BTW 2015 – Review

Bromley Trombone Workshop 2015 – Bromley Temple

Twenty-four trombone enthusiasts, descended upon Bromley Temple Salvation Army hall on March 28th for the 2015 Bromley Trombone Workshop, led by Brett Baker and Paul Woodward, featuring Bones Apart and Black Dyke Trombone quartets, some of the very finest ‘tromboneers’ in the country!

The group represented a wide range of ages and abilities, the youngest being just 11, and another of which had travelled from Rotterdam to be with us!

As in previous years, the day was broken down into ‘massed blow’s’, working towards the evening’s concert, and included recitals from our guests during the morning and afternoon sessions. Delegates were put through their paces and given hints and tips on warming up, note production, playing techniques etc., learning from people who know how it’s done.

Following a welcome cuppa, we started with a massed warm up, led by Brett. It was method reminiscent of the type of call and response that Freddie Mercury used to do with crowds at Queen concerts; Brett would play a sequence of notes and the rest of us would repeat them back. It was a good icebreaker and a helpful warm up exercise, and from there we started to look at some of the trombone ensemble music prepared for the day.

After another coffee break, it was time to hear a recital by Black Dyke Trombone Quartet (Brett Baker, Paul Woodward, Garry Reed, Adrian Hirst). This outstanding quartet puts a great deal of energy into promoting the trombone. Having been born out of one of the best brass bands in the world, they have gone on to form the Black Dyke Trombone Youth Quartet, Youth Sextet and a Junior Sextet.

The quartet are due to visit Singapore later in the year to perform, and in preparation for that decided to try some of their new repertoire on us. What a treat.

They started with an arrangement of the well known Salvation Army March, ‘Invincible Army’. The group played with their usual flair and va-va-voom, and it got them off to a great start. They moved across genres during the course of their set, including an arrangement of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘By The Time I Get To Phoenix’, played for us as a smoochy solo by Garry, and included a cracking arrangement of ‘Thunderbirds’. They also played a new arrangement of another popular SA piece, ‘Light Walk’, and there was a jaunty bass trombone solo from Adrian Hirst, in his own arrangement of ‘Swing Low’, and to complete the set, a number that’s become synonymous with the group, the march ‘Celebration’. During the set, they took turns to introduce the music they played, and took a few questions from the floor.

It was 35 minutes of great playing, done with great energy and excitement, and delivered with that touch of humour with which the four of them seem to approach everything they do – including getting a curry! For details of the set list, see notes at the foot of this report.

Following Black Dyke Trombones, there was a second massed blow, during which we looked at arrangements of ‘Procession of the Nobel’s’, the hymn tune ‘French’ and an arrangement of ‘Jerusalem’ by Dudley Bright.

Following lunch, we had our next massed blow, and with Easter on the horizon we looked also looked at an arrangement of ‘When I Survey’ by Howard Davies, and ran through some of the other music we’d already played to help decide what would end up on the evening’s programme.

It was a delight to welcome Bones Apart – Helen Vollam (especially after so many email exchanges!), Jayne Murrill, Becky Smith and (standing in for regular bass trombonist Lorna McDonald) Sarah Williams to the workshop. It was good also to watch as both quartets met for the first time and have quartet selfies taken…

Bones Apart, originally formed in 1999 in Manchester have rapidly gained international acclaim as a leading trombone ensemble, and they played a varied programme, with that lush sound that orchestral players seem to produce, playing with great poise and finesse and varying from classical to jazz in style. Coming from an orchestral background, there was a different feel to what we’d heard previously, so it was a different experience to hear them play.

They looked like they were having a great time, and took it in turns to introduce their pieces, whilst at the same time inviting questions from the audience. Their set included arrangements from composers as diverse as Felix Mendelssohn and Cole Porter, playing a suite of music from ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’ and ‘So In Love’ respectively, with a bit of Walton and some traditional tunes in between. It was fascinating to observe how the solo lines were passed around within the group, and it was hard to tell who was playing what, which is down to the clever arrangements, many of them by Helen. This was a first class set, brilliantly played. You can see the full set list in the notes below.

Time for the final massed blow, and it was time to finalise our music choices for the evening concert, and look at something new, ‘The Indiana Jones March’, which Jayne Murrill took charge of. A fun arrangement, a popular tune and relatively straight forward, and we topped and tailed the 3 others that we’d chosen to perform in the evening.

This final session represented the close of the workshop, but just prior to that we had the opportunity to run though one of the pieces which the trombone choir was to perform in the evening with band accompaniment; ‘Trombone Vespers’ . After that, the workshop was finished, and it was time for the excellent buffet tea, which Bromley Temple Salvation Army very kindly provided to the delegates and our guests.

It had been a superb day of music making, learning and entertainment by some of the finest players in the country, and although I quiver slightly at the prospect, I look forward to organizing another Bromley Trombone Workshop – at some point!

A Festival of Trombones

The day culminated with a Festival of Trombones, which featured Brett, Paul and Bones Apart, as well as a trombone choir consisting of the 24 delegates, and Bromley Temple Band, conducted by Bandmaster Geoffrey Nunn.

Playing to a packed hall, the concert kicked off with Bromley band playing Dudley Bright’s sparkling march ‘Spirit of the West’, featuring the hymn ‘I’ll stand for Christ’; a very fine march from a fabulous trombone player.

