurious Holiday Inn (us old boys don’t like to slum it!). Well done to our tour supremo Keith Thomas for finding this one.
After setting up and the now obligatory tea/coffee and bikkies the concert kicked off with ‘The Champions’ and Alan Moyse playing ‘I’d Rather Have Jesus’. Following prayer and introductions Maestro Scholes took us through Wilf Heaton’s fantasy on ‘The Golden Pen’. After the male chorus sang ‘Sound The Battle Cry’ the maestro turned into Harry Mortimer and played a “blinder” in the cornet solo ‘Zelda’.
Adrian Horwood gave a very fine performance of a very difficult euphonium solo ‘Euphony’ which means ‘a pleasing sound’, and that it most certainly was! This was followed by ‘Melodies of Dvorak’ (without voluntary soloists) and was very well received by the appreciative audience.
Variations on a Trumpet call by our pianist (who shall remain nameless in case of reprisals on this reporter) introduced a rousing congregational song to give the band and audience a chance to stretch their legs and lungs.
Roger Gadsden then brought the Bible reading and some thoughtful comments which led to ‘Just As I Am’. As we played this real ‘classic’ my thoughts turned to our good friend Don Middleton who had passed away in the early hours that morning.
Our thoughts, prayers and best wishes go to Hazel and the rest of the family at this extremely difficult time.
The second half started with another ‘Army classic’ march ‘The Liberator’ played at a dignified tempo which I think was ideal. This was followed by baritonist ‘extraordinaire’ Stuart Gilbert playing R S-A’s arrangement of a Stephen Foster melody ‘Beautiful Dreamer’ associating the words of ‘This Is My Story/Blessed Assurance’. The trombones were then featured in Norman Bearcroft’s ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’.
Next up was the SLFB’s version of pick one of three, Paul Potts/Pavarotti/Cat in heat, Les Swift who again thrilled the audience with ‘There Will Be God’.
‘The Triumph of Peace’ was our final item and was again very much appreciated and drew long applause.
An encore of ’Mighty to Save’ was conducted by Bandmaster Alan Losh of the host corps.
After dismantling the stand and loading the coach most returned to the hotel. However a few hardy souls, led by our intrepid Band Sec Sherpa Rowland Little, went off in search of a Chinese restaurant! We eventually found one (I believe it was in the foothills of the Pennines) which had closed 5 minutes before we arrived!!
We eventually ended up in that most British of eateries, McDonalds!, which ended a most interesting day.
John Floyd from Derby Central Corps provided the following report –
A good mid-week congregation greeted the South London Fellowship Band who visited Derby Central for the first time. Major George Whittingham, the Bandmaster, proved to be a genial, amusing and well-informed compere. The Derby Central Band had much to thank the Bandmaster for as he led them during a difficult period in its history some years ago.
The playing of the Fellowship Band and the content of the programme was enhanced by first class solo items by Darrell Scholes (Cornet player and associate conductor), Alan Moyes (cornet), Adrian Horwood (Euphonium) and Leslie Swift (vocal). A final highlight for many was the concluding item ‘The Triumph of Peace’ (Eric Ball).
It was good to hear the Band also double as a fine male voice chorus – somewhat unusual on many band programmes. An excellent evening of fine music and true fellowship was enjoyed by all who attended.
Day Three (Thursday 6th June)
Derek Fairman reported on our third days travels –
After a very successful concert the previous evening and a comfortable night at the almost new Holiday Inn, we left Derby full of expectations for the day ahead which was to be a concert-free day. Being 9.30am we joined the rush hour traffic and headed north to pick up the M1.
It was Adrian’s turn to lead devotions and we settled down whilst he reminded us that, like the happy meal that some had last night, happiness cannot compare with joy in the Christian experience; for, as the happy meal last night, being happy will pass after the event but joy is something lasting as you strive to do as the song says. J.O.Y – this will surely be Jesus first, Yourself last, Others in-between.
As the morning progressed the sun finally tried to break through. We took the M18 towards Doncaster joining the A1(M) Doncaster by-pass and very soon turned off to stop for a coffee break at the Holiday Inn, where everything was laid out ready with coffee & biscuits taken in a very pleasant sun lounge. Another well organised interlude.
Time 11.15am, and back onto the coach to head for our next destination; being York. Brian Hillyer receives a call from his home corps, Gravesend, to say that they had run out of toilet rolls in the ladies to which he replies “I can’t do anything, I’m in Doncaster” (life still goes on inspite of the SLFB being on tour).
We continue our journey with a pleasant drive through the Yorkshire countryside with a slow but picturesque ride through the outskirts of York, finally arriving at our drop off point close to York Minster about 12.45, where we all had about 4 hours to go off and do our own thing.
