The 20th of October is not a day in the year normally equated with brilliant blue sky and warm temperatures, but as the members of the South London Fellowship Band (Bandmaster Darrell Scholes) gathered at Hove Corps, the day made for a very pleasant journey. This was the first time that a visiting section had been to Hove for at least ten years, making it even more of a pleasure for the Fellowship Band to support the corps in a joint concert with Hove Community Choir (Leader Margaret Peacock).
The Fellowship Band was greeted by the corps officers, Majors Doug and Michelle Hayter. Instruments and uniforms were dropped by the hall and by the time members of the band came back from parking their cars everything had already been taken inside. Hove is an old-style hall, with downstairs seating up to a hundred and similar-sized balcony, with a myriad of anterooms on three different levels.
The band set up for a sound check and a rehearsal with Hove Community Choir for a joint item to be used during the concert. This was followed by an opportunity for fellowship in a buffet tea.
The program started with one of the most well-loved Salvation Army marches, Celebration (Leslie Condon). This was immediately followed by the beautiful arrangement by Leonard Ballantine, ’Mid All the Traffic, based on the American tune “Shenandoah”, leading into an opening prayer.
The corps officers welcomed the band, choir, and congregation, and then the band led the congregation in singing a recent, upbeat version of “Praise my soul, the King of Heaven”. The program then kicked off in earnest, with a favorite of the band, Call of the Gospel (Martin Cordner). The next item featured one of the band’s soloists, Maurice Horwood, who played the trombone solo Blessed Assurance (William Himes).
The Hove Community Choir is made up of local people who enjoy the benefits of meeting and singing together. Their repertoire for this concert was songs from stage and screen, under the leadership of Margaret Peacock, with Major Marian Parker as accompanist. Their first two songs were Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head and the Morecambe & Wise classic Bring Me Sunshine. Brian Hillyer, band librarian, certainly enjoyed this song, putting his hands behind his head just as Morecombe & Wise did at the end of their television shows. The joy of music and singing was evident.
The band’s second soloist of the evening, Craig Finch (flügelhorn), played Morricone’s Melody, a tune more commonly known as Gabriel’s Oboe, in a sensitive rendition. Continuing the theme of music from stage and screen, the band played Alone Yet Not Alone (Bruce Broughton), a staple of the band’s repertoire this year. The final item of the first half was Happy, a brass band arrangement of the Pharrell Williams song from the movie Despicable Me 2. Not the usual music from a band associated with the Salvation Army, but it seemed to receive the loudest applause – as it did when the band used it at William Booth Training College a few weeks earlier.
The second half started with a march, Hove 125, composed by Major Doug Hayter, who explained the reasoning behind the choice of melodies. The band’s third and final soloist, Adrian Horwood (euphonium), played the technically demanding Brillante (Peter Graham). This solo is based on “Rule Britannia” and, as always, Horwood gave a flawless performance.
It was the Community Choir’s turn next and the audience was treated to two songs from ABBA: Money, Money, Money and Super Trouper. The latter was most demanding and extremely well-sung. Mention was made that it was some 44 years prior (1974) when ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest down the road in Brighton Dome, launching their incredible international success.
The band then quieted the tone for the final part of the evening, playing How Sweet the Name (French) (Ronald Tremain, arr. Donald Osgood). This was for band member Roy Payne, who was in the audience following a serious illness. The arrangement is one of his favorites. This led to a Scripture reading and devotional thought from Bev Hudson. The final item in this section was In God’s Presence, a lovely arrangement by Andrew Blyth featuring the song “Bow the knee”.
The finale of the concert, where the band and choir joined together for You’ll Never Walk Alone, from the 1945 Rodgers & Hammerstein musical Carousel. This started with the the choir, audience, and band singing until the band added to the accompaniment for the rousing ending.
South London Fellowship Band web site, original report by Paul Newman