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RNCM Band

Conductors: David Thornton & Peter Woffenden
Regent Hall
Friday 20th October

The RNCM Band made a return visit to Regent Hall thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor who contributed to their travel costs.

They opened with 'Music from the Elizabethan Court', arranged by Elgar Howarth from keyboard originals. Two field drums set the tone before the band entered; producing a sturdy sound with little vibrato, and with fluid runs flowing throughout the ensemble. 

The second movement was slowly sustained; still punctuated by decorative runs neatly tucked away, and some effective rises and falls from the trombones. The final section had antiphonal exchanges between the cornets and trombones, with vivid dynamic contrasts.

London premiere

Daniel Lim hails from Singapore and wrote 'Red Tide' whilst studying at the RNCM. Depicting a phenomenon caused by algae in the sea, it was receiving its London premiere, conducted by Peter Woffenden. 

Effects employed included tone clusters and slow-moving trombone glissandi, often in contrary motion. Melodic fragments in the middle of the band emerged from the quiet, largely muted texture, before a powerful crescendo, with ostinato figures in the bass and percussion. It may not have been everyone's cup of tea, but it was good to see new music being featured.

Masterful tuba playing

More contemporary music followed as Harry Cunningham presented 'Salt of the Earth' - given a most persuasive performance.

From the opening multi-faceted cadenza, complete with multiphonics, he demonstrated complete control of the instrument, continuing with the nicely laid-back middle movement, which set euphonium, trombone and flugel against the soloist, before jazz and Latin influences came to the fore in the finale.

A transcription of Paul Mealor's choral work 'Ubi Caritas' featured Liam Orr on flugel, its slow-moving lines displaying an almost ethereal beauty in a setting using the cornets only sparingly.

A transcription of Paul Mealor's choral work 'Ubi Caritas' featured Liam Orr on flugel, its slow-moving lines displaying an almost ethereal beauty in a setting using the cornets only sparingly.

Ringing sop

The programme ended with George Lloyd's 'Diversions on a Bass Theme'; the band producing some solid playing with effective dynamics. The cornet solo was smooth and seamless, and the tremolo section came over well. 

Of particular note was the contribution of the trombone section, Dominic Longhurst's ringing soprano, and the incisive timpani playing of Paula O'Malley.

Peter Bale



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James Chamberlain

BMus (Hons) PGCE
Conductor, Teacher