Best of British in Birmingham and Gainsborough

On 4 February 2017, the Birmingham Citadel Band (Bandmaster Gavin Lamplough) presented “The Best of British”, a proms-style program. The program was repeated during the band’s visit to Gainsborough a month later. The first half of the program featured items from the various countries in the United Kingdom and the second half featured traditional Last Night of the Proms fare.

4 February 2017

The evening commenced with a scintillating arrangement of Don’t Stop Me Now (Freddie Mercury, arr. Philip Harper) followed by the more subdued Penny Lane (Lennon & McCartney, arr. Gavin R. Lamplough), both representing England. After some introductions, the compère for the evening, Melvyn Owen, brought the audience back to England as the band presented James Bond Collection (Monty Norman & Jojhn Barry, arr. Goff Richards). The vocal soloist for the evening, Stephanie Lamplough, was featured in the next item, Handel’s Let the Bright Seraphim, accompanied by Bandmaster Lamplough on cornet and Patricia Owen on piano.

Let the Bright Seraphim - Stephanie Lamplough (vocal), Gavin Lamplough (cornet), and Patricia Owen (piano)

Let the Bright Seraphim - Stephanie Lamplough (vocal), Gavin Lamplough (cornet), and Patricia Owen (piano)

Wales was represented by the trombone section, featured in It’s Not Unusual (Mills & Reed, arr. P. Lawrence), a song made famous by Welsh singing star Tom Jones. Next up was Scotland, represented by Roy Newsome’s arrangement of Annie Laurie, a tune associated in the Salvation Army with the words “The Christ of Calvary”.

Ireland was represented by the next two items, the first an exquisite a capella rendition of O Danny Boy by Stephanie Lamplough. The second was Ray Farr’s arrangement of Bill Whelan’s music from Riverdance. The first half concluded with The Best of British, arranged by Bandmaster Lamplough, with young people from the corps portraying people and events from the various countries represented.

The second half, with the band now in Proms attire, kicked off with Knightsbridge March (Eric Coates). Frank Wright’s transcription of English Folk Song Suite (Ralph Vaughan Williams) has been a popular test piece for brass bands over the years, with its three movements, “Seventeen Come Sunday”, “My Bonny Boy”, and “Folk Songs from Somerset”.

Under Two Flags

Under Two Flags

As is expected in a Proms evening, audience participation was prominent, especially in Fantasia on British Sea Songs (Henry Wood), “Land of Hope and Glory” from Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 (Edward Elgar), and Jerusalem (C> Hubert Parry). Stephanie Lamplough led the favorite Rule Britannia, with its rousing chorus, bringing rapturous applause.

The evening ended with the march Under Two Flags (Bramwell Coles), and the entry of the Union and Salvation Army flags.

4 March 2017

At midday on Saturday, 4 March 2017, the band boarded a coach and set off to Gainsborough. After a quick change of clothes upon arrival, the band formed up and marched to the local shopping area, with the march being exactly the length of Emblem of the Army. The march back was a little longer – three marches longer – but it gave the band a chance to show that the Army was in town.

After some time for food and relaxation, the band performed its 2017 Proms program, “The Best of British” followed by traditional Last Night of the Proms music. Vocal soloist Hazel Launn from Bedford Congress Hall complemented the program with well-chosen and beautifully sung solos. Launn also joined with the band for Rule Britannia.

Birmingham Citadel Band web site, original report by David H. J. Mynott, photos by Graham Daff
Birmingham Citadel corps web site for report on Gainsborough events