“The Stars and Stripes Forever”

“The Stars and Stripes Forever”

Rugby Theatre, Sunday, 22nd February, 2015.

Bilton Silver (Rugby) Band.

This was the tenth in the series of Sunday evening concerts at the Theatre – a series that arose out of the Band`s highly acclaimed 2004 appearance in Helen Bullard`s brilliant direction of “Brassed Off” – and a series that has grown in popularity ever since.

This Sunday was no exception.

A well balanced programme of music from the U S of A, ably directed and presented by MD Mark Allen, showing a range of colours and styles to include the sparkle, pace and pathos that you would expect from the broad span of music from America, – all very well suited to showing- off the Band`s highly polished musical and presentational skills!

A bright and breezy “Show Business” opening lead us to Sheila Allen`s beautifully lyrical playing in a James Curnow arrangement,  based on the lovely hymn tune “Amazing Grace”.

The Band`s young talent was shown to terrific effect in a highly rhythmical and jazzy “Brooklyn”, led on percussion by an invisible – but very audible – Harry Kirkbride!  Well done to these young players in whose hands the future of Bilton Silver is assured.  Just need a bigger dais for young Harry!!

The Flugel Horn came to the fore with Judith Haye`s solitary opening and eloquent performance in “The Ashokan Farewell”,  who, afterwards, was joined by no less than six colleagues , each armed with a Flugel Horn, in a mellow  version of “Annie’s Song” .

Most of the audience would have willingly sprouted wings in response to Jennie Adnitt`s smooth, sophisticated invitation to “Come Fly With Me”…….very classy, as ever! What a Star!!!!

A substantive Gordon Langford arrangement for Band of “Three Songs of the South” capturing the mood and atmosphere very effectively of these well known spiritual songs and bringing the first half to a close.

A quick cup of tea and a `wham-bam`  dash through “Circus Days” and we were back in business, this time with Greg Little and his bass trombone for a witty and dangerously low- register rendering of “Wanderin’ Star”……Lee Marvin could have easily been with us!!!

A moment of tranquillity with “Somewhere Out There” and we were ready for our next vocal solo.

The talented Laura Moran excelled in “As If We Never Said Goodbye”. This was a performance of real merit from an artiste who just gets better. The Band`s accompaniment for Laura was sympathetic and sensitive. Definitely a “WOW” moment of the night – and tears flowed, as usual.

Style and “showbiz razzamatazz” with the title music from ”Oklahoma” and on to another display of virtuostic talent from Neil Kelsall on Euphonium. A brilliant performance of Hartmann`s perennial favourite “La Belle Americaine” , oozing with confidence and another WOW for the evening!

Can`t do the U S of A without a trip to that great city of “ New York, New York” – especially as it is such a favourite with the Band!!

And before we knew it, we were ready for “The Stars and Stripes Forever” and our final ”fix” of American sparkle and glitz – not to mention Alister Rowe`s stylish and energetic  soprano cornet  obligato and excellent impression of a piccolo.

A great ending to an extremely entertaining evening, well played and presented by Band, soloists and MD Mark.

Thank you Bilton Silver!!

A fitting appreciation by Mark to the Theatre Staff for their help and support in all respects and a reminder of the close bond that exists between the Band and Rugby Theatre.

“76 Trombones” as an encore and thoughts already turning towards next year!

Wonder what we might hear ……..maybe a nostalgic snippet or two from where it all started with “Brassed Off”???

Brian Clarke



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