Review: CHICHESTER CITY BAND CELEBRATES ENGLAND, SHAKESPEARE and ST GEORGE

MIDHURST. APRIL 23 2016

Chichester City Band and Midhurst Museum joined forces in presenting a special charity concert at the South Downs National Park Hall in that picturesque Sussex town.

The concert opened with an especially fervent rendition of God Save the Queen, in honour of HM’s 90th birthday two days earlier, followed by the rousing English Folk Song Suite by Ralph Vaughan Williams (VW) In quieter mood they then played the beautiful Blow the Wind Southerly before reverting to the 16th century for King Henry V111’s jolly composition Pastyme With Good Company.

Time for a solo, played by 13 year old Chichester Festival winner Blake, sensitively accompanied by the Band. The lovely slow movement of Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto was played with great assurance. Then back to the 16th century (the Golden Age of English music?) for William Byrd’s The Earl of Oxenford’s March, complete with exciting flourishes relished by the band.

Percy Grainger composed many popular pieces, in particular English Country Gardens. This version featured trombonist Steve Grant .

Laurence Olivier’s famous black and white film of Shakespeare’s Henry V was equally renowned for its marvellous musical score by Sir William Walton. We were treated to a finely played selection of the music, interspersed with Chichester’s very own “Ben CucumberPatch” (alias conductor Major Tim Cooper) declaiming some of the Bard’s most memorable lines in suitably dramatic style!

We heard Prologue, Death of Falstaff, the gorgeous Touch Her Soft Lips and Part (with several of the instruments muted) culminating with the magisterial Agincourt Song, underpinned by the band’s sonorous tubas

Before the interval, we remembered Terry Wogan - in Derek Broadbent’s fine arrangement of the Floral Dance. Taken away from us in another way is Chichester’s very own Major Tim Peake, who gamely intended to take part in the London Marathon on his treadmill aboard the Space Station! He was represented today by a march called The Space Men.

The 16th and 20th centuries joined forces in Gustav Holst’s clever combination of Greensleeves and Dargason – the former possibly referring to Anne Boleyn and the latter a green-clad wood nymph. Edward Elgar’s famous Pomp and Circumstance March no 4 is often performed at the Proms, as is Blake & Parry’s Jerusalem. More audience participation was actively encouraged in VW’s Fantasia on British Sea Songs (featuring the Hornpipe) culminating in Land of Hope and Glory, thereby bringing the evening to a triumphant close

Marilyn Hurdwell

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