Saturday 24th March 2012 saw a gathering of 36 trombone players from various musical backgrounds and nationalities at Bromley Methodist Church, for the second British Trombone Society workshop to be hosted by Bromley Salvation Army.
The leaders for the day were Dudley Bright (Principal Trombone, London Symphony Orchestra) and Brett Baker (Principal Trombone, Black Dyke Band), supported by Black Dyke Trombone Quartet and Bone-a-Fide trombone quartet from Trinity College of Music, London.
The day started at 9.30 with coffee and welcoming delegates (four of whom had driven from The Netherlands for the day!), and included trombone workshops that looked at a selection of music arranged for trombone ensemble.
Dudley Bright and Brett Baker led master classes during the day; Dudley spoke about his career, from college to the LSO, The Hallé, The Philharmonia, and back to the LSO, and he discussed slide technique, articulation and intonation using excerpts from Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird’ and Ravel’s ‘Bolero’ to demonstrate his points. Brett included two solo’s (‘Phenomenal Polka’ and ‘La Valse Moderne’) and held a Q & A session, which included questions on lip trills, and on how he prepares for solo’s, particularly those from The Salvation Army, which are usually based on a hymn tune, and have spiritual significance for many Salvationists (the answer was research and listening to other recordings of the works). Both sessions lasted about an hour each and were very informative and well received.
During the day, delegates were treated to recitals from Bone-a-Fidé and Black Dyke trombone quartets. Bone-a-Fidé provided a scintillating performance of pieces including ‘Fanfare Brilliante’ (N. Farrell), ‘Myths and Legends’ (Eric Ewazen), ‘My Funny Valentine’ (Rogers/Hart arr. J. Rathbone) and ‘Pastime With Good Company’ (Henry VIII, arr. N. Prince), playing of a very high standard and which was greatly appreciated by the assembled delegates and guests.
Black Dyke Trombone Quartet also gave a fantastic performance, which included an arrangement of Wilfred Heaton’s famous S.A. festival march ‘Praise’. Brett Baker’s arm was a blur as he played the well known euphonium solo found in the middle of the march! They also played ‘Sonata for four trombones’ and arrangements of ‘Scarborough Fair’ and Sousa’s famous ‘Washington Post’. Again, playing of an extremely high standard that rounded off a great workshop and time spent with inspiring players and new friends.
In the evening, a concert was presented, offering the opportunity for delegates, to perform the music they had played during the day, as well as for guest soloists to take part. And what a great line up: Dudley Bright, Brett Baker, Isobel Daws (Hendon S.A. Junior Band, NYBB and NCO, and recently featured in The Trombonist), and Black Dyke Trombone Quartet!
The BTS Trombone Choir opened to a capacity crowd, with ‘Canzona Septimi Toni’ (Gabrielli, arr. D. Bright). After a welcome and a song (this being an S.A. event!), the BTS Trombone Choir continued with Ray Steadman-Allen’s ‘Trombone Vespers’ accompanied by Bromley Salvation Army Band (Geoffrey Nunn).
Black Dyke Trombone Quartet started their first set with Derek Bishop’s arrangement of Leslie Condon’s famous S.A. march, ‘Celebration’. A glittering performance demonstrating the flexibility and virtuosity of the group, and this was followed by two equally exciting pieces, the delightful ‘Mr Sandman’ (Pat Ballard) and ‘Liber Tango’ (Astor Piazzolla). To round off their first set, Dudley Bright and members of Bromley Band’s own trombone section were invited to join them to play ‘I don’t know how to Love Him’ (A. Lloyd-Webber, arr. D. Bright) in which Dudley played the solo.
The BTS Trombone Choir played music from Handel’s Royal Fireworks, after which it was the turn Brett Baker who chose to play ‘Fantastic Polka’ (Arthur Pryor) accompanied by the band. This is a ‘variation’ solo, and as one would expect of Brett, he played it with tremendous flare and excitement, adding a few of his own fireworks along the way.
The band contributed two items to the evening; William Himes ‘Procession to Covenant’, written for his wedding in 1998, and which features the hymn tune ‘St. Margaret’, and another of Himes’ works, ‘Invictus March’ which was written as a concert march,
It was great to welcome Isobel Daws for the day’s activities and we were very pleased that she was able to take part in the concert. Isobel chose to play ‘The Conquest’ (W. Scholes, revised. Mark Freeh), an old Salvation Army trombone solo with band accompaniment conducted by her father, renowned cornet soloist, David Daws, to the very obvious delight of the audience, demonstrating that she has a great future as a trombonist.
The massed trombones once again took to the stage to play Hubert Parry’s ‘Jerusalem’, after which Dudley Bright played his own beautiful arrangement of Joy Webb’s ‘Share My Yoke’ with the band.
Black Dyke Trombone Quartet’s second set included ‘Devil’s Gallop’ (the Dick Barton, Special Agent theme), ‘Dear Lord and Father’ (Repton) and two great arrangement of S.A. march’s, ‘The Red Shield’, and Paul Woodward’s arrangement, of Leidzen’s ‘ On the King’s Highway’. This brilliant quartet brought the house down!
The concert took on a more reflective mood, with Brett playing an S.A. solo, ‘Someone Cares’ (Larsson, arr. R. S-A), originally arranged for cornet, which Brett played in cornet pitch. Not only was this a great demonstration of the range of the trombone and competency of the player, it was a beautiful rendition of this lovely tune, and set the tone for some reflective comments from Colonel Derek Elvin, about the next piece, Ray Steadman-Allen’s ‘The Eternal Quest’.
This famous trombone solo is based on an old song called ‘Jesus is looking for thee’, and musically seeks to portray a man who is blindly stumbling down life’s treacherous paths, and at last comes to Calvary. Once there he realises that God Himself has also been looking for him, and the piece climaxes with his response to this realisation.
Dudley Bright, also a Salvationist, then played the solo with a deep sensitivity, in a magnificent display of trombone playing, with a symphonic fullness and purity of tone that one might expect from the principal trombone of one of the world’s finest orchestras, and to hear it was very special.
The day finally closed with the massed trombones performing an item arranged by Dudley Bright, of an S. A. festival march called ‘On Parade’ (Helivstadt). In the final stanza, Dudley adds a jaunty nod to that great tune from the musical ‘The Music Man’, in the form of a snippet of ’76 Trombones’; all in all, a most fitting ending to a super day.
© Richard Debonnaire (First published in the British Trombone Society magazine, The Trombonist)