Review of Nottingham Concert

Band on stage in NottinghamThe William Booth Memorial Halls in Nottingham were built to honour the memory of the founder of the Salvation Army, William Booth. The recently renovated building provided the venue for a concert by Hammonds Saltaire Band in which their consistent and high class delivery of a varied and engaging programme, including works from Salvationist composers such as Leslie Condon and Kenneth Downie, signified the ever-increasing strength of an accomplished and highly musical ensemble.

MD Morgan Griffiths demonstrated compelling leadership and presentation of the band throughout the evening. Straight from the off, with Strike up the Band (G Gershwin, arr. G Richards), the MD and his team set the tone for the evening, with the bands percussionists, Matt Payne and Matt Mills, receiving well-deserved recognition for their contribution to the item.

Hammonds soloists and conductor in NottinghamAfter a welcome by the Bandmaster of the resident William Booth Memorial Halls Band, Paul Cuthbert (pictured right, with MD and soloists from Hammonds Saltaire Band), the band performed Leslie Condon’s ‘Call of the Righteous’, recorded by the band as part of ‘Essays in Brass’ series in 1996.
The band’s first soloist of the evening was 16-year old principal cornet player, Jamie Smith. Having played principal cornet for the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain earlier this year, he continues to build on a reputation as one of the most talented brass players of his generation. It was, then, unsurprising that he provided the audience with a flawless and rich-sounding account of ‘The Maids of Cadiz’ (Delibes, arr. G Langford).

Borrowing music from film, the band performed a collection of music from the 2001 fantasy film ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring’ (H Shore & Enya, arr. A Duncan). This was followed by two movements from Gordon Langford’s ‘Three Haworth Impressions’; ‘The Three Bells’, a waltz with a name referring to the pseudonyms adopted by Ann, Charlotte and Emily Bronte, and the ‘The Worth Valley Railway’, celebrating the retention of the railway by the people of Haworth.

Pseudonyms continuing, the next soloist of the evening, solo horn player Helen Varley, played a work by Robert Eaves (also known as Edward Gregson). The ‘Rhapsody for Soprano Cornet’ provided the audience with a wonderful account of tenor horn playing, where Helen demonstrated both tender, warm playing, accompanied by her formidable technique.

The first half was rounded off by an upbeat and flashy performance of ‘An American Tale’ by Dan Price. The piece included popular works such as The Battle Hymn of the Republic, The Girl I Left Behind, and Yankee Doodle Dandy, and provided Mark Ayre’s, the bands solo trombone player to provide a wonderfully atmospheric opening narration.

Band on stage in NottinghamAfter a short interval, the band returned with Kabalesky’s rapid ‘Comedian’s Galop’ (arr. Wright), which was followed once again by an opportunity to feature Mark Ayres. This time, as trombone soloist, he showed off his stylish and smooth playing in Don Lusher’s ‘Concert Variations’.

The infectious enjoyment of band was apparent to the audience as they performed ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ (Queen, arr. A Catherall), followed by ‘Siciliano’ from ‘Little Suite for Brass’ (M Arnold), which provided space for Jamie Smith to demonstrate truly warm and lyrical cornet playing.

The band pushed on the tempo for ‘Granada’ (Lara, arr. D Broadbent) which saw the band’s 2nd baritone player, Richard Rock, cause mayhem with his maracas and sombrero. Following this was the band’s solo euphonium player, Matthew Allsop, who took up the final solo spot performing a lively and exciting rendition of Remmington’s ‘Carnival of Venice’.

The band took the opportunity to then pay their respects to a close, and much admired friend of the band, Dr Roy Newsome, and performed ‘In Perfect Peace’ (Kenneth Downie) in his memory.

The final item was ‘Three Dances Episodes from West Side Story’ (Bernstein), providing a captivating conclusion to a concert that was visibly enjoyed by the audience, and for which Paul Cuthbert had many wonderful things to say. Before leaving the stage, the band gave a brisk performance of ‘Goldcrest March’ (Anderson), complete with some great singing from the band.

A superb concert, delivered by great sounding and talented band. I look forward to attending more concerts like this in the future.

Darran West