Events News

German Accordion Orchestra Comes To The UK – (Review)

Crewe Brass and HHS Bischofshelm

Billed as ‘Bringing together the unique sounds of brass and accordion’ and held in the St Mary’s Church, Nantwich, Cheshire, a concert was held on Saturday 1st October featuring Crewe Brass and German accordion orchestra HHS Bischofshelm.

Crewe and Nantwich Borough is twinned with Bischofshelm and it has been the custom over the last six years for the two bands to meet up every other year to hold a joint concert, alternating between the two countries. This was the fourth such concert, two having taken place in Bischofshelm and one, four years ago, in Crewe.

The venue of St Mary’s Church was a beautiful setting for the concert and is considered by some to be one of the finest medieval churches, not only in Cheshire but in the whole of England. It also proved to have amazing acoustics. Quite a few members of the North Staffs Accordion club turned up and Geoff Lloyd and Ken Farran of the Chester Club and Rob Howard and Marge of Stockport also attended the event.

Crewe Brass
Crewe Brass

Crewe Brass (pictured right), conducted by its musical director, Jamie Meredith, played for the first half and gave an impressive performance playing: Liberty Fanfare (John Williams), a selection from Les Miserables (Boubil & Schonberg), Under the Boardwalk (Young & Resnick), Faure’s Pavane, Theme from Game of Thrones by Djwadi and finishing with Procession to the Minster (Wagner). The performance featured a variety of soloists and percussion featured heavily as there were three percussionists in the band.

After a coffee break the HHS Bischofsheim accordion band took to the ‘stage’ under musical director Stefan Finkenauer. Stefan runs an accordion school in Bischofsheim with this, the senior band, and a junior band. This band presented 25 members. The youngest, Stefan’s daughter, is 8 years old and the average age of the members around 40. The bass was provided by two amplified basso accordion players. There was a single percussionist though she was supplemented on the night by the three Crewe Brass players. All other players, playing in five parts had identical Hohner accordions and their playing was to a very high standard. The band opened with a medley of music from the musical Miss Saigon (Claude-Michel Schoenberg) followed by Choral and Rock Out (Ted Huggins), Finlandia (Sibelius), The Lord of the Dance (Ronan Padraig Hardiman), You’ll be in my Heart (Phil Collins), ending with a delightfully percussive arrangement of Chattanooga Choo Choo (Harry Warren).

At the end of the concert the two bands combined to play two pieces, Florentine March (J.Fucik) conducted by Stefan and Highland Cathedral (U.Rover & M Korb) directed by Jamie. Jamie explained that they had come across a problem in the afternoon’s rehearsal. Having been communicating with the music by email, when they came round to rehearsing the march together it was a mess. They realised that the brass arrangement was a tone too high and Jamie and the band members had to spend the rest of the afternoon transposing the piece by hand for all instruments. It is impressive that they managed this job and played it so well in such a short time.
It was obviously a big challenge for the conductors to balance the two bands with the brass having a much higher volume than the accordion band and on the whole they managed very well, especially in the march where the difference was used to good effect to emphasise the
dynamics of the piece.

A big thank you goes to Crewe Brass and the Nantwich Town Council for organising this enjoyable event in such a lovely venue.

Original review – Steve Hughes

Crewe Brass website
HHS Bischofshelm website