Where Eagles Dare, Ron Goodwin, arr. Christian Jenkins (Encores, Black Dyke Band)

A VE-Day theme to this edition of Track of the Week, which features a brass band arrangement of the opening title music to wartime classic Where Eagles Dare. For those unfamiliar with this epic, the film starts with a sweeping panorama of the alpine landscape, a transport aircraft gradually approaching in the distance. Ron Goodwin’s lightly-scored theme tune allows the blare of the propeller engines to crescendo through the texture via light, though judicious usage of snare drums, before the calm is abruptly shattered by a fanfare of massed trombones all simultaneously trying to find 5th and 7th positions at ff. As is only fitting for a German-themed film, however, most of the music is actually a fugue - and a very satisfying one too, it has to be said. Darrol Barry’s brass band arrangement has long been the source of special memories for me, although maybe, given I’ve usually listened to it from a vantage point right in front of the bass trombones, that’s just the post-traumatic amnesia talking. It’s a trickier piece than it sounds, particularly if you’re (a) playing a snare drum, (b) performing anywhere with an echo, and (c) positioned a long way away from the rest of the band, as the injudicious use of percussion choirs in at least one concert car (or plane) crash I have witnessed will testify. It is also, funnily enough, the only piece I have ever performed that I have also seen used as a backing track for a burlesque act. Clearly, brass band music can get everywhere if it’s exciting enough.

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