Barnardo's Brass


Enfield Citadel Band
Conductor: Jonathan Corry
Soloists: Richard Marshall, David Thornton
Queens Theatre, Hornchurch
Sunday 15th November

EnfieldIan McKay founded Barnardo’s Brass in 2002, having participated in rehearsals in a church on the Barnardo’s site in Barkingside. 

Since then, various bands and soloists have presented a series of programmes that have raised a considerable amount of money to support the work of the organisation.

Collaborative effort

Following on from a concert in Bedford the week before, featuring Glyn Williams, the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch, Essex, was the venue for a concert presented by Enfield Citadel Band together with two of Black Dyke’s corner men, Richard Marshall and David Thornton, hotfoot from their band’s appearance at The Sage in Gateshead the previous day. 

The items chosen for the programme represented a collaborative effort between Ian’s suggestions and those of Jonathan Corry, with most of the solo contributions being well-established favourites, which seemed to go down very well with the audience.

Contrasting openers

The band opened proceedings with William Himes spirited march “Rolling Along”, with its references to the Detroit motor industry – penned before its current difficulties! 

They produced a clean, open sound, making much of the dynamic contrasts, with some fine whispered playing from soprano and upper cornets. They followed this with the Derek Bourgeois “Serenade”, written for a wedding, despite its unusual meter. Under Jonathan‘s direction the band kept the music flowing along nicely, and the cheeky ending drew smiles from several in the audience.

Introducing the soloists

The compère, Ted Heath, then took over – personable enough, although with the exception of one mildly amusing story, he was simply reading out links prepared by someone else which added little to the programme. Richard Marshall was the soloist in “Charivari” (arr John Iveson), displaying his customary skill and flair, and the slight loss of concentration at one point merely served to prove that he is human after all! 

There were one or two moments of uncertainty in the accompaniment, but the interplay between the soloist and Paul Baker on euphonium was effective.

With “There will be God” (Joy Webb arr Richard Phillips) the band were perhaps in more familiar territory, and the breadth of sound in the introduction evoked memories of the Royal Albert Hall recording with Bill Davidson of the Joystrings. 

David Thornton’s reading was full of warmth, with a beautifully smooth, sustained solo line, and the final top F ringing out strongly, coming as a natural culmination to what had gone before rather than a coda tagged on just for show.

Enfield in swing mode

The band then showed their versatility in “Cute” (Neil Hefti arr Sparke), featuring Simon Jenkins on drum kit, and catching the style effectively. The tuba section especially, boosted by the return of Gary Ambrose, produced a particularly light touch in the running bass lines.

Theme and variations

More delicate playing was called for as they accompanied Richard Marshall in “Softly awakes my heart” from “Samson and Delilah” (Saint-Saens arr Langford). On the whole they supported the soloist well, although the balance in the opening bars between the muted cornets and horns was a little uneven, and the tricky descending runs were rather unsteady. 

Richard, however, was in his element, taking the main melody at a daringly steady tempo, with long, seamless phrases. David Thornton also adopted a steady tempo for the theme in “Grandfather’s Clock” (arr Doughty), but he soon made for lost time as the variations got faster and faster, together with some effective multiphonics and the occasional excursion into the stratosphere!

The first half closed with Peter Graham’s “Shine as the light”, showcasing all the sections of the band, but with some particularly sensitive contributions from Ralph Brill and Paul Baker on cornet and euphonium respectively.

Impressive trombones

Opening the second half, “Let’s face the music and dance” (Irving Berlin arr Goff Richards) may have been an unusual choice for a band such as Enfield, but it was one which had been requested by the organisers. 

They produced a slick and convincing performance, with excellent work by Chris Ford on tuned percussion and the trombone section, confidently led on this occasion by Ben Horton in the absence of Andrew Justice, who was on duty with the International Staff Band at a Salvation Army event in Bristol.

A fresh look at an old favourite

David Thornton’s final selection was Stanley Boddington’s arrangement of “Endearing Young Charms”, but given a unique twist by the addition of various elements, including a wide-ranging glissando within the first few bars, and demonstrating his supreme control right down into the pedal register. 

The embellishments, however, never intruded on the music itself, which was always given plenty of space and allowed to retain its proper shape.

A moment of reflection

With the concert falling close to Armistice Day it has been customary to observe a minute’s silence, and this was prefaced by Sir Dean Goffin’s “Light of the World”. 

This brought out the best playing of the afternoon from the band, particularly in the lower dynamics, with the opening statement of “Aurelia” being beautifully controlled, and contrasting effectively with the more aggressive sections.

Percy Code classic

At the conclusion of the minute’s silence, Richard Marshall returned to the stage for a stunning rendition of Percy Code’s “Zelda”. Once again, the felicitous personal touches – including lip trills and glissandi – never seemed out of place, with the phrasing being carefully observed and sympathetic accompaniment from the band. The one-word comment from a member of the audience sitting near us just seemed to sum it all up – “Wonderful!”

Generous patron

A feature of the Barnardo’s Brass concerts has been the holding of a bucket collection as the audience leaves the hall, and this year Ian McKay was able to announce that someone had offered to match the total amount collected, thus boosting the funds considerably.

It seemed rather strange to have an overture so near the end of the programme, but “The Overture to the Magic Flute” (Mozart arr Michael Kenyon) didn’t seem too out of place, with an interpretation full of subtlety and poise. 

In total contrast, the published programme ended with another outing for Ray Farr’s upbeat version of “Fugue in D minor” (J S Bach). A second hearing seemed to reveal more positives in this piece, with some bravura playing from the horns in particular with their arpeggios cutting through the texture.

Enfield then closed the concert with their traditional presentation of the march “Red Shield”, sending the audience home with their feet tapping. A fine concert had raised plenty of money for a good cause, with two soloists on top form.

Peter Bale