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Guards Brass Ensemble

Regent Hall
Friday 13th October

Guards Brass is made up of the cream of the brass players in the Household Division - on this occasion appearing as a quintet under the leadership of Ralph Brill, who shared compere duties with tuba player Ian Shepherd.

Venice to Arabia

WO2 Ralph Brill, Sgt Dan Evans, CSgt Nick Stones, Sgt Andrew Mercer and Cpl Ian Shepherd, opened with Gabrieli's 'Canzona per Sonare No 4'; the antiphonal writing coming across effectively, despite sitting in standard quintet formation, whilst 'Entry of the Queen of Sheba' saw some neat dove-tailing of parts.

Purcell's three-movement 'Trumpet Sonata' followed; two bright sections framing a slow movement with surprisingly advanced harmony, before the Eb trumpet was featured in Bach's 'Et Exultavit Spiritus Meus in Deo Salutari Meo'.

Holst and Arutunian

In Denis Wick's arrangement of the 'Scherzo from The Moorside Suite', individual lines emerged effectively from the ensemble and there was some particularly powerful playing from Ian Shepherd on tuba. Arutunian's 'Armenian Scenes' offered a contrast between the predominantly reflective 'Morning Song' and the carousing of the 'Drinking Song'.

The first half closed with Ewald's 'Quintet No 3', with its unison opening for trumpet and trombone and playful scherzo interlude. The central slow movement gradually grew in intensity, with repeated triplet figures, before the finale gave each instrument in turn their moment in the spotlight.

The second half consisted of lighter repertoire, beginning with 'Another Openin'', before extracts from 'West Side Story' featured some fine trombone playing from Andrew Mercer in 'Maria' and Ralph Brill on flugel in 'Tonight'.

Lush harmonies 

Ian Shepherd's arrangement of 'Moon River' employed some lush harmonies to support Dan Evans' solo, whilst 'Tango Por Una Cabezza' had a lovely Spanish feel, underpinned by a solid bass line and an effective double octave feature for piccolo trumpet and horn.

Nick Stones' horn was also to the fore in Weill's sultry 'September Song', and the group's versatility was seen when the tuba took on the opening (violin) cadenza on 'Jealousy', leading to some bravura playing from the whole ensemble.

Peter Bale



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Alan Fernie

DRSAM, Dip.NCOS
Arranger, composer, adjudicator, conductor