Heralding in the festive season

Christmas was welcomed into Batley in style on Saturday when a sell-out audience greeted the staging of the fifth annual concert featuring the Hammond Saltaire Band.

Because of the playing skills of band members and the popularity of the chosen music the size of the audiences has grown each year and this time even people who turned up 20 minutes before the scheduled start had to search hard for empty seats.

They were well rewarded, however, with the fantastically sharp playing of the band, conducted by Mirfield resident Morgan Griffiths.

This was complemented by the tremendous musical abilities of the children from the Batley Parish Singing Group, conducted by Kate Delaney and charmingly accompanied by her pianist mother Joan Delaney.

The talented and confident youngsters were outstanding as they tackled various numbers, including It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year and When Children Rule the World as well as Must Be Santa Claus.

Not only did they appear note perfect but they led the audience in two rousing sessions of carol singing and obviously enjoyed a growing relationship with the band.

The championship band, boasting a heady mixture of youth, experience and tremendous talent launched the evening with the rousing Valero followed by Leroy Anderson’s nerve-tingling Christmas Festival.

It was followed up by such items as Santa Baby, My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose and a roving Lament starring soloists Helen Varley on tenor horn, Jamie Smith on cornet and Matthew Allsop (euphonium).

Other like-minded items continued the style and prepared the rousing finale which involved such loving items as Ukrainian Bell Carol, Yule Dance and a White Christmas sing-song with which the audience joined in with gusto.

The band concert has really become a noted date in Batley’s festive calendar. Long may it remain so.

Malcolm Haigh