The [bclink id=”953″ target=”_blank”] (Bandmaster Graham Lamplough) had the privilege of playing once again at Birmingham’s magnificent Symphony Hall as part of the annual Christmas concert known as “Rejoice”. There were very few empty seats for either performance in the huge auditorium.
The concert started with a quintet playing the familiar melody of O Come, All Ye Faithful, dressed in warm overcoats and standing beneath a lamp post. With pre-recorded sounds of the “hustle and bustle” of Birmingham’s city center, this replicated the scene of Salvation Army carolling every Saturday in December for many years.
Principal cornet Gavin Lamplough developed this idea in a specially commissioned arrangement for Rejoice 2010, and from the initial tableau every participant was introduced. The first to join the quintet was the guest soloist, Songster Leader Darren Bartlett, before a lightly-scored band joined with the Singing Company. As the overture unfolded, the Songsters entered the stage and then the audience joined in, with the glorious sounds of several thousand people singing the final verses of the carol accompanied by the full and expansive sound of the Birmingham Citadel Band.
It was a great privilege for the band to accompany Darren Bartlett during the concert. The first piece on which they collaborated was Christmas Lullaby, attractively arranged by Marcus Venables.
The band’s major work for the event was a piece written for them nearly five years ago, which will be featured on the band’s next recording, due to be released early in 2011. Venite Adoremus Dominum (“O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord”), tells the story of the first Christmas. Composer Gavin Lamplough introduces the prophecy of Christ’s arrival through the tune “O Come, Immanuel” and then reminds the listener of the austerity of Roman rule. Then comes the good news of Christ’s coming to earth with a lively presentation of “On Christmas Night All Christians Sing” with changing time signatures and colorful percussion depicting the excitement of the event. This gives way to the familiar strains of “Away in a Manger” as the listener is taken to the manger scene. The piece comes to a climatic conclusion with “Joy to the World” and a triumphant statement of “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”.
In an unfamiliar formation because of staging restrictions, the band accompanied Darren Bartlett in a favorite carol, O Holy Night, using a colorful arrangement by David Clydesdale which kept both the soloist and the band busy with some great symphonic writing. An ensemble from the band then accompanied the Songsters as they presented Sing Gloria (Mark Hayes).
The band also presented The Wonder of Christmas (Peter Graham) and the old favorite The Carollers. They joined with the Songsters and the guest soloist in the finale, Andrew Poirer’s arrangement of Whan a Child Is Born.
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