The Birmingham Citadel Band (Bandmaster Graham Lamplough) presented their Pre-Tour Festival in the Corps Hall on 26 March 2011 to a packed congregation. The festival was in preparation of the band’s tour of Canada at Easter.
The night began with the band being very much part of the audience as they arranged themselves around the hall to play Martin Cordner’s Fanfare and Flourishes. On the more familiar setting of the platform, they continued with a quiet, prayerful atmosphere with The Lord Is Gracious (Darren Bartlett).
Bandmaster Lamplough introduced the evening and the special guests, Lt.-Colonels Anthony and Gill Cotterill, followed by an emotional introduction for Bandmaster Andrew Blyth from Salvation Army Music Ministries, who was charged with taking the band on the Canadian tour. Blyth conducted the rest of the first half, which included superb solos from Gavin Lamplough who played Song of Exultation and deputy bandmaster Mark Sharman with This I Know. Bandmaster Lamplough returned to lead the band in El Es El Señor before the band sang their rendition of Eric Ball’s Were You There?.
Lt.-Col. Anthony Cotterill led a time of reflection based around Leslie Condon’s Easter Glory, with thoughts between the movements which related to each day of that first Easter weekend. The congregation was then invited to join in the brilliant song of testimony In Christ Alone.
The second half began with the band once more out in the congregation, as a quartet stood around the hall and played the beginning of Just a Closer Walk, during which the band and the audience made their way back to their seats, with the full band in place to play the second part of the piece.
Bandmaster Blyth conducted his arrangement of the song Shine Down. Before the band played, he recounted how the arrangement was requested by the International Staff Band to feature a new xylophone they had purchased, only for him to discover that the percussion section intended to substitute a glockenspiel for the xylophone!.
The next soloist was David Taylor who expertly played the euphonium solo Brilliante (Peter Graham). Neil Blessett then brought a more thoughtful, reflective tone with the lovely melody Demelza (Hugh Nash).
Crimson Tide demonstrated the band’s ability to bring secular music into a Christian context with great effect. Psalm of Thanks, which was written for Birmingham Citadel Band in 2008 by former Citadel bandsman Paul Sharman, followed before Bandmaster Lamplough returned to lead the band in the rousing Dance of the Comedians (Smetana).
The Irish Blessing has become a firm fixture in many programs as a closing benediction, and once again it was used to great effect here, with the band standing among the appreciative audience.
Birmingham Citadel Band web site, original report by Mark Pearson