The London Central Fellowship Band kicked off the second Friday Bandstand evening at Regent Hall in fine style with the march ‘Torchbearers’, producing a well-balanced sound, although some of the accents were a little heavy for the acoustic.
Narration linked the march with ‘Shine on Us’, which showed off the warmth of the horn section to good effect.
The first soloist was David Thomas of Stotfold Corps, who presented Ray Bowes’ ‘Rhapsody for Cornet and Band’.
Written for Terry Camsey, and with the lyric qualities of his playing in mind, it allows the soloist to impose his own interpretation, with several unaccompanied passages. This was a very musical rendition, with slick tempo changes and an exquisite moment of calm when the dedicatee’s own Christmas carol emerged.
Glory of God
Julian had entitled the programme ‘Paean - A Song of Praise’, after a piece written by his brother Dudley as he recovered from heart surgery. After a rather plaintive start to ‘I Will Sing Your Praises’, this soon developed into a positive affirmation of faith, the percussion often driving the music forward.
In contrast ‘Soli Deo Gratias’ was more reflective, inspired by the inscription JS Bach placed on all his compositions, religious and secular, and juxtaposing ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring’ with ‘Jesus, Name above all Names’.
Audience participation came as Julian divided the audience into three groups to clap along through the ‘Galop from William Tell’, and this was followed by Steven Ponsford’s sensitive ‘Now I Belong to Jesus’, with long, drawn-out phrases and telling harmonies.
‘The Call of the Gospel’ , a lively, contemporary take on ‘We Have a Gospel’, preceded the beautiful piano playing of Caroline Seredynski, whose choice of music by Liszt was a welcome change from the norm.
The band closed the first half with ‘The Kingdom Triumphant’, greatly enhanced by Julian’s introduction and the programme note, which included the words of the featured melodies. It was a compelling performance, despite a few minor intonation issues.
The second half commenced with Eiliv Herikstad’s somewhat tongue in cheek march ‘Shoeburyness’, after which the audience joined in heartily to sing Bill Himes’ ‘Zephaniah’s Song’.
From cornet to euphonium
It is still strange to David Daws with a euphonium rather than a cornet, and he could not have chosen a much sterner test than ‘Better World’.
Many of his renowned qualities as a soloist were immediately apparent, and he is clearly very much at home with the instrument. The tone is lighter than some, and his upper register was beautifully smooth and comfortable.
Time for reflection
Roy Newsome’s setting of ‘There is a Green Hill’ reflects on the verses of the well-known hymn, and led to some thoughts from Julian on the subject of transformation and the nature of fellowship.
‘Procession to Covenant’ gave further opportunity for some full-blooded playing, before the evening ended with ‘Florentine March’.
With a respectable audience sharing some fine music-making, it is to be hoped this series will be allowed to continue and develop.