The free weekly Saturday lunchtime concerts at S. Mary’s Slough are now well into their 22nd season!
Organist and Choirmaster Malcolm Stowell and his music team host a free 35 minute concert every Saturday from 12 noon, ranging from organ and piano recitals, to choirs, vocalists, wind soloists and ensembles.
May 5th saw euphonium artist Charley Brighton (fresh from his solo trip to Virginia) celebrate his birthday in style, duetting with his wife Sue on baritone and an ex-Hanwellian bandsman, Martin Harvey.
After an impromptu chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ from the audience, led by Malcolm, it was the mighty Norman & Beard organ that was featured as the accompanying instrument in the first item, Bozza’s 'Hommage à Bach', three contrasting movements originally written for trombone and piano.
In this performance, an old-style Imperial Euphonium featured as the solo instrument, beautifully presented in its period ‘frosted’ silver-plate.
Charley was then joined by Martin Harvey. They had last played together when Hanwell were on stage at the 1979 National Finals, conducted by Barbara Stone.
Charley left shortly afterwards to join the Sun-Life Stanshawe Band and Martin (then principal trombone) took up a professional music career. For this concert, Martin adapted two of Bach’s 'Two Part Inventions', numbers 4 and 14.
Salvationist Terry Treherne has been a long-time friend of Charley and Sue, going back to the days when Terry successfully took Alder Valley Aldershot Brass to the National Finals at the Royal Albert Hall.
He has composed many substantial works for the euphonium in the past, but the ink was barely dry on this new composition for baritone and euphonium duetting with piano.
Based on the Salvation Army hymn ‘Fewster’, it was a beautiful setting of the various verses, set in different keys with gentle, flowing variations.
A feature of Charley’s recitals is the displays of many vintage and rare euphoniums. They also are there to be heard too, as he explained briefly the history behind one of the oldest instruments, the 1891 5-valve euphonium by Hingham’s of Manchester.
Not only was this instrument originally built in C (in high pitch), but converted to B flat, then into low pitch! It seemed the ideal vehicle for the soaring lines (and top C finish) of Romberg’s 'Serenade' from 'The Student Prince'.
Amongst all the euphoniums (and one or two baritones) lurk the heavy brass in the collection, that of the Hawkes 1912 5-valve Cavalry tuba (rescued from a skip) and the beautiful giant American Martin Sousaphone in gold-plate.
It was this instrument that was showcased as a gentle-giant in the lilting ‘Pavanne’ by organist Charles Marie-Widor, adapted by Charley from the version for Oboe and Piano.
Charley welcomed back Martin Harvey for what was to be the dazzling finale, featuring the Philip Sparke duet, 'Two-Part Invention', composed for Bob and Nick Childs.
Not only were the two solo parts kept busy, but also the fingers of Malcolm at the piano, as they launched from the gentle opening into the busy Allegro.
This was a real feast of contrasting music, packed into just under 40 minutes, and the large responsive audience remained for some time to mix with the artists and enjoy refreshments.
It’s not surprising that all of the Saturday dates in 2012 are fully booked and dates are filling up fast for 2013!