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Reviews & Articles
Saturday, 1 November 2003

Conductor: Robert Childs
Guest Soloist: David Childs
November 2003 - Toronto

Following hard on the heels of their successful 'Festival of Brass' weekend held in October, the Hannaford Street Silver Band scored another coup by featuring Robert and David Childs as guests for their November concert. The weekend began on the Saturday morning, with Dr. Childs holding a Masterclass for interested brass players, while on the other side of Toronto, David was involved in the Hannaford Street Youth Band rehearsal. Then it was off to Hamilton, in Ontario's industrial heartland, to appear in a 'Last Night of the Proms' event with the HSSB and their hosts, the Hamilton Philarmonic Orchestra. The concert featured the usual offerings associated with the Proms format, and the HSSB was directed in solo items by Dr. Childs which included the traditional Welsh tune, 'Men of Harlech' (arr. Langford). David gave a dazzling performance of the euphonium solo, 'Brillante', and the band included the crowd pleaser, 'Gaelforce' - Both items of course from the pen of Peter Graham. A great way to demonstrate to those in the audience not familiar with the brass band culture, what a top class group can do. Hopefully many were encouraged to attend band concerts in the future.
The main focus of the weekend was the Sunday concert titled 'Euphoria', held at the St. Lawrence Centre Theatre. Dr. Childs had selected 'Prelude on Tallis' (Graham) to open the concert, and then called euphonium superstar David on stage to present the interesting and challenging Wilby 'Euphonium Concerto'. The audience was astounded by the maturity and panache of this young man's playing, and enjoyed this item immensely. (including the plate smashing feature at the end of the 'Greek Dance' movement!) Great stuff. Maestro Childs then spoke eloquently about the golden age of brass band composers, the 1930's, since this decade gave us contributions to the repertoire from giants such as Elgar, Holst, and Bantock. Mention was made also of John Ireland, which led nicely into a secure and accurate reading of his 'Downland Suite'; music that stands the test of time.
Following the interval, the band launched into Langford's arrangement of 'Men of Harlech'. What concert featuring a Childs would not be complete without a reference to Wales! Next up was Peter Graham's 'Gaelforce' which was highlighted by fine work from the percussion, and Doug Chaulk's flugel horn solo in the lovely middle section which features 'The Minstrel Boy'. Principal euphonium Curtis Metcalf stood to play the opening of the third movement, 'Tossing the Feathers', and set a breakneck tempo which challenged the band to maintain. All very exciting for the appreciative audience who responded with loud applause.
After a magnanimous introduction from his father, David Childs presented two items; 'Brillante' (Graham) and Evelyn Glennie's much loved 'Little Prayer', which we learned was transcribed by Bob for David's 17th birthday. Reference had been made in Bob's remarks that it had always been his goal to broaden the appeal of the euphonium to a wider audience, and he alluded to the fact that he was pleased that David was taking this goal to another level. One could almost see the buttons popping on proud father's jacket, and can you blame him! David responded to the applause with an encore performance of Catherall's arrangement of 'Carnival of Venice'.
For the final major work, Dr. Childs had chosen Welsh composer Gareth Wood's dark and brooding 'Salome', with it's striking chords and relentless rhythms. Sustained applause greeted this brilliant performance by the band. After calls for an encore, the audience was then sent off home, singing as it were in the Welsh tradition, to the strains of Gareth Wood's upbeat arrangement of the song, 'Sosban Fach'.

© Stan Ewing 2003

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