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

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