Not a dry eye in the house

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EMOTIONS were running high in the packed auditorium.

Perhaps it was the choice of programme that ranged from uplifting to moving and back again. Maybe it was the well-chosen and unrehearsed words from a band favourite leaving after 25 years.

Or was it just that the blend of a brass band and a male voice choir produces a quite thrilling sound that is hard to match.

Huddersfield Town Hall, surely the finest stage of them all, brought together Brighouse and Rastrick Band and Colne Valley Male Voice Choir for a concert aptly called ‘Champion Brass and Voices’.

With the magnificent National Champions trophy in pride of place on stage and the recently lifted Yorkshire Championship trophy back home on the mantlepiece, B. & R. represent the cream of the brass band world just now.

They are a formidable outfit and acutely aware of what was wanted on this special night.

They instinctively knew when to turn up the volume, example “Artistry in Kenton”, and when to take the foot off the pedal when complementing the choir on such beautiful melodies as “Let There Be Light” through to the encore “Let There Be Peace On Earth”.

Highlights were everywhere. Colne Valley, led by the very personable Thom Meredith, excelled in their second half showcase which featured the winning combination of “Nella Fantasia”, “You Raise Me Up” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. A nod in the direction of piano accompanist Keith Swallow wouldn’t go amiss either.

B. & R. put up two soloists of the highest order. Flugel player Lucy Murphy was outstanding on the traditional folk song, “May Ain Folk” and Steve Walsh to the fore during “Carnival of Venice”.

Band and choir joined forces most effectively on the Vangelis film theme, “Conquest of Paradise” and an all systems go version of “When the Saints Go Marching In”.

Emotion? Well the biggest lump-in-the-throat moment was reserved for percussionist Darren Roe who is leaving after 25 years.

Thanking his wife, Wendy, for her enduring support he said that she had made it possible for him to live the dream.

The applause from a visibly moved audience lasted some time.

n Pictures by Gordon Ratcliffe

and Stephen Firth