Muisc Services Summer Concert, Forest Arts Centre, Tuesday 3rd July 2012

Conducted by Warren Belshaw, Resident Conductor

The Forest Arts Centre was bathed in summer rain (or at least had been), as the many, many participants in the first of a series of Summer Concerts by Walsall Music Services was held on the 3rd July.


The Main Hall had the capacity audience down the one side, with the three brass groups on the other - 'FAB', or Forest Arts Beginners, who have literally only just picked up a brass instrument, on the left, 'Brasstastic', on the right, who have players who are moving up the grading structure - and in the middle, The Staffordshire Band, conducted by Warren Belshaw, who were there to give a focus of what can be achieved.

Whilst there were supporters of the Band there (and knew what to expect), the vast majority hadn't got a clue what was about to hit them.

Anyhow, with temperatures soaring (which they certainly were not doing outside!!), the differing brass groups took to the floor ready for the 7.30pm start, with Mark Vause, the out-going Head (he has organised 60 concerts during his seven-year tenure at Forest Arts Centre) introducing the Groups, and started by introducing 'FAB', who gave two super performances of 'Jazzy March' and 'Vindaloo'. This was followed by 'Brasstastic', who played 'Beat It', Groovin' and 'Tango Turismo', all with great style and commitment.

So now it was us and we certainly didn't disappoint (probably shocked a load in the audience who had never heard a brass band at this standard before), with 'Olympic Fanfare and Theme' by John Williams arranged by Forester and Dye (it is Olympic Year, after all!), 'I Wonder' by Andersson & Ulvaeus arranged by Warren Belshaw (an ABBA number which even the most ardent fan may struggle recognising), but still a very fine solo, delivered in his usual assured style by Cornet Soloist, Adrian Lacey. 'Crimond', a traditional hymn, of course, but arranged is superb fashion (as always), by the Band's Arranger-in-Residence, Wesley Kendrick - the audience were hooked by this time. The first set ended with a supercharged version of 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom' by John Williams arranged by Ray Farr, which had the audience almost on their feet, but because of the nature of the temperature in the Hall, had pretty much stuck to their seats!

The Band were swimming in sweat!

Back to 'FAB' who gave us 'Buffalo Soldier' and the theme from 'Mission Impossible', and 'Brasstastic', who ended their set with, 'Misirlou', 'Overture, and 'Encore!' - all to great support and applause, before the Band came back..............

'Overture - Act II, from Phantom of the Opera' by Andrew Lloyd Webber arranged by Stephen Wood started the final set, before - 'As Long As He Needs Me' by Lionel Bart arranged by Darrol Barry, featuring the very fine Euphonium playing of Mike Ixer (once again), a very different arrangement of 'Lambeth Walk' by Noel Gay and Douglas Furbur arranged by Philip Sparke which the audience loved, before a final round of thanks from Mark Vause, and the Band's last piece - 'There's No Business Like Show Business' by Irving Berlin arranged by Goff Richards.

So a very successful night with a lot of fine playing at all the levels and it was left the Chairman Shaun Elliott to sum up the night, 'It was a great night for all of us in The Staffordshire Band. Not only did it give us a reminder of where we all started, but with it, hope that the future of brass playing is in good hands and if The Staffordshire Band can encourage these fine youngsters, then we will help in any way we can. It will be great to welcome to the Band in the future, a brass player who played in either of the two groups tonight. Our remit as brass-band-in-residence at Forest Arts Centre is not only brass excellence, but also as an pinnacle for younger players to aspire to and finally, achieve.'

Thanks to everyone who organised the concert tonight, who helped us out and to the youngsters who give us all so much hope for the future.


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