Programme - Concert with the Wednesday Singers, Pelsall Methodist Church, Pelsall, Friday 10th November 2017

Guest Conducted by David Maplestone

With the temperatures dropping and Christmas looming just over the horizon, The Staffordshire Band were once again guests of The Wednesday Singers - this time at a new venue - that of Pelsall Methodist Church - the first visit to the venue for many a long Christmas!

The high roof height beckoned, the chairs were filling, the normal Friday-Night terrors of the M-something or another had been vaulted and approaching 7.30pm, the Band (decked out in their new Band Waistcoats), were waiting in line to take this opportunity to perform some new and hard pieces, led by a master musician, David Maplestone - it was an exciting moment in time.....

Having overcome the difficulties of getting through the audience, the Band were sat expectantly and with David Maplestone, baton in hand, arms raised aloft, the Band exploded into their first piece - Horizons by Paul Lovatt-Cooper, which shook whatever rafters there were in the Hall - great purposeful playing with style and gusto - the audience were in raptures at the end - what a start!

To follow that sort of performance, the Band had someone very special to delight the audience - Tom Stoneman on Flugel Horn was magical during his performance of The Seal Lullaby by multi-award winning musician, Eric Whitacre arranged by Philip Harper - what great style and sound!

The Wednesday Singers then took over with a trio of items, 'With a Voice of Singing', 'She was Beautiful' and 'Some Enchanted Evening' - all enjoyed by the audience.

The Band and David Maplestone returned with expectation firmly established with all attendees, and started with a tale of magic and mystery, arranged by Philip Harper of Archie Fisher's The Witch of the Westmerlands - a slow haunting melody set around the misty, barren and dangerous parts of the Lake District that only comes alive on dark nights with the figments of someone's terrifying imagination - captivating stuff and the audience was aghast!

Malaguena, arranged by Mark Freeh, is one of the world's favourite spanish melodies and here is beautifully crafted by a master arranger - the Band performed this magical piece in tribute to Mark Freeh, who sadly passed away at the beginning of October, leaving a legacy of music that will never be forgotten.

The Choir followed with 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'.

Next was a joint item between the Band and Choir - a robust and martial version of the Soldier's Chorus from 'Faust' by Gounod - fine precision stuff indeed.

To end the first half, that had passed all expectations (and some more!), the Band ended (as it had started the Concert) with a piece by Paul Lovatt-Cooper, split into three connected movements, all centred on various Salvation Army Hymns and Psalms... 'Fire in the Blood' is a no-holds barred juggernaut of passion, emotion, love and spirit, written for the 120th Anniversary of the International Staff Band of the Salvation Army. The Band certainly had fire (but all under control from Fire Chief Maplestone), and it had passion a plenty - and yes, the Band spilt a lot of blood wringing the last drops of emotion from a superb performance that had the audience and Choir, enchanted, excited and amazed.

A brilliant way the end a first half of top quality brass band playing, under a magician with a wand of musical magic.

As always after such a first half, the Band's ears were ringing with the compliments of all those present - it was incredible!

The British Legion March by T Bidgood, set the scene for 'Remembrance' perfectly to start the second half, before another beautifully crafted and performed piece - In Gardens of Peace by Philip Harper - delivered with considerable aplomb by star Euphonium Soloist, Micah Dominic Parsons - a perfect and memorable addition to Remembrance Weekend.

The Band ended their set with a sublime performance of An American Tale by Dan Price, which takes a musical journey through the American Civil War, using the style of various greats of American Composers/Arrangers to weld a poignant, yet powerful tapestry of remembrance - the audience almost took the roof off - a remarkable performance, obviously really enjoyed by Maestro Maplestone.

The Choir returned with a 'Sing Along' (with words on the screen), a moving tribute to the fallen with 'In Flanders Fields' and the very evocative 'Over By Christmas' with the composer taking her bow at the end.

The Band ended their 'solo' contribution towards this highly successful concert with the 3rd Movement Paradisi Gloria, from Suite from Stabat Mater by Karl Jenkins arranged by Childs & Wainwright. 'Stabat Mater' is a 13th Century Roman Catholic poem, the first line of which forms the basis of the music, 'The Sorrowful Mother was Standing' - this text, one of the most powerful and immediate of all medieval poems, meditates on the suffering of Mary, Mother of Jesus watching during his crucifixion. This piece, though short, is a powerful statement of the meaning and emotion of the poem - in the hands of David Maplestone with a Band on top form, the result was spellbounding.

You'll Never Walk Alone by Richard Rodgers arranged by Darrol Barry followed as a joint item, before the Choir continued with For the Fallen.

The Concert ended with the traditional Pomp & Circumstance March No. 1 by Edward Elgar arranged by J. Ord Hume, as a joint item, the encore for which was as powerful as ever heard!

So that was that - the end of an incredible night for all present and there was no doubt that everyone went home very happy indeed!

Chairman Shaun Elliott said,'It was an amazing night for all of the Band - especially having had such a difficult preparation period and rehearsing so many new pieces with serious challenges - but the quality and personality of the players shone through, to create a set of performances that will live long in the memories of players and audience alike. Working with David Maplestone again was a joy for the Band and they certainly showed it by shaking off the preparations and setting out the standards to build on ever higher for the future!

It was also great to hear the wonderful playing of Principal Cornet, Sheila Draycott, on her return to the Band.

Thanks to everyone (including our Guest Percussionist, Anne Hodgetts), for being such a part of something so special!'




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