Foden's delight at the Regent Hall

Posted by Mark Wilkinson on 6 October 2021

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On the eve of their memorable victory at the Royal Albert Hall, the new national champions to be, Foden's Band, gave a highly polished performance of a contrasting and entertaining programme at Regent Hall, the celebrated Salvation Army venue, affectionately known as the 'rink'. The highlight of the concert was a tantalising preview of the following day's test piece, 'Heroes'. The composer was present to give a most insightful introduction to his melodic and exciting work based on the Apollo 11 Moon landing of 1969. Given the standard of Foden's performance of 'Heroes' at Regent Hall it was hardly surprising to hear the band announced as winners in South Kensington just under 24 hours later.

heroes1

The rest of the programme was mainly on the lighter side, but none the worse for this and featured some new compositions and arrangements to this listener. The highlights of these were an arrangement by Phillip Littlemore of a perhaps lesser-known overture by Rossini, 'Semiramide' (showing all the characteristics of the great 19th century Italian composer), a thrillingly alternative style arrangement of the classic 1960s hit 'California Dreamin' and John Barber's beautifully simple tribute to the contribution of NHS workers during the pandemic, 'Song for the Frontline'.

The appreciative audience, unsurprisingly just a little smaller in numbers than previous years (this is always a popular concert for overseas visitors), were also treated to a number of 'golden oldies' in the form of the march 'Simoraine', Vaughan Williams' 'Prelude to the 49th Parallel' (showcasing Foden's Band's wonderful ensemble sound which, if anything, seems to be even more sonorous on their return from the prolonged suspension of banding activities!) and Keith Wilkinson's colourfully exotic arrangement of the 'Bacchanale' from Saint Saens' opera 'Samson and Delilah'.

As always, Foden's fine stable of soloists were to the fore, on this occasion Principal Cornet, Mark Wilkinson, demonstrating his almost legendary consistency in Sutton's classic 'The Paragon', Gary Curtin in sonorous form in the reflective euphonium solo, 'From Your Smile' written for him by Paul Lovatt Cooper and finally the always dexterous Mark Landon in 'Summer Storm' a clever reworking for xylophone by Rodney Newton of Summer from Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons'.

Most appropriately Foden's sent the audience happily out on to a still bustling Oxford Street with one of the finest Salvation Army marches, Martin Cordner's 'The Light Bringer'. The new National Champions will be back at Regent Hall on the eve of next year's contest. They've very much made this long-standing concert their own over the last few years and given the band's commitment to making this event more than just a warmup for the following day's musical battle, Foden's should be applauded. A Nationals weekend without Regent Hall wouldn't be quite the same. Long may it continue!

Paul Hunter

Foden's band maintains a world class reputation for providing entertainment in the field of brass music with a tradition and unique style Mark Wilkinson