On Friday 6th December, Regent Brass hosted their annual Christmas concert at the Church of the Ascension in Wembley. This event has become a real highlight of the band’s concert schedule, providing an opportunity to perform at their “home turf” as the church also provides the rehearsal facilities for both Regent brass bands. Also performing at the concert were pianist Graeme Thewlis, who performed George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” with the band in 2012, and soprano Tracy King with her accompanist Li Lin Teoh, who is a regular performer at these events.

The concert was opened by Regent Community Brass who were conducted by Regent Brass percussionist Kirsten Johnson. They began by performing “A Christmas Herald” by Philip Sparke before moving into John Rutter’s beautiful “Candlelight Carol” and the upbeat “Christmas Swingalong” by Derek Ashmore closely followed by a bit of audience parcitipation for the carol “Once in Royal David’s City”. Graeme Thewlis then took the stage to provide a very different musical experience for the audience by performing a “free-jazz improvisation” which he called “Jazzadelic Twist”. The piece was improvised by Graeme while performing, meaning that the audience were treated to a unique performance being created as they listened. Regent Community Brass then provided the accompaniment to Tracy King’s haunting rendition of “O Holy Night” before rounding off the first half with the lively “Joy!”, an up-tempo gospel-inspired arrangement of the carol “Joy to the World” by Alan Fernie.

The second half was opened up by Regent Brass themselves, who gave a slick rendition of the festive Peter Graham march “The Shining Star”, which is based around the carol “O Come all ye Faithful”. The band’s new 13 year-old principal cornet player William Thomas was then featured as a trumpet soloist in the virtuosic “Concert Etude” by Alexander Goedicke, before the audience joined the band by singing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”. Tracy King and Li Lin Teoh then took the stage along with Regent Brass’ very own David Quinlan to perform Handel’s “Let the Bright Seraphim”, before leading the audience in a sing-along with “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. Regent Brass then continued the festivities with Darrol Barry’s lively arrangement of “Carol of the Bells”,  Philip Harper’s moving “Irish Carol” and Ray Farr’s funky arrangement of Sergei Prokofiev’s “Trokia” entitled “Midnight Sleighride” before being joined on stage by Regent Community Brass for the grand finale. To round off the evening, both bands accompanied the audience in the carol “O Come all ye Faithful” and rounded off the programme with “We Wish you a Merry Christmas” before providing an upbeat encore of “Jingle Bells” to send everyone off into the night with a spring in their step!

Both bands would like to express their heartfelt thanks to Graeme Thewlis, Tracy King, Li Lin Teoh and the Church of the Ascension for making this evening such a success. We’re already looking forward to our next performance there in 2014!