For the 70th time, [bclink id=”962″ target=”_blank”] presented a Pre-Contest Festival before the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain. This year’s concert was held at St. Pancras Church. The guest soloist was tenor horn virtuoso Owen Farr. The band was conducted by Iain Parkhouse of Croydon Citadel, who graciously stepped in after the recent departure of former bandmaster Jonathan Corry for a new appointment in the United States.
During the concert recognition was made of retired Bandmaster James Williams, who has attended all 70 of the pre-contest festivals in some capacity. The program was ably compèred by Brian Turner CBE.
The concert opened with a world premiere of a work by Tom Davoren, Living Power, followed by Soli Deo Gloria (William Himes). After a prayer and introductions, the band continued with the festival march The Proclaimers (Kevin Norbury).
Owen Farr then joined the band for his first solo of the evening, Napoli (Bellstedt, arr. Owen Farr). The band followed this up with William Gordon’s arrangement of excerts from Tchaikovsky’s The Little Russian and then Lux Aurumque (Eric Whitacre, arr. A. Poirier). Farr returned for another feature, Autumn Leaves (arr. Bill Geldard), before the band brought the first half to a close with one of Leslie Condon’s many well-known works, The Present Age.
The second half began with Illuminate (Andrew Wainwright), followed by another solo from Farr, his own arrangement of the finales from Haydn’s Cello Concerto. It will be noted that several items presented by Farr during the evening are his own arrangements, as he has been very active in expanding the solo literature for tenor horn. The band offered Alleluia, Amen! (Brian Hogg) before Farr returned for his final two items, beginning with You Love Me (Paul Sharman).
The name of Jean-Baptiste Arban is known to virtually every brass player in the world. One of the first virtuosos of the cornet à pistons, his method book, originally published in 1864, is still one of the most widely used in brass instruction. In addition to exercises and instruction, the book also contains several solos, of which the most famous is The Carnival of Venice. Owen Farr has arranged this solo for tenor horn and band, and it was his final presentation on this evening.
Rollowing a Bible reading and devotional thought, a feature of most Salvation Army concerts, the band finished the evening with Dedication (Kenneth Downie) and then Peter Graham’s sinfonietta, The Dawning.
[bclink id=”962″ target=”_blank”] web site, original report by Garry Ambrose, photos by Stuart Garman