Finding myself rapidly reaching a state of advancing years, not in mind but definitely in body, I teamed up with a couple of likeminded individuals. We decided that before lunch it may be a good idea to take a river trip, and so at around 1.15 we boarded a large river boat and spent the next 45 minutes relaxing with tea & coffee watching the world go by. We then found a nice tea shop where we spent the next hour or so having a very enjoyable & reasonably priced lunch.
We then walked slowly back to our pick up point having spent an interesting few hours in the ancient and beautiful city of York. As time approached for our pick up there was a call from Colin our driver to say that he was having trouble starting the coach and so there was an opportunity to discuss the visit, and it was obvious that everyone had made the most of their time with visits to York Minster and the Railway Museum being among the top spots, plus time for shopping. However in no time at all we received a message to say that Colin, with his usual resourceful and efficient manner, had managed to get the coach started and so we left York at about 4.30. After the initial heavy urban traffic we settled down to a very pleasant ride through picturesque Yorkshire countryside arriving at our hotel in Bradford in time for a quick freshen up before travelling to what was going to prove to be one of the highlights of the tour – being our visit to the Black Dyke bandroom.
John Moye also reported on Day 3 –
Departing Derby at 9.30am on an overcast Thursday morning, we were brightened by the news that the Holiday Inn management had thanked the Band for being very good guests. Heartening to know that our behaviour, as well as our playing, had made a good impression on this East Midlands city.
Adrian Horwood led our morning devotions on the coach. His theme was “JOY” – very appropriate for someone whose brilliant euphonium solos on tour evoked much joy in his listeners. Adrian encouraged us to be “filled with joy”. He also confessed to being surrounded by joy – the first names of both his mother and mother-in-law, and middle name of his wife!
Just before our morning coffee stop, the coach “crossed the line”. We left Derbyshire and entered Yorkshire – the cultural home of both our Bandmaster and Associate Conductor. Surprisingly, this event passed largely unnoticed (not even a verse of ‘On Ilkley Moor’).
Coffee was taken at the Doncaster Holiday Inn at Warmsworth, just off the A1(M). A welcome refreshment break at an attractive hostelry – the third Holiday Inn we have frequented so far on tour. The Band should consider negotiating with the Group about featuring in their next adverts!
We arrived at York at 12.30pm and had 3.5 hours available to look round this fine city. The sun was now shining brightly. Most of us made first for York Minister – but decided against paying the £9 (£10 for those under 60) admission fee. The narrow streets, the open-air market, River Ouse, National Railway Museum, Castle Museum, and Yorkshire Museum and Gardens were among the local attractions visited. The many restaurants available were also well patronised, including Betty’s Tea Rooms – highly recommended, as evidenced by the large numbers of overseas tourists.
Glorious weather in a beautiful, historic city. Very relaxing. We were truly blessed. And four bandsmen felt it appropriate to seek ‘The Mercy Seat’. A play of that name was being presented at York Theatre Royal and the quartet had their photo taken outside the theatre (“SLFB at the mercy seat”). The poster indicated that the play had no religious connotations. Indeed, it referred to “a chilling experience”. We later discovered that this was the first major theatrical work to be written about the 11th September 2001 attack in New York.
We left York an hour later than planned for Bradford. Traffic was heavy but we arrived at our Hilton hotel in the city centre (near to St George’s Hall, the venue for the Yorkshire regional finals for the National Brass Band Championships) at 6pm. Just enough time to check into our rooms and freshen up before setting out again at 6.30pm for the four mile journey to Queensbury, home of Black Dyke Band. The road took us through a large Asian area and then ever upward, climbing higher and higher with great views over the valley in which Bradford is located. On arrival, we were uplifted to even greater heights by the superb playing – and hospitality – of Black Dyke.
Black Dyke Band Rehearsal
Rowland Little reported on our special evening visit –
From the Mercy Seat via a Brewery to the Gates of Heaven.
Thursday June 6th. It is day 3 of our tour and we are in York. The local theatre is running a play entitled The Mercy Seat and a number of the band make their way there. We drive to our hotel in Bradford and find we are next to St George’s Hall, perhaps the best of all the Area Contest venues on account of the large number of top ranking bands in the Yorkshire area – Dyke, Grimey, Brighouse, Carlton Main et al. At 6.30 an excited group (yes, 60 to 80-odd year olds can still get excited) board the coach and drive in the evening sunshine through spectacular countryside climbing over one thousand feet until we reach the village of Queensbury, the home of probably the most famous brass band in the world – the Black Dyke Band. The place oozes history and tradition.
