The Birmingham Citadel Band (Bandmaster Gavin Lamplough) had the privilege of playing, once again, at Birmingham’s magnificent Symphony Hall on 9 December 2011 as a part of the annual “Rejoice” Christmas concert.
The concert began with a specially-commissioned arrangement by Bandmaster Lamplough entitled Morning Stars. From the mysterious opening, which makes reference to the “March of the Magi” and the three melodies associated with the carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, a voice-over set the scene as “glow in the dark“ helium balloons in the shape of stars floated into the hall. After this initial tableau each participant was introduced to the audience as the musicians grew in number.
The guests soloists for the day were the husband-and-wife duo Kerry Sampson and Nick Lester. Sampson is the deputy leader of the International Staff Songsters and Lester sings with the Glyndebourne Opera. As the overture unfolded, the Birmingham Citadel Songsters entered the stage before the congregation joined in the glorious sound of several thousand people singing the final verse of the carol with the full and expansive sound of the Birmingham Citadel Band.
The band’s major work for the event was the much-loved tone poem The Kingdom Triumphant (Eric Ball).From the opening crescendo drum roll and fanfare, this is powerful music that stirs the soul. The opening fanfare introducing “the blast of the trumpet” is a reminder of the Last Judgment, but the band focused on the First Advent rather than the Second for this Christmas performance. Projected images and text encouraged the listeners to consider the Old Testament prophecies of the birth of a Saviour:
“For unto us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
The piece then moves into a time of reflection on the First Advent with the poignant prayer “O Come, O come Immanuel” before returning to the fanfare motif describing the Second Advent.
In an unfamiliar formation because of staging restrictions, the band also played a swing arrangement of Santa Claus Is Coming to Town by Robin Dewhurst. Other items from the band included The Shining Star (Peter Graham) and the old favorite The Carollers.
Birmingham Citadel Band web site