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Lydbrook Band and RSVP Bhangra Band

Proms in the Park
Speech House Hotel
Coleford
Conductor: Ian Holmes
Saturday 30th June

In common with perhaps the vast majority of the estimated 1,000 plus audience at the premiere of Liz Lane’s 'Surtaal Suite No. 1', in Gloucestershire, I had little experience of the unique Punjabi flavours of Bhangra music - let alone any idea of how it would sound mixed with the traditional tonality of a British brass band.

Everyone was therefore immediately immersed in RSVP Bhangra Band's opening solo performance.  Combining exhilarating rhythms, virtuoso vocals and infectious dance movements, the contagious sounds grabbed the audience and never let go, enticing them to dance and clap in front of the stage like aficionados at the Glastonbury Festival. 

Intoxicating

Composer Liz Lane had revealed that the Bhangra players do not read music, so for this premiere she worked with pre-existing RSVP tracks. However, the ultimate aim is to create a fully collaborative ‘Surtaal sound’.  On this evidence it will be completely intoxicating.

The only future problem for such a joint venture may be the staging of the 10 minute composition - the restricted platform space on this occasion just losing some of the obvious visual impact that enhances the performance experience, whilst the subtle colour palettes certainly need ‘acoustic space’ to be fully appreciated. 

What you do get though is a vivid mix of tonality and texture, rhythmic complexities and deeply resonant musicality. The singing in particular was a delight, backed by super ensemble playing from the band under Ian Holmes. 

Speaking to some players afterwards they said it was amazing to be right in the middle of this music - and you could hear why.

What you do get though is a vivid mix of tonality and texture, rhythmic complexities and deeply resonant musicality. The singing in particular was a delight, backed by super ensemble playing from the band under Ian Holmes.  

Resounding success

‘Surtaal Suite No. 2’ will be performed later in the year featuring Brighouse & Rastrick - and it shouldn’t be missed, whilst as the work expands to become a 45-minute ‘Surtaal Symphony’, (the initial support coming in part from the Norman Jones Trust Fund) the addition of associated community and educational workshops are planned with opportunities for even more participants to become involved in performances.

The event as a whole was also resounding success – over 7 hours of eclectic music making, splendidly led (and organised) by Lydbrook Band - all rounded off with a rousing ‘Last Night of the Proms’ finale. 

Fresh and genuinely innovative, this was music and an event fully deserving of all its critical accolades.

Nigel Morgan

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