The life and achievements of one of the great political figures of the 20th century were celebrated by the community of the Welsh valleys town of Tredegar - the centre piece of which was this outdoor concert in the ornate Victorian bandstand in the grounds of a former Ironmaster’s home.
It was an appropriate setting: The grand house occupying the local council chamber that saw Bevan take his first steps to eventually become a towering figure in the reforming 1945 Labour Government of Clement Attlee, whilst also being the home to Samuel Homfrey, who in 1849 opened the town’s new ironworks to a musical accompaniment provided by a fledgling Tredegar Band.
Speeches and poems
Rousing speeches and children’s poems provided pre-concert entertainment, before the band gave the audience, sat under the 200 year old trees to protect from the warm sun, plenty of easy listening music to enjoy.
Bold marches, solo features from Ian Roberts, Dewi Griffiths, Lowenna Taylor, Martyn Patterson, Danny Winder and Ryan Richards, film music, something Welsh and a little bit of musical heritage all played their part - the latter provided by the first performance by the band in 70 years of JA Greenwood’s ‘Cross of Diamonds’.
The concert overture was played at the same venue in 1947- just months before Bevan had begun, in his words, to ‘Tredegarise the world’ with the introduction of the NHS - inspired by the town’s own Medical Welfare Society.
Unearthed in the dusty recesses of its extensive library, it also provided a fitting link to that ground-breaking post War past, with the well-known conductor and adjudicator Brian Buckley sat in the audience to enjoy the timely musical revival almost 70 years to the day on which he played it as a youthful principal cornet under the baton of his father.
The piece may not have made the same worldwide impression in the intervening years as Bevan’s great gift to the nation, but it still held its own in celebrated company. Old Nye would have been proud.