Arbroath Instrumental Band under their musical director Michael Robertson, recently held their Gala Concert in Webster Theatre to a large and appreciative audience.
The theme of the first half of the concert was dedicated to remembering the First World War and the poignant end of the first half provided a very moving tribute to the fallen of that conflict.
The concert was compered by John McSkimming and kept the proceedings moving on with the right degree of wit and humour.
The opening was a lively march by Gordon Langford entitled ‘Carnival Day’ and the enthusiasm of the band was captured very well in this vibrant piece.
This was followed by a beautiful piece by Peter Graham entitled ‘Lady Stewart’s Air’ which moved on to a piece entitled ‘St Mungo’s Overture’. This was composed by head of music services for Angus Council, Jerry Randalls, and was in tribute to the staff and pupils of St Mungo’s High School in Falkirk. The piece was originally composed for wind band but when Jerry moved to Angus Council he rewrote this for brass band and dedicated the arrangement to the conductor of the Arbroath Instrumental Band, Mike Robertson.
The first soloist of the evening was 15 year old euphonium player Chris Flynn. The technicality and assuredness that this young man displayed in the solo piece ‘Pantomime’, was stunning and he clearly has a great future ahead of him, if this performance was anything to go by.
An atmospheric tango came next in the form of ‘Libertango’. This was a great feature for a number of soloists in the band and ended with all the musicians on their feet for in the finale, much to the audience’s delight.
A certain gentleman was invited to the stage then to receive a very special presentation from the band for his services to both the band and the brass band movement in general. Ernest (Ernie) Gerrard has played with the band for more than 50 years and has been playing since childhood. He retired from the band this year at the grand age of 88 years and was awarded an engraved quaich from the band members for his dedication and support to young people and all bands in the local area. He was then invited to conduct the band through the march ‘Slaidburn’.
A selection of First World War tunes followed with participation from audience members in the choruses. There then followed a poetry reading from Wilfred Owen’s ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’, expertly delivered by Jocelyn Robertson and the lament ‘Flowers of the Forest’ played by piper Jamie Falconer.
Another reading of ‘In Flanders Fields’ by Major John McCrea followed and the band then played an extremely moving work which intertwined ‘Amazing Grace’, with the ‘Last Post’ played by principal cornet Ann Ness. As the last notes of the piece were played, the lights dimmed and the audience were visibly moved by this expressive tribute.
The second half opened with the Arbroath Instrumental Youth band under the baton of Ann Ness.
The band played a mixture of pieces including ‘Baggy Trousers’ from Madness, the ‘Elephant’ from ‘Carnival of the Animals’, which featured the bass section of the band and a stirring arrangement of ‘Loch Lomond’ which certainly got the feet tapping. The highlight of the set, however, was a lovely and very moving performance of ‘You Raise Me Up’, which really highlighted the musicality and depth of emotion in this group, which belied their age and experience.
The senior band returned with a bang with ‘Come Follow the Band’ from the musical ‘Barnum’.
The next soloist to take the stage was the very talented Jordan Robertson, principal trombone with the band and also the principal trombone of the National Youth Brass Band of Scotland. Jordan’s performance of the famous ‘Londonderry Air’ displayed remarkable maturity and style.
A fast and furious ‘Burlesque’ followed from Philip Sparke’s a ‘Pittsburgh suite’.
For the finale the band chose an original work for brass band based on ‘Laudate Dominum ( Oh Worship the King)’. It comprised the initial hymn tune followed by variations, some fast, some rhythmic and some exquisitely lyrical and melancholy. It rounded off the evening of joy and sadness wonderfully and ended on a triumphant reprise of the original tune.
John McSkimming proposed the vote of thanks with a special mention to Jocelyn and Jamie for participating in the remembrance part of the concert.
The audience were treated to a special encore of ‘Seventy Six Trombones’ which provided the perfect ending to a great concert.