Review contributed by Karyn Baker
Saturday, April 18th saw another triumph of a concert put on by the Hook Norton Brass Band, their Training Band, and conductor Shaun Humphries.
The program for the evening was centred on movie music, but it surprised and pleased me that it didnot contain any John Williams! Now, to be clear, I do love John Williams, who composed for such movie giants as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, E.T., Superman, Jaws, and more recently, Harry Potter. He’s the man. But if you are ever attending a concert of movie music, you will invariably hear all of these pieces and more from him. Maestro Humphries, however, made the impressive – and deliberate (I actually asked him) – choice not to include Mr. Williams’ works in the program for the evening. Instead, we heard pieces from Out of Africa, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Police Academy, Gladiator, The Lion King and more. It was a beautiful and eclectic collection of familiar – but not overdone – pieces that evoked memories of the movies themselves, and the pleasure we had in them then mixed with the pleasure we had in hearing them fresh from the band on Saturday.
The programme included many soloists, including an impressive tuba solo called The Elephant performed by the Training Band. Having heard the same Training Band at the Christmas Concert, I was suitably impressed with their incredible progress in these few short months. Maestro Humphries tells me he has worked them tirelessly, but it has obviously paid off.
No less impressive was the efforts of the HNBB. The arrangements played were difficult and attacked fearlessly. (That may not be true, but at least we in the audience didn’t see any fear….) Highlights included The Chariots of Fire theme, played at the opening of the programme, with the cornets flanking the rest of the band and letting the iconic notes of the theme ring out through the church. Amazing. That was a perfect start to the evening. Nearer to the end of the programme the band also performed Nessun Dorma (Puccini). Again, perhaps not an obvious choice for a night centred on movie music, but a beautiful choice, and if I learned anything from this evening it is that Conductor Shaun Humphries doesn’t want to make the obvious – or even easy – choices. All I can say is he’s on to something.
I think my favourite part of the night, though, was the brass band arrangement of Ticket to Ride that the band performed. Difficult, creative, well-executed – amazing. In fact, I loved it so much that after expressing that to one of the band members at the intermission, he persuaded Maestro Humphries to play it again as an encore, regardless of the fact that they had another encore prepared. I had both the pleasure of hearing it twice and having Maestro Humphries explain that it was for a “friend of the band who is soon going back home to Canada.”
I am that Canadian friend. I will be sorry not to be able to attend future Hook Horton Brass Band concerts, but from what I have seen I feel well assured that with their hard work and under Shaun Humphries’ baton they will have many years of beautifully performed music to share with full audiences. And who knows, perhaps one day I’ll be lucky enough to be back to visit just when there is a concert scheduled.
Although if they keep progressing at this rate I’ll probably have to buy an expensive ticket.