Black Dyke’s historic connection to the village of Queensbury was celebrated with considerable community pride following the official opening of the new Heritage Centre earlier in the day by the Deputy Lord Mayor of Bradford.
And whilst 162 years of musical achievement can now be enjoyed at the iconic bandroom, according to the proudest of ‘Pondashers’ (and there were plenty packed into the pews from all corners of the UK and beyond), nothing can ever quite equal the experience of hearing their favourite band in action.
Past, present, future
This was a relaxed evening on which to revel in Black Dyke’s glory - past, present and future: From the opening strains of the march ‘Queensbury’ right through to the closing encore of ‘How Great Thou Art’, Director of Music Prof Nicholas Childs expertly mixed sepia tinted memories of former triumphs with colourful indications of yet more future success.
The founding father, John Foster, was recalled with a performance of Handel’s ‘Hallelujah Chorus’; expertly realised from the original 1855 folio books by Philip Wilby, whilst the no less significant contribution of the great Arthur O Pearce came with Richard Marshall’s touching rendition of his arrangement of ‘Softly Awakes My Heart’.
Brett Baker’s breezy account of J A Greenwood’s ‘The Jester’ (a peculiar solo of ‘Acrobatic’ self-plagiarism by the composer), a sumptuous ‘Ruslan & Ludmilla’ overture and Major George Willcocks’ melancholic ‘David of the White Rock’ led into the ‘Finale’ from ‘William Tell’ to close a first half full of nostalgia.
In contrast, the second focussed firmly on the future: Items from the band’s latest Paul Lovatt Cooper CD, excellent solo spots from Katrina Marzella, Siobhan Bates and Daniel Thomas, and a neat detour to acknowledge the impact of James Shepherd Versatile Brass led into the Peter Graham’s ‘To Boldy Go’ - a metaphorical musical statement of intent that will surely fire the engines of the next 160 years of Black Dyke history.
The standing ovation was both a show of self-communal Queensbury pride as it was an appreciation of Black Dyke’s continued musical excellence.