Latitude Brass Quintet: Five Star Performance in Debut Concert

RNCM students’ first ever concert at Boarshurst Band Club captivates

At 8pm a quintet of Royal Northern College of Music students took their positions at the Boarshurst Band Club to perform their first ever concert. Known as the Latitude Brass Quintet, the bandsmen had only been going for a month in this guise.

As part of their course at the RNCM, the syllabus entails the formation of a musical group. Instead of a chamber music group, they eschewed harps for cornets and formed a brass ensemble. By 9.35pm, their work paid off. It was a great start with a nice balance between popular and classical music in their programme.

On some occasions, you had to pinch yourself and wonder if there was five or 33 players.

Assuming the role as Master of Ceremonies was Christopher Binns, on trombone. He’s the Principal Trombonist for Black Dyke Band, a position he has held since August 2014. On the tuba was Harry Cunningham. He has been at Fairey Band since May 2015, where he plays EEb tuba. Before starting his course at the RNCM, he was Principal Tuba player for the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain.

On trumpet and cornet was Chris Clark. Late of Black Dyke Band, he also has orchestral experience in his native New Zealand and the United Kingdom. He also had an 8-year stint as Principal Trumpet and Cornet player for the Royal New Zealand Ballet. On French horn was David Maxted. Before taking his present course, he started out in the Junior RNCM and set himself on a musical career in his teens. He has also played in a brass quintet for BBC Radio 4 at MediaCityUK.

On cornet and trumpet was Dominic Longhurst, Assistant Principal Cornet for Brighouse and Rastrick. Following Mr. Clark from the Southern Hemisphere to the Northern Powerhouse (from Australia), he has achieved great success before his eighteenth birthday. He has also been a member of the National Australia Brass Band.

The Programme

First Half

  1. Overture: Ruslan and Lyudmila (Mikhael Glinka);
  2. Folk Song/Film Music (from Brassed Off): Londonderry Air (traditional);
  3. Film Music (from Breakfast at Tiffany’s): Moon Rover (Henry Mancini);
  4. Trombone Solo (Christopher Binns): Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair (Stephen Foster);
  5. Test Piece: Sonata for Brass Quintet (1st, 2nd and 3rd movements, Derek Bourgeois).

Second Half

  1. Folk Song: The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond (traditional);
  2. March: Strike Up the Band (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin);
  3. Jazz Song: Someone to Watch Over Me (George Gershwin/Ira Gershwin);
  4. Musical Song (from Singin’ In the Rain): Singin’ In the Rain (Arthur Freed);
  5. Musical Song (from Annie Get Your Gun): There’s No Business Like Showbusiness (Irving Berlin);
  6. Film Music (from The Pirate): Be a Clown (Cole Porter);
  7. Tuba Solo (Harry Cunningham): Blackbird (Lennon/McCartney);
  8. Folk Song: The Cuckoo (Traditional);
  9. Classical Piece: Procession of the Nobles from Mlada (Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov).

Encore

  1. Jazz Song: The Nearness of You (Hoagy Carmichael).

Dusting off the cobwebs, the quintet made a strong start with Mikhael Glinka’s Ruslan and Lyudmila overture. Their choice of opening piece dumbfounded the audience with a full sound coming from the ensemble. The mood was changed with the gentle tones of Londonderry Air. Which, for many people is best known as Danny Boy.

For some, possibly 90% of the audience at Boarshurst Band Club, the scene where Grimley Colliery Band are playing outside the hospital for Danny Ormondroyd (played by the late great Pete Postlethwaite). Remaining on the subject of films came the first of two pieces of film music. The third piece was the dreamy Moon River by Henry Mancini, which featured in the Audrey Hepburn film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

For the fourth piece of the night came the first soloist: Christopher Binns’ trombone solo. Introduced by Chris Clark, Mr. Binns played Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair with a solid performance from the Rochdalian.

