Foden’s, Foden’s Youth and Foden’s Junior Bands – Parr Hall, Warrington, Sunday 11th June

Posted by Mark Wilkinson on 4 July 2017


For the second year in succession, the burgeoning, combined forces of the Foden’s Band organisation performed a matinee springtime concert in the beautiful acoustic of Warrington’s grand Parr Hall to a large audience.

Foden’s, under the trusty baton of guest conductor, David Hirst, took to the stage for the first half, delivering a programme consisting of a number of the band’s most popular current concert repertoire. Starting with ‘Supremacy’ a recent transcription from rock supergroup ‘Muse’, Foden’s moved slickly and stylishly through numbers by Lionel Ritchie, Shostakovich, Wilfred Heaton and finished in gloriously sonorous fashion with Eric Ball’s magnificent classic, ‘The Kingdom Triumphant’. Interspersing these items were two expertly delivered solos, given by Principal Cornet, Mark Wilkinson (‘I Dreamed a Dream’) and Principal Percussionist, Mark Landon (‘Xylomania’). The audience wouldn’t let the band depart the stage without an encore, and this it duly delivered with Ray Farr’s thrilling arrangement of Bach’s ‘Toccata in D Minor’.

The second half was dedicated to the talented young musicians of the Foden’s Youth and Junior Bands.

The 60-strong Foden’s Youth Band (in association with the Love Music Trust), now in its fifth season and conducted by co-Musical Director Mark Bousie, performed first, starting the second half in spectacular fashion with Foden’s Principal Horn, Jonathan Bates’ arrangement of ‘Olympiada’ by American composer, Samuel Hazo.

The rest of the Youth Band’s programme was dedicated to the music of Goff Richards, a long time resident of Warrington, who passed away in 2011. The energetic and exciting ‘Doyen’ was given a welcome revival and this was followed with the band maturely accompanying Foden’s Principal Euphonium, Gary Curtin, as he majestically soared the heights in Richards’ ‘Pilatus’, dedicated to the Swiss Alps. The band ended its set in sonorous style with the Cornish born composer’s classic arrangement of the hymn tune ‘Crimond’. Throughout, the band was excellently led by its Principal Cornet, Georgina Moulsdale, who ‘retires’ from the ensemble this summer after a number of years.

The final of the Foden’s bands to entertain the large audience was the youngest of the groups, in more than one way. Foden’s Junior Band, formed in 2015, which is run in association with the Warrington based Accent Music Education Hub and consists of 25 members, gave a wonderfully entertaining programme, showing just how far the young members have progressed in a short space of time. In the absence of regular Musical Director, Anna Hughes-Williams, the Junior Band were extremely ably led by Foden’s Flugel Horn player, Melanie Whyle. Highlights of the band’s programme included ‘The Circle of Life’ from ‘The Lion King’ (complete with costume and choreography) and the Queen classic ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’.

To conclude the concert, over 100 players from all three of the Foden’s Band filled the large space of the Parr Hall stage and filled the large acoustic of the hall with a sound that only massed brass bands can produce in Dizzy Stratford’s ‘Glasnost’.

The afternoon was an exhibition of how the whole Foden’s organisation continues to go from strength and strength, and in particular, offers young musicians wonderful opportunities.

Mark Cattop

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