A friendly way with our fellow neighbours from Roughtown

Mossley is a wonderful place of contrasts set along the Pennine foothills. It is one where the Yorkstone of Roughtown and Upper Mossley coexists with the red brick of Micklehurst and Hey Farm estates. For its 10,000 people there are three brass bands. The oldest, Mossley Band, rehearse at 3 Argyle Street in Upper Mossley. Making their way to Boarshurst Band Club on Sunday [06 March] was the town’s second oldest brass band.

Formed in 1934, St. John’s Mossley Band is situated in Roughtown. They are the brass band of St. John’s C of E Church on Carrhill Lane. As well as countless appearances on the Mossley Whit Walks and Whit Friday Brass Band Contests, they have also been seen on TV. On Melanie Sykes’ last day as co-presenter of The Big Breakfast (Channel Four/Planet 24, 1992 – 2002), her send-off was St. John’s Mossley band, playing at the end of the programme.

They are a very community-orientated band. Practice night is Thursdays where St. John’s Mossley Band rehearse at the Yorkshire Ward Conservative Club. Taking place on the same nights is their Training Band’s rehearsals (at 7pm). Anyone from 7 to 97 upwards, who fancy learning to play a brass instrument, are welcome.

St. John’s Mossley Band were warmly received by the Boarshurst faithful, with Musical Director Paul Exton-McGuinness offering a well-bodied and accessible programme.

The Programme

First Half

  1. March: Sherwood Lodge (Norman Brown);
  2. Overture: Nabucco (Giuseppe Verdi, arr. William Rimmer);
  3. Flugelhorn and Euphonium Duet (performed by Michelle Rust and Bob Sykes): Amigos Para Sempre (Andrew Lloyd-Webber);
  4. Folk: Men of Harlech (Traditional);
  5. Hymn: The Irish Blessing (Joyce Eilers-Bacak, arr. Stephen Bradnum);
  6. Film Music: Theme from 633 Squadron (Ron Goodwin).

Second Half

  1. March: La Florentiner (Fucik);
  2. Folk: The Ashokan Farewell (Jay Unger);
  3. Musical Medley: Oklahoma! (Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II);
  4. Classical: Elegy (from The Diamond Suite) (John Ireland);
  5. Film Music: Theme from Backdraft (Hans Zimmer);
  6. Classical piece: Pastorale (Beethoven, arr. Goff Richards);
  7. Film Music: The Dam Busters March (Theme from The Dam Busters) (Eric Coates).

We began proceedings with a march that few people in the audience could recall hearing. The piece was Sherwood Lodge by Norman Brown, an often overlooked contest march. On Whit Friday 2013, this was played by the Camping and Caravanning Club at Diggle, Delph, Dobcross, Uppermill, Greenfield and Friezland contests. The last Tameside brass band to have played this piece on Whit Friday was Carrbrook in 2001 (at the Heyrod and Broadoak contests).

Our second piece, as is tradition in many a brass band concert was an overture. This time, the luscious Nabucco by Giuseppe Verdi, arranged by William Rimmer. The overture featured in the titular opera set in four parts, which follows the plight of the Jews as they were assaulted and banished from their homeland. Its best known number, which appeared in the overture is the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves. Nabucco is the abbreviated name of Nabucodonosor.

The third piece was a family affair for Michelle Rust and Bob Sykes, who performed the Flugelhorn and Euphonium duet. Both are related to Melanie Sykes, one of Mossley’s famous daughters (Bob being Mel’s father). Their piece was Amigos Para Sempre, written by Andrew Lloyd-Webber for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. Translating into English as ‘friends for life’, it was sung by José Carreras and Sarah Brightman and peaked at Number 11 in the UK singles chart.

Continuing the sporting theme, rugby union fans may have been familiar with the fourth piece. Sung at the Millennium Stadium and Cardiff Arms Park, Men of Harlech is the Wales RFU team’s song of choice. St. John’s Mossley did themselves proud in the cosier confines of the Boarshurst Band Club.

Keeping the Celtic theme was a piece which befitted the phrase ‘less is more’. A favourite among several brass bands was The Irish Blessing arranged by Stephen Bradnum. Based on a traditional Irish benediction, it was a lull before their last piece of the first half.

Closing the second half was Ron Goodwin’s theme from 633 Squadron. This is among his celebrated film themes alongside the theme music to The Battle of Britain, and Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines. Television buffs may also be familiar with The Trap (used by the BBC for the London Marathon), and the original Yorkshire Television start-up music. It was a joyous climax to the first half.

For the second half, familiarity brought content for the Boarshurst audience with Fucik’s La Florentiner march. If you’ve seen Brassed Off as often as I have, the regional semi-finals at Piece Hall, Halifax, and the pit’s closure scenes may spring to mind. The timing of the piece’s performance was astute, immediately after John Whittle’s announcement of the Yorkshire Regional Contest results.

The second piece of our second half was different again, this time with a modern folk piece. Jay Unger’s The Ashokan Farewell was moody, haunting and well played. The piece, used in an American Civil War documentary, was inspired by the Ashokan Reservoir that overlooks the Catskill Mountains.

Sticking with America, the third piece of the second half brought us our first medley of the night. This time, a medley of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s evergreen music from Oklahoma!, with some of the audience singing away. This neatly took us to the raffle, later followed by John Ireland’s arrangement of the Diamond Suite’s Elegy.

For our second piece of film music, we fast-forwarded our way to 1991. This time, Hans Zimmer’s theme from Backdraft (the Chicago Fire Film starring Kurt Russell). Zimmer’s most famous work includes the music for Inception, Interstellar and the BBC One quiz show Going For Gold.

After a solid treatment of the theme from Backdraft, our penultimate piece was the more serene Pastorale. An arrangement of the Beethoven piece by Goff Richards, it was a wondrous departure from the cold weather outside. Whilst introducing the piece, Paul [Exton-McGuinness] said that no concert is complete without a Goff Richards piece. Wise words indeed; both Sale and Marple bands have had a Goff Richards piece within their programmes.

Our second half finished in exactly the same way as the first half with another military based film piece. This time, Eric Coates’ theme from The Dam Busters. A good closing piece and a good all-round performance from St. John’s Mossley.

Next Week…

Poynton Band, 13 March 2016, 8pm.

Sunday Brass at the BBC will see Poynton Band making their way from Cheshire. In the North West Regional Championships on the 28 February, they finished in first place in the First Section. Owing to their success, this could be a popular concert (arrive early to avoid disappointment).

Sponsored by the Vernon Building Society since 1988, the band has stayed in the higher sections since the late 1960s. They were formed in the early 1800s, though its formation date is unknown.

Twitter details: @boarshurstband#SundayBrass.

Website: www.boarshurstband.co.uk.

S.V., 07 March 2016.

6 thoughts on “St. John’s Mossley Band: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club

    1. Hi Paul,

      It is known as either ‘Top Mossley’ or ‘Upper Mossley’. The latter is used in a formal context; the sub-Post Office at Doubleday’s Newsagents is referred to as “Upper Mossley Post Office”. The Mossley Whit Friday Brass Band Contest is officially known as the “Upper Mossley Brass Band Contest”. I chose the formal term as it is consistent with the brass banding fraternity.

      Even so, Top Mossley is used more often than Upper Mossley in general conversation. The formal term has also been used in OS Maps.




  1. Thanks Stuart

    Enjoy the blog & not having a dig honest! As a Mossley resident I’ve only ever seen Upper Mossley on the Post Office as you described. Always struck me as daft.



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