Birmingham Visits Bristol

The Birmingham Citadel Band (Bandmaster Gavin Lamplough) enjoyed a fabulous weekend on 6 – 7 October 2012 at the Bristol Easton Corps. The weekend included a Saturday evening festival, Sunday morning worship and a Sunday evening concert. The Saturday evening festival was webcast live, with viewers from Canada, USA and Sweden, among others.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Before a note was played one could feel that the large number or people in the audience were welcoming and open to a good night. The concert began with a lively opener by Paul Sharman entitled Amazed!. The band then moved into a more contemplative mood with Kenneth Downie’s Peace, an original composition intended to provoke a thoughtful atmosphere. This was enhanced, as were many of the evening’s items, with a well-prepared multimedia presentation, ably prepared and controlled by Malcolm Hayward.

The next item was a brass band classic, with the unique music of Wilfred Heaton featured in his ground-breaking arrangement Victory for Me.

It is no coincidence that the first half of the band’s programs contain a large percentage of contemplative and reflective music. This was evidenced on this occasion by the two solo items in this part of the concert. The first was Demelza (Hugh Nash) played by Neil Blessett (horn), who once again showed his mastery of slow melody.

Following the much lighter Lift Up Your Voice (Stephen Bulla), Mark Sharman (trombone) presented Somebody Prayed (van der Horden), once again creating a delightful atmosphere. The composer, a Canadian, was able to watch and listen to this performance via a live web link.

The thought-provoking music continued as the band played Morley Calvert’s For Our Transgressions. The audience’s reception of this music indicated that they had bought into what the composer and the musicians were trying to portray. Vitae Aeternum (Paul Lovatt-Cooper) was the final item of the first half. This is a large work which builds to a grand finale following a delightfully melodic middle section.

Moses, Get Down! (Barrie Gott), the congregational song “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” and Shalom (Silfverberg) started the second half in lively fashion. This continued with the euphonium solo Harlequin (Philip Sparke) played by David Taylor. During his time at the Birmingham Conservatoire, David won several performance awards, and those who experienced his performance on this occasion were left in no doubt as to why.

At this point, Edward Dixon was slated to bring the tuba solo The Bare Necessities (arr. Baker). Unfortunately, band discipline seemed to disintegrate with various members attempting to get in on the act, resulting in Dixon leaving his post and having to be persuaded to return. This light-hearted display was enjoyed by all. Following this, the band needed to “get their breath” and presented William Himes’ delightful fusion of old and new in Soli Deo Gloria as a peaceful interlude.

The final program item of the evening was a true brass band classic – Eric Ball’s The Kingdom Triumphant – which received a tremendous ovation from the audience. Again, the multimedia presentation made sure that the composer’s portrayal of the Nativity and the Second Coming was clearly articulated and helped in the band’s mission to spread the good news of the Gospel.

Recently, the band has adopted The Liberator (George Marshall) as its signature march and this brought the evening to a rousing conclusion.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Having been well looked-after by their billets, the members of the Birmingham Citadel Band returned to Bristol Easton for the 10:30 am service. The band set the tone of the meeting with the lovely arrangement From Earth’s Confusion (Trevor Davis). Band Sergeant Ian Kershaw then began a time of prayer by introduction the equation E + R = O, where E (events out of our control) plus R (our response to those events) produces O (a negative or positive outcome). The challenge to respond positively, even in difficult times, fit into the overall theme of the meeting – “One life to live; O may I live for Thee”.

It is always a pleasure during special weekends to listen to contributions from the “home” sections. Following a children’s item led by Bandsman Graham Andrews, the congregation was then blessed by the contribution of the Bristol Easton Singing Company.

Before the spoken message was given, the band offered Kenneth Downie’s beautiful arrangement of In the Love of Jsus to lead into this time of reflection. Bandmaster Lamplough then spoke on the subject of “One life to live”, encouraging those present not to be concerned with living longer or striving to give the appearance of longer life, but to lead lives of meaning – to make a difference – to live “for Thee”. The band concluded this part of the meeting with the middle section of Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s Fire in the Blood. This features two emotional melodies, “Lord, You Know That We Love You” and “I Love You, Lord”, sensitively played by soloists Nicola Redhead (cornet) and David Taylor (euphonium) respectively, testifying that our love for God makes living our lives for Him our heart’s one desire.

The meeting concluded with the congregational song “I dare to be different” as a declaration that we will live our lives differently, and live them only for Christ. Finally the band played, in way of benediction, Andrew Blyth’s wonderful arrangement of This is my Father’s world to close a well-received meeting, with comments afterward suggesting that the message of the band was clearly heard and understood by those who gathered there.

After a quick cup of tea and some shared fellowship with the members of Bristol Easton Corps, the band marched a short distance to a local housing estate where an open-air meeting was held. The band played a mix of secular and sacred music, as Band Sergeant Ian Kershaw led those listening through the short concert. Again, the contribution of the band was well-received, with some listeners promising to return to the hall for the Band’s evening service and other connections made with the local residents.

Following further fantastic hospitality from their billets, the band returned to the Bristol Easton Hall to the sounds of Bristol Easton Young People’s Band, who impressed all with their contributions before and during the evening service.

The band kicked off the program, which was led by Assistant Band Sergeant Rob O’Connor, with the triumphant sounds of Ein Feste Burg (Andrew Mackereth) contrasting with the next item, Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness (Howard Davies).

The band is fortunate to have a number of excellent soloists and another, International Staff Band member Andrew Dickinson (horn), was next, performing The Piper of Dundee (Kenneth Downie). The band continued with the mambo-inspired Peter Graham arrangement Ask! before another well-received contribution from the Bristol Easton Songsters.

Next, the band played Kenneth Downie’s moving arrangement Joy of Loving Hearts and the audience enjoyed the final soloists of the weekend, as Norman Bearcroft’s classic euphonium duet Timepiece was ably-performed by David Taylor and Keith Watts. The evening’s major work was Fire in the Blood (Paul Lovatt-Cooper). Having performed the middle section of this piece in the morning meeting, the band performed this popular item in its entirety, with the band’s ever-present multimedia and this exciting piece of music coming together to provide a fitting finale to the weekend.

Birmingham Citadel Band web site, original reports by David Richardson and Marc Richardson
Bristol Easton Corps web site