'Pre-Christmas Brassaganza Concert IV', Forest Arts Centre, Friday 24th November 2017
Conducted by David Maplestone
The gale force winds of earlier in the week had subsided, but there was a distinct chill in the air - it is November after all!
Still it didn't dispell the enthusiam of the audience, who turned up in their numbers once again, to fill Auditorium One at Forest Arts Centre.
The scene was set, Christmas was about to start.................................
With their new waistcoats gleaming under the lights, the Band made their way to the 'stage' to await the entrance of the Guest Conductor for the evening - David Maplestone - and then it was straight into a spirited version of the medieval, 'Gaudete' arranged by Rodney Newton - the audience were suitably impressed with the Band, as indeed they were throughout the evening with the witty and enthusiastic compering of Maestro Maplestone. This evening was going to be good!
'Veni Emmanuel' arranged by Philip Sparke took the audience to a new level, which they accepted graciously and really enjoyed the performance of this most atmospheric piece, based on the carol, 'O Come, O Come Emmanuel' - terrific stuff! The first soloist of the evening saw the return to the Band of Principal Cornet, Sheila Draycott, delivering a very fine version of 'Christmas Eve' arranged by Wesley Kendrick, which had that special magic that only a great player can create. Pachelbel's Canon was the basic tune behind the delightful, 'Xmas Canon' by William Gordon - beautifully played and completely enjoyed. The tempo stepped up a gear with an arrangement, penned by the late lamented Mark Freeh - an extraordinary composer/arranger for brass - 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' had it all, including a virtuoso 'riff' by Flugel Horn, Tom 'Thumb' Stoneman. Tom took the stage again for a masterful version of the tender and beautiful, 'Eyes of a Child' by Katarina & Svante Henryson arranged by Jacob Vilhelm Larson - terrific playing indeed. Almost as soon as the first half has started, it came to a stunning conclusion with Leigh Baker's great arrangement of the Main Theme from ‘King of Kings’ composed by Miklos Rozsa - what a way to end a superb first half - the audience were wowed!!
The first half, though short was full of terrific playing and stunning music - the audience were certainly very happy indeed.
20-ish minutes later, the Band were back on 'stage' and in entertaining-mode which started with 'We Three Kings' by Dean Goffin - a fine arrangement by a fine musician. This was followed by the solo debut of First Baritone, Steve Allen with Craig Steven's fine arrangement of 'In the Bleak Midwinter' - what a start to his (long) time with the Band - terrific playing indeed! As always, 'Schneewaltzer' a traditional melody arranged by Goff Richards, had the audience 'rocking' (as directed by the Band) and still remains a firm favourite with players and listeners alike. 'Troika' by Prokofieff arranged by Ray Farr, once again, took everyone to the snowy wastes of Russia and a 'real' Christmas, so well sculptured by David Maplestone (who by this time has the audience eating out of his hands).
Chairman, Shaun Elliott took over to handle the Raffle with it's usual collections of jolly nice and useful prizes, donated by one and all, and graciously accepted by all the winners - Thanks to Sue Lacey for bringing this all together once again.
The finishing post was fast approaching and the standard of playing reaching ever higher levels - 'Yule Dance' by Philip Harper is a collection of carols in three movements, that have a feel of 'Rverdance' about them - sadly no Irish Dancers present, but that was more than made up by some stunning playing of a epic arrangement. You can't have a Christmas Concert at Forest without a singalong, and this year's was 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas', which gave the Band a bit of competition in the sound level stakes, as the audience let rip! Christmas Festival arranged by Leroy Anderson ended the Concert in great style by a Band building on the partnership with David Maplestone and further enhancing the reputation with our audience. Jingle Bells arranged by Derek Ashmore, with a significant bias towards, 'The Floral Dance' brought the place down and ended a fine Concert in terrific style.
Thanks to David Maplestone, congratulations to all the Soloists, thanks to the 'deps' who covered the 'gaps', to Sue and her Gang for the Raffle, to all the Staff at Forest Arts Centre for their continued help and to all our supporters for coming along in such numbers to make this another great night!
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