The fifth and final piece of the first half would give a great reflection of the ensemble’s capabilities. This time, the first three movements of Sonata for Brass Quintet, written by Derek Bourgeois. Mr. Bourgeois has written 79 pieces for brass bands and Latitude Brass Quintet’s final piece of the first half was written when he was nearly 24 years old.

As stated by M.C. Chris Binns, the second half was longer than the first half. The second half programme was more relaxed and began with The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond. With two of them already seated, the remaining three drifted towards the stage from the green room at the back of the club. This made for a fuller sound with a surround effect. I thought I was back at Albion United Reformed Church in Ashton-under-Lyne, when I saw the Garry Cutt era Marple Band do the same with Three French Dances.

The next two pieces, written by George and Ira Gershwin (Strike Up the Band and Someone to Watch Over Me) saw the ensemble letting their hair down a little. This was exemplified by Arthur Freed’s Singin’ in the Rain (our first piece from the musicals) and – the instantly hummable and singable – There’s No Business Like Showbusiness by Irving Berlin.

The last two pieces took us straight to the raffle in good style. After the draw, our second half continued its merry way with the Cole Porter song, Be a Clown. This was our third and final trip to the movies courtesy of The Pirate (1948).

For our last solo piece – this time, Harry Cunningham on tuba – we were treated to Blackbird. From The Beatles album (popularly known as The White Album), Harry’s playing saw the tuba reach some really low notes. This was well received by the Boarshurst audience. A better reception came from their penultimate piece The Cuckoo. Though not a solo piece, Harry’s tuba featured prominently; stealing the show was the cuckoo noises made with the same instrument!

Our final piece saw the concert finish exactly as we began – in Russia. This time with Rimsky-Korsakov’s Procession of the Nobles. A great, rousing piece to finish on as well. Till the encore at least.

For the encore, we finished with The Nearness of You by Hoagy Carmichael. By 9.35pm, a footnote in brass banding history had been made. As we said in the preview in our last review [Marple Band], it was destined to be a good night.

A great night it was too. With youth on their side, they have several years experience ahead of them. The five have yet to reach their thirties, and their CVs make incredible reading already. With their first ever performance at Boarshurst Band Club, it was a real coup for the club. For the audience who braved the wind and rain for Greenbridge Lane, it was a real treat. A bargain.

In five years from now, there’s no way you’ll be able to see Latitude Brass Quintet for a fiver. They are going to go very far. Chris Clark, Dominic Longhurst, David Maxted, Christopher Binns, and Harry Cunningham: remember these names. They will be up with the Brett Bakers of this world and the Childs brothers. If you went, remember where you saw them first!

Next Week…

Next week’s Sunday Brass concert (14 February 2016) will see the arrival of Sale Brass. They have started 2016 with another win at the Butlins Mineworkers’ Contest in Skegness, on the 16 January. They defended the Fourth Section Title with the test piece being The Seafarers by Bruce Fraser.

Previously known as the Stretford Temperance Band, they were formed in 1849. The first reported public event they played at was the opening of the Manchester South Junction and Altrincham railway on the 28 May the same year. Since 1992, a key part of Greater Manchester’s Metrolink system.

In 1971, they moved across the River Mersey from Lancashire to Cheshire after the landlord of the band’s original rehearsal room died. Sale Municipal Borough Council offered the band accommodation, on the proviso that ‘Sale’ was added to its title. From the 01 November 1971, Stretford Borough Band (as it was known prior to then) became the Sale Concert Band.

Once again, a good night is expected with the doors open at 7pm for an 8pm start. If you have a brass band loving boyfriend or girlfriend, why not try something different on St. Valentine’s Day? After a meal or a walk around Saddleworth (weather permitting of course), Boarshurst Band Club could be the perfect end to a perfect date.

Twitter details: @boarshurstband#SundayBrass.

Website: www.boarshurstband.co.uk.

S.V., 08 February 2016.

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