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Foden's Band with Matt Ford

Memories of Christmas
Conductor: Michael Fowles
Clonter Opera Theatre
Saturday 16th December

Those attending this concert who had perhaps already listened to the Brass Band World magazine’s December ‘CD of the Month’ came to Congleton in the heart of Cheshire with knowing smiles already on their faces. 

And those that hadn’t, certainly left with them, as the intimate setting of Clonter Opera Theatre proved an ideal venue for this brass and voice combination that royally entertained them. 

The standing ovation at the end was such a well deserved response.

Classy stage presence

Matt Ford is regarded as one of the UKs finest big band singers; a classy stage presence blessed with a supple voice and stylish inflections.  His long-standing friendship with Foden's trombonist John Barber has also opened up new musical pathways for both to explore - the result of which was a short Christmas Tour that has been a huge hit.

The collaboration (with John providing the imaginative arrangements) ensured that the singer’s voice was never submerged in the brass accompaniment (sensitively led by Michael Fowles), whilst Ford himself ensured that it was he who drove the musical narrative from start to finish. 

Lovely detour

No less than 17 of the items flowed seamlessly together, with John taking on the triple role as band player, soloist (with a lovely detour ‘In the Blue Midwinter’) and pianist and Ford, the master of ceremonies and spotlight crooner.

No less than 17 items flowed seamlessly together, with John taking on the triple role as band player, soloist (with a lovely detour ‘In the Blue Midwinter’) and pianist and Ford, the master of ceremonies and spotlight crooner.

The genre classics of the festive season were delivered with a polished sensitivity from the upbeat to the suave, the reflective to the downright thumping.  The soloist and band played off each other perfectly - the wit interspersing the music to keep the audience engaged and enthralled.  

Doggy bag

When people forgo the delights of a well stocked picnic hamper to sit back and listen instead of munch, then you know something well worthwhile is catching their imagination.  The leftovers at the end of the night would have filled many a ‘doggy-bag’.

The festive season may now be another year away, but if you get the chance make sure you book your ticket early not to miss them in 2018. 

Malcolm Wood

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