Review - Foden's Annual Tour in Armagh 2009

Posted by Mark Wilkinson on 11 February 2009

Fodens Band have just returned from yet another successful trip to Armagh, Northern Ireland.

The hectic weekend of concerts and socialising was the ninth year in succession that the Band have been invited to Armagh as guests of Armagh Old Boys Band with whom Fodens have very close links. 2010 will be the tenth anniversary of this relationship and plans are already under way to make next year an even more special celebration.

After a week of worries over the weather, Fodens Band arrived in Belfast on three separate flights. The first group to arrive (flying at the ungodly hour of 7am from Liverpool!) were involved in a workshop for primary school children, some of whom learned their first notes and performed them all within the same session. There is a very high emphasis on youth at Armagh Old Boys and this is embraced whole heartedly by the Fodens visitors.

Further members of the Band flew into Belfast early afternoon, with the final flight getting those players who couldn’t finish work any earlier to the Market Place Theatre with minutes to spare before the start of the Friday evening concert.

Friday and Saturday evening saw Fodens conducted by Mike Fowles reprising the new Andy Scott composition “A World Wtihin” (Andy accompanied the Band on the trip) and Paganini Variations from the RNCM concert a week earlier, amongst programmes which gave a true feel for Fodens current stunning form. Over the two evenings all the band’s soloists were featured – Mark Wilkinson, Alan Wycherley, Helen Williams, Lesley Howie, John Barber, Les Neish, Mark Landon and the multi talented Glyn Williams who not only delivered an impressive “Carnival of Venice”, but also entertained vocally with “Have you met Miss Jones” and “Another Star”.

As has become tradition, Fodens spent Saturday rehearsing with and accompanying at a matinee concert young brass players from all over Northern Ireland. What an experience for any aspiring young player!

All the members of the Fodens Band would like to express their thanks to Ivor Stephenson who is the driving force behind the weekend and also to all his team who did a sterling job in taking care of everyone for the entirety of the weekend.

For any conductor and every audience, Foden’s Band is a musical Magic Carpet. It continually takes the listener to places that few other ensembles rarely even approach Howard Snell