St Ronan’s Silver Band celebration concert review

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St. Ronan’s Silver Band took to the concert platform as Scottish champions where they performed their Celebration Concert to an appreciative audience in Innerleithen’s Memorial Hall.

The Future Band, under the expert direction of David Robb, got the evening off to a swashbuckling start with their selection from Pirates of the Caribbean. This showed real contrast and control from the young players. Next was the familiar Ghostbusters film theme, which was followed by The Flintstones, keeping the film/TV theme going.

Today’s Future Band number many youngsters who have been playing for only a short time and the quality of sound displayed was quite remarkable.

Band chairman Murray Charters took the opportunity to thank David Robb for all his work with the Future Band and, indeed, as bandmaster of the main band, a post he has recently relinquished.

Murray presented Dave with a gift from the band in recognition of all his work as bandmaster since 2006 and announced that Dave would continue as Future Band leader, tutor and as a cornet player with the band. St Ronan’s new Bandmaster is Stephen Baird.

After a very short break, St Ronan’s Silver Band took to the stage under new musical director Chris Bradley and immediately made an impact with the well-known opener, Fanfare and Flourishes.

This showed just how tight the band’s playing has become and left the audience sitting up in their seats ready for more.

St Ronan’s is greatly privileged to have a fine crop of young soloists within its ranks and first up was soprano cornet player Graham Adam.

Graham delighted the audience with his playing of On with the Motley from the opera I. Pagliacci. Graham gave an excellent performance, showing off the thrilling sounds of the soprano cornet in a piece that is full of emotion. Next the band’s principal cornet player, Liam Orr, was featured in Goff Richards’ Pastorale.

Liam provided sensitive and seamless legato phrasing in this lyrical work. Staying with the cornet section, all the razzmatazz of Trumpets Wild was superbly played by the cornet trio of Liam Orr, Ian Aitchison and Douglas Couchman.

The next solo featured one of the lower instruments when Rebecca Lindsay played the beautiful Irish air Carrickfergus. The 17-year-old left the audience in no doubt that she carries on her family’s considerable musical talent through her own excellent playing.

From youth to experience and the chance for the band’s principal euphonium player Bill Baillie MBE to shine in Philip Wilby’s evocative arrangement of the hymn tune The Day Thou Gavest. Fans of St Ronan’s will recognise this hymn tune as the one regularly played during the Band’s High Street performance on `Games Sunday.

The musical director then introduced us to new piece called Island Whirl by Paul Lovatt-Cooper.

The piece takes its inspiration from the traditional Scottish folk song An Eriskay Love Lilt and with thunderous Celtic drums the piece opened in a whirlwind of sound with fanfare brass and an off-stage soloist in the shape of Liam Orr playing from the balcony.

The percussion team of Claire Bell, Jonny Paterson, Niamh Doyle and Claire Tait whipped the band into a frenzy as the piece got faster and faster. Just prior to the final notes the band diminuendo to allow one last closing statement from the Love Lilt before the ensemble charged to a dramatic close.

This was an exciting new piece for the Band and a fitting close to an excellent first half.

After an interval, the band returned the stage to play Willcock’s rousing march, The Champions as a nod to the band’s recent contest success.

This was followed by the next soloist, Douglas Couchman. The teenager played the traditional cornet solo Zelda by Percy Code and his fine performance showed off his amazing range of technical skills as well as his beautiful cornet sound.

A selection of Burns pieces followed with Alloway Tales which featured such favourites as Duncan Grey, Flow Gentry Sweet Afton and the De’il Awa’ wi’ the Exciseman.

The last of the evening’s soloists came when the band’s flugelhorn player Jill Keddie was featured in the traditional Scottish air, My Ain Folk. Jill delivered perfect phrasing and a rich, mature flugelhorn sound in this lament of the exile that yearns for home.

To show the audience just how they had become Scottish champions, the band featured a section from the test piece from the contest. Hollywood! by Goff Richards is a tribute to the sounds of the silver screen and Chris Bradley’s interpretation proved as big a hit with the Innerleithen audience as it had done with the Perth adjudicators in March.

Philip Sparke’s tribute to European champion band Cory came next with Hail the Dragon before the band brought the evening to a close with Stars and Stripes Forever by J.P. Sousa.

The audience wanted more, however, and were left with a spring in their step with Innerleithen’s anthem, On, St Ronan’s, On! leaving them in no doubt that the band is in fine form.

Preparations for their participation in the National Brass Band Finals of Great Britain on September 22 are well underway.