The Belfast Temple Band (Bandmaster Jack Burch) celebrated its 126th anniversary on 8 October 2016 in fine form with special guests the Grosvenor Chorale (Conductor Edward J. Craig). The compère was one of the band’s own, Wilfred Pyper.
The band opened with the march Manchester USA which contains the hymn tune “Manchester” as well as excerpts from the well-known “Match of the Day” theme, perhaps a nod to the Northern Ireland international match against San Marino just a few miles away from the concert, kicking off at the same time.
The Grosvenor Chorale was excellent all evening, from the very first item, the songster standard Every Time I Feel the Spirit, followed by superb a capella singing of Ave Verum and Abide with Me. Wilfred Pyper was highly entertaining, as usual, from providing excerpts from stories of working in the Grand Opera House in Belfast to embarassing his daughter-in-law in the band.
Belfast Temple Corps Officer Major Graham Wood gave a brief, yet moving, presentation on the corps’ new partner project, the Salvation Army Children’s Home in Mombasa, Kenya. He explained that the project, launched over the summer, had already raised £1,500. He also announced that the corps would initially be supporting the construction of a new roof for the Children’s Home at a cost of £5,000. Funds raised from this evening’s concert were announced as £1,200 – bringing the project over halfway to the first target. Major Wood thanked everyone for their continued generosity and support with this project.
Trombonist David Neill played an arrangement of Blessed Assurance following which the band played Fill the World with Glory – a fantastic showbiz and razzmatazz-filled piece, the title of which fits in well with the corps’ partner project.
The week following the anniversary concert, Grosvenor Chorale was to participate in the Choir of the Year competition in Birmingham. They took the opportunity to sing one of the songs they were to use in that competition, I Am the Great Sun. This was followed by the jazz item Lullaby of Birdland. Keeping with the jazz and big band style, the band’s own “Michael Bublé”, Mark Murray, took the stage to play the trumpet solo Cry Me a River, accompanied by the band. Following this item everyone got the chance to stretch their legs and sing “O Happy Day” as a congregational song. The near-capacity hall created a sound that nearly raised the roof. This was immediately followed by Call the Gospel written by Martin Cordner. Cordner’s father-in-law was a guest with the band on this evening and it was good to play the music with a nod to him. Bringing the music closer to home, Grosvenor Chorale sang an entertaining Irish set which included I’ll Tell Me Ma!
Deputy Bandmaster Lawrence Neill led the band skillfully in the march Hillcrest (Bruce Broughton). The Band Sergeant Stephen Wray then brought in a quiet time, reflecting on the past 126 years of the band and taking some spiritual advice from Galatians 5:22.
The concert continued with the comedy item Short People from Grosvenor Chorale and then Music of the Night from “The Phantom of the Opera” by Belfast Temple Band. The band sergeant expressed thanks, following which the band ended the evening in style with Chassidic Dance, gradually increasing in speed until the finish where all of the band’s instruments were lifted into the air. The guest chorale sang out the audience with the Irish Blessing, The Lord Bless You and Keep You.
Source: Belfast Temple Band web site, submitted by Clark Mills