Seaton Music season ends on a high note!

PUBLISHED: 17:03 16 April 2019

A4 Brass. Picture: Courtesy of A4 Brass

A4 Brass. Picture: Courtesy of A4 Brass

Benjamin Ealovega 2018

Seaton Music enjoyed a performance full of beautiful playing - and surprises from A4 Brass

A unique evening of sparkling performance, brilliant musicianship and comedy thrilled members and friends of Seaton Music in the last concert of their 67th season at The Gateway.

Unique because A4 Brass, a quartet of musicians who met at the Royal Northern College of Music in 2013, have formed a group with their own instrumentation.

Jamie Smith (cornet, flugelhorn), Jonathan Bates (tenor horn), Michael Cavanagh (baritone horn) and Chris Robertson (euphonium) are players in some the UK's top brass bands (including Grimethorpe Colliery, Brighouse and Rastrick and Foden's).

They have won numerous prestigious awards, played at festivals in this country and elsewhere in Europe and appeared on ITV and Radio 3.

In a fast-moving evening of entertainment, often using their own arrangements, their programme encompassed a wide range of musical styles.

Toccata 4 is tenor horn player Jonny Bates's fourth virtuoso piece written for the group, which got the evening off to a dazzling start – no wonder Brass Band World talked of their 'technical virtuosity in abundance'!

The concert was dedicated to the memory of its late patron, Gordon Langford.

The quartet acknowledged the immeasurable debt of all brass players to him as a composer who extended their repertoire into new areas.

You could almost feel the 'Last Night of the Proms' atmosphere when A4 Brass played his Fantasy on British Sea Songs and his arrangement of Blaydon Races.

Other styles were represented, for example by Autumn Leaves (Kosma, 1945), a well-known jazz number, effectively arranged with tenor horn solo. A work by Japanese composer Kentaro Sato, originally composed for choir, worked well with its reflective melody and rich harmonies. New works commissioned by the group – Thomas Doss's Moskito, a comic description of the insect, and Bramwell Tovey's expressive Street Songs completed the first half.

The quartet showed in the second half that they are also masters of the comic sketch.

From the euphonium trying to keep awake playing Pachelbel's Canon through dramatic and religious works by the likes of Mozart, Delibes and others to an unexpected trombone version Frank Sinatra's My Way as an encore, it was a performance full of beautiful playing – and surprises!

The next concert will be when the 68th season starts on Thursday, October 17, when Emmanuel Bach and Jennie Stern will give the Joanna Leach Foundation concert in The Gateway in aid of Hospiscare.

It will include works by Beethoven, Prokofiev, Debussy and Wieniawski.

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