Music Weekend at Birmingham Citadel

The Birmingham Citadel Band (Bandmaster Gavin Lamplough) held its annual band weekend 7 – 8 September 2013. As usual, the weekend coincided with the British Open brass band contest, with the band giving a concert at Symphony Hall prior to the contest start. The next day was Band Sunday at Birmingham Citadel, with the band leading the morning worship.

The British Open contest features many of the world’s leading brass bands, and so the audience is very well-versed in the subtleties of banding. If there was any nervousness among the members of the band it was well-hidden as the band and bandmaster rose to the occasion. The large number of people standing to listen was all the proof needed that this was a fine band in top form.

In a well-balanced program, every item had something to offer the discerning listener. Several items were particularly touching and exciting. A Time for Peace featured tenor horn soloist Neil Blessett, whose lovely, unaffected interpretation was played with a warm, full tone. Wilfred Heaton’s immense talent produced a exciting and challenging reminder of an old Sunday School Chorus in The Golden Pen. David Taylor showed his virtuosity and wonderful technique with the euphonium solo Euphony (Robert Redhead). Eric Ball’s Resurgam is a well-established favorite and Bandmaster Lamplough’s interpretation brought out the best in both the music and the message.

Brass bands are rightly proud of their many fine marches and the Salvation Army has some of the best. The Roll Call (William Broughton) is a scintillating 6/8 march, full of wit, with the central chorus “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder”, marking the Salvation Army message bright and clear. Each section of the band made a good contribution to the concert, showing as a whole a well-disciplined and musical ensemble. The event was a wonderful “shop window” for the Salvation Army, its message and its music.

On Sunday morning, the band led the meeting with the theme “Guardian of My Soul”. The opening bars of From Earth’s Confusion (Trevor Davis) had a warm, settling effect which set the tone for the meeting beautifully. A young quartet, “Breakthru”, tastefully led a prayer chorus and the Singing Company brought life and energy, complementing the mood of the meeting.

Nicola Redhead woke everyone up with her humor and an interesting use of Deputy Bandmaster Mark Sharman, coming back to the theme of the meeting as she pointed out the closeness of God to children of all ages. The Songsters continued the theme with their sensitive reminder that even the sparrow is in God’s care.

The main contribution from the band was Dean Goffin’s masterpiece The Light of the World. Bandmaster Lamplough introduced the Holman Hunt painting which inspired the music. The performance was deeply moving through the bandmaster’s impeccable interpretation.

The morning message, given by Bandmaster Lamplough, was very thought-provoking, especially to those who find themselves too busy to open the door of the heart. The final song, “I’ll go in the strength of the Lord”, sent the congregation on its way with vigor and confidence. As many sat digesting the meeting and its message, the band, under Deputy Bandmaster Sharman, brought tranquility and dignity with I Worship You.

Birmingham Citadel Band web site, original report by Alwyn Green