Foden's Band

Conductors: Michael Fowles and Russell Gray
RNCM Brass Band Festival
RNCM Manchester
Friday 24th January

Music that explored man's temporal and spiritual mortality provided the strands of high-tensile quality that ran through an outstanding opening festival concert by an indefatigable Foden's Band.

Edward Gregson's joyful 'Dances & Arias' was the first of five major works. 

Written in 1984 for the National Championships it has reached middle age surprisingly untainted by the usual misplaced ambition of contest promoters and inadequate bands. Its future provenance was greatly aided by Michael Fowles, who treated the score with a cultured reserve in moulding a performance balancing its crafted challenges to its lyrical heart. 

It was followed by the mythical angst of Bantock's 'Prometheus Unbound' - inspired by Shelley's poetic license to evoke the eternal consequences of playing with the fire of the gods. 

Once again the MD dipped his baton deep into the rich, disturbing harmonies of the score - the music flowing with a sense of despair as the tortured soul (and his liver) was condemned to eternal damnation as carrion for the birds.

Reptilian persuasions

The consequences of man's rapacious exploitation of a heavenly bestowed 'Eden' gave John Pickard's 2005 work a timely sense of prescience. 

The failure to heed the poisonous reptilian persuasions of John Barber's oleaginous harbinger of doom were darkly realised in Russell Gray's commanding interpretation; the mechanical horrors driving ever deeper into the life giving earth to reveal the bleakest of landscapes.

The kernel of a sustainable future emerged slowly but optimistically in a final section of hopefulness.   

The failure to heed the poisonous reptilian persuasions of John Barber's oleaginous harbinger of doom were darkly realised in Russell Gray's commanding interpretation - the mechanical horrors driving ever deeper into the life providing earth to reveal the bleakest of landscapes.

Four centuries of peaceful coexistence may have given the world cuckoo clocks and oversized Toblerone chocolate bars at duty-free airport shops, but even the Swiss have had their moments of bovine covetousness.

Oliver Waespi's tale of 16th century cattle wrangling, 'The Raid', was a delight - the music flowing with herdish drama and character.

Soothing balm

Paul Mealor's Royal Wedding music 'Ubi Caritus' provided the spiritual longueur for reflection.

However, given the current strife in the House of Windsor, it could be seen as a musical metaphor for a Promethean curse itself - an open wound to be forever pecked by the vultures of the media gods. The playing was a temporary soothing balm of lyrical understanding. 

Undaunted, Foden's still had stamina in reserve for 'Paganini Variations' - a masterful work also cursed in its way by popular acclaim. 

Here it was restored to its rightful status in the pantheon with a performance of stylistic nuance, pacing and dynamic variance; the touching dedication from Michael Fowles to the band's much missed former solo euphonium player Paul Walton (and the encore of 'The Day thou Gavest') a reminder to all of our temporal and spiritual mortality. 

Iwan Fox

Support us for less than a cup of coffee...

4BR wants to ensure that the brass band movement remains vibrant and relevant. We also want to be able to question, challenge and critically examine those who run and play in it, producing high quality journalism that informs as well as entertains our readers.

So if like us you value a strong, independent perspective on the brass band world - then why not consider becoming a supporter and help make our future and that of a burgeoning brass band movement more secure.

So one less cappuccino then?

Support us    

Contest: North West Regional Championships

Sunday 23 February • Winter Gardens Complex, Church Street, Blackpool FY1 1HU

Black Dyke Band - The Hawth, Crawley

Sunday 23 February • The Hawth, Hawth Avenue, Crawley RH10 7Yz

Contest: scaba Own Choice Test & March

Sunday 23 February • The Hawth in Crawley, West Sussex RH10 6YZ

Regent Hall Concerts - Royal Academy of Music Horn Ensemble

Friday 28 February • Charlton House. Charlton Road. London. SE7 8RE SE7 8RE

The GUS Band - Northampton International Academy

Saturday 29 February • Northampton International Academy. 55 Barrack Rd. Northampton NN1 1AA

Upper Rhondda Brass Band

February 20 • Upper Rhondda NEEDS YOU. To help consolidate the Band, and its position within the grading system at the next Welsh Area Championships, the Band urgently require the following players, Soprano, Solo Cornet, Solo Euphonium and a Percussionist..

Longridge Band

February 20 • Due to retirement the Longridge Band (1st Section North West) require a back row cornet player (position negotiable), Eb bass & percussionist . We have a good mixture of contests/ concerts and a tour to Belgium planned for later in the year.

Escafeld Brass Band Sheffield

February 20 • Escafeld Brass Band Sheffield has vacancies for all instruments. We are a friendly, non-contesting band who practice Friday evenings near Sheffield city centre. Our numbers have declined in recent years but we are very keen to grow again with our new MD.

Neil Samuel



 © 2020 4barsrest.com Ltd