Monthly Archives: March 2017

Visit to the Emmanuel United Reform Church, West Wickham, 17 March 2017

“Let all the world in every corner sing: My God and King!”. Paul Sharman’s prelude on the hymn tune “Luckington” was written for the International Staff Band’s 120th Anniversary. The South London Fellowship Band commenced its 23rd annual visit to West Wickham with this stirring music – one of several “first performances” for the Band that evening.

The more reflective playing of the second movement (“Thanksgiving”) of Les Condon’s “Splendour of Youth” Suite – featuring the chorus “Lord how I love you” –  was followed by an opening prayer. Major George Whittingham, compere for the programme, then led the congregation in the singing of “To God be the Glory”, during which a collection was taken for St Christopher’s Hospice in Sydenham (raising £250).

Adrian Horwood and Simon Birkett “brought the house down” last year with their brilliant euphonium duet. They did the same again this year, now playing Norman Bearcroft’s “Timepiece” – written for the Canadian Staff Band (CSB) and based on the song “My Grandfather’s Clock”. Their outstanding technique and musicianship merited the lengthy applause. The Band is indeed privileged to have such a talented euphonium section.

The Band’s guest soloist for the evening was Lisa Davis, a Salvationist from Chatham and a former member of the International Staff Songsters. Her first song was the traditional “It was a lover and his lass”, followed by Vaughan Williams enchanting “Silent Moon”. Lisa’s singing delighted and captivated the listener, ably accompanied on the piano by Carole Horwood.

Making his debut as a soloist with the Band, Craig Finch chose the flugel horn solo “Concerto de Aranjuez” by Rodrigo – music featured in the film “Brassed Off”. Craig’s playing of this popular piece was well received.

Treasures from Tchaikovsky” is a “classic” for Salvation Army bands – an arrangement by Bramwell Coles of excerpts from the Russian composer’s greatest works. It was the Band’s major contribution of the evening and proved a fitting choice to conclude the first half of the  programme. Music to excite and uplift, with melodies familiar to most listeners.

After a short interval, the second half commenced with “Even Greater Things” – another fine march (unpublished) by Norman Bearcroft featuring the chorus “Give us faith, O Lord, we pray, Faith for greater things”.

For her second “spot”, Lisa Davis sang Len Ballantine’s “Wonderful Love” (with cornet accompaniment by husband Jeremy) and “They Could Not” – the Harris/Cloninger “Easter classic” (“Death, hell and the grave could not stop God’s plan for the redemption of man”). The beauty and power of her voice were matched by the clarity of the Christian message it expressed.

Lux Aurumque” (“Light and Gold”) is a choral composition by the American composer Eric Whitacre, based on a Latin poem (“Light, warm and heavy as pure gold and the angels sing softly to the new-born baby”). It was arranged for the CSB by Andrew Poirier and presented by the SLFB for the first time this evening. Mysterious and awe-inspiring music, aided by the explanatory screen projections prepared by Major Graham Kinsley.

This quieter period continued with Lisa singing Joy Webb’s “Share my Yoke”, accompanied by the Band, followed by words of reflection from Major Whittingham. It concluded with the playing of Les Condon’s Selection “In Wonder Beholding”. This much-loved composition depicts the awe and adoration of the Christian for God. It produced some of the Band’s best playing of the evening.

For almost 20 years, Major Whittingham conducted the Band on their yearly visits to this church. He again led the Band in its penultimate item – Bramwell Coles’ march “Bravest of the Brave”. The evening concluded with the Band singing “A Choral Benediction” (by William Himes and conducted by Adrian Horwood).

This event is always very well attended and eagerly awaited. The enthusiasm and appreciation of this year’s listeners was no exception. We look forward to the 24th visit next year.

John Moye