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International Brass Band Summer School

Conductor: Prof Nicholas Childs
Soloists: Richard Marshall, Owen Farr
Singleton Campus
Swansea University
Friday 2nd August


What’s not to enjoy about Swansea at the height of Summer?

The sun shone, the tills of Verdi’s famous ice-cream parlour on the seafront rang like a pyromaniac’s fire alarm bell and the 150 delegates on the International Brass Band Summer School rounded off a week of hard work and fun with a splendidly entertaining concert.

Dylan Thomas’ ‘ugly, crawling, sprawling town’ has become something of a ‘must visit’ summer school mecca in recent years; the university providing an ideal base for players of all ages and nationalities (from as far afield as Japan and the USA) to be involved in an expertly organised banding environment.

Head to head

The cleverly pitched repertoire offered testing challenges as well as more relaxed endeavour; the 75 strong Boosey & Hawkes Band providing a first half that opened with the sparkle of Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s ‘Enter the Galaxies’ and fly-by ‘Superman’, to the purposeful drive of the final movement of ’Rhapsody for Brass’ and the historic pre-Brexit head to head showdown with Napoleon at the ‘Battle of Trafalgar’.

After a short break the Cardinal Band fizzed through ‘Harlequin’ and ‘E.T.’ before dusting off the quirky dislocations of the final movement of ‘Symphony of Marches’ and delving into the filmatic Welsh history books to repel the Zulu at Rourke’s Drift - fouzands of ‘em.

After a short break the Cardinal Band fizzed through ‘Harlequin’ and ‘E.T.’ before dusting off the quirky dislocations of the final movement of ‘Symphony of Marches’ and delving into the filmatic Welsh history books to repel the Zulu at Rourke’s Drift - fouzands of ‘em.

Rumbling

Richard Marshall, with a display of ornate artistry on ‘Willow Echoes’ and Owen Farr pushing the boundaries of musical physics on ‘Napoli’ were the inspirational guest solo features in each half, before the massed band rounded things off.

The audience lapped it up; ‘Blaze Away’, ‘Sosban Fach’, ‘Trombola’, ‘Amazing Grace’ all played with style and confidence whilst the finale of ‘Toccata’ from ‘Suite Gothique’ rumbled under your feet like an old organ in a local Methodist chapel.

The encore of ‘Delilah’ could have been heard by Tom Jones at his holiday home down the Mumbles.

Iwan Fox
     

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