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| 2009 Festival
James Stretton - virtuoso multi-brass instrumentalist with Iain Jackson - piano and trombone
The audience at Chipping Norton Town Hall gave an enthusiastic welcome to 'Orichalcum - World of Brass' as part of the 96th Chipping Norton Music Festival (founded in 1904). James Stretton made his dramatic entrance through the audience playing "It's not unusual" on the tuba. This attention grabbing entrance set the tone for the rest of the concert, which had variety and interest for both young and old. James ably demonstrated the range and varied styles of music that can be performed on the 20 different brass instruments he brought with him; they ranged from the piccolo trumpet to the tuba. The virtuosity needed to perform Arutunian's "Concert Scherzo" played on the cornet was contrasted with movements from Mozart's Horn concerto performed with aplomb on the most notorious of all the brass family - namely the French Horn. A range of musical styles from the baroque, classical, ragtime to jazz provided a programme that ensured both adults and children were interested and involved throughout. Children were given a hands on opportunity to be involved in getting sounds out of a mouthpiece and then to add on colourful Heath Robinson like trumpets. This gave everyone present an insight into how brass instruments work. James's virtuosity was particularly well demonstrated in two of the concert items; namely, Variations on "My Grandfather's Clock", in which he switched quickly from soprano trombone to tenor trombone, flugel horn, trumpet and euphonium during the piece. Similarly, in the Grand Finale, "The Carnival of Venice" by Arban, arranged by Jackson, the slide trumpet, trombone, cornet, euphonium, flugel horn and trumpet were featured together with fascinating interludes written in the styles of various composers played by Iain Jackson on the piano. Iain, who provided piano accompaniments throughout the programme, also gave performance of Debussy's prelude "La Cathédrale Engloutie" (The submerged cathedral) as well as taking up his trombone to join James in a performance of the "Canonic Sonata" by Telemann. The tumultuous applause given at the end of the event reflected the appreciation and enthusiasm of the audience for an excellent and truly unique concert.
Dr Edwin L. Wilson.