On Saturday, 3 March 2012, the Birmingham Citadel Band (Bandmaster Gavin Lamplough) made a relatively short 35-mile trip to Burton-on-Trent. A receptive audience gathered in the traditional Salvation Army hall with a real sense that they were about to enjoy a fabulous night.
After opening with Eine Feste Burg (Andrew Mackereth), the band presented Kenneth Downie’s beautiful music Peace. Unlike most Salvation Army repertoire, this music is not associated with any particular words but was used by the band to create an atmosphere which prepared the audience for the opening prayer and gave them an opportunity to rest in God’s presence.
The band showed good control in a reading of Wilfred Heaton’s Victory for Me before the first soloist of the night, Neil Blessett (tenor horn) displayed in rich tone in Demelza (Hugh Nash). The second soloist of the evening was Mark Sharman, who sensitively presented a new trombone solo, Somebody Prayed for Me. This piece, written for the principal trombone of the Canadian Staff Band, Craig Lewis, emphasizes the comforting thought that, even when things are so difficult that you don’t know what to pray for, someone is praying on your behalf. Many people commented during the interval about how helpful they had found this item.
The band ended the first half with two iconic pieces, the first quite old and the second quite new. Morley Calvert’s For Our Transgressions is an interpretation of the words from Isaiah, “He was wounded for our transgressions,” and the band’s performance of this wonderful music was controlled, intense and with a beautiful tone – a highlight of the evening. The final piece of the first half, Vitae Aeternum (Paul Lovatt-Cooper) has become a modern-day classic and the composer fully utilizes the strengths of a brass band: frenetic scales, strong lines, sensitive lyrical phrases and colorful scoring. This item was met with prolonged applause.
Deputy Bandmaster Mark Sharman took the baton for the opening item of the second half, Shalom (Erik Silfverberg). This energetic piece was followed by a congregational song which the audience sang heartily. Next, principal euphonium David Taylor presented Harlequin (Philip Sparke) with great aplomb. The applause following the final note reflected just how much the audience appreciated the musical “pyrotechnics” on show in this solo.
The next item was the final solo of the night, with Edward Dixon (tuba) presenting Leigh Baker’s lighthearted arrangement of the Disney song The Bare Necessities. The band did its best to out-do the soloist and the audience appreciated this fun item.
Frequent followers of the Birmingham Citadel Band will note that five new items were introduced to the repertoire in this concert, one of which was Barrie Gott’s rarely-played Moses, Get Down!, which is a rock arrangement of the well-known spiritual “Go Down, Moses”.
The final major work of the evening was Eric Ball’s timeless The Kingdom Triumphant. The band’s interpretation was fresh while still staying faithful to the intentions of the composer. It was a great end to a great night of music.
The full program is listed below:
- Eine Feste Burg (Andrew Mackereth)
- Peace (Kenneth Downie)
- Victory for Me! (Wilfred Heaton)
- Demelza (Hugh Nash), Neil Blessett, tenor horn
- Ask! (Peter Graham)
- Somebody Prayer for Me (Peter van der Horden), Mark Sharman, trombone
- For Our Transgressions (Morley Calvert)
- Vitae Aeternum (Paul Lovatt-Cooper)
- Shalom (Erik Silfverberg)
- Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, congregational song
- Harlequin (Philip Sparke), David Taylor, euphonium
- The Bare Necessities (arr. Leigh Baker), Edward Dixon, tuba
- Moses, Get Down! (Barrie Gott)
- Jesus Answers Prayer (Kenneth Downie)
- The Kingdom Triumphant (Eric Ball)
- The Liberator (George Marshall)
Birmingham Citadel Band web site