Denton Brass: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club

A joyous night from our fellows off the M67 motorway

In brass banding terms, age is just a number. Nothing more. Brass banding doesn’t only unite classes, it also unites generations. Anyone from 10-years-old to 78-years-old can be seen with one either on the Whit Walks, at contest level, or in concerts, as well as rehearsal nights. There is a united goal across ages: all for the good of the band, and their respective communities. Merit rather than age is a marker: the finest Principal Cornet player could be studying for their GCSEs, or ten years into their retirement.

Last night’s concert [05 June] was proof of the above. Denton Brass’ baker’s dozen of pieces were a tasty and varied selection. One with the emphasis of entertainment whilst upholding tradition.

Denton Brass’ first choice musical director, Matt Bailey, was unable to do Boarshurst Band Club. He injured his back the previous Saturday. Assuming the David Fairclough role, our ‘supersub’ was Colin Myers.

Colin Myers’ first experience of brass banding was with Cargo Fleet Steelworks’ band, east of Middlesbrough town centre in 1967. Prior to Matt Bailey’s appointment, the Principal Cornet player joined Denton Brass as Musical Director in late 2009. Matt Bailey (whom we wish a speedy recovery), became Denton Brass’ musical director in April 2014.

For last’s night’s concert, we also had a guest player. A couple, staying over in Saddleworth, responded to a plea for a spare player. The male who responded had played at Birmingham Symphony Hall, so a bit of a coup for Denton Brass.

The Programme

First Half

  1. March: Cross of Honour (William Rimmer);
  2. Hymn: Dear Lord and Father of Mankind (John Greenleaf Whittier);
  3. Popular Music: Sway (Mucho Mambo) (Luis Demetrio/Pablo Beltrán Ruiz);
  4. Original Piece: The Golden Lady (Goff Richards);
  5. Modern Bolero: Salamanca (Dave Becker, arr. Dennis Wilby);
  6. Hymn: Abide With Me/The Last Post (William H. Monk, arr. Anthony Wakefield);
  7. Medley: Glasnost (Dizzy Stratford):
    1. State Anthem of the Soviet Union (Alexander Alexandrov);
    2. Song of the Volga Boatman (Russian traditional);
    3. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (Tchaikovsky).

Second Half

  1. Film Music: Aces High march (from The Battle of Britain) (Ron Goodwin);
  2. Medley: Albion Treasures (various, arr. Gavin Somerset):
    1. Highland Cathedral (Ulrich Roever and Michael Korb);
    2. Amazing Grace (John Newton);
    3. Londonderry Air (Traditional);
    4. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (Wallace Willis);
    5. Dear Lord and Father of Mankind (John Greenleaf Whittier).
  3. Medley: Tom Jones in Concert (Thomas Jones Woodward O.B.E., arr. Frank Bernaerts):
    1. It’s Not Unusual;
    2. Delilah;
    3. The Green Green Grass of Home;
    4. What’s New, Pussycat?;
    5. Help Yourself;
    6. Sex Bomb.
  4. Musical piece: Memory (from Cats) (Andrew Lloyd-Webber);
  5. Light Concert Music: Viennese Nights (John Greenwood);
  6. March: The Floral Dance (Kate Emily Barkley, arr. Derek Broadbent).

The staple of any self-respecting brass band concert is a traditional contest march. Kicking off proceedings was William Rimmer’s Cross of Honour. If you’ve seen Brassed Off (Who hasn’t? Get that film watched!!!), it is used to illustrate the redundancy or review ballot at Grimley Colliery. If you went to any of the Tameside Whit Friday band contests, this was their contest march. They took in ten contests throughout the borough from Denton Cricket Club to Ashton United Football Club (yours truly bore witness to their performance at the latter venue).

Another staple of any brass band concert is a traditional hymn. Their second piece was Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, a popular piece at hymn and march contests up and down the country. In Britain, it is played to the tune of Repton. So far, a solid performance from our fellows with the contest march and their hymn. Both of which would be well received if played at such contests in Hebden Bridge, Morley and Brighouse this year. (All three are within the next four weeks).

The third one took us towards hotter clines, a good choice given the Saddleworthian sunshine and high temperatures. This time, Sway (Mucho Mambo), a popular piece that has been covered by numerous artistes. These include Dean Martin and Michael Bublé. In 1999, Shaft’s version brought the piece to a younger generation, with a Latino House Music style. Prior to their vibrant performance, Colin gave us all an anecdote about a life size cardboard cutout of Michael Bublé.

Our fourth piece was written by Goff Richards for the Cornwall Youth Brass Band’s tour of Luxembourg in 1990. Entitled The Golden Lady, it is inspired by the Luxembourg City statue, Gellen Fra. The Golden Lady stands atop a war memorial in the city, commemorating armed forces volunteers of the Allied Powers since the First World War. Claus Cito sculpted the lady in 1923.

From Luxembourg City, we go to Spain for our next piece. Written by Dave Becker and arranged by Dennis Wilby, Salamanca takes its name from the Spanish city. The city dates from pre-Roman times. The piece is a modern bolero which invited audience participation. At the end of the piece, Mr. Myers let the Boarshurst faithful shout “olé!” at the end.

