Patrons’ Concert is Huge Success

A NEW venue this year with us going to St Mary’s Church in Rawtenstall but it didn’t affect the attendance – another full house for our Thank You concert for patrons who have supported us over the year.
This year we were delighted to welcome guest soloist, violinist Tom Bangbala from the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra who was accompanied by his pianist wife Alison.

We now have over 200 patrons and this year your annual membership subs and donations have provided us with well over £3000. A really big thank you for that. As for the concert – well Hilda was there assiduously taking notes and here is the verdict.

This was a departure from the norm of brass band concerts and certainly, for me, a first! After the obligatory housekeeping announcements, the band started up with ‘When Thunder Calls’ – always an impressive opener, where the band walks on, section by section, to a drum beating. This lends itself to the acoustics presented in that venue. Next we had the band’s principal cornetist, James Turner, to play ‘Buster Strikes Back’. James has taken on this heavy mantle of leading the band in a great way, he is very talented and becoming a fine player with a beautiful cornet tone, a real credit to the band, his family and himself!

Next up were our our two euphonium players, Tom Kershaw and Ryan Bolton, to play ‘Softly As I Leave You’, an old Matt Monro favourite. This was made famous in the brass band world by the Childs brothers Bob and Nick, whose names are synonymous with musical excellence! Next, the band played ‘Ave Maria’, and that was very moving, for the reasons given in my last blog.

Now we have our excursion into the unknown for our band, a soloist on violin! Tom Bangbala is very well known in the orchestral world, and I’m going to leave it at that. He played music by Bach and Kreustler, hope that is spelt right? He was accompanied by his wife on piano, she also is an accomplished musician, a double blessing for us? Yes. The first half was then rounded off by the emotive ‘Flanders Fields’, a commission by our band to celebrate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. This piece has narrative and graphic visual accompaniment and is massively evocative!

The second half started with Steve Burgess and the Junior band, playing three short pieces, ‘Cat Came Back’, ‘Clementi Sonata’ and ‘Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho’. Steve B. is not one to hog the limelight, but what he has done with this band, and what he continues to do with this band is remarkable! So I did remark on it! The unseen benefits of his labour are a ready source of new talent to feed upwards into the senior band, and the opening up of places for those in the training band to move on up, a veritable conveyor belt of talent! Thanks Steve for all your hard work. Then came our guest soloist, this time with music from Bach and Manuel De Falla, respectively, ‘a Partita’ and then ‘Andalucía’. Tom is not only a great musician, but a staunch advocate of classical music, especially Bach’s, which he claims cannot be surpassed. No argument there, then. His son Joseph plays trombone in both senior and junior bands, so that speaks for itself, res ipsa loquitur. Tom’s final offering was the ‘Theme from Schindler’s List’, an allusion to WW2. This is a very haunting melody, and is such that some people, including me, wondered how it would meld with the brass band sound. As it happens, the brass accompaniment was very sympathetic to the strings of his violin, over 300 years old his instrument on the night, you don’t get many of those!

The band then played ‘Keep Smiling’ Through, a medley of second world wars tunes, and this had the audience tapping and clapping along to the beat. A word to describe the audience? Captivated, well, they were nearly all patrons so they would be yes? The encore was the ‘Hokey Cokey’, starting off with a few bars of Rossini’s ‘William Tell’, then doing a musical shape shift, with different sections of the band featured, again starting with the heavy end and working upwards to finish on the cornets and soprano. They loved it! This piece, though, is best played out in an arena of some sort, where the sections move one by one into the middle to perform. Who can ever forget those magnificent trombone shenanigans, glad-handing and high fiving on their part? What a performance! Again, a fabulous concert, with a lot of feedback from the audience. Hilda’s Highlights? I liked all the music, and in a venue like this, it came over very well. Again, long may it continue.

Hilda V Dawes

 

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Concert Review: Hearts and Voices

In a new departure we have engaged the services of a columnist who will be reporting on some of the concerts we are involved in. For professional reasons the identity of our columnist will be protected and will be referred to Hilda V Dawes. This is what Hilda thought of the Blackburn concert that was designed as a fund rais- er for Rossendale Hospice.

Charity Concert at Blackburn Cathedral February 13th 2015, with Sean Ruane, several school choirs from the Valley, and the 2nd Rossendale Scout Group Band.

After the obligatory house keeping announcements, the band started up with ‘When Thunder Calls’ – always an impressive opener, where the band walks on, section by section, to a drum beating, the heavy artillery first, with basses sat on the cornet rows. This builds up layer by layer into a massive finale, which really did fill the Cathedral. For this concert and this venue we had a beefed up bass section, and it really paid off!

Next we had Sean singing ‘You Are The Wind Beneath My Wings’, accompanied by the band, a subdued and measured performance that came over very well. Sean, now accompanied by his pianist, gave us ‘You Are My Heart’s Delight’ and then the serenade ‘The Student Prince (Overhead the Moon is Beaming)’. Ah, the memories, but nostalgia’s not what it used to be! Enter now the school choirs, with ‘Pompeii’ and ‘Rather Be’. There is always something magical about young children singing with all their hearts, and this is what we got from them, making us all that bit happier. The first half was rounded off by Sean singing an old catholic hymn, ‘Ave Maria’, specially arranged for the band in tribute to the late Paula Helm, wife of Graham our conductor for the night. Paula was a wonderful woman, a teacher, a friend and a towering supporter of the children in her school at Burnley, not to mention supporting our band.

The second half started with a real musical explosion in the form of ‘The Conquest of Paradise’, massive chords which state the intention to rouse, at first, then receding whilst a softer lilting melody on euphonium takes command. This piece again, builds slowly but strongly to a great climax, which has an almost menacing trombone theme, then coming suddenly to a full stop, reminiscent of ‘Mars’ from the Planet Suite by Holst. Sean then followed with an old Matt Monro favourite, ‘Softly as I Leave You’, accompanied by band, then two more songs accompanied by piano, ‘If I Loved You’, (South Pacific) and then ‘Girls Were Made to Love’ and ‘Kiss’. Now the choirs again, with Royals and the Lloyd Medley, followed by ‘Matchstalk Men’ with the band. Then the finale Sean, the choirs and the band altogether for the song ‘One Voice’, more memories again! But we were to have a final treat, an encore with Sean and the band, ‘Nessun Dorma’, and what a song, what a singer and what a performance to close with. All in all, a fabulous concert, with a lot of feed- back from the audience, lots of whom were grandparents listening to their grandchildren, a large contingent of players from valley brass bands there too! Highlights for me? I liked all the music, and in a venue like this, it needed to be given all the the performers had got, and that’s exactly what happened. I was especially pleased with how the bass end of the band are shaping up now, and I heard some promising sounds, and a few big pedal notes too.

Long may it continue. HVD

 

Hearts and Voices