The picturesque Bird in Hand Winery was the splendid location for this special concert, where nestled between barrels, the Marion City Band, under MD Veronica Boulton, opened with ‘Cu Allaidh’ by Jarrett Wheatley.
In the hands of Fletcher Mitchell, we were treated to a hauntingly beautiful euphonium solo, echoed by lingering dissonances from the ensemble as the bruisingly fast passages morphed into folk melodies and finally the well-known hymn tune.
By this time, people sitting around tables sipping wine had stopped talking and even a little baby in a highchair watched on transfixed. The cadenza at the end gave us a chance to hear the colours of the euphonium in the hands of an expert.
It was followed by the premiere of ‘Stomp’ by Brendan Collins; a work requiring very fast fingers and tight ensemble. And stomping there was from the percussion and lower brass; with shrill replies from the cornets, creating a sense of excitement that was palpable.
The eagerly awaited feature work was Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’. Originally written for piano, the most well known version was orchestrated by Ravel, whilst this band rendition, arranged by Elgar Howarth, featured brass instruments imitating effects more normally heard from strings, creating really unusual and interesting textures.
This performance was made unique by the inclusion of paintings by Ingrid Mangan; one painting reflecting each of the 10 movements.
This performance was made unique by the inclusion of paintings by Ingrid Mangan; one painting reflecting each of the 10 movements. These were all rather disparate in style; reflecting the range of moods in the music, whilst audience also got a chance to contribute to a painting representing the ‘Promenade’, the central theme that connects the movements.
The band and MD did themselves proud. While there were some niggling intonation issues at times, there were many lovely moments, including good ensemble thanks to the clear conducting, which gave the music a sense of urgency, wonderful dynamic contrasts and lovely solo passages from the soprano cornet in particular.
‘The Great Gate of Kiev’ summoned a sound that filled the barn. As the piece drew to a close, heavy giant footsteps signalled the end of this great work and a very fine concert.
Prof Tanya Monro