We are welcomed by Band Secretary Mike Shenton and shown to the bandroom dating back over 150 years. The walls are covered in memorabilia which include photos of the band’s professional conductors such as Major George Willcocks of ‘Le Roi d’Ys’ fame. Of particular interest are the original wooden music desks into which the names of legends such as Maurice Murphy have been carved. As we are soaking up the atmosphere, we are delighted to see that Dr Nick Childs, the band’s Musical Director, has joined us and he proceeds to provide an informative potted history of the band.
Following a tour of the band’s library all 28 of us are somehow squeezed into the tiny downstairs bandroom. The writer stands immediately behind Paul Duffy and Lee Rigg. Wow! Most of the rehearsal is spent on George Lloyd’s ‘Diversions on a Bass theme’. We admire the musicality and craftsmanship of band and conductor and non-stop intensity of the rehearsal with not one second wasted. After dissecting the work, Nick runs it through. To many of us this sounds like the winning performance even though this is the first rehearsal and the contest is several weeks and more rehearsals away.
Major George Whittingham says a few well-chosen words of appreciation before Nick invites the band to conclude the evening with the “Dyke Experience”. What followed will stay with us for the rest of our lives. Deep Harmony is one of the best known and most often played hymn tunes but in the hands of conductor and band it was transformed into an art form of the highest level. Every facet of brass playing at its finest was exhibited to us. As one of our group said to Nick afterwards, “You took us to the gates of heaven”.
So our journey took us from the Mercy Seat to the Gates of Heaven but what about the brewery? Well it transpires that George Lloyd’s Diversions on a Bass theme has a rather clever play on words in the title. Apparently the piece was commissioned by Bass Brewery who insisted on their name being included in the title! No wonder then that we were intoxicated at the end of such a wonderful evening which, to many, was the highlight of the tour.
Roger Gadsden also reported on this special evening –
A Boyhood Dream, Christmas and much more in Queensbury.
Thursday June 6th was a special evening for many members of the South London Fellowship Band as we attended the rehearsal of the world famous Black Dyke Band and for the writer, the fulfilment of a boyhood dream. The first band record that I ever bought was of the John Foster and Sons Black Dyke Mills Band, and so began the Dream.
We arrived at the band room just before the Bass section was arriving for a sectional rehearsal. We all went up to the old band room and all that we had heard was true: the wooden stands with the names of former bandsmen carved into them, the smallness of the room that is attributed to Dyke’s sound.
At this point Dr Nicholas Childs came in and joined us, he pointed out the significance of all the historical memorabilia displayed around the room. The enthusiasm, obvious joy and love for all that Dyke stands for, came through and our Band was thrilled and privileged that he gave us so much time. The Band secretary came to say the Basses were ready. We were then taken into what is the treasure trove that is the Library of the Band. The Band’s librarian, Keith Britcliffe, ably assisted by Paul Woodward, pointed out some of the treasures as well as some amusing anecdotes. Other members of the Band began to arrive and were more than willing to talk to us and we were able to hear the members warming up.
At 8:00pm the rehearsal began and amazingly we were all allowed to sit in the band room and stay for the whole rehearsal. The first items were Christmas arrangements that were being prepared for a new CD on the Obrasso label. One item was a cornet solo featuring Richard Marshall and another featuring Gary Curtin for Euphonium. Next Dr Childs began rehearsing the test piece, ‘Diversions on a Bass Theme’ by George Lloyd, the set piece for the English National Championships in June. For many in SLFB this was the first time they had heard the work which all added to the amazing evening. The Band then did a complete run through of the piece to the absolute thrill of us all. However this was not the end because the Band finished with the playing of Deep Harmony and there was more than one SLFB band member with a tear in their eye.
In his introduction Dr Childs said that we had come on a good evening, an evening that will stay long in the memory of the SLFB members and remain a talking point for a long time ahead.
We cannot convey our thanks enough to Dr Childs, Mike Shenton and the entire Band for such a wonderful evening.
Day Four (Friday 7th June)
Stuart Gilbert provided a report on the day after the night before –
Captain’s Log: Day 4.
A beautiful sunny morning has greeted us here in Bradford today and during breakfast all the talk is about the Queensbury experience last night.. what a special privilege – an evening that we will never forget!
Maurice Ozanne is celebrating his 80th birthday today and so how appropriate to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to him on the coach before our thought for the day.
John Rodgers reminded us that it is good to praise the Lord (Psalm 92) and he also acknowledged that music can often lift us to a higher place.
