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Interviews

4Barsrest NYSB & Cory Band Concert Review

Cory Band & New York Staff Band

Conductors: Philip Harper & Bandmaster Derek Lance
Centennial Memorial Temple
New York
Saturday 2nd November


Cory Band’s second visit to the United States in three years has been a resounding success.

Taking in venues in Annandale, Raleigh and James Maddison University, it was fitting that it should conclude in New York City, the first time that the Welsh giants have performed in the Big Apple.

Their hosts were the New York Staff Band, no strangers to sharing the stage with world class talent, with the impressive surroundings of the Salvation Army’s Centennial Memorial Temple the ideal venue close to the heart of the city that never sleeps.

Packed

Packed to its rafters with a multi-national audience, Bandmaster Derek Lance also offered a warm welcome to Staff Bandmasters Olaf Ritman (Amsterdam), Harold Burgmayer (Chicago) and retired NYSB Bandmaster Ron Waiksnoris.

Divided into three parts, the host band opened their substantial programme featuring three major works.

Kevin Norbury’s ‘Proclaimers’ festival march bristled with energy. It showed the band in fine form, with a tangible vitality and spirit that has been honed by Bandmaster Lance since taking the baton, whilst Martin Cordner’s engaging movie-soundtrack inspired ‘Sempre Fidelis’ saw the ensemble clearly at home in the idiom.

Derek Lance has been proactive in showcasing new music, and what followed were three recent works, two of which were commissioned by the band.

Philip Harper’s atmospheric ‘King of the Seven Heavens’, based on the hymn tune ‘Slane’ was aided by driving Celtic rhythms. It was followed by Andrew Wainwright’s arrangements of Dan Forrest’s poignant ‘And can it be?’, and ‘Rhapsody on St Francis’, associated with the words ‘All creatures of our God and King’.

The addition of the words on the multi-media screen served to add an extra dimension to the music, and brought to a close the first third of the concert in rousing fashion.

Polished

Cory was met with enthusiastic applause as they proceeded to deliver a polished set way beyond the confines of a traditional brass band concert programme.

Expertly linked by Philip Harper’s narrative musicality, it was playing of the highest quality – starting with Gordon Langford’s rarely heard march, ‘The Pacemakers’ delivered with balanced poise and panache.

It was a huge pleasure to hear Herman Pallhuber’s ‘Titan’s Progress’, on which the band had claimed the National Championship title just three weeks before. The standing ovation (one of many) was hugely appropriate.

Cory then retold the story of Romeo & Juliet – Philip Harper’s clever reinterpretation of the Shakespearean tryst that had won the 2018 Brass in Concert title.

It was a huge pleasure to hear Herman Pallhuber’s ‘Titan’s Progress’, on which the band had claimed the National Championship title just three weeks before. The standing ovation (one of many) was hugely appropriate.

Interspersed with narration by the MD, it combined drama, humour and emotion in spades; from ‘O Verona’, to Helen and Glyn Williams’ ‘Love Theme’ duet from Tchaikovsky’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’, the dramatic ‘Clans Collide’, and finally to Bernstein’s ‘Somewhere’ from ‘West Side Story’, which featured the outstanding trombone playing of Chris Thomas.

With the clever use of spatial choreography and solo cameos for the band’s stable of top class soloists it was a superb exhibition of musical theatrical drama.

Measured

After another short interval, the massed bands came together.

Measured dynamic performances of Etienne Crausaz’s pulsating ‘Balkan Dance’ was balanced by Leonard Ballantine’s evocative ‘I Know Thou Art Mine’ and Leslie Condon’s ‘Call of the Righteous’ which brought audible murmurs of pleasure from all corners of the auditorium.

It brought to a close a concert to be treasured.

By Andrew Wainwright