The Real Madrid of Youth Bands kicks off a new series of lunchtime concerts
For the first of many lunchtime concerts featuring youth brass bands, Boarshurst Band Club couldn’t have chosen a better one. Making their way to Boarshurst Band Club on Sunday dinnertime was Elland Silver Youth Band. A band who are The Real Madrid of Youth Bands.
The lunchtime concerts are the brainchild of Linda Finan. Her idea was that the usual time slot of 8pm was prohibitive for youth bands. Especially as the Musical Director wouldn’t have to be ready for school the following Monday. (If they also taught, they too would have needed an early night).
Their players come from far and wide – even Lancashire as well as the West Riding of Yorkshire. Some have progressed from within, via Elland Silver’s Training, and Starter and Beginners bands. To join Elland Silver Youth Band, minimum entry requirements for all participants is an ABRSM Grade Five in Music Theory.
Many of them have progressed to higher education level. For example, towards the University of Salford’s much-revered Degree in Brass Banding. Some players have graduated to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and the Royal Northern College of Music. On the strength of Sunday’s performance, they could have given many adult bands a run for their money. In all honesty.
Continuity, and a youth policy that is the envy of some brass bands is the key to Elland Silver’s success. Not only in the Youth Band but also in their senior band, who will be in the Championship Section with Black Dyke and Brighouse and Rastrick bands next year. Starting young (which I have said in previous reviews of the Sunday Brass concerts) is also the key to success.
With Elland Silver, a lot of the groundwork has been laid by Samantha Harrison. She is the Musical Director for Elland Silver’s Youth and Training bands. Like many of Elland Silver Youth’s players, she started young with the same band, at the age of seven on tenor horn. Then she moved to Bb cornet before auditioning for the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, at the age of sixteen.
Her professional career was sealed after further guidance from the likes of Richard Evans, Alan Morrison, and Roy Newsome. After taking a business studies, she was invited by Philip McCann to join the Huddersfield University Brass Band on principal cornet. Previous bands she has played for include The BT Band and the Yorkshire Imperial Band. 1995 saw her form the Elland Silver Youth Band. Today, she also combines her role as Musical Director with music teaching and playing principal cornet for the senior band.
21 years on, Elland Silver’s bands have gone from strength to strength. This was evident at Boarshurst Band Club’s first lunchtime concert.
- Test Piece: Prismatic Light (Alan Fernie);
- Flugelhorn Solo (performed by Alistair): Misty (Errol Garner, arr. Darrol Barry);
- Cornet Trio: 12th Street Rag (Eduay Bowman, arr. Goff Richards);
- March: Marche Lorraine (Louis Ganne);
- Trombone Solo (performed by Charlotte): Bayerische Polka (G.B. Lohmann);
- Test Piece: Lady Stewart’s Air (Peter Graham);
- Original Piece: Shine As The Light (Peter Graham).
- Original Piece: Flare (Greg Morris);
- March: Ravenswood (William Rimmer);
- Baritone Solo (performed by Edwin): Grandfather’s Clock (George Doughty);
- Hymn: David of the White Rock (Major G.H. Wilcocks);
- Euphonium Solo (performed by Megan): The Armed Man: Benedictus (Karl Jenkins).
- Popular Music: Paint It, Black (Mick Jagger/Keith Richards, arr. Leigh Baker).
- March: Sparkling Diamonds (Leo Robin/Julie Styne, arr. Sandy Smith).
A lively first half
To kick off proceedings they began with Alan Fernie’s enchanting Prismatic Light. Billed as a concert opener on the manuscript, this was the piece which clinched them the 2016 National Youth Championships. This formed part of a winning programme at the Royal Northern College of Music, alongside three other pieces we heard at Sunday’s concert.
The first soloist of the afternoon was Alistair on flugelhorn, who not only made his Boarshurst debut. He also made a promising debut as a flugelhorn soloist with Misty. Written by Errol Garner, it has been performed by several bands as a popular solo piece (some of them have been heard at Boarshurst Band Club this year). It has spawned countless cover versions (for example, Ray Stevens’ Country and Western style version), and a Clint Eastwood film, Play Misty For Me.
Alistair’s performance would have held its own many senior bands. Our third piece was, rather appropriately, a trio. This time, a cornet trio and, as it turned out (if you read the review of the Silk Brass concert), the first of two trios within nine hours apart. The piece chosen was the 12th Street Rag. Written by Eduay Bowman, it is one of four ragtime pieces inspired by the streets of Tom ‘Boss’ Prendergast’s Red Light District in Kansas City.
“Perhaps we shouldn’t be performing this!”
In spite of the less than family-friendly backstory, the cornet trio gave the Boarshurst faithful and the players’ supportive parents a real treat. This took us to our first march, and the second of four pieces they played at the RNCM. This time, Marche Lorraine, a strident and upbeat march. Plus, it was also the first of a selection of pieces they played on the trip to Lille, shortly after April’s contest. It filled the room very well. Tres bien, Elland Youth.
Continuing the European connection was our second soloist of the afternoon, Charlotte. On trombone, she played Bayerische Polka, a piece often arranged for tuba quartets. What we learned from that afternoon was: 1) the brevity of Charlotte’s sound could rival the tuba quartet; and, 2) that Elland Silver Youth, broke what has been tried and tested methods to great effect. To a point where nobody could feel, see, or hear the join.
