Review: Midsummer Brass at Christchurch

WE’RE lucky in Yorkshire to have so many top class brass bands on our patch and 200 people enjoyed just such a treat on Friday night (July 5) in Ilkley.

It was the return of Ilkley Wharfedale Rotary Club’s “Midsummer Brass” with the City of Bradford Brass Band at Christchurch – a sell out for the third consecutive year.

From the start we knew the band were on top form - there was a certain warmth and anticipation in being back with old friends for an evening of great music.

Musical Director Lee Skipsey, as engaging as ever, commented afterwards on the special atmosphere conjured up at the Midsummer Brass concerts and how the band love to play to a full house in Ilkley but we know it’s also down to the technical excellence of the band and his own charismatic leadership, and the relationship they build with their appreciative audience.

So, it was off to a traditional start with Salvationist Leslie Condon’s Festival March “Celebration” and then Goff Richards arrangement of Crimond. The Eric Ball arrangement of Leon Boellmann’s Toccata from Suite Gothique, with its monster bass end, followed – a challenge which City of Bradford (and it’s award winning Bass section) were well up to meeting!

A change of mood brought Ben Hollings Lake of Tenderness, then a cheeky Under the Boardwalk, featuring flugal soloist Sian Karran while the band provided backing vocals and choreography for thoroughly enlivening entertainment.

Elgar’s emotional Nimrod and Peter Graham’s complex Renaissance provided big pieces to close the first half.

A new arrangement they had found only recently, explained Lee, opened the second half - William Himes Festival Fanfare – St. Francis.

Baritone soloist Becky Childs took centre stage for the Sinatra favourite “Softly As I Leave You” – dedicating the piece to her grandmother who had passed away only two days before, in her 100th year.

Etienne Crausaz’s Balkan Dance provided a stark change of style before Horn soloist Tim Pool, the band’s longest serving principal player, gave us Evergreen.

Trombone soloist Dan Eddison, completed the evening’s showcase of amazing soloists, with his choice of Rob Wiffin’s Shout! with the band providing an entertaining backing ‘chorus’.

Mid All the Traffic, Leonard Ballantine’s setting of the folk song Shenandoah, followed, before the powerful Pines of Rome Appian Way segment finale brought the Roman Legions marching right into the hall with enormous effect in this wonderful piece.

A standing ovation brought an encore of Ray Farr’s brass band arrangement of Bach’s Toccata in D Minor.

So another Midsummer Brass was brought to a close, with £2,400 raised for this year’s charities, Alzheimer’s Research UK and End Polio Now.

With big thanks not only to our magnificent band and enthusiastic audience but also to our sponsors Jeremy Bloomfield Jewellers, Dale Eddison Estate Agents and Cyrus Structural and Civil Design.

The Club intend to bring the concert once again to Ilkley in 2020 – for it’s 10th anniversary.

Tesco provided our refreshments and our very generous raffle prizes were donated by Booths Supermarket, Friends of Ham Bar Charcuterie, Audley Clevedon Restaurant, The Green Room Florist and Gift Shop, Rouge Beauty Salon, Ilkley Brewery and Wilkinson’s Butchers.

by Christine Jones