Published on May 6th, 2017 by gavin

REVIEW: Hepworth Brass Band Spring Concert ‘Fairy Tales & Stories’

Holmfirth Civic Hall Sunday 9th April 3pm

What do you do on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Holmfirth? You go to a concert!

Having spent the entire Saturday in the sun with my 4 year old I saw a concert advertised entitled “Fairy Tales and Stories” performed by the Hepworth Band and conducted by my friend Leigh Baker. Intrigued by the theme and encouraged by an interesting programme, we packed our goods and chattels and travelled over to Holmfirth.

The concert opened with impressive sounds from the band playing David Hirst’s arrangement, Introduction to Act 1 of Swan Lake. With the Spring Festivsl fast approaching it was a logical choice to start and finish the concert with some music from the tragic love story. The concert ending with the finale from Stephen Roberts British Open commission of the same name.

The full band pieces were varied and kept the theme going without overloading the fairy tale senses, and without a Frozen song in sight! We were treated to a fantastic arrangement of Lord of the Rings by Phillip Harper, Roy Newsome’s Sleeping Beauty Waltz, a bit of Romeo and Juliet, a unique arrangement of Over the Rainbow by Tom Davoren, the wonderful Alloway Tales by Peter Graham along with a brilliant original composition;It’s always challenging to present new music to an audience especially when they have an expectations of a certain theme, but Storyteller by Cornish composer Christopher Bond was sold to the audience by Mr Baker before the band played a note. What a brilliant piece of music this was and the Hepworth band certainly did it justice.

All it took was two notes played by Bb Bass player Mike Everett, and the audience didn’t need much more to figure out that open waters are not safe. The introduction by Leigh Baker for John Williams “Jaws” along with the menacing sounds from the bass section was well constructed and the music spoke for itself. High impact and high energy playing from the band.

A particular treat for me was hearing Baby Mine from the Walt Disney’s animated feature Dumbo. This clever arrangement of the beautiful lullaby by Leigh Baker sent me back to my childhood.

Four soloists were put to their feet, the first being principal cornet Andrew Holmes. His pure beautiful sound and style was perfectly suited to Leigh Baker’s arrangement of the Scottish folksong, Wild Mountain Thyme. The next soloist certainly had an impact for the younger members of the audience. Whilst Solo Trombone Yvonne Embury played Pure Imagination from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, two members of the band handed out sweets to the children in the audience, of which there were quite a few! And as the sweeties were being opened and the polite “thank you’s” were heard around the room, Yvonne’s laid back style delighted the adult audience with Phillip Littlemore’s arrangement of this enchanting song. Flugel player Katherine Bentham delivered a lovely rendition of Eric Whitacre’s Seal Lullaby (based on the words of Rudyard Kipling) arranged by Paul Sharman, and maybe a little looser on the prevailing theme, but no less impressive, was solo horn Scot Bennett playing Strauss’s Allegro from his Horn Concerto.

I wasn’t quite sure I was ready for something different to be done with the encore hymn Nearer My God to Thee, but Mike Kilmartin’s clever arrangement of this beautiful hymn worked a treat and the audience reacted with real enthusiasm. A spirited close to the afternoon’s entertainment.

I was impressed by this outfit from the moment I arrived. Expecting children at the concert, there was an area at the back of the hall designated just for them -indulging them with all the colouring in and egg painting any child would wish for. It worked a treat and Kept the kids that didn’t want to sit and listen throughout ,entertained and quiet.

The theme worked, and the continuity and story telling by conductor and compère, Leigh Baker was slick and well constructed without being repetitious or pompous. I asked my 4 year old what his favourite bit was. He said it was listening to the stories told by the conductor. That’s enough for me. If a four year with a two and half minute attention span listened to every word for the two hours we were there-that is a win in my book!

The Hepworth band with their relatively new conductor delivered an entertaining concert that had a real touch of class attached to it. It bodes well for their future relationship.

– Mareika Gray

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