Celebrating 120 years

Arbroath Instrumental Band held their Gala Concert in the town’s St Andrew’s Church to an almost capacity audience on Friday.

The theme of the concert was ‘At the Movies’ and this proved a huge hit with the appreciative crowd. As usual the master of ceremonies for the event was Matthew Bicket, minister of Newton of Panbride Church, who hit exactly the right note with his comments and jokes between the band performances.

The event was accompanied by a slideshow of film posters from the music the band chose to play. The opening was the 20th Century Fox theme moving straight into St Louis Blues. Musicals were also a feature and the first soloist of the evening, Philippa DeVilliers, the flugel horn player gave a lovely performance of ‘I Don’t Know How to Love Him’ from ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’.

The action movie was well represented and ‘Mission Impossible’ was followed by ‘Singin’ In The Rain’, a quirky arrangement by Scottish composer and arranger Alan Fernie. It was back to blockbusters and what programme would be complete without a Bond action movie. ‘Skyfall’, was wonderfully performed and particularly atmospheric.

The film choice went from the sublime to the ridiculous...with ‘Austin Powers’ being the next spy of the evening and the feel of the ‘60s was captured just right with Soul Bossa Nova, complete with cornet solo by principal cornet Ann Ness.

The next solo item featured the band’s solo horn player, Claire McGee who gave a tender performance of a beautiful arrangement of the ever popular ‘Over the Rainbow’. ‘The Ugly Duckling’ from Hans Christian Anderson was next up and included very effective duck noises throughout and was well received.

The final piece of the first half was a stirring and powerful rendition of ‘The Gael’, theme music from ‘Last of the Mohicans’. With its driving percussion, Celtic undertones and gradual and exciting build up to the finale crescendo, this was a tremendous hit with the audience. So much so, that at the interval Michael Robertson, the musical director had several requests to perform this particular piece again.

The second half opened with the Arbroath Instrumental Youth band under the baton of Ann Ness, taking the centre spot. The band numbers 35 young players, all of whom are taught by one man, Mr Michael Robertson and it is testament to his teaching methods and enthusiasm that we have such a large contingent of young players. Almost all of the young people took part in the National Youth Brass Band courses held in Perth and Stirling in August and hopefully, with so many youngsters, the continuation of the Arbroath is assured.

The band moved the action to the 1950’s with a selection of songs from the musical ‘Grease’, complete with solo spot for several of the band members including Hannah Grubb on trombone and vocals from Cal Graham.

The youth band finished their excellent set with Abba’s ‘Thank you for the Music’.

The senior band returned with ‘Be A Clown’ and followed this with a very sensitive and beautifully played ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ from ‘Les Miserables’. The trombone section then came to the fore with a bit of gospel (including bit of dancing and audience participation, encouraged by the percussion section) for ‘I Will Follow Him’ from ‘Sister Act’.

The final piece of the evening was a real tour de force for the band. ‘Star Wars’ was arranged for the band by their bass trombone player Simon Garden, who did not make things easy! It was a great test with superb tunes which required technical dexterity for all sections of the band and proved a great finale to the evening.

Jeff Smart proposed the vote of thanks and an encore of the ‘Dambusters’ was played to close. However, Mike relented and agreed to play the ‘Gael’ once more which received a standing ovation from much of the crowd.

This was a hugely successful and enjoyable concert and was a worthy celebration of the band’s 120th anniversary.