Another Uplifting Concert from the Fairey Band

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Various composers: Fairey Band / Tom Davoren (conductor), Methodist Church, Lytham, Lancashire. 20.5.2017. (MC)


Oliver Nikolaissen – Pseudo Yoik
Mozart (arranged Bernard Halzelgrove)Marriage of Figaro overture 
James Horner (arranged Darrol Barry)Somewhere Out There
Lillian Ray (arranged Frank Bryce)Sunshine of Your Smile
Traditional (arranged Gordon Langford)Men of Harlech
Traditional (arranged Dorothy Gates) – Shenandoah
Gordon Langford – Fantasy on British Sea Songs
Robin Dewhurst – Earth Rites
Richard Rodgers (arranged Adrian Drover) – My Funny Valentine
T.J. Powell – Castell Coch
Bernie & Pinkard (arranged Goff Richards) – Sweet Georgia Brown
Neal Heftie (arranged Philip Sparke) – Cute
Stephen Sondheim (arranged Howard Snell) – Anyone Can Whistle
Norman Bearcroft – The Better World
Elvis Presley (arranged Goff Richards) – An American Trilogy
Johann Strauss Snr – Radetzky March

The renowned Fairey Band was back in concert at Lytham Methodist Church for the fourth time. Since it’s visit last year the band achieved second place at the prestigious National Brass Band Championship at Royal Albert Hall, London.

In the generally receptive acoustic of Park Street Church the Fairey Band presented a varied programme of seventeen works. Although there was no particular theme provided this year the concert consisted of light concert music a mixture of original brass band compositions and arrangements. Once again associate conductor Tom Davoren displayed his knowledge and warm personality giving a valuable introduction to each work directing with assurance and ensuring quality from first bar to last.

Oliver Nikolaissen’s rather bland fanfare Pseudo Yoik was probably not the ideal curtain raiser. Much improved was Mozart’s uplifting Marriage of Figaro overture (in Bernard Halzelgrove’s splendid arrangement) that really put the band through its paces. Heather Law had the challenging task of playing her baritone solo so early in the programme, but undaunted played the traditional piece Carrickfergus with style and striking intonation together with some judicious vibrato. Sending a shiver down the spine were the key changes and the haunting melody in Somewhere Out There from James Horner’s soundtrack to An American Tail arranged by Darrol Barry. Claire Chalk was cornet soloist in Lillian Ray’s The Sunshine of Your Smile arranged by Frank Bryce. Some early unsteadiness soon disappeared and she excelled displaying an especially lovely tone. Chalk also played the solo in the Blow the Man Down theme from Gordon Langford’s Fantasy on British Sea Songs. A real highlight Shenandoah the traditional American folk song – in the spectacular arrangement by Salvation Army Officer Dorothy Gates – had the band producing a cascade of glorious sound.

Shining brightly after the interval was trombone soloist Rebecca Lundeberg with Adrian Drover’s arrangement of Richard Rodgers’ My Funny Valentine exhibiting striking intonation and appealing tone. Goff Richards’ arrangement of Sweet Georgia Brown by Bernie and Pinkard didn’t swing as much as I expected. Stephen Sondheim’s classy works are often fiendishly difficult to pull off and Anyone Can Whistle arranged by Howard Snell required a tighter ensemble to be heard at its finest. Somewhat dour melodically Norman Bearcroft’s The Better World is a work I found uninspiring despite the valiant attempts of euphonium soloist Adam Bokaris. Generating a remarkably rounded sound and expertly surmounting the virtuoso challenges of the piece Bokaris couldn’t make the work better than what it is. Certainly not lacking in memorable themes was Elvis Presley’s An American Trilogy in Goff Richards spectacular arrangement, rather like a concerto for orchestra, which had the band glowing brightly. And Johann Strauss the elder’s ever popular Radetzky March proved to be the ideal encore. None of my particular favourite brass arrangements were programmed this year notably Hymn to the Fallen from the John Williams soundtrack to Saving Private Ryan, and the James Bond film scores by John Barry that work so well in brass arrangements. Sadly there was no flugelhorn solo given this year and I can still fond recall Lucy Cutt at the 2016 concert playing the Adagio from Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez; ‘That’s orange juice to you’ a character says in the film Brassed Off.

This was another uplifting concert from the Fairey Band at Lytham playing with remarkable ensemble and an elevated level of expertise. Next year’s return concert is already being arranged to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of the building of Lytham’s Park Street Methodist Church.

Michael Cookson

Leave a Comment