The penultimate piece of the first half was another one from the RNCM programme and the Lille tour. This time, Peter Graham’s piece, Lady Stewart’s Air. The piece was commissioned by David King on behalf of the Federation of Australasian Brass Bands as a tribute to Lady Adrienne Stewart. Lady Stewart was a long standing champion of brass banding in Australia and New Zealand.
The last piece of the first half (also by Peter Graham) was Shine As The Light, a piece dedicated to the memory of captain All Honsberger. Prior to Sunday, the piece had been sightread. In computing terms, the performance would be in Alpha mode. Yet, Alpha mode in Elland Silver Youth terms still sounded phenomenal. Their performance at Boarshurst was fantastic enough. Performed to Samantha’s exacting standards, possibly the stuff of legends and a future contest winner.
A lighter second half with some old favourites
With the first half offering a fantastic programme, their choice of piece for the second half opener was quite fitting. That of Greg Morris’ Flare.
The second piece was the march of choice for their senior band, at the hymn and march contests, and the Whit Friday Brass Band Contests. The piece, William Rimmer’s Ravenswood. An ever-popular march, it is one that would have got 87 in a Whit Friday special edition of Pointless (under the subject of Whit Friday Contest Marches). The Youth Band’s performance was a match for any of the Senior Band’s performances.
Our third soloist of the afternoon was Edwin, who played, Grandfather’s Clock, on baritone. It is a concert classic, and one that seldom fails to lift the audience. Edwin’s playing did just that. The original song lyrics were written by Henry Clay Work in 1897. It was been covered by Johnny Cash. In 2005, Half Man Half Biscuit adapted its opening line for the middle eight of Joy Division Oven Gloves, one of the Birkenhead group’s best-loved works.
After the raffle came another brass band classic. Adapted by Major G.H. Wilcocks, David of the White Rock is a much-loved hymn. It has appeared in Black Dyke Band’s recordings. At hymn and march contests, it has brought Elland Silver’s Senior and Youth bands much success. Sunday afternoon’s performance whisked your reviewer back to Thornton Square, Brighouse, on the first Sunday in July.
Our final soloist of the afternoon was Megan, on euphonium. She played Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man: Benedictus. Over the last year, Benedictus has been a popular piece at the Boarshurst Band Club. On the 04 September, it was performed by Gareth Nelson as a baritone solo for Besses O’Th’Barn Band. On the 20 March, it was performed by Alan Ryan for Belle Vue Band (on euphonium).
Megan’s solo held its own against Gareth’s solo earlier this month. It took us neatly towards our only other concession to popular music. This time, with Leigh Baker’s arrangement of The Rolling Stones tune, Paint It, Black. Number One in the Dutch singles chart on its original release, Elland Silver Youth’s version was a surefire chart topper. Starting off with a teasing quiet part, it gradually progressed towards the bombast of the Stones’ original. A fantastic crescendo.
Just to top it all, our encore piece was Sparkling Diamonds, a glistening composition arranged by Sandy Smith. A 21-carat performance from one of the finest youth bands in Europe? Too right it was. In Boarshurst, on a Sunday lunchtime, at slightly less than the price of a certain pub chain’s sandwich deal.
Following Sunday’s concert, the Elland Silver Band machine continues to motor on with October proving to be a busy month. The 02 October sees the Senior Band competing in the Bolsover Contest. At Brooksbank School, on the 14 October (7.30pm start) there will be an Autumn Youth Brass Spectacular, featuring Elland Silver’s Youth, Starter, Beginners, and Training bands. Two days on, the Youth and Training bands will be seen at the Pogson Bray Contest. This will take place at Bertie’s Banqueting Rooms in Elland.
That’s before we mention the Rochdale Youth Contest at Rochdale Town Hall on the 22 October. The Senior Band will be at Boarshurst Band Club on the 23 October at 8pm.
Littleborough Training Band will be next up on the 30 October, again with a 12.30pm start. They are an offshoot of the senior band which compete in the Third Section.
Alight at the stop outside the Greenfield Conservative Club.
- 180: hourly service from Greenfield [The Clarence] to Oldham, Hollinwood and Manchester [Oldham Street] (First Greater Manchester).
- 350: hourly service from Ashton-under-Lyne, Mossley, Uppermill, Dobcross, Delph, Waterhead and Oldham for Greenfield (First Greater Manchester).
- 354: buses every two hours departing Ashton-under-Lyne bus station at odd hours (0930, 1130, 1330, 1530, and 1730). Journeys from Greenfield at even hours (1011, 1211, 1411, 1611, and 1811). (MCT Travel).
Sunday service from Manchester Victoria and all stations including Ashton-under-Lyne, Stalybridge and Mossley to Huddersfield for Greenfield. Please note that rail replacement buses may substitute trains for part of, or the whole of the day (check publicity at local stations or via the Northern Rail website for further details).
Twitter details and suggested hashtags: @boarshurstband; #SundayYouthBrass; #SundayBrassYouth; #SundayLunchtimeYouthBrass.
S.V., 27 September 2016.