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Brighouse & Rastrick & Fairey Bands

Conductor: David Hirst
Vocalist: Sarah Ogden
Huddersfield Town Hall
Saturday 26th October

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The Victorian splendour of Huddersfield Town Hall once again provided the ornate setting for the latest in the series of Brighouse & Rastrick’s bi-annual massed band concerts.
 
Joining the West Riding band on stage for the 36th time since they began in the 1940s were the Fairey Band, whilst the MD for the evening was David Hirst, himself celebrating 50 years since he made his debut at the event as a player. 

Warm nostalgia

Knowing an audience’s musical predilections at this concert has become an art form in itself, with David expertly choosing familiar and appealing works as well as being an affable compere neatly tapping into the warm vein of nostalgia. 

Both bands also responded to his neat direction; right from the bold opening chords of 'Fest Musik der Stadt Wein' and the free running 'Ruslan & Ludmilla'.  Ronald Binge's 'Elizabethan Serenade' brought smiles of recognition for music of cultured elegance from a certain era, before Fairey's principal cornet, Stephanie Wilkins delighted with her lyrical approach to Christopher Bond's 'Pacific Melody'.

Knowing an audience’s musical predilections at this concert has become an art form in itself, with David expertly choosing familiar and appealing works as well as being an affable compere neatly tapping into the warm vein of nostalgia. 

The cornet team let their hair down for the popular ‘Trumpet Blues and Cantable’ before a lightening quick, ‘Armenian Fire Dance’ paved the way to the first half closing with ‘Honey Pie’ and Saint-Seans’ dramatic ‘Bacchanale’.

Rousing

The second half was more of the same; a rousing ‘Radetzky March’ neatly segued into ‘Perpetuum Mobile’ before the classic 'Grandfather's Clock' was played with stately aplomb by Brighouse baritone player, Michael Cavanagh. 

A quartet rather than duet of euphoniums brought memories of Jussi Bjorling and Robert Merrill back to life with the famous Bizet ‘Pearl Fishers’ aria. 

A segment of ‘Last Night of the Proms’ music elicited some audience participation; clapping along to ‘Fantasia on British Sea Songs', although not even the MD or featured vocalist, Sarah Ogden, could persuade them to let their vocal chords be heard in 'I Vow to Thee My Country', 'Jerusalem' and 'Land of Hope and Glory'.  ‘Brexit’ politics perhaps? 
 
Nevertheless, by the time the sounds of 'You'll Never Walk Alone' had been heard in all its glory, a standing ovation from satisfied listeners acknowledged that it had been a very enjoyable night's music making.

Malcolm Wood

Image: Gordon Ratcliffe

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