Brad Turnbull and Mervyn Bethell, conductors of band and choir, guided us through a well-chosen combination of nostalgic numbers from the First World War and the 1940's, and a selection of appropriate music from other eras, dynamic and restrained, haunting and inspiring. The full ensemble work dovetailed movingly with Melanie Cotton's beautiful mezzo-soprano solos, Ian Wright's smooth euphonium sound, the tear-jerking Last Post and Reveille from three JLR trumpeters, the solemn story of the Unknown Soldier from Revd Maraget Simmons and Larry Burke's tribute to Charlie Howard. A short report cannot to do justice to the whole programme, but to mention the following is to guarantee that those who were not there will wish they had been: the Karl Jenkins Benedictus, arranged for brass band and euphonium by Tony Small; the Agnus Dei to Elgar's Nimrod; You Raise me Up, by Loveland and Graham; Purcell's 'Dido's Lament'; Handel's 'Lascia Ch'io Panga'; Glenn Miller. That's only the half of it.
In many ways the most moving moments of all came in the remarkable gentleness and control of the big band in its quiet passages, and the massed item of 'The Day Thou Gavest, Lord', with 400 voices raised together in tribute and remembrance.
The good news at the end of the festival is the intention of these ensembles to come back to the same place at the same time next year. You'll be well advised to book early.