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Keele University
Conductor: Michael Fowles
Wednesday 1st November

The modern surroundings of Keele University Chapel was the chosen venue for this unique collaboration between the University’s Science Department and Foden’s Band. 

The scene-setter came with the flamboyant sounds of ‘Enter the Galaxies’ from the pen of Paul Lovatt-Cooper, which was a tasty introduction for the evening’s central work - Holst’s ‘Planets’ suite.

Celestial introduction

With each celestial body introduced in easy non-scientific fashion by Dr John Taylor, a Keele University lecturer in Astrophysics (and with the aid of photographs taken by the Hubble Telescope) the music came to life thanks to the fine direction of Michael Fowles which placed an emphasis on the intelligent control of tempo and dynamics. 

Clarity and precision was balanced by warm lyricism and a touch of mysticism (it was good to hear the addition of a harp, celeste and choral accompaniment) before the cantering jolliness of the familiar ending in what was a welcome and very well played reprise of Stephen Roberts’ outstanding arrangement.

The playing on ‘Venus - the Bringer of Peace' was a particular highlight - delicate, refined and magical.

Extra dimension

The introductions from Dr Taylor also brought an extra dimension to the music and made you wonder just how expertly Holst had been in his descriptive writing – especially with the dark menace of ‘Mars’. The playing on ‘Venus - the Bringer of Peace' was a particular highlight - delicate, refined and magical.

The evening concluded with the closing section of Philip Sparke’s ‘Music of the Spheres’ - a fitting piece of blockbuster writing for brass band played with a boldness that brought a terrific event to a thrilling close. 

Dave Lea

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