Birmingham Visit to Coventry City

Birmingham Citadel Band (Bandmaster Graham Lamplough) visited Coventry City Corps on 20 March 2010. This was a “return festival”, Coventry City Band having visited Birmingham several weeks before, further cementing the fellowship between the two corps. Many people from Coventry, Birmingham and beyond were present and the evening was further enhanced by the participation of Coventry City Songters.

For Birmingham Citadel Band, this was the first major festival of the season and the program featured several new pieces which had been added to the repertoire. These included Fanfare and Flourishes (Martin Cordner), Hallelujah Parade (Kevin Norbury) and Kerygma (Steven Ponsford). Despite having to negotiate some rather unique acoustics, the band gave confident performances of all three of these items and it is probable that they will be featured on future programs.

In contrast to these contemporary works, more traditional music was also featured. Herbert Rive’s finely-crafted march Spirit of Joy was heartily received, in stark contrast to the reverent silence which was evident after the last chord of Ray Steadman-Allen’s transcription of the elegiac melody The Last Spring (Edvard Grieg). Judging by remarks heard before the festival, after audience members knew that Songs of the Morning (Eric Ball), the inclusion of this brass band classic was a popular choice and its performance was met with enthusiastic applause.

The featured soloists of the band were in particularly good form. Gavin Lamplough’s performance of the cornet solo Tucker (Erik Leidzén) and David Taylor’s rendition of the euphonium solo The Better World (Norman Bearcroft) thrilled the audience, which greeted both soloists with prolonged applause. The warm and rich tenor horn tone of Neil Blessett was evident as he performed Somewhere Over the Rainbow (arr. Goff Richards).

As well as Blessett’s solo, other more secular music was included. The band has realized that much of this kind of music can be used in an effective way to present the Christian message in a more accessible medium. The Crimson Tide, original music by Hans Zimmer, is an example and the powerful multimedia presentation accompanying it fully enhanced the music. Visual images were featured throughout the program, expertly handled by Malcolm Hayward, and another example was when the trombone section presented I Will Follow Him, from the film “Sister Act”.

The evening featured music for all tastes, from the Western hoe-down rhythms of Cordner’s Round-Up to the quiet words from Scripture by Band Sergeant Ian Kershaw, then hearing Dean Jones’ lovely arrangement of Written in Red. It was evident that Birmingham Citadel Band had not only brought their music for entertainment, but, more importantly, had delivered a strong spiritual message which it is hoped will have blessed and encouraged the listeners.

Birmingham Citadel Band web site, original report by Bandmaster Graham Lamplough