Winter’s blast for B & R’s spring concert

B&R and Whitburn during their performance
B&R and Whitburn during their performance

THIS was the ultimate ‘show must go on’.

It was the sort of night on which Ranulph Fiennes would have opted to stay in watching TV with a takeaway as blizzard conditions enveloped the north and the roads around Huddersfield Town Hall became dangerously close to impassable for what was guest band Whitburn Band’s difficult six-hour journey down the A1.

On top of that guest conductor Ray Farr was travelling from County Durham to lead the massed bands in a programme he devised and called ‘Spring Spectacular’. Perhaps ‘Winter Wonderland’ would have been more apt.

The decision to play on came mid-morning after Whitburn president Dave Kinross confirmed that his team would be all present and B and R were able to field a full side. But it was clear many enthusiasts had assumed it would be cancelled or else chose not to attend.

More than 800 tickets were sold butmaybe less than 250 ticket holders were in the hall.

Band president Paul Beaumont said: “Both bands really feel for the brass fans who were unable to attend.

“But because of the numbers who could get there it would have been unfair if we had cancelled.”

So the show went on - and what a show it was as the current Scottish champions and the Yorkshire title runners-up blended seamlessly.

The bands produced some wonderfully warm and exciting playing, enhanced by the Town Hall’s acoustics and praised by conductor Farr.

The globe-trotting former ‘Conductor of the Year’ isn’t a showy man, he prefers to let the music from the assembled bands do much of the talking.

This included Eric Coates’ theme to ‘The Dambusters’, Verdi’s ‘Nabucco’ overture and a Ray Farr arrangement of John Williams’ film theme to ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’.

The second half had even more to offer in terms of variety. Music linked with spring inevitably provided the theme but the music stood up no matter what it was doing outside. Cornet player Stuart Lingard shone on ‘Por Una Cabesa’ while the beautifully structured ‘Cavaleria Rusticana’ featuring B and R soprano soloist Andy Bannister was another highlight. But in terms of crowd-pleasers the closing numbers provided that much-needed glow. Ray Farr’s arrangement of Bill Whelan’s terrific toe-tingling ‘Riverdance’ set the stage for an outstanding arrangement of ‘West Side Story’ dances.

For sheer energy these pieces are hard to top and, step forward percussionist Jason Poulston who threw himself into a remarkable performance. Just the one encore, the theme from ‘633 Squadron’, probably a nod in the direction of people anxious to get safely home, not least the guests from Whitburn.

Of course it was a great shame that these two outstanding bands were not performing in front of the customary full house but that did not reflect in their performance, nor in the appreciation of the audience who were delighted.

l As part of Brighouse’s 1940s’ weekend Brighouse and Rastrick Band will perform ‘Summer Brass’ at Central Methodist Church, Brighouse, on Saturday, June 1. Tickets are £11.

Pictures by Gordon Ratcliffe