For our penultimate piece of the first half, it was William H. Monk’s Abide With Me. There was one difference: our arrangement neatly segued with The Last Post. Anthony Wakefield’s arrangement made for a fuller version of the F.A. Cup Final hymn, and Denton Brass put in a good shift with this number.

Closing the first half, we continued our journey along the European mainland to Russia. Pretty much of its time of the piece’s original release, and well played, was Glasnost. Composed by Jacob de Hann, under the nom de plume of Dizzy Stratford, it was a satisfying medley of three Russian pieces. The first was the national anthem of the USSR, then Song of the Volga Boatman, before finishing with The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

The second half ushered in a slightly lighter, yet easygoing guise. We began with our first film piece of the night. This time with Ron Goodwin’s Aces High march. This was taken from the 1969 film Battle of Britain. William Walton’s music was originally going to feature, but United Artists didn’t like the Oldham-born composer’s works. Instead, Ron Goodwin’s music featured in the film starring Laurence Olivier. A rousing piece well played.

Sticking with the Albion theme was Albion Treasures, arranged by Gavin Somerset. The medley of five traditional British songs included Londonderry Air (our second dalliance with Brassed Off), Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (for the Rugby Union fanatics), Highland Cathedral, and Amazing Grace. The five-part medley closed with Dear Lord and Father of Mankind.

To hear one piece – or even a bit of one piece – repeated at any brass band concert is a bit unusual. To hear Sex Bomb arranged for brass bands, is even more so. This closed the second medley of this half, which featured five Tom Jones songs. Entitled Tom Jones in Concert, a much condensed version of his canon also covered It’s Not Unusual, Delilah, The Green Green Grass of Home, What’s New, Pussycat?, and Help Yourself. Frank Bernaerts’ arrangement allowed for audience participation, neatly taking us to the raffle.

Our first and only musical piece was Memory, taken from the Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical, Cats. With the musical based on the T.S. Eliot book, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, this is it’s best-known number. It was sung by the former glamour cat, Grizabella in the stage production. As well as Elaine Paige’s version, it has also been sung by Celine Dion and Barbra Streisland. Ms. Paige’s version peaked at #6 in July 1981, in the UK Singles Chart. Another solid performance.

From the West End to Vienna, our tour through Europe along the Ledger Line took us towards the River Danube. This time with Viennese Nights, a joyous piece arranged by John Greenwood. For a few minutes, it felt like 11.30am on New Year’s Day, watching the Vienna New Year’s Concert on BBC Two.

Apart from finishing with the British National Anthem, our last piece of the night took us back to Grimley. This time, with a piece that was well known before Brassed Off. Enter stage left, Derek Broadbent’s arrangement of The Floral Dance. The piece, famously played by Brighouse and Rastrick Band (increasingly without a conductor in attendance at most concerts!), was a Number Two chart single in 1977. The piece was inspired by the annual Furry Dance in Helston, Cornwall. Brighouse and Rastrick’s version also inspired the late Terry Wogan’s version a year later (where Hanwell Band provided backing for the popular Radio 2 presenter).

Denton Brass’ playing of the last piece was very good indeed, and ended the concert on a high. We hope to see more of Denton Brass in the near future. If you wish to see them again, they’ll be performing at the Gee Cross Fete on the 12 June (330 and 389 buses from Hyde stop nearby – alight at Dowson Road/Stockport Road stop and turn left on foot). Also as per usual, they will be performing at Victoria Park in the centre of Denton on Saturday, 25 June (Armed Forces Day). From Ashton-under-Lyne (after boarding train from Greenfield, or 350/353/354 buses from Saddleworth), catch 347 bus to Denton [Crown Point].

For the players, including Principal Cornet player and stand-in conductor Colin Myers, it was a well rounded performance with a tightly produced programme.

Next at the Boarshurst Band Club

Next week is June’s second Lancastrian band of the Sunday Brass series of concerts. This time, it is the turn of BMP Europe Goodshaw band. Goodshaw is a hamlet between Burnley and Rawtenstall. It is just off Crawshawbooth, which is on the A680 between the two aforementioned towns.

BMP Europe Goodshaw band have been going since 1867. They also have a Training Band as well as a Senior Band. The band has a proud history and had a good spell in the late 1960s, as one of Lancashire’s top brass bands. Today, the band are on the up again, in the Third Section. 2014 saw BMP Europe Goodshaw win the Fourth Section title at the Butlin’s Mineworkers’ contest in Skegness (with the test piece being Music For A Festival by Philip Sparke).

Their sponsors, BMP Europe Limited, was formed as a subsidiary of Andrew Industries in 1985. BMP Europe started out making textile parts for photocopiers. 31 years on, under the same ownership, their products include a variety of technical non-woven textiles for use in industrial equipment with an international presence.

Buses:

  • 180: Greenfield [Clarence Hotel] – Lees – Oldham – Hollinwood – Manchester [Oldham Street];
  • 350: Ashton-under-Lyne – Mossley – Greenfield – Uppermill – Dobcross – Delph – Waterhead – Oldham.

Alight at Greenfield Conservative Club. Both services operated by First Greater Manchester.

Twitter details: @boarshurstband#SundayBrass.

Website: www.boarshurstband.co.uk.

S.V., 06 June 2016.

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