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Royal Greenwich Brass Band

Conductor: Stephen Maw
Charlton House
Friday 10th May

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'Fanfare of Praise' written by Robert Redhead for the International Staff Band opened the concert. Using the Crusaders' hymn 'Ascalon' it started with unison trombones before effectively breaking into harmony and moving into an up-tempo version with drum kit backing.

The band continued with Philip Sparke's 'The Vikings'; strident cornets and trumpets setting the scene before a bass melody made its way from the depths as the menacing longships emerged from the gloom. A score full of colour and variety was vibrantly enhanced by the ensemble’s impressive tonality.

Lush harmonies

The traditional French melody 'The Shepherd's Song' elicited some lovely, warm sounds, sustained lines and lush harmonies, with particularly fine work from Emily Bristow and Rhodri Thomas on cornet and euphonium respectively.

Eric Ball's 'Triumph of Peace' features his setting of John Oxenham's words 'Peace in our time, O Lord'. The hymn dates from 1934 with the composer penning the tone poem five years later at the outbreak of the Second World War. Again, the balance was first class, with striking playing by soprano and horn in the final climax.

The mix of cornets and trumpets worked well on this occasion, and it was a trio of trumpeters who stepped forward to play Leroy Anderson's 'Buglers' Holiday' - the articulation excellent as the parts blended nicely together.

Again, the balance was first class, with striking playing by soprano and horn in the final climax.

Smooth contrasts

The finale was 'Fire in the Blood'; written for the International Staff Band's 120th anniversary celebrations and using several Salvation Army melodies. 

Richard Phillips' setting of 'Come Let Us Sing for Joy' made for a lively start, followed by smooth contrasts in the middle section. The cornet featured in the reflective 'Lord, You know That I Love You', before the euphonium and glockenspiel presented the chorus 'I Love You, Lord'. With a reprise of the opening, pounding rhythms drove the music forward to the majestic close.

As the audience applauded, a quartet played the opening bars of 'My Way' as a fitting encore to a fine concert.

Peter Bale

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