It was a packed Derby Theatre and Derwent Brass weren’t going to disappoint their 500-plus supporters who came to help them celebrate their silver anniversary.
They kicked off their ‘Stage and Screen’ theme in fine style, with a couple of numbers well known to the East Midlands audience, who no doubt followed Torville & Dean’s every step of ‘Bolero’ and ‘Mack and Mabel’. Fantastic choreography and lighting, reminiscent of the ‘Blast!’ show, supported the opening number and really set the scene for the evening.
Keith Leonard had promised a couple of birthday surprises for this concert, firstly introducing guest soloist Siobhan Bates (principal horn, Black Dyke Band), who gave an excellent and faultless rendition of ‘Over the Rainbow’ from the Wizard of Oz. I think it’s fair to say the local girl deserves every accolade she receives; what a beautiful sound and fantastic presence she has.
The band moved into Big Band formation to deliver some swinging sounds, including a very nice bluesy version of ‘Londonderry Air’ delivered in style by Derwent’s principal trombone, Tim Mossad.
It was over a year ago that Derwent appeared at the Derby Theatre in a four-week 28 show run of ‘Brassed Off’. The star of the show then was Seren Sandham Davies, playing the part of Gloria. In Keith’s second surprise of the evening, she teamed up with Derwent’s Big Band for a roof-raising rendition of ‘Don’t
Rain on my Parade’. She looked and sounded every bit a star and the audience warmed to her as though this was her home.
After the interval, the second half kicked off in a similar toe tapping way as the first half concluded. ‘America’ from West Side Story followed by a sensitive ‘Somewhere’ which included more band choreography. This was followed by John Doyle’s ‘The Beauty of Blue’, expertly played on Flugel by Richard Bates. The Irish style melody, complete with band vocal backing, gave rise to an emotional close, bringing rapturous applause from the appreciative audience.
More film music concluded in a typical British march, ‘Death or Glory’. This final surprise item from the band took the audience back to the Brassed Off film and stage production’s opening feature.
There’s one sure thing when you go to a Derwent Brass concert, it’s ‘All or Nothing’ and Derwent were giving it their all. Using a theatre for your performance can only encourage a theatrical approach and Derwent were making the most of their resources, delivering not just a concert, but a production.
Twenty-fifth birthdays deserve presents and Derwent had treated themselves to a new commission from the pen of Paul Lovatt-Cooper, who was also in attendance to hear the world premiere. Entitled ‘Beyond Heaven’s Gates’ it followed Paul’s well known and successful formula of Punchy first section, Lyrical middle and brought thethemes together to a big conclusion. The band clearly enjoyed it and the audience loved it, bringing the production to a rapturous end, including stage fireworks.
What a great way to spend an evening! More talent on display than anywhere else on a Saturday night.
Congratulations Derwent Brass on your 25th anniversary, here’s to the next 25 years of innovation and entertainment.