Now it’s on to the Peak District and what a delightful journey we’re enjoying through ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ country.. passing through the little village called Eyam (the plague village) stopping off for coffee at the Lamb Inn, in a delightful little place called Chinley. It really is a glorious day.. we are enjoying our coffee & biscuits sitting outside and appreciating the warmth of the sunshine. And as we continue our journey, Rowland is kindly pointing out some prize winning cows – they are outstanding in their field.
What a treat is waiting for us at Chatsworth House.. upon arrival, we have split into three groups, each benefitting from a superb guided tour of the Duke of Devonshire’s home.. this is now followed with a gorgeous lunch in a private dining room. And now, after lunch, Rowland is expressing his thanks on behalf of each bandsman for all of the work that has gone into organising this tour. From my seat on the coach, I’ve been able to appreciate just how many phone calls have been made whilst we’ve been travelling – calling ahead to make sure that the coffee and the room keys are ready when we arrive. Thank you Keith for all you have done to make things run so smoothly.
And thanks once again to Colin for driving so well and delivering us this afternoon to the Holiday Inn, Sheffield.
Doug Glover also reported on our fourth day –
Visit to Chatsworth House with the SLFB
A bright sunny morning greeted us for an early start. At breakfast the conversation was of the visit to Black Dyke Rehearsal, the night before.
Stuart Gilbert took the opportunity to work on his laptop. Opposite the hotel the Town Hall reminded us of the great municipal structures in this part of the country.
Our journey took us towards Huddersfield and then towards Holmferth, the scene of the Last of the Summer Wine TV programme. No time to go to Sid’s café or to see where Nora Batty and Compo lived.
We sang Happy Birthday to Maurice Ozanne who was 80 years young. Our preacher for the morning was John Rodgers, who reminded us to be Joyful. Reading from Psalm 92; “It is good to Praise the Lord and make music in your Name O Most High”.
I was reminded of the change in trend in church worship when I saw a church which is now a Costa Coffee establishment.
As we passed through the Peak District there were no fences or hedges splitting the fields, only dry stone walls.
After our coffee stop at another welcome location (where does Keith keep finding them!!!), we then continued on our way seeing viaducts and reservoirs. We came to Stoney Middleton where so many climbers cut their teeth on the rock faces of the limestone cliffs.
Then to Chatsworth House for an official guided tour in three groups. So many paintings and furniture to see in this magnificent house and the perks that the owner got for services he made to royalty.
Maurice played briefly on the grand piano, which was a joy for him on his birthday. Then on to lunch and the time to share in singing “Be present at our table Lord” and more wonderful food.
Unfortunately this all had to end and we made our way to Sheffield where Leslie Swift’s local knowledge guided us to our hotel from where we departed for our final festival at Sheffield Citadel Corps.
Sheffield Citadel Programme
Adrian Horwood reported on our final programme –
We arrived at the hall and entered the building via the underground car park and made our way into the main hall to set up for the evening’s programme, where the first to arrive were greeted by the pleasant sound of Darrell, who had travelled by car, playing the piano. It was not long before we changed into uniform and had a welcome cup of tea, while the audience arrived.
The cheerful sound of people greeting each other and renewing old friendships and acquaintances was the precursor to a good time of sharing music together.
The evening’s programme was compered in his own inimitable style by the band’s conductor, Major George Whittingham, who left the Sheffield Citadel Corps many years ago to commence training to be a Salvation Army officer. Some of the stories he told during the evening may even have been true! Darrell Scholes, Associate conductor, is also a past soldier in the Yorkshire Division and remembered a number of people who influenced his Christian journey. A thought from the Bible was given by Bev Hudson, one of the band’s pastoral team.
The band featured the marches ‘The Champions’, ‘The Liberator’ and ended with ‘Mighty to save’ as a foot-tapping conclusion. Various soloists were featured – cornet players Alan Moyse, with the reflective ‘I’d rather have Jesus’, Darrell Scholes with the sparkling ‘Zelda’ and Adrian Horwood with the euphonium solo ‘Euphony’, an extended work containing 4 well known ‘Army’ songs. The entire trombone section was featured in ‘Trombone Vespers’.
The band transformed into a male voice chorus for ‘The Lord’s Prayer’, ‘Rock of Ages’ and, with Les Swift as soloist, ‘There will be God’.
