I WAS well pleased to be sitting behind the percussionists. I love watching one of them make the big gong shiver while another one teases the xylophone and the third stands with cymbals poised for the clash. Brass bands are pure theatre, bursting with dazzle and glitz, comedy, suspense and drama.
Something happens to familiar music when it’s given the brass treatment. Take Bach’s Arioso – it’s as if it’s snuggled into an armchair by the fire and acquired rosy cheeks.
I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy throbs with hot-blooded oompah passion. The opening bars of the James Bond theme turn into a jungle cat stealing into the theatre.
Sunday’s guest conductor in Morgan Griffiths’s absence (working with the Bradford Youth Orchestra) was Richard Evans, whose unique conducting style was terrific. He looked like a mad professor, told lots of jokes and had a wonderful rapport with the predominantly youthful band. One minute he was trading banter, the next paying sincere tribute to the soloists. They deserved it, too. When Jason Abbott played La Califfa on the soprano cornet, it was so beautiful you could have sobbed. I’d love to hear one of those soloists play Brideshead. Maybe next time?
For the past two years we’d had Respighi’s Pines of Rome – incredible – and weren’t lucky enough to get it this time. Maybe the programme as a whole was a little on the light- music side, but I have to say, the comedy numbers were stunning. Officer Krupkee (West Side Story) was a riot of jostling, competing instruments. Strauss’s pesky cuckoo chirruped happily in the woods until the conductor lost patience and shot it.