A Golden Evening

The Church of St John the Evangelist in Workington, was the perfect venue for a memorial concert for Pat and Gareth Evans on 16th September. The golden columns of the ciborium served to make the brass instruments played by Richard (Pat and Gareth’s son) and four of his friends, shine even more. And shine they did. All evening.

The varied music was loosely arranged chronologically. We started with the stately Earl of Oxford’s March, as played at King Charles’ recent coronation, followed by some lively renaissance dances and a sonata. This was followed by the Quintet no 1 by Victor Ewald -from 1891 – possibly the earliest brass quintet ever written. The restrained fanfare in the third movement must have been one of the musical highlights of the evening.

The music was punctuated with short, moving and amusing recollections of Pat’n Gareth or Mr and Mrs Evans from family, friends, fellow bellringers, including Eric Martin, and former pupils of Pat. What these all celebrated was their thirst for knowledge and the generosity of both spirit and time. But who knew Gareth could catch wasps in his bare hands?

We continued with the famous Little Fugue by JS Bach and finally reached the twentieth century with the joyous four pieces making up the Music Hall Suite, by Joseph Horowitz.

After some welcome fortifying interval refreshments, we were treated to a superbly jazzy version of Amazing Grace. Starting with a glorious slow-burn then dazzling trumpet solo, we were swung along and this served as a wonderful introduction to Scott Joplin’s Ragtime Dance and Fats Waller’s Ain’t Misbehavin’. Then we were treated to the tuneful Golden Section by Jim Parker.

After some more lovely personal reminiscences of Pat and Gareth, Richard, pushed back his chair and stood to play The Bass in the Ballroom, by Roy Newsome, but arranged by himself. There cannot be that many tuba solos in the musical canon, but if this is typical then there should be more. This was certainly a highlight of the evening.

Richard, who had introduced each piece for us throughout the evening, then told us that Bernstein’s West Side Story had been his parents’ favourite musical, so we heard three songs from that, which included a beautiful version of Maria with the vocal part played gloriously on the French Horn.

This was an evening of crescendos, celebration, fanfares and fun. It was a delight to listen to these talented and proficient musicians play so well together. Thanks go to them and also to Rev Frances Ward who acted as Master of Ceremonies for the evening. We finished with the Beatles’ (twice; a standing ovation demands an encore), because at the end of the day, at the end of a concert, at the end of two lives well lived, All You Need Is Love.