The Solent Fellowship Band (Bandmaster John Bird) was joined by guest oboe soloist Divisional Bandmaster Stephen Smith for a concert in Trowbridge on 14 April 2014. The local corps arranged for an Anglican church to host the concert, which was held free of charge. Trowbridge is somewhat outside the band’s usual area of operation, with a journey of 100 miles for some members.
The acoustics in the church were unexpectedly superb. The band’s preliminary hymn tune, beautifully played, met with a ripple of pleasant surprise throughout the audience, which numbered in three figures. The band was later told that the most of those present had no idea what to expect from a brass band concert, particularly one with a Salvation Army band. Won over at the beginning, they were treated to an eclectic program, specifically constructed by Bandmaster Bird to please both the mainly non-Salvationist audience and a number of local and visiting Salvationists.
At the outset, the fine march South Coast (Martyn Thomas) contrasted with Alex Manning’s musically mature flügelhorn skills in Hine e Hine, an arrangement by Peter Graham of a Māori melody. Trevor Dawson offered a prayer, which was followed by a congregational song, “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah”, during which the unsuspecting audience found that great hymns can be sung with enthusiasm and gusto when accompanied by a band.
William Himes’ Procession to Covenant, which includes the familiar song “O love that wilt not let me go”, was followed by a sparkling performance by Callum Carter of the Rondo from Mozart’s fourth horn concerto. The cornet section gave a much appreciated and exciting first performance of the the first movement of Vivaldi’s double trumpet concerto, conducted by Assistant Conductor David Samuels.
After the band sang When Jesus Looked o’er Galilee (Catherine Baird/Ernest Fewster), the trombone section was featured in From that Sacred Hill (Dick Krommenhoek). This led into a series of classical excerpts: The Children’s March from “The Nutcracker” (Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky) and Legend – Christ in His Garden followed by Tritsch Tratsch Polka (Johann Strauss, arr. Alan Fernie).
Before the classical interlude, Stephen Smith, accompanied on piano by Songster Leader Susan Avison (Bath Citadel), played several movements of the Corelli/Barbarolli Oboe Concerto. This was a sublime musical experience, the oboe flawlessly and beautifully played with the accompaniment in complete empathy, leaving many in the audience almost literally breathless.
Major Kelvin Lang of Trowbridge Corps made an appeal, with the band playing The Liberty Bell (John Philip Sousa) as the offering was taken up.
An upbeat Come Follow the Band brought the audience back to their seats after the interval. Another rousing congregational song, “How Great Thou Art”, was followed by a crackling performance of Round-Up (Martin Cordner).
Stephen Smith, again accompanied by Susan Avison, returned to perform Elegiac Dance (Michael Head); exquisite music played to perfection. The Radetsky March, the second movement of The Pilgrim Way (Eric Ball) and a stylish Finale from Rossini’s William Tell Overture rounded off the evening. The band stood to acknowledge lengthy applause from the audience.
Major Lang thanked the audience for their gift of £520 toward the work of the Salvation Army in Trowbridge. This amount brings the band’s total funds raised through the first three engagements of 2014 to nearly £10,000.
Christmas Around the World web site