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Royal Greenwich Brass Band

Conductor: Stephen Maw
Regent Hall
Friday 11th October


An audience of over 150 gathered to hear the Royal Greenwich Brass Band present this lunchtime concert the day before the Royal Albert Hall National Final.

They opened with Robert Redhead’s 'Fanfare of Praise'. The crusaders' hymn 'Ascalon' was introduced initially by unison trombones (five on this occasion) before blossoming out into harmony, and breaking into a rhythmic up-tempo setting.

Vikings

Philip Sparke's 'The Vikings' is a vivid description of the maritime raiders who played a major role in the history of our nation.

Rumblings from the tubas emerged from the discordant opening on muted cornets and vibraphone, and it was easy to picture the longboats looming out of the mist. Their eventual triumph was portrayed in a heroic march as they engulfed all before them.

Rumblings from the tubas emerged from the discordant opening on muted cornets and vibraphone, and it was easy to picture the longboats looming out of the mist. Their eventual triumph was portrayed in a heroic march as they engulfed all before them.

A welcome oasis of calm followed with 'The Shepherd's Song', expertly arranged by the late Goff Richards, with fine solos on cornet and euphonium respectively.

Then we heard a different depiction of repose with Eric Ball's 'Triumph of Peace', somewhat incongruously echoing Neville Chamberlain's infamous words on his return from Munich in 1938.

After a tempestuous opening the melody introduced an element of assurance, with a lovely euphonium solo. A ringing top A from soprano and French horn ushered in the final reprise.

Tribute

Three of the back row cornets were featured in Leroy Anderson’s 'Buglers' Holiday', in a well-balanced account with sympathetic accompaniment. Stephen Maw then paid tribute to Philip Biggs, who had organised the Regent Hall Brass Arts Festival for some 20 years until his recent passing.

The band rounded things off with Paul Lovatt-Cooper's 'Fire in the Blood', commencing with Richard Phillips' setting of Psalm 95. 

After the frenetic opening bars the trombones and horns were heard to good effect in the sustained, quiet passages. There was sensitive playing in 'Lord, You Know That We Love You' and the tender euphonium solo 'I Love You, Lord'. A reprise of the opening led to a relentless build-up, culminating in a wall of sound that was nevertheless controlled and balanced.

As Stephen Maw left the stage the band stuck up with 'My Way' in a fitting conclusion to an enjoyable hour of music-making.

Peter Bale

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