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‘Into Africa’ concert 2012

‘Dads and Lads’ make debut in fundraiser
Andrew Wainwright reports

Into Africa Poster_2012When the Kenya Trust was founded in 2004,  it could hardly have been imagined what impact it would make in the subsequent years. Raising an astonishing £200,000 in the time since, it has contributed immensely to the work of The Salvation Army in East Africa, funding numerous worthwhile projects along with seminars and music schools, the last of which was reported on in SA Bandsman last month. A big part of the Trust’s ongoing work has been the annual Into Africa concert series which is held at Staines Corps.

This year, there was the added perspective of Salvationist Oliver Quinn’s (Staines) involvement in a trip to Vietnam and Laos, in which he will be involved in the support of various community projects. Oliver’s original vision was to assemble a group of his musician friends to perform in a concert to raise money for his trip. This idea developed into a ‘dads and lads’ band, Generation Brass, and became reality at the 2012 Into Africa concert, held at Staines Corps on 16 June. Coming together for the first time on the day of the concert, Oliver was anxious that the band’s performance be of the highest quality, and so he asked Territorial Music Director, Dr. Stephen Cobb, to conduct.

FfourtissimoThe band was supported at the event by Staines Songsters and ffourtissimo, a vocal quartet featuring singers who have recently graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Kicking off the event were the Songsters, whose contribution to the evening was much appreciated by the capacity audience. Under the leadership of Samantha Turner, they began proceedings by dispersing themselves around the hall in Rejoice, before Generation Brass was welcomed to the stage.

The band’s first item was Peter Graham’s Seize the Day, and revealed what a commendable job Stephen Cobb had done in getting the band playing together in such limited rehearsal time. Of particular note was the fine solo playing of James Fountain (cornet), Matthew Ingram (euphonium) and Ben Horton (trombone). With the younger element generally taking the principal positions, it did not go unnoticed who was sitting in the back row of cornets, which as Stephen Cobb described later in the evening, must have been “as illustrious a 2nd cornet section as there’s ever been!” It featured Roland Cobb, Ray Todd and David Woodrow, who incidentally have all at one time or another served in Her Majesty’s Guards bands.

551669_10150875212071884_1426695784_nFollowing Seize the Day, the band turned to Paul Sharman’s reflective Time to be Holy, before Samantha Turner brought the evening’s offerings to the Lord in prayer.
ffourtissimo is a group which is making great strides at present, having appeared television in recent weeks, which has added to its burgeoning reputation. It began its first set with the Hallelujah Chorus, which was sung with great gusto, before presenting The Lamb. Anyone who has ever sung this song will know how difficult it is to pull off, particularly with its awkward intervals, but the group was equal to the challenge, maintaining spotless intonation throughout.

Next to step forward was Thomas Fountain, who provided one of the highlights of the evening in Rusalka’s Song to the Moon. Sitting next to his brother, James, on solo cornet, 15-year-old Thomas picked up a flugel horn to present the solo, displaying a maturity and sense of lyricsm that was way beyond his tender years.

Staines Songsters continued the prayerful mood set by Thomas with Baba Yetu (Christopher TIn), which was sung in Swahili. This was followed by We are not alone (Pepper Choplin) and Big Mighty God (Sue C. Smith, Lee Black and Kenna West arr. Russell Maudlin). Under the refined leadership of Samantha Turner, whose insightful introductions to each song particularly added to the presentation, each of the group’s songs were sung from memory.

556209_10150875210626884_1157870804_nGeneration Brass brought the first half to a close with Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s exciting Light Fantastic, although the performance was a touch ragged in execution at times. Following this, Ray Salmons came forward to explain a little more about the concept behind the Into Africa project. The word he kept coming back to was ‘harambee’, literally meaning ‘pulling together’. Ray challenged each of us to pull together and make a difference, and what better way to do so than through an event such as this? Indeed, as the band played I can think of him, a collection was taken, taking the final total raised for the event to £2,913.

The band began the second half with Stephen Bulla’s Concertante for Cornets and Band, which showed the breadth of talent of the cornet bench, although the accompaniment was perhaps a little heavy at times.

After a rousing congregational song, Zephania’s Song (arr. William Himes), it was back to Staines Songsters, whose second half set included Big Mighty God (arr. Russell Maudin), Everywhere (John Gowans/Andrew Maycock) and Stand up and Make a Change (Ly Tartell & Greg Jasperse).

One of the scheduled soloists for the evening was clarinetist, Andrew Piper, but he was unable to be present as his wife was due to give birth on the day of the concert. However, it just so happened that there was a ready-made replacement present in the form of the ISB’s star flugel horn soloist, Richard Woodrow, who happened to be playing in the band. He stepped forward to play the same solo that Andrew would have played, William Himes’ So Glad!, with customary flair.

After the band had played William Himes’ beautiful Soli Deo Gloria, it was back to ffourtissimo, who impressed once again with three more songs, the first of which, Chilli Con Carne, was for this listener one of the highlights of the evening. It was about little more than what the title suggests, which of course added to the humour, and was brilliantly put together and presented. ffourtissimo’s other songs, Wonderful Tonight and The song that goes like this completed the group’s set and enhanced further their reputation.

It was just down to Generation Brass to bring a highly enjoyable evening to a majestic close with Eric Ball’s timeless classic, The Kingdom Triumphant, before signing off in fine fashion with James Anderson’s foot-tapping march, Goldcrest.