Building upon their success over the past academic year, the Durham University Concert Band and Whitworth Park School (& Sixth Form College) came together to present their programme: A Concert Band Celebration. Outreach events have also included Durham University music students and GCSE students from Whitworth; joining together to work on musical performance and composition techniques, helping to build confidence and musical skills. It was a pleasure therefore, this evening, to hear the collaboration of two very talented groups of musicians, which are at the forefront of fostering musical development outside of school and university environments.
The Whitworth Park School Wind Band opened the concert, providing the audience with a varied programme, which included many classics as: Ghostbusters by Ray Parker, and Hey Jude by Lennon/McCartney. Over the course of the first half, the Wind Band showed great musical accomplishment, easily tackling some of the more challenging repertoire. It was also pleasing to hear that aspects, which so often challenge Wind Bands, such as intonation and balance, were not an issue for this group of musicians. As such, on many occasions, the flautists soared up into the higher registers, producing a warm tone, with no detriment to the intonation.
The pieces proved a great hit with the audience, with many of the audience members starting to sing along with the more memorable tunes, which added to the more causal nature of the concert and allowed the groups to really merge into the environment they were performing in. It is also a great credit to the Wind Band, who managed to create a truly grand and warming sound, even with many of their members unable to make the concert; and with some members being the only one of their instrument class, it is of special mention that they created such momentous performances throughout.
The second half of The Concert Band Celebrationwas played by the Durham University Concert Band, directed by Conductor Hugo Jennings and Associate Conductor Chloe Langham. The programme for the second half contained many works which were less well known, but delightfully provided a break with their more lyrical and orchestral esque styles. The DUCB opened with Lord of the Danceby Ronan Hardman; conducted by Chloe Langham. It was noticeable at this point, that the band had acquired an exceptionally strong flute section, providing a clear homogenous sound above the rest of the band. It was however, rather upper-voice heavy in particular sections, but this did not affect the clarity or timbre of the concert too much. The second work: two movements from the English Folk Song Suitewere much more lyrical than the previous programme selections and allowed for the players to delve into a more musical style of phrasing and legato style playing. This piece also displayed the band’s ability to play both quiet and loud, which is so often lost in many concert bands.
Their third piece, a livelier and more memorable tune was music fromThe Incrediblesby Michael Giacchino. This had to be one of the highlights of the second half, with a grand sound emitting from the band, under the direction Chloe, who displayed great precision in rhythm and articulation and depicted exactly what she wished from the sound of the band. For the next piece, conductor Hugo Jennings took over, with his own arrangement of Hello Dolly by Jerry Herman. This was equally pleasing, and it was evident that Hugo had great command over the band and depicted every detail with emotion and clarity. The DUCB also played the Barber of Sevilleby Giacchino Rossini, and Orpheus in the Underworldby French composer Offenbach; before both bands came together on stage, to perform a collaborative piece: Dambustersby Eric Coates. This truly epitomised the talent of both bands, and under the direction of Hugo, enacted a telling interpretation of this classic tune. The sound produced was rich and warm, and other musical aspects such as intonation, articulation, and phrasing were shaped musically; with only minor slips occurring on a number of occasions.
A special mention must go to DUCB and Whitworth Park School Wind Band for putting on a fantastic programme, a true Concert Band Celebration, and especially to the DUCB conductors Hugo and Chloe. It was especially pleasing to see Hugo delve into the character of many of the pieces, even to start dancing on the podium, which eased the music into a more comfortable setting on a number of occasions. DUCB’s next concert will be in the academic year of 18/19.