Marple Band: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club

The first brass band concert of 2016 at the Saddleworth venue

It was a case of ‘on with the show’ as conductor Andrew White took to the stage at Boarshurst Band Club on the 31 January 2016. As well as traditional brass band pieces, Irving Berlin played a fair part in Marple Band’s repertoire.

Over the last three years, Marple Band have come up in leaps and bounds. They have gone from Section Three to Section One. With Sunday’s performance at Boarshurst Band Club, they have a solid enough line up to reach the Championship Section – for the first time since Garry Cutt’s stint as conductor in the late 1990s.

The first choice conductor, Sarah Groark-Booth was unable to attend, having just given birth. So Andrew White stood in for Ms. Groark-Booth.

The Programme

First Half

  1. Contest March: The Cossack (William Rimmer);
  2. Overture: The Arcadians (Lionel Monckton);
  3. Horn Solo (performed by Nicola Rathburn): Over The Rainbow (Harold Arlen, arr. Goff Richards);
  4. Musical piece (from Annie Get Your Gun): There’s No Business Like Showbusiness (Irving Berlin);
  5. Popular song: It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow (Irving Berlin, arr. Howard Snell);
  6. Popular song: Puttin’ on the Ritz (Irving Berlin);
  7. Medley: West Side Story (various works by Leonard Bernstein).

Second Half

  1. Medley: Sullivan Fantasy (various works by Gilbert and Sullivan);
  2. Folk Song: Blow the Wind Southerly (traditional, arr. Gordon Langford);
  3. Euphonium Solo (performed by Paul Sanders): Benedictus (Karl Jenkins);
  4. Musical piece (from Kiss Me, Kate): Another Op’nin’, Another Show (Cole Porter);
  5. Hymn: In Perfect Peace (Kenneth Downie);
  6. Contest Test Piece: Olympus (First Movement, Philip Harper);
  7. Encore piece (from Summer Stock): Get Happy (Harold Arlen).

Just to get everybody into the mood for 2016 was the evergreen William Rimmer contest march, The Cossack. On Whit Friday, it remains a popular contest march for Section 2 and Section 3 brass bands. As well received as the opening piece was the choice of overture, Lionel Monckton’s The Arcadians, a melodic piece which never ceases to amaze.

Setting the tone for some of the programme was the first of six stage and screen themed pieces. The first soloist of the night, Nicola Rathburn, played a well bodied horn solo of Over The Rainbow. Made famous by Judy Garland and Eva Cassidy, the Goff Richards arrangement had more gravitas than I expected.

This was followed by a trilogy of Irving Berlin numbers. Continuing the musical theme was There’s No Business Like Showbusiness, from Annie Get Your Gun. Then, with some excellent play from Andy Liles, this was followed by It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow. The song was popularised by Vera Lynn during the Second World War. Marple Band’s version, arranged by Howard Snell.

Rounding off the trilogy of Irving Berlin’s works was Puttin’ On The Ritz. Much of the first half ended on a bouncy note, with a medley of songs from West Side Story.

The second half began almost as the first half ended, with the second medley of the night. This time, under the banner of Sullivan Fantasy, bite size chunks of Gilbert and Sullivan’s best known pieces segued into an accessible format. The tone of the second half became more placid with Gordon Langford’s arrangement of Blow the Wind Southerly. Another female singer popularised the traditional folk song: this time, Kathleen Ferrier.

Our second soloist of the night was Paul Sanders, who played a commanding role as Euphonium Soloist for the Karl Jenkins piece Benedictus. Taking us up to the raffle (four prizes: a choice from two white wines, a tub of Quality Street, or a box of Walnut Whip style chocolates) was the bouncier Another Op’nin’, Another Show from Kiss Me, Kate.

After the raffle came our first and only hymn of the night. This time, Kenneth Downie’s In Perfect Peace. A complete contrast to what would be the penultimate piece of the night.

The penultimate – and most rousing piece of the night – was the first movement of Olympus by Philip Harper. It was a piece which in Marple Band’s recent history, led to their climb from the 3rd to the 1st section. The First Movement made for a fantastic closing piece. As test pieces go, definitely up in my Top 100 anyway.

For the encore, Marple Band turned to Frances Ethel Gumm. This time, Get Happy, taken from the musical Summer Stock. In slightly over two hours, we went from Moscow to Kansas without needing to leave our seat (well, not quite: obviously now and again for the bar during the interval).

It was a splendid all round performance by Marple Band, and with the way they played, a good year could await them. Their conductor was warm and humorous and enjoyed his first trip in twenty years to Boarshurst.

Next up on their itinerary is the North West Area Contest on the 28 February 2016 (Winter Gardens, Blackpool). Therefore, there will be no concert on at the Boarshurst Band Club that Sunday.

Next Week…

Next week’s Sunday Brass concert (07 February 2016) will see the arrival of the Latitude Brass Quintet. The five piece band has players from the Royal Northern College of Music. Its members include Chris Clark, former Solo Cornet player for Black Dyke Band, and Dominic Longhurst, late of Brighouse and Rastrick Band as their Assistant Principal Cornet player.

With some of Britain’s highest calibre bandsmen on the stage, it is likely to be a good night. Furthermore, this’ll be the Latitude Brass Quintet’s first ever live performance. Definitely one to see, and a chance to see history in the making, at the Boarshurst Band Club.

Twitter details: @boarshurstband#SundayBrass.


S.V., 03 February 2016.


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