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Silver band shows its champion class

By Jane Wright on Monday, 23rd May 2011.

The opening flourish of The Champions set the pace and mood of Haverhill Silver Band’s concert on Sunday evening at Haverhill Arts Centre.

The whole concert became a celebration of awards which members of this outstanding band have either bestowed on its members, or it has received itself, and the choice of music reflected this.

The second piece of the concert was the challenging arrangement of Le Carnival Romain by Berlioz. The band won its place in the National Finals with this set test piece – and it was obvious why it was a test piece!

Transcribing anything orchestral for a band is a challenge for the players, but Berlioz particularly showed great originality in his orchestration, so this arrangement certainly tested the players’ technique and musicianship to an extreme.

The Silver Band rose to this challenge admirably, and the crisp rhythms and contrasting dynamics created an exciting performance.

There were arrangements of music from 1930s shows in the programme, and the band obviously enjoyed playing these and appeared more relaxed.

Puttin’ On The Ritz and I Got Rhythm were both performed with great virtuosity and verve, but never losing the disciplined control one expects from this band.

Also, with Centre Stage having completed another outstanding run of Oklahoma last week, the inclusion of a medley from the show was particularly apt (even though three players must have been a bit fed up with it, having played in the pit orchestra all last week as well!).

The band’s musical director, Mark Ager, introduced members of the band and gave interesting tit-bits about the music throughout. This created a very inclusive and friendly atmosphere for the audience.

At the band’s annual dinner in January various awards are given to members of the band, and these were recognised publicly in this concert.

Euphonium player Kevin Jones earned player of year, and this was obviously well-deserved, reflected in his beautiful solo slots in Jeannie With The Light Brown Hair, the Berlioz, and Battle Hymn Of The Republic.

New percussionist Caroline Hynett won most improved player, and again it was not difficult to see why – she was kept extremely busy all evening, rushing between instruments, including competing with four members in the band in a very funny arrangement of Mr Sandman (it even had a short dance routine for the band members!).

The other member of the percussion department was 14-year-old Toby Reed, who definitely earned his place in the band tonight. Fifteen-year-old trombonist Tom Curtis gave a very convincing performance of The Acrobat (better known as the theme for TV series Johnny Briggs).

Young cornet player Tomos Morgan was awarded most improved young player by the Youth and Community Band. It is good to see the next generation of players coming through into the senior band already at such a good standard – it means the future of the band is assured.

Although the loud playing form the band is really impressive (and carefully controlled), what impressed me most was the atmospheric quiet playing where great care was given to sustaining a warm tone and excellent balance between the parts.

This was particularly evident when accompanying soloists, and especially in Goff Richards' Country Scene where principal cornet Tim Pannell and euphonium player Kevin Jones shared echoed solo phrases throughout.

Haverhill Silver Band is an amazing ambassador for the town. They fully deserve their place in the National Finals in September in Cheltenham, but taking part is likely to cost at least £3,000.

They are playing a number of fund-raising events over the summer, and fully merit support and assistance to achieve the title of Champions Of Brass for real.

Haverhill Online News

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