LAST week Frank Renton returned to Yeadon Town Hall for the 18th time conducting the Hepworth Band, helping to raise funds for Aireborough Rotary’s projects.

As always this gave the audience opportunities to both listen to, learn about and above all enjoy masterful performances from everyone on the stage.

As presenter and conductor Frank first expressed his pleasure on returning to his roots, particularly as each year someone different from his youth appeared to test his memory, then without notes but with humour displayed his encyclopaedic knowledge of each item on the programme and appreciated and revelled in the skills his baton drew from band members.

His original plan was to include music from British composers and arrangers and as usual the choice became wide ranging from film - Vaughan Williams Prelude to 49th Parallel, comic opera – A Sullivan Fantasy, Folk Music from the U.K. and Malcolm Arnold’s Cornish Dances. Frank’s view that Brass Band music initially reflected the original popular music of the day from music halls led to his inclusion of two salutes to ‘rock stars’ – Freddie Mercury and Queen’s Who Wants to Live Forever, Fat Bottomed Girls and Bohemian Rhapsody and Paul McCartney’s Norwegian Wood, Eleanor Rigby and Got to Get You Into My Life.

Virtuoso performances were provided by the soloists for the evening: Andy Holmes (cornet) with Napoli, Sarah Billard (tuba) with Song of the Skies and Kate Bentham (Flugel) Beneath the Willows with band members enthusiastically showing their appreciation alongside the audience.

The evening ended in memorable fashion with a stunning rendition of Peter Graham’s Gaelforce where, as well as taking their solos, Andy Holmes and Kate Bentham masqueraded with sheer audacity and straight faces as Riverdance’s Michael Flatley and Jean Butler. Judging from Frank Renton’s reaction this had not been part of the previous evening’s rehearsal.

Frank wrote in the programme: “Gerald Long had been a great supporter of these concerts, so it is good that tonight’s performance should be dedicated to his memory.”

By Robert Mirfield