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Bridgewater Fire Department Band

81 Dominion St. Bridgewater. Nova Scotia

Wednesday August 17th

Wednesday morning was spent touring the city of Leeds, including the Leeds Royal Armouries, which houses the United Kingdom’s national collection of historic arms, armour, and artillery.  It was very impressive, but the real excitement was to come in the evening.

The United Kingdom – and Yorkshire in particular – is home to some of the world’s finest bands and choirs, so it was with a mixed sense of trepidation and expectation that we had accepted the invitation from the WYFRSB Band in the first place.  Some of the selections on the gala concert would be played by the combined bands, but that did not obviate our members’ need to be on top of their own parts.  Many, many hours of rehearsals, extra rehearsals, drill practice, and, of course, practice at home by individual members, went into the preparations for this night.  BFDB Director Wendell Eisener was once told by a wise conducting teacher, “If you’re doing your job well, you have no right to expect to be popular.  Respect is about the best you can hope for.”  In the months leading up to August 2011, Eisener had encouraged, cajoled, coaxed, begged, and occasionally threatened with punishments both temporal and eternal the members of the Bridgewater band until they had reached a standard of performance that they had never achieved in their previous 143 years.

A capacity audience, including another vice-regal party, had gathered in Bradford’s St Peter’s Anglican Cathedral long before WYFRS Band Director Lee Whitworth opened the concert with Aaron Copeland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, as played by the combined brass and percussion sections of both bands.  The WYFRS Band played their individual selections first; the Bridgewater band then took the stage and completed the first half of the programme.

The audience was impressed with the BFDB’s depth of sound, subtlety in phrasing, dynamic range, and the all-round musicality that has become the hallmark of the Band in recent years.  The Bridgewater Fire Department Band had just played in the musical heart of the British Commonwealth – and was given a standing ovation.  The second half of the concert featured selections played by the combined bands, and concluded with O Canada and God Save the Queen before the playing of the two fire services’ respective regimental marches, West Yorkshire’s Beyond the Call and Bridgewater’s own Love and Duty.

We slept exceedingly well that night.