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Foden's Band

Allan Littlemore Memorial Concert
Conductor: Philip Littlemore
Sandbach School
Sunday 17th October


This was the perfect type of concert to celebrate the remarkable contribution made by Allan Littlemore to Foden’s Band.

First there were challenges to overcome due to Covid-19, whilst the concert itself took place in the local school close to what was his place of work for over 14 years as the Foden’s company Head of Personnel which came with the added responsibility as Band Manager.

Finally, in front of the band which first mesmerised him in 1948 under the baton of Fred Mortimer sat the gleaming National Championship of Great Britain trophy.

He would have relished each.  

Clarity

For a man who helped save the Foden’s name from extinction with a business acumen that was crucially compartmentalised away from his passion for the band - the choice of music (a ‘Desert Island Discs’ selection chosen some years before his death) spoke of the clarity of his personal and professional thinking.

Finally, in front of the band which first mesmerised him in 1948 under the baton of Fred Mortimer sat the gleaming National Championship of Great Britain trophy.

It was pretty good too (he also had others that just missed the cut) – the obligatory signature march ‘The Cossack’, followed by the exciting dynamic impulses of Rossini’s ‘Semiramide’. 

Mark Wilkinson (‘Alpine Echoes’), Anthony Mann (‘Skin Deep’) and Gary Curtin (‘Endearing Young Charms’) played with tasteful virtuosity, whilst the contrasting stylistic paeans of reflection with Lauridsen’s ‘O Magnum Mysterium’ and Henry Geehl’s ‘Threnody’ gave ample time to pause for thought.

Food for thought

‘Devil’s Galop’ and ‘Coronation Scene from Boris Gudunov’ offered the nostalgic excitement, but it was ‘Variations on The Shining River’  (on which the band won the 1958 National) that gave greatest food for thought – not just because there were so many memorable winning performances for Allan to choose from.

A delicate work of lovely moments but uneven heavy handed arranging, it cries out for re-evaluation as well as re-scoring – both of which his son Phillip Littlemore (who conducted and compered admirably) has said he hoped to undertake with the permission of the composer’s son, in the near future.  

It would surely provide an appropriate lasting memorial for the fine man who picked it for this concert. 

Iwan Fox 

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