Brass band lives up to fine reputation

Fodens Band @ St Andrew's Hall, Norwich

Fodens Band @ St Andrew's Hall, Norwich

By MICHAEL DRAKE

It says a great deal for an ensemble that its conductor will fly from Canada for a concert.

But such is the band's reputation that Bramwell Tovey deserted the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra on Sunday evening, returning to his family roots in Norwich to direct a dashing performance by one of Britain's top brass bands.

The East Anglian Brass Band Association's annual Spring Gala Concert once again proved to be a stirring occasion, from the opening Fanfare and Flourishes to an emotional arrangement of Abide With Me. The band's dynamic range was quite outstanding and exemplified in George Lloyd's Diversions on a Base Theme, a literally testing piece in which each section could be identified in the syncopations and instrumental interjections. It was glorious.

Solos too were outstanding – superbly controlled soprano phrases, lightning dexterity on the xylophone when the band had its work cut out to keep up,

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trombone nostalgia and the “multi-instrument party piece” illustrates what talented musicians they are. Coincidentally it was 25 years to the day that I wrote my first review which was also of a band, from Norwich Schools. Together with the full house, in the varied programme, I again thrilled to it all and it was perhaps all encapsulated in the “Irish encore” with rhythm, virtuosity, subtlety, and that unique brass band sound.