They say a week is a long time in politics: It’s also a long week in banding as Foden’s will testify after their inaugural Solo, Duet & Quartet competition was followed by a concert and a week of intense rehearsals ahead of the National Finals.
The penultimate outing of the week came when a cosmopolitan audience descended upon Regent Hall for this pre-contest concert, and despite the hectic schedule, they heard Foden’s under Allan Withington, on good form.
The atmosphere was a little muted following the news of the death of Dr Roy Newsome, but promoter Philip Biggs reminded everyone that five banding greats had passed away since this time last year.
As a result the North West Area champion delivered a concert set from their current repertoire by paying homage to them all in a way each of them would have surely approved – making high quality music.
Allan Withington made sure he had the audience on his side after his initial cheerful ‘good evening’ was met with an almost silent repost.
Having theatrically returned a second time to a much more favourable audience response, he led the band through confident renditions of ‘The Cossack’ and Weber’s ‘The Ruler of the Spirits’, the latter featuring some delightful soprano playing from Richard Poole.
Helen Williams was in fine form on flugel in the presence of her parents, as she delivered the delightful ‘Marianne’ (which happens to be her mother’s name) whilst Lesley Howie gave a highly accomplished rendition of Peter Graham’s ‘Episode’.
In between came Howard Snell’s arrangement of ‘Moto Perpetuo’ before the first half closed with a superb rendition of excerpts from Elgar’s ‘Enigma Variations’, dedicated in memory of Dr Newsome.
Allan Withington recalled his early days at Salford (revealing he wasn’t overly keen to take up the baton but was persuaded to do so by Dr Newsome) before leading the band in a riveting performance that included some beautifully refined cornet playing from Mark Wilkinson in ‘Nimrod’, and a pulsating, finale.
Peter Meechan’s ‘Innuendo’ featured Nick Jackson and Iain Raisbeck on fine form to open the second half, before Mark Wilkinson and Glyn Williams took centre stage for the world premiere of ‘Hymn for Peace’ – a beautifully composed work by Robin Dewhurst – a calm, reflective homage to the people of Japan, where the conductor is due to visit in the near future.
Another cleverly arranged Dewhurst piece came with ‘Hunting Wabbits’ featuring some stylish trombone playing from John Barber, before Mark Landon made light work of Mendelssohn’s ‘Spinning Song’ prior to a tribute to Dr Goff Richards with his enjoyable, ‘Armenian Fire Dance’.
Foden’s closed with music from the film ‘Stardust’, and having received a rapturous ovation, the band returned to pay tribute to Maurice Murphy MBE, James Watson, Major Peter Parkes, Dr’s Goff Richards and Roy Newsome in the most appropriate manner, with two verses of ‘St Clement’ – ‘The Day Thou Gavest’.
It rounded off an excellent night, and as the band settled down for further rehearsal of the test piece, everyone was left to reflect on the loss of five great banding greats.