Black Dyke and The Yorkshire Youth Brass Band

10-Apr-2008

The Ghandi Hall, Headingley Campus, Leeds Metropolitan University
Conductors: Dr Nicholas Childs and Elgar Howarth
Soloist: Mohammed Assani
Sunday 6th April


Black DykeThe inaugural Black Dyke Arts Festival reached its conclusion on Sunday afternoon much to the enjoyment of another packed audience who gathered to hear a diverse programme performed by the hosts and their guests from the Yorkshire Youth Brass Band. 

Peter Graham's ‘Academic Fanfare' opened the concert, acknowledging the link with Leeds Metropolitan University, leading into the first substantial work of the afternoon, Philip Harper’s, ‘The Legend of Sangeet’ featuring the wonderful sitar soloist, Mohammed Assani.

Speaking prior to the performance, the composer gave the audience an understanding of how both how the work came about and is structured.

Spellbound

Commissioned by Black Dyke in 2002, this ‘cross-cultural’ three movement work tells the story of how music transpired in India, with the soloist appearing in the final section and transporting the spellbound audience to a much warmer climate.

The first section is quite barbaric and severe, reflecting a time in Indian mythology when evil spirits influenced by lust and greed swarmed all over the Earth. To appease the people, a gift was given and the second section focuses on the bearer of the gift, ‘Sangeet’. It is in the final section that the Sitar (the most recognisable of all Indian musical instruments) appears, bringing that beautiful sound and intricacy to the conclusion of the piece.

To close the first half, the band delivered a stunning performance of Philip Wilby’s ‘Paganini Variations’.  This was a performance of the highest order, full blooded and robust with immense security in ensemble and solo lines of style and variety

The soloists were on top form: Paul Duffy on soprano and David Thornton on euphonium and mention too of Alex Kerwin, the band’s new flugel horn who was on excellent form.

Dreamcatchers

Yorkshire Youth BandAttention then turned to the Yorkshire Youth Band, resplendent in new red t-shirts.  Led by Elgar Howarth, they performed Rimmer’s iconic march, ‘Slaidburn’ taken at a very steady tempo, before Dr Childs returned to conduct ‘Dreamcatchers’.

‘Dreamcatchers’ was written by Paul Lovatt-Cooper for the National Children’s Band of Great Britain, in the style of a test piece complete with challenging solo’s for a variety of instruments to be performed at the front of the stage, much like ‘Revelation’ or ‘Vienna Nights’.

With jazz and funk influences throughout, the title refers to inspiring every player to ‘catch their dreams’ by performing to the highest standard possible.  This is not a short work (15-17 minutes approximately) but it became engaging listening as the players simply relished the opportunity of performing a major work in front of a large audience. They came through it all with flying colours.

To close an enjoyable concert, more music from the pen of Elgar Howarth. 

Fireworks

’Fireworks’ was written for the British Open in 1975 and as the composer alluded too in his informative introduction, it caused a bit of discussion with grievances coming from some conductors, who felt it a step too far. 

It was considered too contemporary for its time (in fact my own father for the first time in years didn’t attend the Open at Belle Vue as he believed it wouldn’t appeal to his taste buds – he mellowed in later years though).

Three decades on, ‘Fireworks’ would still test bands just as ‘Festival Music’ and ‘James Cook’ have done recently?  The display of musical virtuosity required to bring it off affirms that certainty, made more so under the direction of the composer, which brought an inspiring performance with a majestic final section that practically sent shivers down the back of the spine.

With acknowledgements to all concerned, Howarth’s ‘Kings Hunting Jig’ was delivered in a slick and efficient manner to conclude a afternoon of excellent musical entertainment.

Watch the concert

You can watch the concert by visiting the following link: www.blackdykeband.co.uk/3/

Malcolm Wood


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