The concert opened in appropriate fashion with the march 'Under Two Flags', with close attention to the dynamics and enhanced by the soprano playing of Corporal Andrew Lofthouse.
Cutting down to a ten-piece plus percussion, it was followed by a thrilling account of 'Finlandia'. The excellent arrangement by Stephen Verheist was notable for its sparing use of percussion, meaning it was all the more effective when employed, especially with the first-class timpanist.
SAC Joe Whelan presented 'The Golden Age of the Xylophone'. This sparkling display piece included a nicely laid-back account of 'Shine on, Harvest Moon' and a dash through 'Won't you come home, Bill Bailey'.
There have been many sets of 'Paganini Variations'; that by Lutoslowski being originally written for piano duet. In a version prepared by the Principal Director of Music, Wing Co Piers Morrell, it proved an effective item for brass; frequently setting the solid sound of trombones and tuba against the musical gymnastics of the trumpets and horn, all topped off with the brightness of the piccolo trumpet.
Andrew Lofthouse took up the Bb cornet to play 'Don't Doubt Me Now' in a thoughtful account with sympathetic accompaniment which never obscured the solo line.
Anthony Plog's 'Mini-variations on Amazing Grace' stemmed from a commission requesting a piece that would be neither fast nor loud. In the event, the four variations demand considerable skill from the players; from the opening horn theme to the carillon and echo effects from the trumpets, and the shot-chord interjections that were oddly reminiscent of the car horns in 'An American in Paris'.
from the opening horn theme to the carillon and echo effects from the trumpets, and the shot-chord interjections that were oddly reminiscent of the car horns in 'An American in Paris'.
It ended with horn and tuba playing the melody, and a final chord that never reached its anticipated resolution.
'Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral' maintained its intensity as the music developed, and it was interesting to compare the textures with the more familiar brass band versions. It worked well - as did Ray Farr's version of 'Toccata' to close that allowed Joe Whelan another moment in the spotlight.