Newbury Festival with Black Dyke & the Gregson Concerto Premiere by Jonathan Corry

An exceptional concert given by the Black Dyke Band kicked off the Annual Spring Festival at Newbury Corn Exchange. A capacity audience were given an entertaining and varied programme by this fine ensemble, conducted this evening by Dr Robert Childs.
The programme made an immediate impact with Black Dyke's signature march 'Queensbury' featuring star Principal cornet Richard Marshall. A lesser known Overture from the pen of von Suppé was presented by Dyke. Suppé was often referred to as ‘the Viennese Offenbach’, and in fact he was responsible for introducing many of Offenbach’s operettas to the Austrian capital. The Beautiful Galatea was among his first efforts in the style of Offenbach, Suppé here taking on the French composer’s La Belle Hélène. 
A major solo work for trombone and band was featured utilising the skill and virtuosity of the band's world class Principal Trombonist, Brett Baker. Edward Gregson is well known within banding circles for his quality output within our movement, however; this piece did not originate for band. Originally this trombone concerto was written to be played by trombonist Michael Hext with full Orchestra accompaniment and was only recently adapted for brass band (by the composer himself). This premiere performance of this fantastic work was delivered with panache by Brett and the difficult exposed passages which you could imagine being played in the orchestra worked very well within the band. It would be interesting to hear more writing for bands from mainstream composers such as Gregson.
Classical music has always been an important part of band programmes, in fact its part of our DNA! Dyke continued with two movements from Norwegian composer Edvard Greig's 'In the Hall of the Mountain King' before the band displayed their second soloist for the evening, Sheona White. Well known within the brass world, Sheona dazzled the audience with her performance of Bellstedt's 'Capriccio Brilliante' before Dr Child's presented the final piece of the first half, Rodney Newton's fun three movement work, 'Echoes of the East'.
Paul Lovatt Cooper's writing is well known and loved by audiences for it's cinematic ideas – 'When Thunder calls' was a great way to start up the second half before introducing the band's soprano cornet player Paul Duffy. Duffy 'wowed' the audience in his own new orleans style version of 'Oh when the saints' displaying great range, flexibility and stylistic nuances. Katrina Marzella then showed off her 'creamy sound' on the baritone in Paul Lovatt Cooper's 'Donegal Bay', before the band's principal euphonium Gary Curtin gave a superb performance of 'Herdmaiden Dance'. The audience were left spell-bound by his playing and swagger on stage – such a showman!
In stark contrast, Black Dyke changed the mood with a beautiful interpretation of the well known hymn tune 'Abide with Me' by Monk, arranged by Karl Jenkins.
A Black Dyke 'Spooktacular' then followed. I was a little intrigued by this and was really impressed at the creativity of the arrangers and the Band management for creating such an engaging and relevant section to their programme. This featured narration by Dr Childs linking together lots of spooky movie themes such as Jaws, The Omen, Casper and The Addams family.
The band's final piece for the evening was the epic Finale from Saint Saens Organ Symphony arranged by Philip Wilby. This showed off the fantastic 'mattress of sound' (as described by Dr Childs) of the Black Dyke bass section. 
The capacity audience and indeed the festival organisers were left in no doubt whatsoever about the quality of music they had experienced this evening. Black Dyke and Dr Childs were superb ambassadors for brass bands. 

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