Farewell concert for late Slinfold musical director

Slinfold Concert Band has said a triumphant farewell to its former musical director.

‘A Concert for Malcolm’ was the simple title of the concert planned as a farewell to Malcolm Gay, who died suddenly in May.

The chosen venue was St. Peter’s Church, Slinfold, the date Saturday September 8, and the church was packed. Friends and family, followers of the band, former players and people from the village all turned up for the final tribute to their former leader, and they were not disappointed. The band was determined to make it an event to remember, and succeeded by treating the audience to an evening of high quality playing that culminated in a standing ovation.

Under the baton of Andrew Duncan, a band member who has assumed control with quiet efficiency for the past few months, the band launched the evening with a rousing performance of ‘Pentland Hills’, a march by James Howe which, like much of the music which was to follow, was arranged for concert band by Malcolm.

This was followed by pieces from across the musical spectrum; classics by Handel, Puccini and Tchaikovsky, music from shows and the movies, an arrangement by Malcolm of a Procol Harum number, and a performance of ‘Soldiers of the Queen’, Malcolm’s old regimental march.

Added to these were superb solos from Camilla Harris and Karen Quigley, and to round off the evening piper Martin Russell joined the band to play ‘Highland Cathedral’ and ‘Amazing Grace’ which produced a prolonged standing ovation. As several of the audience subsequently remarked, ‘Malcolm would have been proud of the band’.

Many of the audience joined the band for drinks in the village hall afterwards, where it was announced that a new musical director had been appointed.

Chris Newport, a professional musician who has already helped out in the band’s horn section, is well known in Surrey and Sussex as a brass teacher. The band hopes that the tremendous support shown at the concert will continue when it plays under his baton in the run-up to Christmas - dates and venues on the website, slinfoldconcertband.org.

At the request of Malcolm’s widow, Lynne, there was a retiring collection in the church for Macmillan Cancer Support, and the band was delighted to find that an amazing £600 had been generously contributed. A heart-warming finale to a wonderful evening.