The Beech Hill Concert Band
Christian Aid Charity Concert
Saturday 14 July 2018 - St JohnâsChurch, Newbury
Feeling somewhat drained by the climatic conditions coupled with a bombardment of information and fervour generated by certain world events and sporting activities, I was delighted to seek refreshment and a different type of excitement which I knew would be provided by Beech Hill Concert Band in their 2018 concert for Christian Aid funds.
With his wealth of knowledge of musical sources, and his skill in introducing less familiar pieces as part of clever programming, the bandâs conductor Stewart Lewins stimulated his players and audience, filling St JohnâsChurch with a range of sounds to lift spirits and lighten hearts.
Excellent contrasts of mood, volume and style, with interplay of brass, woodwind and percussion were skillfully achieved. Unfamiliar story-telling pieces included Joe Woodâs Arthurian Legend;and Austrian trombonist/composer Thomas Dossâs Devilâs Tower â imaginative, mood-painting, with contrasts of atmosphere (I think the word âfilmicâ would be appropriate, with shades of Hammer Horror in evidence!) There was celebratory music as in Samuel Hazoâs Exultate and the very rhythmic Majestia of James Swearingen. Peter Grahamâs 6-movement suite Windows of the World painted stunning musical pictures of parts of the earth.
More familiar were Paul Yoderâs arrangement of Paul Desmondâs groovy Take Five; and well-named Big Band Signatures arranged by John Higgins. As for the transcription by Clare Grundman of Bernsteinâs Overture to âCandideâ, I was in my aural element.
All the players gave of their best. At the end of the concert I learned that the young percussionist, who achieved such good effects with various instruments, often at high speed, had been with the group for only a few weeks. Playing with this band will doubtless nurture his skills even more.
This was a lovely occasion. The band are a friendly group, who loved the tea party provided for them (the tuba player told me it really helped his âoompah pahsâ.) Their generosity of spirit shone through, Stewart Lewins commending the Christian Aid fund for its efforts to help the less fortunate.
The evening closed with a surprise item â Philip Sparkeâs A Klezmer Karnival â hearing its great rhythms and sounds, we were very tempted to dance in the aisles as we left the church. Exciting this concert certainly was.