Burns Night at Botley

Built a year before Queen Victoria became the monarch, the All Saints Church in Botley was the venue for the Solent Fellowship Band (Bandmaster John Bird) in their first outing of 2013. The concert was in aid of the lighting and heating fund of the Church.

In view of the date, 25 January, the birthday of the famed Scottish poet Robert Burns, the band prefaced its program with two Scottish items, Annie Laurie and Will ye no go back again. Once again, an eclectic program, constructed with the particular audience in mind, struck the right chords in a packed church on a night that, outside, started with sub-zero temperature. It ended warmer, but with torrential rain beating down as the audience made its way home.

Items such as On Parade (Eilav Herikstad), Goldcrest (James B. Anderson), Praise Party! (Steven Ponsford), Leonard Ballantine’s arrangement of the American folk song “Shenandoah” associated with the words ’Mid All the Traffic, Procession to Covenant (William Himes) and Wilfred Heaton’s moving meditation Just As I Am gave variety and substance to the program.

There were, as usual, several soloists from the band for the evening. Martyn Thomas (cornet) played Silver Threads (Herbert Twitchin). Norman Audoire’s An Irish Melody was offered by Callam Carter (tenor horn). Steve Jones (trombone) presented Share My Yoke (Joy Webb, arr. Ivor Bosanko). The vocal solo Saviour, Teach Me Day by Day was sung by Adrian Griffiths with David Samuels providing the piano accompaniment. The cornet trio The Veterans (Ray Steadman-Allen) was ably rendered by Aubrey Ford, David Morris and Simon Easton.

The literature of classical music was represented by two items, Elgar’s Nimrod and the finale of the William Tell Overture (Rossini). The Elgar was, as always, followed by a period of quiet appreciation, while the Rossini was greeted with cheers and prolonged applause.

The band was joined for the evening by the All Saints Church Choir, conducted (from the piano) by Musical Director David Burgess. The 16-member choir sang two sets of songs. The first set featured The Lord is My Shepherd (Howard Goodall) and John Rutter’s extended arrangement of Amazing Grace. Between these items was a presentation of Linda Spevacek’s The Angel’s Lullaby, a gem from among this American composer’s 1,000 compositions and arrangements for choir.

The Fellowship Band always encourages the audience to participate in its performances. In this case, those assembled joined in heartily, singing “Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer”, “How Great Thou Art” and “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory”.

Derek Smith and Trevor Dawson read Scripture and prayed. Choirmaster Burgess introduced the band and thanked them for a concert of wonderful music. Great brass playing throughout, excellent contributions from the Choir, and the congregational hymn singing made for a superb evening of music. The Fellowship Band’s contribution earned extensive applause at the end of the concert from a clearly delighted audience.

Solent Fellowship Band web site, original report by Derek Dunn.