ARBROATH Instrumental Band held their gala concert in the Webster Theatre on Friday to a large and very appreciative audience.
The standard of this band continues to impress and the professionalism of the predominantly young personnel is to be admired.
The band opened their programme with a joyous, exuberant march aptly titled ‘Jubiloso’.
Matthew Bicket, minister at Carnoustie Panbride Church set exactly the right tone with the audience and his humorous interjections were highly enjoyable.
‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’ was a great arrangement by Scottish composer and arranger Alan Fernie and a great contrast to the fast paced opener.
A dazzling display of technique was displayed by the first soloist of the evening, Joanne Frier.
Joanne is a former Scottish under 17 champion and her performance on Friday demonstrated exactly why she deserved that title. ‘La Napolitaine’ was fast, furious and extremely difficult but the ease with which this young lady mastered this work was breathtaking.
The band ended their first set with a march entitled ‘Sarie Marais’.
The Arbroath Instrumental Youth Band then took to the stage under their conductor Ann Ness.
The band started their programme with the song recently performed by Cher, ‘The Shoop Shoop Song’.
The standard of the playing was superb from such a young group whose age range is from nine up to the grand old age of 16.
The principal euphonium player Peter Jackson then provided the second solo spot of the evening and what a solo spot!
The sound this young man produces is positively spine tingling with a depth and maturity well beyond his years.
His performance of the Welsh melody ‘Myfanwy’ was one of the many highlights of the evening before the youth band finished their first set with the Abba favourite ‘Mamma Mia’.
One of the surprise hit films of recent years has been Slumdog Millionaire and some of the younger members of the band performed the hit ‘Jai Ho’ from the film which had been arranged by two members of the group, Gregory Chaplain and Joe Walters.
Complete with a well choreographed dance routine this had a rousing reception from the audience which was well deserved.
The band returned to the stage and continued with a tender melody by the recently deceased composer Goff Richards called a ‘Special Place’.
The first half of the concert ended with a real treat, ‘Carpe Diem (Sieze The Day)’, an original work for brass band written by the principal trombone player Joe Walters, who is about to begin his studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Music and Drama in Glasgow later this month.
The second half began with a belter of a march, taken at breakneck speed entitled ‘The Waltonian’.
The next young soloist to take the stage was the band’s principal euphonium player Chris Robertson who performed a spirited solo work in the form of variations on the old folk song ‘Blaydon Races’.
Again the technique and musicality of the performance are testimony to the excellent teaching from the band’s conductor Mr Michael Robertson.
This talented and inspiring instructor has produced some tremendous musicians over the years and is responsible for virtually all of the young talent within the band.
Inside every brass player there is a frustrated percussionist and that was true of at least four of the band members who were keen to hone their percussive skills and branch out.
‘Mr Sandman’ featured various items of percussion from the four soloists as well as some ‘unwanted’ interjections from the real percussionists at the back of the band.
This was a real tonic and had the audience in stitches at the antics of the four main men at the front.
The youth band then returned to play the theme tune to the Disney film ‘The Lion King’ and finished their performance of the evening with a major work which would have been a challenge to any senior, adult band entitled ‘Freeworld Fantasy’.
Their performance was polished and precise and testament to the hard work they put in as individuals as the work of the ensemble as a whole and that of their conductor.
The final part the concert saw the audience take an active part and they did this with relish to a selection of tunes from the hit musical ‘The Sound Of Music’.
There is nothing like the sound of a band playing a hymn tune and the penultimate work was a beautiful arrangement by Phillip Wilby of one of the loveliest hymns, ‘The Day Thou Gavest Lord Has Ended’.
The warmth, sensitivity and sonority the ensemble produced was breathtaking and reduced many of the audience to tears.
The finale to the evening was entitled ‘An American Tale’, a selection of American folk and popular songs woven together to tell the tale of the American Civil War.
Many well known American tunes were in this albeit some set with particularly complex rhythms and included a rousing rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’ to close.
For the encore the band performed the theme from the ‘William Tell Overture’ at lightning speed showing a dexterity that would grace the greatest bands in the country.
There has seldom been a finer or more polished amateur musical event involving so many young and talented players in the Webster Theatre and it demonstrates the wealth of musical talent in the area for which we should be very proud.