Trombone ace Brett Baker returned to his roots to star in a dazzling reunion concert for Lydbrook Band's 90th anniversary (September 21).
The Royal Forest of Dean champions invited Brett and three other famous former players - Stewart Baglin, Steve Barnsley and Rhydian Griffiths as guest soloists, while euphonium legend Lyndon Baglin, a Lydbrook beginner in 1949, was content to play third man down for the whole concert.
Fans at the Forest College theatre were treated to a superb feast of music, nostalgia and pride in achievements which the founding group of local coal miners could not have imagined.
Main organiser Robert Morgan, who has been secretary since 1979 and has an MBE for services to banding, was well pleased that it all came together so well, and chairman Trevor Moss said it was remarkable that a little village like Lydbrook could keep a band going for 90 years and latterly form a training band to bring on new talent.
25 years of Baker
Twenty-five years ago Brett Baker joined Lydbrook and hasn't he come on well?
Principal trombonist for Black Dyke, one of the leading brass performers and educators and a keen promoter of new music for the instrument, he sailed effortlessly through a breathtaking Keith Wilkinson arrangement of ‘Fantastic Polka’ and the velvety smooth Nelson Riddle classic ‘Unforgettable’.
Soprano player Steve Barnsley, ex-Cory and Tredegar, was persuaded to come out of retirement to play the solo ‘On with the Motley’.
He also played with Lydbrook for last year's regional championships and the recording of their new 90th anniversary CD, released on the evening of the concert.
Stewart Baglin, currently principal tuba with Foden’s who started his playing career with Lydbrook 35 years ago, showed his prowess with Bernard Reader's challenging ‘Basso Continuo’.
The latest generation of soloists was well represented by percussionist Rhydian Griffiths, who started his solo spot with ‘A Bit on the Side’ (of the side drum) which helped him graduate from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama with first class honours.
It was written by him under the pseudonym Rodrigo Griterra. This was followed by an evocative marimba piece, ‘A Cricket Sang and Set the Sun’, to make a very calming interlude.
The current Lydbrook ensemble under principal conductor Ian Holmes and led by principal cornet Phil Storer, were also well on form for a full-on programme, including Paul Lovatt-Cooper's ‘Vitae Aeternum’, the old classic ‘Labour and Love’, ‘Gypsy Festival’ and ‘Procession to the Minster’.
When the soloists and other former players joined in for the lighter second half there were 52 on stage.
The first three items, ‘Bandology’, ‘Light Cavalry’ and ‘A Swinging Safari’, were conducted by old friend Brian Howard, who achieved great success with Lydbrook in the 1990s.
The compere was Nigel Morgan, a Lydbrook player for over 20 years and now conductor of Tewkesbury Town.
There was a reunion lunch the following day and a concert tour to Barcelona at the end of October, to finish the celebrations, will include the famous Le Seu Cathedral.