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Fulham Brass Band

Wilfred Heaton Centenary Concert
Conductor: John Ward
Featuring: Thomas Nielsen (cornet)
Regent Hall
Friday 23rd November

A week prior to the centenary of the birth of Wilfred Heaton, Fulham Brass Band presented this well chosen concert programme of his music. 

Bryan Stobart, Heaton's son-in-law, travelled down from Nottingham to introduce the music which opened with 'The Golden Pen' (edited by Paul Hindmarsh) - a quirky composition (originally for piano duet) full of identifiable Heaton hallmarks.

Fine accounts

'Variations - Celestial Prospect' was originally rejected as being too difficult following a play-through by the Rosehill Band, although following revision at the request of the New York Staff Band, the central section became an elegy for the composer's wife. 

The band produced a fine account, immediately followed by some lovely, sustained playing in the hymn setting of 'Martyn'

Thomas Nielsen was the featured soloist on 'Variations for Cornet and Band on Annie Laurie'. Another work initially rejected in the 1930s on the grounds of its exceptional difficulty, it was first performed in 2005 by Kevin Ashman of the International Staff Band. 

Revealing the influence of Erik Leidzen, the cadenza-like passages in the introduction exploited a wide range - the technical challenges played with mature appreciation by the soloist, well supported by the band.

Revealing the influence of Erik Leidzen, the cadenza-like passages in the introduction exploited a wide range - the technical challenges played with mature appreciation by the soloist, well supported by the band.

'Le Tricot Rouge' came from a request by Leighton Rich for the Tewitt Youth Band. It proved too difficult for the band at the time and was first performed by Black Dyke in 2000. Witty and inventive, its unexpected twists, with the percussion attempting to derail proceedings towards the end, remain a delight.

Victory for Me

Heaton drew on two of George Marshall's choral pieces for the outer sections of 'My Treasure'. The solo cornet showed nerves of steel in the exposed opening, with some fine trombone playing and a magical moment in the quartet which opened the last section.

Bryan Stobart explained that 'Victory for Me' was handed to the International Staff Band for a demonstration of sight-reading at a Bandsmen's Council at the Fairfield Hall. No doubt it caused a few palpitations, not least the tricky side drum bolero rhythms and the flugel feature. 

There were no such issues here, though, as the MD and his players avoided the pitfalls right up to the throwaway ending to round off a welcome and enjoyable celebration of a great composer for the brass band medium.

Peter Bale

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