Hemel Hempstead – 14 May 2005

Garry AmbroseReports

With Longdean School Band (Pauline Emeny)

At The Lion Theatre, Longdean School, Hemel Hempstead

The sound which reverberated around the Lion Theatre when the massed bands reached bar 14 of Barrie Gott’s ‘Let there be praise’’ was awesome and spine tingling. 59 musicians (25 from Enfield Citadel band and 34 from Longdean School concert band) playing at full strength captivated the capacity audience.

Having visited the web page of Enfield Citadel Band, the pupils eagerly awaited the opportunity to play with this internationally renowned band. The sounds of difficult scalic passages and debates about articulation had been echoing around Longdean’s music department for the last five months. As well as ‘Let there Be Praise’, pupils also performed Ivor Bosanko’s Salvation Army march, ‘Marching Onward’. The Eb soprano parts transcribed effectively for flute and piccolo, as did cornet parts for clarinets and horn and baritone parts for saxophones. There were also six percussionists to keep amused! Therefore extra xylophone, glockenspiel, timpani, marching cymbals and other various items to shake and bang were employed to expand the exciting rhythmic parts. The overall effect was tremendous.

Earlier in the year, the school band were honoured to join with The Band of The Welsh Guards for a concert. One of the massed items at this event was a concert band arrangement of Rimsky Korsakoff’s ‘Procession of the Nobles’. At the request of the pupils, the massed bands played this piece again as a finale item. This was a challenge to our woodwind players, as their parts were not covered by the Enfield players. Far from being intimidated, the students rose to the occasion and prompted many a tear from proud parents and staff. The concert not only gave the opportunity for pupils to play with such high calibre musicians but it gave them an opportunity to listen to brass band music at its best. Enfield’s programme choice was spot on for the mainly uninitiated audience. It was a light programme with many familiar tunes. This was the first time that many had ever heard a brass band.

There was immediately captivating fast exciting music such as Ray Farr’s arrangement of Bach’s Toccata in D minor and for the post grade 8 pupils, the exquisite sound and phrasing of principal cornet player Ralph Brill’s rendition of Faure’s Pavanne was inspirational and moving. As many of our students have just completed their GCSE and AS/A level practical assessments and recitals, they were able to fully understand and appreciate all that went in to the four solo items ‘Jubilance’ (Maurice Patterson – cornet) Nessum Dorma (Andrew Justice – trombone) ‘The Lark in the clear air’ (Llyod Hardwick – tenor horn) So Glad (Malcolm Hynd – flugel horn).

The positive effect of the concert was immediate. Motivated by the precise, energetic tuned percussion playing of Nick Samuels, the school’s talented xylophone players attempted to play the percussion part from Toccata as stands and music were being tidied away. A copy of the music was given and most of the young percussionists had made a reasonable attempt at the piece by the following Wednesday! By the following Monday, an unofficial school band committee had sprung up with a list of pieces from the concert that the school band would like to play. Top of the list seemed to be ‘Since Jesus’ by Leonard Ballentine although the tuba players asked for the music ASAP as the fast scale passages would need the summer break to sort out. It was wonderful to see the pupils discussing their own and their peers abilities and wondering if they could push themselves to play some of ‘Gaelforce’. All the students wrote thank you letters to James Williams, many asking if Enfield Band could come back to visit.

The afternoon rehearsal, followed by tea, allowed time for the bands to meet, creating a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. This also allowed time for Enfield Band to ‘fly the flag’ for amateur music making. Although eleven Longdean students have places this year to study music at college and university, there are some very talented musicians who are not pursuing music as a career. This dialogue and concert has inspired them not to shove their instruments under the bed or to sell them on ebay but to keep playing.

For the school concerts I always insist on the highest standards of deportment and uniform – it was wonderful to be ‘backed up’ by the excellent standards of Enfield band.

Using the school’s fully equipped Lion Theatre a professional quality CD of the concert was made, which the students already cherish. A professional DVD was also made of the event. As with past concert DVD’s, this resource will not only provide an important keep-sake for performers but act as evidence of excellence and viewed by extended families.

I would like to thank James Williams and Enfield Citadel Band for not only generating an outstanding concert but for generating enthusiasm for and pride in music making.

The very positive impact of this concert on my music department, education as a whole and the wider school community prompts me to challenge brass bands to get into schools and join with young musicians.

Quotes from letters from pupils to James Williams:

“Thank you for giving us the opportunity to play with you on Saturday and I am now inspired to be a musician when I am older” Stefan Kyriacou 14 year old percussionists.

“My friends came to support us and they said that even though they do not normally listen to your genre of music they thought it was really fantastic” Vicki Burns 15 year old cornet player.

“Thank you so much for coming to our school and giving up some of your time to play, it was an incredible experience for us” Jodie Fox 15 year old member of the audience.

“Being able to play with the band was inspiring and it was wonderful to be included in the massed pieces especially “Procession of the Nobles” It has motivated me to continue with my music so that eventually I will be able to play some of the pieces I witnessed you performing.” Kirsty March 15 year old tenor saxophonists.

Pauline Emeny
Head of Music

View the programme from this event (pdf download 329kb)