A number of composers were featured – Wilfred Heaton’s SA classic ‘Just as I am’ brought to the evening a tranquillity and thought provoking mood, while ‘Laudate Dominum’ by Edward Gregson allowed the band to demonstrate the range of a brass band with its ‘fanfare’ opening, lively sections, slow melodies and big finish. ‘Fantasia for Children’ reminded many of their childhood through the words associated with the music and was appropriate for this venue as it was written by the late James Wright, a former bandmaster at Sheffield Citadel. Two pieces by Eric Ball were played during the evening – ‘The Old Wells’ being brought out from the archives, along with the always inspiring ‘The Triumph of Peace’ which ended an evening which presented the Gospel in what we believe to be an attractive and clear form, through music.
After the final march the band members and audience spent more time reminiscing and ‘catching up’ before the coach departed for our ‘last supper’ together before the end of the tour.
Gerald Brooks from Sheffield Citadel Corps provided the following report –
A large crowd at Sheffield Citadel were privileged to hear the South London Fellowship Band who presented a concert on Friday 7th June as part of their tour of the North of England.
Under the direction of Major George Whittingham the band presented a varied programme including old (The Old Wells) and new (Fantasia for Children) the latter being a fitting choice having been composed by the late Jim Wright a previous Bandmaster at Sheffield Citadel.
The band are fortunate in having excellent soloists in Alan Moyse, Darrell Scholes (cornet) and Adrian Horwood (euphonium) who’s playing was greatly appreciated by the congregation.
It was inspiring to see a band whose average age is 68 performing to such a high standard for the glory of God, a testimony to the fact that in God’s service there is no such thing as retirement.
Day Five (Saturday 8 June)
Brian Hillyer reported on our homeward journey –
An early start was called for this morning. Just after 8.30 we were on the road. It did not take Colin long to find the M1 (what a hero this man has been all the week). Morning prayers were led by Bev Hudson. He spoke about building bridges and remembered those of our fellowship who were unwell and those that were mourning at this time. I settled down to think again about all that had happened over this week. Good crowds at all the evening concerts. Excellent playing by the bands at all the venues, very receptive audiences. I mused about the soloists Alan, Darrell, Stuart, Les, John and Adrian and of course the trombone section. The band singing, rarely heard now, all inspiring items, thank you gentlemen. I thought that the playing at Derby just shaded it.
I was pleased with the contribution of the pastoral team, good honest and well thought efforts – thank you gentlemen.
What a night at Black Dyke practice. I find that a week later I can just about talk about the event without being overcome with emotion. What an experience it was and how accommodating to us they were. Thank you Black Dyke Band.
I mused about the visits to Kings Lynn and to York and to Chatsworth. I am not sure about these ‘National Treasures’. I remember some years ago visiting Osborne House on the Isle of Wight and feeling the same. All that opulence and riches and built at a time when people were dying from starvation and sickness. I will be thinking about this when I am handing out food parcels at our hall this coming week. Still I thought the food was very good and I didn’t feel too bad eating it!
Hey, here we are at Watford Gap services already. One more stop at Lakeside Services to drop off Dave Harrison (the safest soprano player in the Army!) and then home. I have been reunited with about a dozen of my old bandsmen, friends and relations at the various locations that we have been to this week. That has been a pleasure in itself. Sold nearly £500 worth of cds (that should keep Steve happy!) and must say to Rowland and Keith thank you for your work in organising this tour. Could we do it again soon as many of us are running out of time!
Alan Slator also reported on the final day as one of the last to complete this memorable journey –
Saturday morning 8th June the band is on the coach ready to depart from Sheffield.
As the coach leaves the band is in sombre mood knowing this is the final journey of the week. We have had such a great time it is a pity it has to end. Not all of the band are on the coach as a couple have left by train to return for other commitments.
Maurice Ozanne lifts the spirits sharing out the last of his 80th birthday chocolates.
Saturday morning was Bev Hudson’s turn to lead devotions. As part of this worship each member of the band was given a slip of paper and asked to record their highlight of the week. I suppose the results could have been predicted and as Bev read out the different highlights the visit to Black Dyke band practice was listed quite a number of times. The highlights also included Dave Harrison’s top Bb on his soprano at the end of ‘Triumph of Peace’. However the top highlight was the fellowship we had experienced during the week and how blessed we had all been by all that had taken place.
I think most of the band slept on the journey home until the coffee stop at Watford Gap woke us up. At 12.45 we pulled into Thurrock services to say goodbye to Dave Harrison, and then onto Gravesend for the next stop off. At Gravesend Rowland discovered he had lost his car keys, this meant a detour via Maidstone to drop him off.
We finally arrived at Royal Tunbridge Wells where we all said our good-byes and the Worthing contingent settled down in their mini bus for the last leg of the journey dropping off Alan, Roy and Maureen at Brighton on the way.
We arrived back in Worthing at 17.30 with a great sense of satisfaction, a week well spent in the Lords service.