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Cory Band

A memorable day in Bromsgrove is rounded off in triumphant fashion by Philip Harper and his band.


Conductor: Philip Harper
Soloist: Glyn Williams
Elgar International Festival of Brass 
Bromsgrove School
Sunday 16th June

Cory Band rounded off a memorable day in Bromsgrove with a programme that embraced the spiritual as well as temporal.

They opened with the positive inflections of the MD’s own adaptation of ‘O Worship the King’,  composed in 2021 for the New York Staff Band and based on William Croft’s hymn of 1708. Brightness and optimism abounded ‘all glorious above’ in a clever mix of cross rhythms and sumptuous melody.    

Noble voice

Frank Renton’s measured introduction framed Philip Harper’s ‘Euphonium Concerto’  in its considered timeline context – a deeply personal refection of just one of the millions of lives lost in the carnage of the battlefields of Northern France in the First World War.

As with his performance at the RNCM Festival earlier in the year, Glyn Williams was the noble voice of the ‘doomed youth’; a young man of initial patriotic fervour whose virtuosic idealism was soon to be replaced by the horrors of battle – drums, dissonance, chaos and desperation. 

The final movement, played with an honoured sense of loss, drew to mind Wilfred Owen’s reflection of a nation’s dignified ‘drawing down of blinds’.

The final movement, played with an honoured sense of loss, drew to mind Wilfred Owen’s reflection of a nation’s dignified ‘drawing down of blinds’.

Cory has recently recorded Edward Gregson’s ‘Dances and Arias’  for its celebratory ‘140’ CD release.  It has been a timely reprise of a work (written in 1984) that has for far too long suffered in neglect.  

The appreciation of the composer’s intentions was defined; the detailed ensemble clarity and fine solo leads (including the flugel duet) bringing the contrasting sections to life. The balanced percussion playing added textured interest throughout.  

Fulfilment

John Golland’s ‘Aria’  offered an attractive contrast – warmly ethereal and tenderly shaped, before the afternoon and event was brought to a close with Eric Ball’s classic ‘Journey into Freedom’. 

Philip Harper’s respect in embracing the composer’s rhapsodic reflections of a man’s ‘journey’ from soulless materialism to the eternal freedom of salvation was marked – the growing sense of fulfilment brought to a triumphal end. 

Philip Harper’s respect in embracing the composer’s rhapsodic reflections of a man’s ‘journey’ from soulless materialism to the eternal freedom of salvation was marked – the growing sense of fulfilment brought to a triumphal end. 

It was to be a fitting finale to a daylong celebration of brass band music performed to a rapt audience. 

Fiona Bennett and John Heritage

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