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KNDS Fairey Band

Mark Heron curates a gallery of musical delights to round off the Perth Festival of Arts

Conductor: Mark Heron
Soloist: Iain Culross
Perth Festival of Arts
Perth Concert Hall
Saturday 1st June

Perth Concert Hall has become the performance hub of the Scottish brass banding movement.

Here though it broke out of its contesting confines with the visit of KNDS Fairey Band for what was to be a ‘double header’ of family friendly concerts – the afternoon segment seeing them provide the accompaniment to the anarchic antics of ‘Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers’.

A little later they returned for a less frenetic, but equally enjoyable multi-media ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’,  led by their loquacious guest conductor Mark Heron – as an informed guide to a musical gallery as anyone could have wished for.

A little later they returned for a less frenetic, but equally enjoyable multi-media ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’,  led by their loquacious guest conductor Mark Heron – as an informed guide to a musical gallery as anyone could have wished for.

Mussorgsky’s original piano suite has been widely and cleverly re-orchestrated since it was written in 1874 – most notably by Ravel, but also by Elgar Howarth, whose version for the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble in 1977 was later expanded for full brass band.

Enhanced mix

The refined score matched the superb animation (the band investing in bringing the imagery created for Michael Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony Orchestra) projected onto a triptych of overheard screens. 

The mix was also enhanced by a wonderfully inventive, always engaging performance - in turn emboldened, clever and witty in its characterful playing.  

The mix was also enhanced by a wonderfully inventive, always engaging performance - in turn emboldened, clever and witty in its characterful playing.  

At its centre was conductor Mark Heron, who neatly allowed the listener just a moment to linger rather than be rushed through the gallery to the next picture – from the Hitchcock meets ‘Mad Men’ inspired introduction, to the lugubrious oxen trailing a tuba in their cart to the impish newly hatched chicks and the final golden glory of ‘The Great Gate of Kiev’. 

Pulsating energy

Earlier there was an exciting rendition of ‘Le Carnival Romain’  to open – the pulsating energy never abating despite a few thrills and spills, whilst Iain Culross was the splendidly bravura lead in Arutiunian’s ‘Trumpet Concerto’  - the earthy textures and fluid lyricism played with idiomatic flair. 

The ‘pop’ version of Bach’s iconic ‘Toccata in D Minor’  to close was fun if nothing else for a small, but highly entertained audience.

Ian Jackson 

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