On Friday 16th March, the band hosted a concert on their “home turf” at the Church of the Ascension in Wembley. Despite regularly rehearsing at the church, this was the first concert the band had performed there for many years and it was particularly encouraging to perform to a very receptive audience, the majority of whom were hearing a brass band for the first time.
The first half opened with the lively march “The Red Shield” followed by Leigh Baker’s arrangement of “Libertango” to set the mood before turning to feature several soloists from the band. Principal euphonium John Gafney performed a beautiful rendition of “Be My Love”, preceding a delightful performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Pie Jesu” by soprano cornet Becca Toft and flugel horn Vickie Curran.
Between these items, the band rested while the band’s principal trombone, Tetsuro Okamura, entertained the crowd with a enjoyable performance of several movements from the very demanding “Carmen Fantasy” by Robert Elkjer. He then gave an impressive reprise of “Bluebells of Scotland” with the band, which he previously performed to great effect at the DFDS Contest in Dover, scooping the solo prize.
To conclude the first half, the band gave an exciting performance of Derek Bourgeois “The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” ahead of the London and Southern Counties Area Contest on 18th March, which was very well recieved by the audience.
After a short intermission, the second half commenced with “Manhattan Skyline” and then moved on to feature solo baritone Michael O’Shaughnessy in a very moving rendition of the Maori folk song “Pokarekareana”, moving neatly onto “Soul Bossa Nova” from the Austin Powers film series.
The band and audience were then treated to a fantastic display of vocal talent when soprano singer Tracy King took centre stage to perform, accompanied by Li-Lin Teo on piano. Tracy began by singing the beautiful “Musetta’s Waltz” from La Boheme, then followed on with “O Mio Babbino Caro” from the opera “Gianni Schicchi” by Giacomo Puccini. She then rounded off with a very lively performance of “The Laughing Song” from Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss, which also featured some interesting interaction with principal cornet David Quinlan!
To round off the evening, the band performed Morten Lauridsen’s “O Magnum Mysterium” arranged by former Regent Brass conductor Philip Littlemore, and concluded with Ray Farr’s arrangement of “Toccata in D Minor”.
The band would like to extend their sincerest thanks to Tracy King, and also to Father Gareth from the church for making this evening possible. We look forward to many more performances there in the near future!