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Foden's Band

Conductor: Michael Fowles
Villa Marina
Isle of Man
Saturday 15th July

‘Simply world class’ was one of the many complimentary descriptions given by audience members following Foden’s concert at the island’s Villa Marina. 

They were not wrong either; after being blown away by a band on thrilling form under MD Michael Fowles in helping to raise funds for the Manx Youth Band. The standing ovation was thoroughly deserved.

Setting the appeal

A cleverly chosen programme set the appeal from the off, with D’Adonna’s ‘Grand Fanfare’ opening proceedings. Stylish detours and stop-offs followed, with works by Lionel Ritchie, Shostakovich, Faure and Bernstein all expertly delivered before the first half concluded with an emotion packed rendition of Eric Ball’s, ’The Kingdom Triumphant’.

In between came expertly delivered solos by the ever-impressive principal cornet Mark Wilkinson (‘Charivari’) and solo baritone Sarah Lenton on the evocative ‘Film’ by Andy Scott.

Stylish detours and stop-offs followed, with works by Lionel Ritchie, Shostakovich, Faure and Bernstein all expertly delivered before the first half concluded with an emotion packed rendition of Eric Ball’s, ’The Kingdom Triumphant’.

Vibrant showmanship

The vibrant showmanship of the band was at its best in an arrangement of Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona’s ‘Malaguena’ to open the second half, with a lovely change in style and tempo to follow with flugel soloist Melanie Whyle’s rendition of ‘The Seal Lullaby’. 

With Jonathan Bates’ superb on ‘Children of Sanchez’ and the ever versatile trombonist John Barber languidly beautiful on ‘Someone Like You’ also soaring the heights, it was left to solo euphonium Gary Curtin to wow the audience with his virtuosic rendition of ‘Eire Time’; weaving together three traditional Irish folk tunes in a true celebration of all things Irish.

Reflect

With the evening reaching its climax with 'Farewell to Arms', it was easy to reflect on 24 hours in which a number of outstanding musicians (led by Mike Fowles, Jonathan Bates, Gary Curtin, Darren Lea, Luke Pallister, Ryan O'Grady and Shaun Farrington) gave up their time to lead workshops and provide tuition to island players of all ages.

If events such as these can’t inspire and introduce audiences to a new musical language, then nothing ever will.

James Davis



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Sarah Groarke-Booth

BA (Hons) MA
Conductor, Adjudicator, Compere, Actor