Review of 2017 Gala concert

On Sunday 7th May 2017 England’s number 1 brass band, the Brighouse & Rastrick Band, made a welcome return visit to St Andrew’s Hall at Norwich to perform the East Anglian Brass Band Association’s 79th Annual Gala Concert. This concert was performed in memory of Donald Palmer, a long standing Trustee of the Association who had given over 40 years service.

Included in the audience were a significant number of young brass musicians between the ages of 9 and 17 from Norwich and the surrounding areas. With support from Norwich Town Close Estate Charity and the Norfolk Music Hub, the East Anglian Brass Band Association had been able to offer free tickets for the concert to these young people to give them the opportunity to hear a world class brass band.

Under the band’s Musical Director David Thornton the band commenced their programme with some music with a Spanish theme performing Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Capriccio Espagnol’ arranged for brass band by Keith Wilkinson. This was followed by the overture ‘La Gazza Ladra’ by Rossini. The first solo of the evening was then given by the band’s principal tenor horn Sheona White who gave a beautiful rendition of ‘Ballade’ by John Golland.

Next the band turned to the music of Georges Bizet playing the ‘Carmen Fantasy’.

At this point in the concert the Chairman of the East Anglian Brass Band Association, Ian Clarke, addressed the audience telling them about the late Donald Palmer and his hard work over many years for the Association. Donald had requested that the ‘Standard of St George’ was played by band members from the Association at his funeral and it seemed fitting that this piece also be played at the gala concert by the Brighouse & Rastrick Band in his memory.     

The band then played ‘In Perfect Peace’ by Kenneth Downie.

To finish off the first half of the concert the Brighouse & Rastrick Band chose a piece by another Russian composer, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, ‘March Slav’.  

The band commenced the second half of their concert with a piece of original brass band music composed by Peter Graham, ‘Pentium’. This was followed by a trombone solo ‘Dance Sequence’ by Gareth Wood, introduced and performed by Ryan Watkins.

The band then played a collection of three pieces of music given the title the B & R Swing-along, ‘Strike Up The Band’, ‘April in Paris’ featuring flugel soloist Mike Eccles and ‘Sing Sing Sing’. 

In complete contrast the band then played music from the film Saving Private Ryan, ‘Hymn to the Fallen’ by the prolific composer of film music John Williams.   

For their finale the band chose to play two pieces of music that were linked. First of all they played perhaps the most recognised hymn tune there is ‘Abide with Me’ by William Monk arranged by Karl Jenkins. This was followed by a piece by the New Zealand composer Todd Smith called ‘Vita Destructa’ which gave a powerful image of the effects of the earthquakes in New Zealand. It also included elements of the hymn tune ‘Abide with Me’. What an end to a fabulous concert which had the large audience wanting more. The audience were then treated to the ‘Floral Dance’.

Many thanks to David Thornton and the Brighouse & Rastrick Band for a memorable concert.   [nbsp

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