A surprise gratis glass of bubbly greeted everyone on arrival for the 20th anniversary concert of the vibrant Birmingham Symphonic Winds.
Players are drawn from a wide area being involved throughout the years in countless exciting performances. Anticipation grew as we admired elegant evening dress and floating balloons, adding to the party atmosphere on stage and in the audience.
New music and old favourites rub shoulders in their always accessible programmes, no doubt the choice of director and conductor Keith Allen, helped by his vast diversity of soloists and numerous guest conductors every season.
Fanfares in Rutter’s world premiere Behold, Go Forth and Be Joyful stirred the blood, beginning this splendid evening with a fine flourish, contrasting with mellifluous thoughtfulness and chirpy optimism.
Guest conductor Guy Woolfenden treated us to his own mind-teasing Firedance dedicated to BSW in 2010. Percussionist Simone Rebello performed Ellerby’s commissioned Canticle of the Sunwith anticipated skill and much moving about between marimbas, vibraphones, sweet crotales, kit arrangements and curious sound-effect-type instruments. At times vibes were obscured by eager accompaniments, but a lovely flute solo eventually charmed and all ended peacefully.
Sadly Shotakovitch’s stirring Festive Overture was near panic, somewhat untidy and not convincing.
Guitarist Craig Ogden starred in Paul Hart’s Concerto with Jazz Orchestra. Sensitive balance with a bass guitar led to crazy prestissimo fingerwork. However this was occasionally obscured in spite of amplification, but eventually matched by an incredibly exuberant cowboy-style encore.
Gershwin galore, then Stars and Stripes before a final all-in party. Cheers!