Foden's Band

Conductor: Michael Fowles
First Presbyterian Church
Saturday 1st February

Foden's returned to Armagh for the 20th consecutive year where they performed to a large and appreciative audience at the First Presbyterian Church.

Prior to the concert Foden's players had worked with 25 youngsters providing feedback to help their musical development.

Under conductor Michael Fowles, the North West Area champion was in fine form with a programme which catered for everyone’s taste. Traditional fayre, such as the classic Alford march ‘The Standard of St. George’ and Mozart’s ‘Marriage of Figaro’ overture were performed with style and virtuosity.

Main treat

The main treat though was a thrilling interpretation of Philip Wilby’s ‘Paganini Variations’. Nearly 30 years since it was composed, it has survived the ’test of time’ both technically and musically for players and audience alike.

If the audience was also looking forward for new ‘easy listening’ repertoire they were certainly not disappointed as Jonny Bates flamboyantly breathless ‘War Dance of the Red Cossacks’ and Colin Skinner’s beautiful setting of the ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ classic song ‘Pure Imagination’ were featured.

The main treat though was a thrilling interpretation of Philip Wilby’s ‘Paganini Variations’. Nearly 30 years since it was composed, it has survived the ’test of time’ both technically and musically for players and audience alike.

Solo stars

Richard Poole (soprano) delivered a spine-tingling rendition of ‘Live and Let Die’, Mark Wilkinson (cornet) was at his faultless best in Rimmer’s ‘Hailstorm’, whilst Gary Curtin (euphonium) brought the house down with his virtuosic performance of Vizzuti’s ‘Carnival of Venus’. 

Not to be outdone, John Barber (trombone) gave a persuasively suave performance of Bill Geldard’s setting of ‘Autumn Leaves’ and Melanie Whyle’s understated lyricism was perfectly suited to James Last’s plaintive ‘The Lonely Shepherd’.

The finale of Daniel Hall’s wonderfully inventive ‘Nightingale Dances’ brought a standing ovation before the encore ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ - which if it had been announced in the plural no one would have argued. 

We all look forward to the next 20 years!

Jonny McCabe

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