Band Weekend in Birmingham

The weekend of 4 – 5 September 2010 was a busy and important time for the Birmingham Citadel Band (Bandmaster Graham Lamplough). The weekend included special services for Band Sunday and a pre-contest performance at Symphony Hall on Saturday morning.

The 158th British Open Brass Band Championship was held at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, on 4 September 2010. In what has become an annual event, the Birmingham Citadel Band took the stage at 9:00 a.m. to present a program to preface this contest, one of the most prestigious on the brass band contesting calendar.

As is customary, the audience gradually increased as the program unfolded. This year, the event was a particularly daunting experience for the band, as not only were they playing after a month without rehearsals, but also the contest weekend had been moved a week earlier than in the past. Despite the limited rehearsal time, the band acquitted itself well and it was obvious from the applause that the audience was appreciative of the music.

The program featured music from the band’s previous season and included pieces such as Kerygma, Power of the Cross, Stars of the Morning and I Will Follow Him. Solos were performed by Gavin Lamplough, who played the cornet solo Tucker, and David Taylor, who played the euphonium solo The Better World.

The significance of this occasion for the Birmingham Citadel Band cannot be overestimated. Many Salvationists, ex-Salvationists and non-Salvationists had gathered around to listen and many positive comments we made not only about the music, but also about the effectiveness of the band’s witness.

Traditionally, the Sunday after contest day is designated “Band Sunday” at Birmingham Citadel. The Sunday morning worship was led by the band with the theme of “Communication”, led by the band’s pastoral leaders, Ian Kershaw and Robert O’Connor. The band played Stars of the Morning (Kenneth Downie) as an introit to the meeting. During the service, the band played Ivor Bosanko’s arrangement of His Provision.

Many international visitors were present at the morning service. Friends from Canada, Sweden and Australia were present, as well as Salvationists and others from all parts of the United Kingdom who had stayed over after the concert. The band was particularly pleased to great the former bandmaster of the Melbourne Staff Band, Colin Woods.

In the afternoon, the band led an open-air service in Birmingham city-centre. As usual, hundreds of people stopped to listen, and the band had one special visitor – a “monster” who was helping promote a well-known television provider in the high street. The bandmaster was treated to a welcoming hug from this “alien from outer space!” After the service, the band, songsters and corps members marched back to the Citadel.

The evening service was a meeting which celebrated the life of the Birmingham Citadel Band’s former bandmaster, Bram Williams, who sadly passed away earlier this year. Family members and friends, as well as members of Birmingham Citadel, shared in the celebration and many anecdotes and memories were recounted.

The band featured music from Bram’s era, including the march Spirit of Joy, the euphonium solo My Story and Song (played by Keith Watts), the selection To God Be the Glory and the march The Red Shield.

The evening was an affectionate tribute to a man who left a significant legacy to the band’s history. A full account of the life of Bram Williams can be found on the Birmingham Citadel Band web site.

Birmingham Citadel Band web site