Concert at Sutton Coldfield URC

Sutton Coldfield United Reformed Church was packed to the rafters on Saturday, 19 March 2011, for the visit of Kettering Citadel Band (Bandmaster Richard Phillips) as it supported The Leprosy Mission, and in particular the Cabo Delgado province in the north of Mozambique – one of the areas with the highest prevalence of leprosy in Africa. An appreciative audience welcomed the band to the event, which was the brainchild of area coordinator Allister du Plessis, who has championed the work of The Leprosy Mission for some years now, having seen firsthand the good work in which it is involved.

The band commenced the festival with Bandmaster Phillips’ Opening Ceremony, a majestic setting that was composed in 2010 for the retirement of Major John Mott as bandmaster of the Household Troops Band. With the cornet and trombone sections standing around the remainder of the band, the antiphonal effect enhanced the presentation and provided an apt introduction to the occasion.

No Salvation Army band festival is complete without a congregational song, and the audience had the opportunity to lift their voices with that most rousing of hymns, “Praise My Soul”.

With the recent election of Linda Bond as General of the Salvation Army, it was somewhat appropriate that Salute to the General (Robert Redhead) should be featured on the program. This was followed by a stunning rendition by the band’s euphonium soloist, Deputy Bandmaster Gary Rose, of Variations (Andrew Lloyd Webber, arr. Peter Graham). Rose is a consistent performer with the band and always delivers to the highest of standards, this time being no exception.

While there were no volunteers from either the band or the audience to convert the church into a dance hall, the next item, Dance Like David (Andrew Mackereth), highlighted the band’s enthusiastic percussion section, in particular Joe Kemp, who had returned for this occasion having left the band last summer to pursue a career as a professional musician. It is true to say that his cadenza brought the house down!

David Byles is a relatively new name to banding, but his Mission of the Millennium has proved to be a highly popular addition to the band’s repertoire. Based on Gabriel’s Oboe (Ennio Morricone) from the film “The Mission”, it is expertly juxtaposed with the hymn tune “Southport”, which was presented with great gusto by the band’s exuberant trombone section.

The close the first half, the band featured what has to be regarded one of the most popular brass band works of the last fifteen years, Shine As the Light (Peter Graham). This item is so popular that it has become the template for many other works in recent Salvation Army band literature. The band presented a detailed account of the work, which ends with the majestic hymn “The Light Has Come”, a powerful message in a statement that exemplifies the real purpose of the band’s ministry.

After a short interval, Martin Cordner’s festival march South Shields Celebration got the second half started before the band blazed into Bandmaster Phillips’ New York Profile. This attractive piece, incorporating a number of well-known show tunes, has proved to be popular with audiences.

Next up was the band’s second soloist of the evening, Andrew Wainwright, with a presentation of Jean Baptiste Arban’s Variations on “The Carnival of Venice”, performed on baritone. This was followed by the band’s vocal soloist, Terry Wright, who sang the moving song There Will Be God (Joy Webb). Wright’s performance,aided by the powerful words of the song, provided a blessing to the audience once again.

The final programmed item of the evening was Riverdance, which found principal cornet Gary Fountain in particularly fine form for the notorious cornet solo opening. As the music built, the band went with it, providing a dramatic end to the festival.

As has become tradition, the band sent the audience off with their feet tapping to Ray Ogg’s march Rousseau. This brought to a close a highly enjoyable evening, supporting a most worthwhile cause.

Kettering Citadel Band web site, original report by Andrew Wainwright