This annual event is always eagerly anticipated and the large audience would not leave disappointed as the program contained music for all tastes. Kettering Citadel Band was joined by special guests Phillip McCann (Cornet) and Songster Leader Philip Webb (Vocal) from Gloucester Corps.
The Band opened the festival with “The Great Celebration” by Andrew Blyth and followed with Wilfred Heaton’s “The Golden Pen”. Other pieces included “Fill the world with glory” (Kevin Larsson), “Troops Salute “(Paul Sharman), “Prelude on the hymn tune Lavenham”(Geoff Nobles’), finishing the festival with Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s, “Fire in the Blood’. The Band played to their normal high standard throughout the evening but none more so than when they dedicated two pieces to John Kemp and Peter Legg, two fine Christian gentlemen who, this time last year were active members of the Band and who have since been ‘Promoted to Glory’. Bandmaster Richard Phillips paid tribute to their memory, and described them as fine examples of Salvation Army Bandsmen who are greatly missed in the Band and within the Kettering Citadel Corps. The band then played Norman Bearcroft’s “Reflections” with great sensitivity and followed with Kenneth Downie’s “The long cloud of witnesses” which includes They’ll sing a welcome home” both were a fitting tribute.
Songster Leader Philip Webb from Gloucester, a former chorister of Gloucester Cathedral performed his first group of songs by French composer Gabriel Faure, Notre Amour, Lydia and Rencontre. Later in the program he would sing Channels Only, I will Wait and Sleep pretty ring time. His rich baritone voice brought a complete contrast to the band. Cliff Matthews also from Gloucester Corps supported Philip on piano.
The other soloist for the evening was the world renowned Phillip McCann, well known in the brass band world both as a soloist, principle cornet of Black Dyke Band for many years, more recently as a conductor of various high level brass bands and currently a tutor at Huddersfield University. Phillip McCann spoke on how his main passion in music is making the ‘sound’ and this was evident during the pieces he brought to us throughout the evening. He also showed his great technical skill too. His contribution during the first half of the program included Miss Blue Bonnet (Frank Simon), Jenny Wren (Roland Davis) but it was when he played William Hime’s ‘All that I am’ with band accompaniment that he showed his most sensitive playing. Leaving many in the congregation in awe of such talent that many top musicians could only hope to aspire to. He continued in the second half with pieces of a reflective nature including I’d rather have Jesus (William Himes) and I’ll walk beside you, an arrangement by our very own Bandmaster, Richard Phillips who accompanied him for this piece on the piano and Joy Webb’s ‘Share my yoke”, once again bringing such special moments to the festival that will surely live on in the memories of the congregation for many years to come. Phillip McCann concluded his second solo section with a flawless rendition of Post Horn Galop. He then joined with Kettering Citadel Band, coincidentally sitting next to one of his former students from Huddersfield University, to play Fire in the Blood.
Lt. Col Geoff Blurton, the Band’s Executive Officer was on hand throughout the evening as usual to expertly compere the program and give some thoughts on Scripture.
Once again a thoroughly enjoyable evening, but one which must go down as one of the best, if not THE best New Years’ festival in recent years. Congratulations to the Band on attaining their motto…….”The best for the highest” We will look forward to 2016 with eager anticipation.