Recent Concert

Concert review published in the NWN 26th July 2018

The Beech Hill Concert Band

Christian Aid Charity Concert

Saturday 14 July 2018 - St John’sChurch, 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 band’s conductor Stewart Lewins stimulated his players and audience, filling St John’sChurch 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 Wood’s Arthurian Legend;and Austrian trombonist/composer Thomas Doss’s Devil’s Tower – imaginative, mood-painting, with contrasts of atmosphere (I think the word “filmic” would be appropriate, with shades of Hammer Horror in evidence!)  There was celebratory music as in Samuel Hazo’s Exultate and the very rhythmic Majestia of James Swearingen.  Peter Graham’s 6-movement suite Windows of the World painted stunning musical pictures of parts of the earth.   

More familiar were Paul Yoder’s arrangement of Paul Desmond’s groovy Take Five; and well-named Big Band Signatures arranged by John Higgins.  As for the  transcription by Clare Grundman of Bernstein’s Overture to ‘Candide’, 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 ‘oompah pahs’.) 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 – Philip Sparke’s A Klezmer Karnival – 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.