Tredegar Band

Deal Music & Arts Festival
Conductor: Ian Porthouse
St. George's Church
Sunday 16th July

For almost 40 years the annual Deal Music & Arts Festival has provided a platform for some of the most diverse and interesting artistic programming in the UK.
This year 45 performers were curated by Artist Director, composer Luke Styles for the 10-day event. Under the theme of ‘Rebels & Royals’ it included the likes of the Changeling Theatre Company and Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert ensemble, to tabla virtuoso Kuljit Bhamra and the folk group, Old Time Sailors. 

Award winning radicalism

The Welsh champion, hailing from a mining town infused by Chartist radicalism and the foundation stone socialism of the NHS, has gained a critically acclaimed reputation (fresh from picking up a South Bank Sky Arts Classical Music Award) for being very much the former rather than the latter.

However, their appearance didn’t totally eschew a royal nod of appreciation, with the upbeat feel to Andy Austin’s colourful ‘Judy Garland Suite’  celebrating the musical legacy of an undisputed queen of stage and screen.   

However, their appearance didn’t totally eschew a royal nod of appreciation, with the upbeat feel to Andy Austin’s colourful ‘Judy Garland Suite’ celebrating the musical legacy of an undisputed queen of stage and screen.   

Regal Strauss was delivered by the opening ‘Vienna Philharmonic Fanfare’,  which has acted as both a benefit ball fund raiser and coronation crowning hurrah in its century old history, whilst there was no mistaking the embossed majesty of essential English tonality captured by Vaughan Williams’ in his overture ‘Henry V’  – rich and glorious. 

Gallic republicanism came with the cockerel preening pomp of Saint-Saens ‘French Military March’  – a reminder of just what a Parisian Whit Friday contest would have sounded like if Napoleon has triumphed at Waterloo. 

Rebel yell

The rebelliousness though was never far away - first with the cultured treatise of Gavin Higgins’ ‘Fanfares & Love Longs’  with its intoxicating mix of dark bravura and melancholic longing, and the simply bonkers Satanic fun and games of ‘The Devil in I’  by the American heavy metal thrashers, Slipknot.

Dewi Griffiths (‘Off the Scale’), Sion Jones (‘Varied Mood’) and Will Norman performing ‘Misty’  as a beautiful tribute to the late ‘Cornet King’ James Shepherd were all on showcase form, before ‘O Magnum Mysterium’  and ‘Glorifico Aeternum’  were added to by the encores of the sublime ‘Ar Lan Y Mor’  and the timeless rebel yell of cultural defiance that is ‘MacArthur Park’.

Heidi Casey 

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