SPOTLIGHT ON: ISOBEL DAWS - Talented trombonist on her flourishing career

Issue 6072

EUROPEAN CANCELLED - Major contest off for second successive year as COVID continues

SOUND OF CHRISTMAS - Bands in England given green light to resume as lockdown ends

Review: Live from NYC | New York Staff Band and Cory Band | Conductors: Derek W Lance and Philip Harper

Tuesday 20 October, 2020

Almost a year ago the Cory Band returned to the USA and the final concert of its short tour was a joint one with the New York Staff Band in the Centennial Memorial Temple in New York.

It was recorded and this double CD produced and finally released. The format is straight forward enough, each band having its own segment before joining forces for a finale, thankfully on this occasion avoiding the usual musical culprits which bands seem incapable of moving on from.

The New York Staff Band contribution opens with The Proclaimers, written by a former member of the band, Kevin Norbury. It is a march that has been a signature piece in the band’s repertoire, with the second half featuring the song Banners and Bonnets. Bristling with energy it was an early indicator of what a fine band the Big Apple has.

The three-movement Semper Fidelis (meaning Always Faithful) by Martin Cordner is followed by Philip Harper’s King of the Seven Heavens, a line taken from Mary Bryne’s 1905 translation of Be Thou My Vision, a Christian hymn of Irish origin commonly known as Slane, which is used as a focal point in the music. The basis of the music makes it highly suitable for a Salvation Army band to perform although something of a strange choice, given the same band also recorded it on its last CD.

As if to make amends, the band’s segment concludes with up-and-coming composer Andrew Wainwright, firstly in an arrangement of songwriter Dan Forrest’s popular choral anthem And Can It Be and secondly in original writing, Rhapsody on St Francis. This was receiving only its second performance and is based on the hymn of the same name, associated with the words All Creatures of Our God and King. Throughout its ten minutes the composer teases with little fragments of the melody before launching into the main tune in its entirety in a dramatic finale which brought the NYSB segment to a magnificent close.

Cory Band took over the middle part of the concert, here split between the two CDs, and while both are refrains of contest victories, they could not be more different. Having won the National with Hermann Pallhuber’s Titan’s Progress a couple of weeks earlier it would have been tempting to do as most bands do with competition pieces and place it firmly at the back of the music library, never to be seen again.

Thankfully, Philip Harper recognises that like every other musical genre the brass band ought to seize opportunities to perform substantial music written for it. Moreover, before the performance Philip Harper explained what Titan’s Progress was all about, which was just as well because the lush, glossy gatefold sleeve and accompanying booklet are sadly lacking in this important aspect of any CD.

It remains music of epic proportions and was well received by an enthusiastic audience, who also lapped up Cory’s 2108 Brass in Concert programme, Romeo and Juliet, with narration from the conductor. Four massed bands item conclude the second disc, the highlight being Leslie Condon’s The Call of the Righteous, written for Tottenham (now Enfield) Citadel Band’s 1964 tour of North America. It seemed entirely appropriate that this brightly coloured work should be chosen, which was surely far more familiar to the NYSB players than it will have been to Cory’s.

For those present, and it was a fairly hefty crowd, this is a permanent memento of a memorable evening, while for anybody else there is much to savour and enjoy in what is a well put-together and varied programme.

Tim Mutum


Programme: 5

Performance: 5

Overall Presentation: 3

Recording Quality: 4