25th annual visit to West Wickham URC

The Band were recently privileged to be invited to West Wickham United Reformed Church for a twenty-fifth consecutive year.  On that first occasion the Band was conducted by the its founder, Major George Whittingham. It was therefore quite fitting that the Band this time should again be conducted by George. George had been assisting in the recent interregnum between Musical Directors of the Band. It also provided a special opportunity for both the Band and audience to welcome the Band’s new Musical Director, Derick Kane.

The Church Committee had asked that the Band’s contributions this year could include music from the “Stage and Screen”, and we were happy to stray somewhat from our normal repertoire to comply with this request. The stirring opening march was Sousa’s “The Liberty Bell” written way back in 1893, following which the Band moved forward eighty years in time to present Andrew Lloyd Webber’s haunting “Memory” from the musical “Cats”, beautifully arranged by Goff Richards.

The next item, the cornet feature “The Veterans” (Ray Steadman-Allen), gave George the opportunity to point out that the three soloists (Alan Moyse, Kelvin Yendell and Dave Hicks) had between them clocked up over 150 years of service with SA Bands.

It was then time for Derick to be introduced. He is a familiar figure to most Salvationists, having recently retired after 42 years of distinguished service as Euphonium soloist with the International Staff Band, and is also a conductor with many years’ experience within the SA.

Derick gave a wonderfully lyrical reading of the Euphonium solo “Be my love” by Nicholas Brodszky, written originally for Mario Lanza in the 1950s.

After this, Derick conducted the Band – now “HIS” Band – in the Beatles’ much-loved “Yesterday”. The beauty of the original music was again greatly enhanced by the brass transcription of Goff Richards. This was followed by a selection of music from “My fair lady” from the pen of Frederick Loewe. It prompted much fond nostalgia from some members of the audience at the recollection of Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison and Stanley Holloway in the film version. 

There was provision within the programme for a time of reflection, particularly in the light of current global concerns. After some helpful words from Roger Gadsden, the Band Chorus, under Adrian Horwood, sang the song “O love, that will not let me go”. The words certainly conveyed a sense of hope and encouragement for whatever the future holds.  Next up was an energetic and stirring portrayal of the Eric Coates march “The Dam Busters” conducted by Derick. He was then joined by Adrian Horwood for a Euphonium duet which was composed by Derick himself.

Entitled “That’s the Spirit”, the duet takes its theme from a song in the musical “Spirit” with original music by John Larsson. Somewhat light-hearted in concept, it was nevertheless carried off with ease by two of the finest players to ever pick up a Euphonium!

It was back to Andrew Lloyd Webber again for “The Music of the night” from “The Phantom of the opera”. Special mention must be made of Dave Harrison, who made light work of the taxing soprano part.  The final piece of the evening brought the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein from “Oklahoma”. This is music where cascade after cascade of memorable tunes follow each other in unforgettable sequence. It provided a fitting conclusion to the programme, which was somewhat different for the Band, but one that seemed to be appreciated by both player and listener alike.

The evening finished on a much more traditional note when George invited the audience to join with the Band in “The day Thou gavest Lord is ended”. Here’s to the next twenty-five years!