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Brass Fest 9

Brassband Reykjavikur, Lund University Brass, Weston Silver
Conductors: Johann Bjorn Aevarsson, Roger Anderson, Larry Shields
Uppermill Civic Hall
Saturday 15th June

stars

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Whit Friday contest tradition is the desire it evokes in overseas ensembles to travel to England to experience it all at least once in their banding lifetime. 

For many that ambition has been facilitated with the help of Phil Beck of Champion Brass, who ensures that they get to enjoy it all despite the occasional wet weather; from taking part in the traditional Whit Walk processions, to being expertly ferried from one contest venue to another and in being featured in super concerts such as this.

Appreciative

This year it was the turn of representatives from Iceland, Sweden and Canada - each performing their own set to a packed and appreciative audience at Uppermill.

The Icelanders of Reykjavíkur showcased seven works with passion and enthusiasm; from the opening ‘From the Ocean Iceland’s Mountains Rise’, and the folk inspired ‘Icelandic Dances’ to ‘Whose Fatherland could be more Beautiful’ and ‘Sailing’ – all with flavoured hints of indie and pop-rock.

‘Songs of Reykjavík’ and their splendid Whit Friday march, ‘Reykjavík Pond March’ led to the speedy ‘A Sprengisandi’ to close.

Meanwhile, the Swedes of Lund University opted for something more familiar; the march ‘The Wizard’ paving the way for ‘Shine as the Light’ before Kenichi Miharada was an engaging tuba lead in the hymn ‘In Christ Alone’. 

‘Swedish Folk Song’ ('How Great Thou Art’ was sandwiched in between ‘Under The Sea’ and ‘Never had a Friend Like Me’) led into ‘The Incredibles’ and Peter Graham’s ‘Amazonia’.

Finally, the Canadians of Weston Silver took to the stage with the rather appropriate ‘With Thunder Calls’ (given some of the torrential rain that fell prior to the concert) followed by principal cornet Brad Norton delivering a lovely rendition of ‘My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose’.

This year it was the turn of representatives from Iceland, Sweden and Canada - each performing their own set to a packed and appreciative audience at Uppermill.

World premiere

The world premiere of Kevin Norbury’s ‘Suite: Scenes from Renaissance England’ was a delight (and the four movement work really did demonstrate the qualities of the First Section North American outfit). Don’t be surprised if it is heard again in the near future. 

Solo euphonium Robert Miller made his mark with ‘The Green Hill’, before the sounds of ‘Gaelforce’ brought the proceedings to a close - or so the audience thought.

Brass Band Reykjavíkur presented a score of their encore to their new friends from Sweden and Canada, before the Canadians moved to various parts of the hall to deliver a banding hug for everyone with ‘The Irish Blessing’.

It rounded off a great night of communal togetherness from three super bands. No wonder lots more from around the world want to taste it for themselves. 

Malcolm Wood

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