Monthly Archives: May 2015

Visit to Croydon Citadel 25th April 2015

Saturday evening programmes, presented by a local visiting band or songster brigade, in partnership with a home section, seem something of a lost art these days. The visit of the South London Fellowship Band to Croydon Citadel on April 25 to partner Croydon Citadel Songsters in an evening of good music and praise, amply demonstrated that there is still a lot of potential for such events.

As soon as we were seated, the Band launched into Wilfred Heaton’s Praise. Just as scintillating as it was when first published 66 years ago, this was taken by the Band’s conductor, Darrell Scholes, at a sensible tempo that allowed the Band to display much of the march’s hidden detail. Croydon Citadel Songsters, under the direction of Songster Leader Gerald Boniface, announced themselves with Under his wings (Psalm 91/Yvonne Field), where rhythmic clapping added much, ending emphatically with …for he is my God.

Bev Hudson then prayed that “…whatever we do in this your house will be helpful to your kingdom…

In welcoming the band and soloist, Major Roger Batt (Corps Officer, Croydon Citadel) congratulated the congregation for not stopping in to see Britain’s Got Talent, but had come to see Croydon’s Got Talent. Major Batt then led a congregational song O for a thousand tongues to Paul Sharman’s arrangement of the tune Grimsby.

The suite On the road is from the pen of Howard Davies and incorporates two of the composer’s original melodies – On my way to Heaven with my Lord and It’s a long way to travel alone – with the middle section being a sensitive arrangement of He’s the Christ of the human road. This is a popular item on the Band’s programmes, and it was commented that it was “…nice to hear one or two… singing along…” with the Band.

In introducing David Daws as the evening’s soloist, Darrell Scholes said that David “…didn’t quite make the grade on cornet…” (!) (“he exceeded the grade”), but has lost none of his flair and artistry in moving to euphonium. David’s first contribution was the “legendary” solo, The Better World (Bearcroft), which was first performed in 1978. David’s dexterity, range and ease in the high registers, merited the extended applause that thundered at the end of the solo.

Croydon Citadel Songsters presented six items during the programme. Introducing the first group of songs, Gerald Boniface expressed his appreciation for a number of the Fellowship Bandsmen who were augmenting Croydon Songsters. The first item, God of my praise (arr. Kirkland) encouraged all to “Come let us sing”. In I know a fount, Benjamin Harlan has taken salvationist words by Songster Leader Oliver Cooke and given them new life in a much appreciated setting. Later in the programme, the Songsters sang Everlasting Love (Pearson/Blyth) and a new setting of Philip Bliss’s song Words of Life by John Martin. Nicola Harding was the Songsters’ hard-working piano accompanist throughout.

The first half closed with guest cornetist Keith Hutchinson skilfully bringing I’d rather have Jesus (Shea/arr. Himes), as a cornet solo, and the band playing “in contrast” Ray Steadman-Allen’s Melodies of Dvořák, the sparkling and enthusiastic melodies of which Darrell told us most started out life as piano solos or duets.

After the Band had played Peter Graham’s Music-Maker to open the programme’s second half, came the musical pièce de résistance of the evening – David Daws playing the euphonium solo Harlequin. The solo was written by Philip Sparke, “commissioned by and dedicated to David Childs, with admiration”. First recorded in 2004, we are told “the piece takes as its inspiration the happy and sad masks which symbolise the Commedia dell’Arte (which features Harlequin as one of its main characters) and comprises two movements, a slow modal ballad followed by a frenetic faster movement”. The solo demonstrated both David’s exquisite melodic skills and range in the first movement and his marvellous ability to negotiate extended rapid written passages with style in the second movement.

In a Time for Reflection, John Moye read from Luke 23 “Remember me, Jesus, when you come as King!”, which echoed Croydon Songsters, singing, with a euphonium obligato by David Daws, Remember Me (Watts/Steadman-Allen). John reminded us that the Easter story did not finish on Good Friday. David Daws then played Precious Jesus (Clarke/arr. Redhead) as a euphonium solo, which references the phrase, “I am Christ’s and he is mine”.

Melvin White, in summing up the evening in his vote of thanks, said how much he enjoyed it and that it made him feel relaxed.

The evening closed on a triumphant note – “Christ has overcome the world!” – as Band, Songsters and Congregation joining together in A song of praise – Major Leslie Condon’s magnificent arrangement (made for the 1965 Centenary) of Colonel Catherine Baird’s words.

John Clarke