Concert, 8th April 2023
The National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain under the direction of Guest Conductor Dr Stephen Cobb with Guest Soloist Philip Cobb.
“Hope, Joy and Love”
The theme of tonight’s programme is Hope, Joy and Love and Dr Stephen Cobb has chosen his programme with these three positive thoughts in mind.
Fuego by Paul Sharman is full of hope and optimism and a stirring start to the concert. This is followed by Dean Goffin’s joyous march Crusaders. Horizon by Andrew Wainwright is full of hope and love, the music depicts Moses leading the Israelites to the promised land. What could be more passionate than Leidzen’s Songs from the Heart. Eric Ball’s Song of Courage is ostensibly a song of hope and courage. Virtuosity by Kenny Baker is an up-lifting solo which brings joy to listeners young and old. Karl Jenkins’ Stabat Mater tells the story of a mother’s love for her only son. The finale to the concert is fittingly called Renaissance meaning rebirth, this could easily refer to the world rejoicing after the last three challenging years of darkness. Dorothy Gates commissioned by The NYBBGB has written a major work especially for the band which pulls together the theme very well. The work is titled Invisible Fire and is in three movements, Joy, Love and Hope.
Fuego! – Paul Sharman
Fuego! was written in 2014 for the ‘Hendon Highlights’ concert at London’s Cadogan Hall. It featured eight young Salvation Army cornet players from across the country. The title means ‘Fire!’ and the two tunes featured are ‘Send the Fire’ and ‘Burning, burning’.
Crusaders March – Dean Goffin
The Festival March ‘Crusaders’ was first published in 1951. It is built around the well-known hymn, Ascalon.
Horizon (The Promise of the Lord) – Andrew Wainwright
Horizon – The Promise of the Lord was written at the request of Bandmaster Stephen Cobb for The International Staff Band. It is based on the hymn Cwm Rhondda (Guide me O thou great Jehovah). The inspiration for the work comes from the book of Exodus. Whilst the music is not intended to be directly programmatic, like the hymn Cwm Rhondda, the piece takes the listener through the Exodus from Egypt to the promised land of Israel as a metaphor of the spiritual pilgrimage of the individual Christian through his or her earthly life.
Songs in the Heart – Erik Leidzen (Cornet soloist Philip Cobb)
One of a number of outstanding solos written for The Salvation Army by Erik Leidzen, this is for many his finest. Whilst in some ways a ‘theme and variation’ solo, it nevertheless demands high levels of skill and musicianship from the accompanying musicians too.
Invisible Fire – Dorothy Gates
Dorothy Gates is an Irish composer who works for the Salvation Army in New York, USA. Her work Invincible Fire is in three continuous movements and was commissioned especially for today’s concert by the NYBBGB. The first movement is entitled Joy of Heaven, the second movement is entitled Perfect Love and the third movement displays the Hope of a New Creation.
Folk Festival – Shostakovich
Folk Festival is taken from the third movement of Shostakovich’s ‘Popular Festivity’. It also features in the film ‘The Gadfly’, in which the Russian composer Levon Atovmyan used the musical material of Shostakovich to complete the suite of music for the film.
Song of Courage – Eric Ball
This work is amongst Eric Ball’s finest contributions to The Salvation Army repertoire and would perhaps merit close inspection by bands in the wider brass band community.
The central movement features the composer’s own words/music ‘A Prayer for Courage’, where he urges the listener to ‘have courage to face the future’. Whilst the song was originally written on the outbreak of war in 1939, perhaps these sentiments are relevant to us now, during these days of challenge.
Virtuosity – Kenny Baker (Trumpet soloist Philip Cobb)
Kenny Baker was born in Withernsea, East Riding of Yorkshire, England in 1921. When he was a boy, he played cornet in his local brass band. He later turned to the trumpet and formed his own big-band called ‘Baker’s Dozen’. Throughout his career he performed with some of the world’s most famous actors and musicians. He frequently returned to his roots and appeared as guest soloist with several of the Britain’s top brass bands.
Sunset on the River Exe – Kenneth Downie
From the little office in my garden where the composer does all his writing, there is a beautiful view looking westward, over the River Exe, in south Devon. It is a constant inspiration and Joy. It makes me most grateful every time it is looked at. This little nocturne is the result of many musings and hopefully it will conjure up the atmosphere of the scene for all listeners.
Suite Stabat Mater – Sir Karl Jenkins
A recent survey showed that Sir Karl Jenkins is one of the most performed living composers. He wrote Stabat Mater in 2008. The work is based on a poem written in the 13th century, the title Stabat Mater is actually an abbreviation of the first line, ‘Stabat Mater dolorosa’ (The sorrowful Mother was standing). The poem reflects on the suffering of Mary, mother of Jesus, at the time of the Crucifixion. This arrangement for Brass Band was made by Robert Childs.
Renaissance – Peter Graham
Renaissance was written for Stephen Cobb and The International Staff Band in 1999 for a tour of the USA and Canada. The music is music of hope, expressed beautifully in the middle movement where Joy Webb’s song ‘Come into our World’ is featured.
Programme notes Dr Stephen Cobb