2019 West Wickham URC

 

The Band’s annual visit to West Wickham is always keenly anticipated by the members of the Band because we know we are always assured of a good welcome in a building where the acoustics are particularly helpful for brass band performance. The Band have performed concerts here for at least twenty consecutive years, as well as using the Church for several of their recordings. So we hoped that our latest visit would be as well received as previous visits.

 

The evening commenced on a reflective note with the Eric Ball arrangement of Hugh Roberton’s masterpiece “All in the April evening” – albeit on a fairly chilly April evening. This allowed the Band to settle down and savour the building’s helpful support. This was followed by Howard Davies’s “Songs of Australia” – General series music, but with plenty of pitfalls even for experienced players. A smiling conductor at the end indicated that all the accident blackspots had been safely negotiated.  It was interesting to hear “Botany Bay” and “Waltzing Matilda” scored in such a subdued manner within the music, in direct contrast to the rip-roaring manner in which they are usually performed by a typical red-blooded Aussie.

The Band felt a tinge of sadness to be accompanying Craig Finch in the flugel horn solo “Morricone’s Melody”, since this was to be Craig’s last engagement with the Band, at least for the time being. Craig performed beautifully, with his usual innate sense of musicianship.

 

A further soloist was then featured – principal trombone Maurice Horwood, who captured the jazz-swing idiom of Bill Himes’ “Blessed Assurance” perfectly. 

 

Further contrast was added with the masterly arrangement of the Beatles “Yesterday” by Goff Richards, one of the finest brass band writers and arrangers of recent times.  This is a good example of the way in which so many first-class “pop” songs are now part of mainstream music and are perfectly suitable for performance within a church setting. In a final item before the interval the Band played Albert Jakeway’s arrangement of a number of excerpts from Beethoven’s vast output entitled “Gems from Beethoven”. There is a school of thought which believes that orchestral music should be left solely to orchestras. But Jakeway’s fine arrangement would offer a strong argument that, if skilfully scored, a brass band classical arrangement has much to commend itself in terms of the different sound colours available to brass bands. Hopefully Beethoven himself would not have been too offended by the delicacy of the piano sonata excerpt or the vigorous finale of his seventh symphony. We shall never know!

We commenced the second half of the concert in subdued manner with Leslie Condon’s male voice setting of “When Jesus looked o’er Galilee”, conducted by Adrian Horwood. This turned our minds towards the coming Easter season, and was followed by some choice words from our chaplain, Roger Gadsden.  A further subdued contribution from the band was an arrangement by Philip Harper of a traditional north-east folk song entitled “The Water of Tyne”, which has been given a new lease of life by recent recordings.

The mood was changed again for the concluding items based round a “Last night of the Proms” theme. The eager participation of the audience made this an enjoyable few moments for everyone within the church.

However, the highlight of this part of the programme was undoubtedly Adrian Horwood’s rendition of Peter Graham’s taxing and complex Euphonium solo “Brillante”, fittingly based on “Rule Britannia”, and played in Adrian’s customary expert manner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The audience then responded with their version of “Rule Britannia” before a very enthusiastic “Land of Hope and Glory” brought the evening to a rousing conclusion.