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Black Dyke Festival

Conductors: Prof Nicholas Childs, Brett Baker, Richard Marshall
Featuring: Darius Battiwalla (organ); Les Neish (tuba)
Leeds Town Hall
Sunday 3rd June

The continued success of the annual Black Dyke Festival was both seen as well as emphatically heard on a sultry Sunday afternoon at a packed Leeds Town Hall.

After a day of Besson sponsored masterclass and workshop features led by Prof Nicholas Childs and the stars of the Queensbury band, the event was rounded off by the cross-Pennine ranks of Black Dyke, Armthorpe Elmfield, City of Bradford, BD1 Brass, Delph and Friezland, whilst the MDs Welsh roots were represented by the Royal Buckley Band.

Sparkling renditions

There was something for everyone to enjoy - from the easy listening nostalgia of ‘The Dambusters’ march and a ‘James Bond’ set to ‘Them Basses’ and ‘Mack the Knife’.

Les Neish was the brilliant guest soloist with sparkling renditions of ‘Quicksilver’ and ‘Hora Staccato’ that not even Jascha Heifetz in his prime could have bettered.

The band’s long term commitment to inspiring the next generation of young playing talent was amply displayed by the Yorkshire Youth Band giving mature renditions of ‘Starlight’ (conducted by Brett Baker) and Philip Harper's 'Olympus' (led by Richard Marshall).

Gloriously engaging

Meanwhile, Prof Childs revved up Black Dyke with a swaggering ‘Liberty Bell’ and a lightening-mode ‘Ruslan and Lyudmila’, whilst the substantive centrepiece was provided by the world premiere of Philip Wilby’s gloriously engaging ‘Cinema’. 

Darius Battiwalla played the mammoth Town Hall organ with a delicacy of touch that drew on an increasingly passionate inspiration that chattered with intricate memory recalls of long lost dialogue and sepia tinted vistas of colour and sound (the finale seeing the cornet section delivering the ‘Last Post’) - all held together by the touching sense of the passing of time.

Funded by Arts Council England, it paid homage to the early years of an art form whose film reel roots were very much in the heartland of Yorkshire (1888 in fact).

Darius Battiwalla played the mammoth Town Hall organ with a delicacy of touch that drew on an increasingly passionate inspiration that chattered with intricate memory recalls of long lost dialogue and sepia tinted vistas of colour and sound (the finale seeing the cornet section delivering the ‘Last Post’) - all held together by the touching sense of the passing of time.

It held the audience spellbound – whilst the classic finale of ‘Pines of Rome’ and the obligatory encore, 'I'll Walk with God' simply rounded off an afternoon of outstanding musical entertainment.

Malcolm Wood 



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Howard J Evans

MA (Dist), Mus.B (hons), ARCM (hons), LRAM, LTCL, PGCE
Conductor, composer, arranger, tutor and pianist