The South London Fellowship Band (Musical Director Darrell Scholes) commenced its 23rd annual visit to Emmanuel United Reform Church, West Wickham on 17 March 2017 with My God and King, Paul Sharman’s prelude on the hymn tune “Luckington”, originally composed for the International Staff Band’s 120th anniversary celebration. This was one of several “first performances” for the Fellowship Band that evening.
The reflective second movement, “Thanksgiving” of the suite Splendour of Youth (Leslie Condon), featuring the chorus “Lord how I love you”, was followed by an opening prayer. Major George Whittingham, compère for the evening, then led the audience in the singing of “To God Be the Glory”, during which a collection was taken up for St. Christopher’s Hospice in Syndenham, raising £250.
Adrian Horwood and Simon Birkett “brought the house down” at last year’s concert with a brilliant euphonium duet. They did the same this year, playing Timepiece (Norman Bearcroft). Their outstanding technique and musicianship merited the lengthy applause.
The band’s guest for the evening was Lisa Davis, a Salvationist from Chatham and a former member of the International Staff Songsters. Her first song was the traditional “It was a lover and her lass”, followed by Ralph Vaughan Williams enchanting Silent Moon. Davis’ singing delighted and captivated the listeners, ably accompanied on piano by Carol Horwood.
Making his debut as a soloist with the Fellowship Band, Craig Finch chose the flügelhorn solo Concierto de Arajuez (Joaquín Rodrigo), music which was featured in the film “Brassed Off”. Finch’s playing of this popular piece was well-received.
Treasures from Tchaikovsky is a classic of Salvation Army band literature. This arrangement by Bramwell Coles consists of excerpts from the Russian composer’s greatest works. This was the band’s major contribution of the evening and was a fitting choice to conclude the first half of the program.
After a short interval, the second half began with Even Greater Things (Norman Bearcroft). This unpublished march features the chorus “Give us faith, O Lord, faith for greater things”. For her second set, Lisa Davis sang Wonderful Love (Leonard Ballantine) with cornet accompaniment by her husband, Jeremy. This was followed by They Could Not (Harris/Cloninger). The beauty and power of her voice were matched by the Christian message expressed by the song.
Lux Aurumque (Light and Gold) is a choral composition by American composer Eric Whitacre based on a Latin poem – “Light, warm and heavey as pure gold and the angels sing softly to the new-born baby”. The piece was arranged for brass band by Andrew Poirier and was another first performance for the Fellowship Band. Mysterious and awe-inspiring music, the performance was enhanced by explanatory screen projections prepared by Major Graham Kinsley.
This quiet period of the program continued with Lisa Davis singing Share My Yoke (Joy Webb) accompanied by the Fellowship Band, followed by words of reflection from Major Whittingham. The band then played the selection In Wonder Beholding (Leslie Condon). This much-loved composition depicts the awe and adoration of the Christian for God. This was some of the band’s best playing of the evening.
For almost 20 years, Major Whittingham conducted the Fellowship Band on their yearly visits to this church. He again led the band this evening in their penultimate item, Bravest of the Brave (Bramwell Coles). The evening concluded with the band singing A Choral Benediction (William Himes), conducted by Adrian Horwood.
This event is always very well attended and eagerly awaited. The enthusiasm and appreciation of this year’s listeners was no exception. The Fellowship Band looks forward to their 24th visit next year.
South London Fellowship Band web site, original report by John Moye