81st Annual Thanksgiving Concert

The Flint Citadel Band (Bandmaster Matthew Rowland) held its 81st annual Thanksgiving Concert on Saturday, 23 November 2013 at Whiting Auditorium. Three members of the New York Staff Band, Christopher Ward (soprano cornet), Timothy Ward (tenor horn) and Simon Morton (E♭ bass), were the special guests. Also attending were Lt.-Colonels Norman and Diane Marshall, former divisional commanders for the Eastern Michigan Division. Lt.-Col. Norman Marshall served as the compère for the evening.

The concert opened with Temple 125 (Kevin Larsson). This bright and up-tempo Broadway-themed march set the stage for an exciting concert with good technical playing and and dynamic contrast. After a welcome and prayer from Colonel Dennis Strissel, the band changed gears and brought the devotional Guardian of My Soul (Darren Shaw). This meditative work links the composer’s own song, “I worship you” with the tune “Aurelia”, associated in this case with the words “O Jesus I have promised”.

The first soloist of the night was Christopher Ward, who demonstrated beautiful playing with Flowerdale, one of seven movements from Philip Sparke’s suite, Hymn of the Highlands. Next was a Christmas-themed arrangement, written in a big-band style, Comfort and Joy (Martyn Thomas).

The next soloist was Timothy Ward, who played the familiar solo Demelza (Hugh Nash). He demonstrated fine playing, accompanied by pianist Casey Baker. The band followed with the march from The Nutcracker (Tchaikovsky).

The band sergeant delivered a devotional reminding everyone of the band’s focus and purpose, with the band chorus following with Make Me a Blessing. The band closed the first half of the concert with Marche Militaire Française (Camille Saint-Saëns).

The band started the second half with Norman Bearcroft’s majestic arrangement of Joy to the World. This was followed by Soli Deo Gloria (William Himes), which combines Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring with the worship song Jesus, Name Above All Names. This piece showed the band’s aptitude for balance and featured sensitive and controlled playing.

The Ward brothers then returned to the stage for a soprano/tenor horn duet, Pie Jesu, showing how their performances complemented each other and demonstrating masterful skill. The final soloist for the evening, Simon Morton, was then introduced. This was a special night for Morton, as he was a member of the Flint Citadel Band for ten years. Accompanied by the band, Morton presented a swing arrangement of Frosty the Snowman on E♭ bass. Morton is also an emerging composer, and all three of the guest soloists joined for his arrangement of Vittorio Monti’s Czardas.

Following courtesies and the addition of three chairs to the band formation as the guests joined the band, Bandmaster Rowland conducted the final item of the evening, Supremacy by Dean Jones. This major work is constructed along the same lines as the composer’s popular Glorifico Aeternum, using the tunes “Moscow” (Come, Thou almighty King), “Above All” and “Pembroke” (My Lord who reigns supreme). This piece challenged the band, but they provided a good performance and received a standing ovation at the conclusion.

The night ended in a traditional fashion, with Dave Bell directing the band chorus in the choral benediction, The Lord Bless You.

Review posted on the TroyFred Productions web site