The workshop delegates came forward to play their first item, Ray Steadman-Allen’s timeless classic, ‘Trombone Vespers’,  chosen partly as a tribute to ‘RSA’, and introduced and conducted by Paul Woodward. Accompanied by the band and featuring ‘The Vesper Hymn’, it is a lovely trombone feature. They followed this with something completely different; John Williams’ ‘Indiana Jones March’ conducted by Jayne Murrill. The group made a full, rich sound, as only a group of trombones can!

It was then the turn of Bones Apart to play, and this amazing group of players started us off with a Tango, ‘Jealousy’, which features a duet of competing trombones, played by Jayne and Becky, acting…well, jealously!

They followed this with a delightful Roger Harvey arrangement of ‘Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair’, with the solo line being beautifully played by Jayne, and then went on to play ‘Tico Tico’ at a blistering pace, in another great arrangement of a classic.

To the delight of the crowd, they finished their first set with Simon Wills arrangement of the Sousa March, ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever’. You may be familiar with the YouTube video of the group playing this – the most watched trombone video on the Internet, apparently! It was met with rapturous applause and cheers – a magnificent display of playing.

Paul Woodward then presented a solo from American Salvationist, Ivor Bosanko, receiving its UK premier. ‘Songs for Trombone’ was written for the SA’s Star Lake music camp where Paul was trombone tutor, and is based on three of Bosanko’s songs: ‘I am Climbing up the Golden Stair’, ‘Come to the Saviour’ and ‘Down Where the Living Waters Flow’. Although a light-hearted solo, it is demanding of the soloist, and on occasion of the band. Paul is a very fine player and made it all sound very easy, with a terrific performance of a new crowd pleaser.

Bromley Band had been working hard on the run up to the festival, learning and rehearsing new music. They chose play ‘Farandole’, (Bizet, arr. Richard Philips), which brought echoes of Christmas as it features ‘The Three Kings March’, a tune often associated with the festive period.

Brett Baker, a world-class player by any definition, demonstrated why with his performance of Erik Leidzen’s ‘Concertino for Band and Trombone’. This classic Salvation Army solo suited Brett’s style and technique very well, being a lyrical and at times very exciting piece. He thrilled the audience (and me! – I was directly in front of him) with his performance.

The trombone choir presented another piece, the patriotic ‘Jerusalem’ by Parry, arranged in 8 parts by Dudley Bright, and gave a stirring performance of this great hymn.

For the final set from Bones Apart, they started with a suite from ‘West Side Story’, fertile ground for brass arrangers, starting with ‘Cool’, followed by ‘One Hand, One Heart’, ‘Cha Cha’, and ‘America’, and after prolonged applause, rounded off with the comical ‘Gee, Officer Krupke!’ providing a further demonstration of their fantastic playing.

For their final number, Bones Apart joined with the band, to play Stephen Bulla’s popular SA trombone feature, ‘The Cleansing Power’; a great way to finish.

Slowing the pace, Brett and Paul brought to us another UK premier, a new trombone duet, ‘The First Step’ written for Brett and Paul by Dorothy Gates to feature on the latest New York Staff Band recording ‘All Glorious’. They played this lovely piece beautifully and thoughtfully, as the song appeals for reconciliation with a loving Saviour:

“Just take the first step, its not so hard; you’ll find an angel is standing guard. You’ll be so welcome if you will come! Just take the first step back home.”

 

Following an Easter scripture reading and a few words from Lt. Col Ian Barr, the trombone choir played something for Easter, an arrangement of ‘When I Survey’ (Howard Davies), bringing a fantastic day of trombone music making, and a brilliant concert to a close.

You can view videos taken on the day here and photos here.

©Richard Debonnaire

Bones Apart set list

Workshop:

  • Agincourt Song (Anon., arr. Howarth/Vollam)
  • Touch Her Soft Lips and Part (Walton, arr. Vollam)
  • Watkins Ale (Anon., arr. Vollam)
  • Suite from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (Mendelssohn, arr. Vollam)
    • Allegro comodo
    • Nocturne
    • Dance of the Clowns ‘Bergomask’
  • Poem Unlimited (Jason Carr, arr. Vollam)
  • So In Love (Cole Porter, arr. Quigley/Vollam)
  • Too Darn Hot (Cole Porter, arr. Paich/Vollam)

Concert:

  • Tango – ‘Jealousy’ (Gade, arr. Iveseon/Vollam)
    • Duet played by Jayne & Becky
  • Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair (Foster, arr. Harvey)
  • Tico Tico no fuba (Zequinha de Abreu, arr. McDonald)
  • Stars And Stripes (Sousa, arr. Wills)
  • West Side Story (Bernstein, arr. Armitage)
    • Cool
    • One Hand, One Heart
    • Cha Cha
    • America
    • Gee, Officer Krupke!
  • The Cleansing Power – with band (Stephen Bulla)

Black Dyke Trombone Quartet set list

Workshop:

  • Invincible Army (Ray Steadman-Allen, arr. Ian Jones)
  • Bohemian Rhapsody (Mercury, arr. Matt Tooley)
  • Bolivar (Eric Cook, arr. Ian Jones)
  • Light Walk (Barie Gott, arr. Ian Jones)
  • Thunderbirds (Barry Gray, arr. Gerry Brassaville)
  • Swing Low (Spiritual, arr. Adrian Hirst)
  • By the time I get to Phoenix/Redcar (Jimmy Webb, arr. Ian Jones) – Soloist: Garry Reed
  • Celebration (Leslie Condon, arr. Derek Bishop)
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