The welcome return of Stavanger Band on a brief UK tour provided the opportunity for a musical collaboration with the newly crowned European Development Section Champion Wardle Academy Youth, alongside the brilliant Junior Blast ensemble and the local heavyweights of Fairey.
Fitting everyone in for such a shindig was always going to be tricky, but with a health and safety blind eye turned to enable all those who came along to squeeze onto the benches in the Academy’s canteen area (school dinners must be great here) it made for a slightly surreal evening of super entertainment.
It was kicked off by the tyros of Wardle Junior Blast who, as has become their trademark, played from memory under Lee Rigg.
The sheer pride bursting through was a joy and provided an inspiring segue into the European Champion’s set - one that reprised their Montreux triumph in a demonstration of focused excellence.
Alan Fernie’s ‘Intrada Festiva’ paved the way for ‘Argos’, the short Stephen Hodel European test-piece work that was once again mastered with detail, precision and pulsating energy.
The fearless 14 year old trombonist Adam Warburton then stepped up to wow the audience.
The ‘Best Instrumentalist’ award winner in Montreux is a star performer in the making - delivering the final movement of the Rimsky-Korsakov ‘Trombone Concerto’ with mature virtuosity. The ‘Final Hymn’ from Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird’ rounded things off with exultant warmth.
The ‘Best Instrumentalist’ award winner in Montreux is a star performer in the making - delivering the final movement of the Rimsky-Korsakov ‘Trombone Concerto’ with mature virtuosity.
The adult bands had hard acts to follow, but responded with sets of controlled polish - Stavanger opening with the funky ‘Puls’ by Sven Henrik Giske.
Paul McGhee’s Brexit inspired euph solo, ‘Tweets, They Heard Bleets’ was a darkly humoured treat, followed by the equally prescient ‘Chump Change’.
Karianne Flatene Nilssen was a relaxed lead in ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ before birthday greetings were sung for solo horn Arfon Owen in a native tongue (Norwegian rather than Welsh we presumed) prior to a pulsating account of Etienne Crausaz’s ‘Sinfonietta’.
Fairey was not to be outdone with a freewheeling ‘Le Corsaire’, ‘Bill Bailey Won’t You Please Come Home’ and a trio of excellent solo spots. Lucy Cutt was a luscious flugel lead with ‘Follow the Flames’, Adam Bokaris on euph gave a sparkling ‘Facilita’ and Adam Warburton grabbed the spotlight for a second time with a languid ‘Stardust’ on a night he won’t forget.
There were presentations aplenty before a super evening was rounded off with a massed band rendition of ‘Anthem’ from the musical ‘Chess’.