Delph Band: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club

How a concert of two halves made for a varied and interesting programme

In spite of being one of the closest brass bands to Boarshurst Band Club, visits to this august institution by last night’s guests have been few and far between. Their last visit to the Greenbridge Lane venue was the North West Regional Championship Preview Evening. Last night’s [02 October] concert with Delph Band saw a sparkling display, under the dual conductorship of Jonathan Davies and Phil Goodwin.

Delph Band were drafted in at short notice, as St. John’s Mossley were double booked. Founded in 1850, Delph Band had a nomadic existence in their formative years. The band gained some stability when they moved to the present-day premises on Lawson Square in 1954. They have also appeared in Coronation Street and in the Pete Postlethwaite film, Brassed Off. They were also the first Saddleworth band to win the National Championship of Great Britain.

The first half conductor, Jonathan Davies (not to be confused with the former England Rugby player), joined Delph Band as the Associate Conductor in 2009. His first instrument was the electronic organ, as a member of the Sheffield Theatre Organ Society. In 1998, he joined his local village band, Woodhouse, and took up the cornet. In 2000, he moved to Chapeltown Band, and studied at the Royal Northern College of Music in 2006.

Our second half conductor, Philip Goodwin has an enviable record. Whilst at school, he originally started out as a baritone player but, to the disappointment of his parents and neighbours, he had to play the only instrument that was left: the Eb Bass. None of that fazed him, so he kept up the brass banding habit, and he went to the Manchester College of Music.

Then he joined the CWS Manchester Band. He was taken on for a year due to his college course. Then he was there for another twelve year. In 1985, he moved to Black Dyke Band and the rest, they say… triple Latin. He has had links with Delph Band since 1980, whilst playing for CWS Manchester and Black Dyke Band.

As to whether two batons were better than one, we couldn’t tell. The transition from Jon to Phil was seamless, and it made for a tightly-produced concert. There was a good mix of the contemporary, some old favourites, and enjoyable solo performances.

The Programme

First Half

  1. March: Arnhem (Albert E. Kelly);
  2. Test Piece: Adventures in Brass (Ray Farr);
  3. Flugelhorn Solo (performed by Lorraine Tobin): Magh Seola (Gerald Fahy, arr. Sandy Smith);
  4. Popular Music: Singin’ in the Rain (Nacio Brown, arr. Alan Fernie);
  5. Popular Music: Mr. Blue Sky (Jeff Lynne, arr. Chris Wormald);
  6. Trombone Solo (performed by Anthony Vaughan): Blessed Assurance (Phoebe Knapp, arr. Simon Wood);
  7. Trombone Trio (performed by Anthony Vaughan, Dan Wilson, and Charles Lukoczki): I Will Follow Him (Stole/Roma/Plante, arr. Goff Richards);
  8. March: Highland Cathedral (Michael Korb/Ulrich Roever, arr. Simon Kerwin).

Second Half

  1. Popular Music: Puttin’ on the Ritz (Irving Berlin, arr. Howard Snell);
  2. Bass Trombone Solo (performed by Charles Lukoczki): If I Were a Rich Man (Jerry Bock/Sheldon Harnick, arr. Sandy Smith);
  3. Original Music: Wondrous Cross (Philip Wilby);
  4. Popular Music: Gimme Some Lovin’ (Spencer Davis/Steve Winwood, arr. Charles Tinner);
  5. Bb Bass Feature (performed by Matthew Curtis and Philip Shaw): Under the Boardwalk (Artie Resnick/Kenny Young, arr. Philip Harper);
  6. Jazz Piece: Just a Closer Walk With Thee (Arr. Joe Bellini);
  7. Euphonium Solo (performed by Keith Palmer): Rhapsody for Euphonium (James Curnow);
  8. Euphonium Solo (performed by Keith Palmer): Bring Him Home (Claude-Michel Schonberg, arr. Andi Cook);
  9. Film Music (narration by John Whittle): Zulu (John Barry, arr. Christian Jenkins).

Encore

  • Popular Music: I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) (The Proclaimers, arr. Andrew Duncan).

Act I: Jonathan Davies

As with last week’s concert, we opened with the rousing march, Arnhem. Written by Albert E. Kelly, it is a well-loved and often requested march – with military bands as well as brass bands. On the Whit Sunday and Whit Friday Processions of Witness (in Oldham, Saddleworth and Tameside), it is a popular choice among brass bands as a street march. Delph Band chose Arnhem as their deportment march at the Hebden Bridge Hymn and March contest.

For the second piece, Adventures in Brass was similarly rousing, yet had an enjoyable contrast. The test piece was used in the National Youth Brass Band Championships in 2010. Last week’s lunchtime visitors won that contest, with Samantha Harrison well and truly establishing herself as the Musical Director in April of that year.

This was neatly complemented by our first soloist of the night, Lorraine Tobin. Ms. Tobin is one of Delph Band’s stalwarts on the flugelhorn. Magh Seola offered an enjoyable contrast. A gentler piece, it is inspired by a western part of the Republic of Ireland which covers the modern-day County Galway.

Previously performed by the Austonley Brass Ensemble and Glossop Old Band earlier this year, was the return of an old favourite. That of Singin’ in the Rain. Besides being a concert piece, a remixed version saw Mancunian breakdancer, George Sampson, winning the second series of Britain’s Got Talent in 2008. Some viewers may remember the Morecambe and Wise sketch which used the piece to good effect.

The fifth piece saw a meteorological contrast. This time with the Electric Light Orchestra’s most famous number, Mr. Blue Sky. Arranged by Chris Wormald, the piece was brilliantly played. This was the second airing of ELO’s smash hit at the Boarshurst Band Club by Delph Band. Plus, continuing the rain-based link, it was the fourth and final movement of Concerto for a Rainy Day on the third side of their 1977 album, Out of the Blue.

Changing the tone was our second solo of the night. This time, with Anthony Vaughan’s superb playing of Phoebe Knapp’s Blessed Assurance. The hymn tune (as we stated in last week’s review of the Silk Brass concert) was written by Ms. Knapp in 1873. Its lyrics written by blind hymn writer, Fanny Crosby. They reflect the lyricist’s walk of faith, as expressed by the apostle Paul (Philippians 1:21: “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”).

As Jonathan made an anecdote about jealous trombone players, he saw fit to make the seventh piece of the night a trombone trio. On the trombones were Dan Wilson, Anthony Vaughan (again), and Charles Lukoczki. Expressing his delight for Sister Act (a great film if you haven’t watched it yet) – in film and theatrical forms, the trio played I Will Follow Him. Whoopi Goldberg would have been impressed!

To round off the first half was a piece that sounds as Scottish as Balamory, Gregory’s Girl, and a pint of McEwan’s Export. Step aside for Highland Cathedral, a Scottish sounding piece of German origin. Written by Michael Korb and Ulrich Roever, this was a good piece for closing the first half.

Act II: Phil Goodwin

The second half, with Phil Goodwin in attendance, opened with the Irving Berlin tune, Puttin’ on the Ritz. This was used in a 1930 film with the same title. It has been sung by numerous performers in the last 90 years. Troubling the German singles chart in 1982 was a Kraftwerk-style version performed by Taco, an Indonesian-born Dutch singer. Interestingly, ten years on, he followed this up with a cover of Singin’ in the Rain. In the UK, his 1982 cover version missed the Top 75 of the singles chart.

For our second piece of this half was a bass trombone solo performed by Charles Lukoczki. This time, he played one of Phil’s favourite songs from one of his all-time favourite musicals. That of If I Were a Rich Man, the best known song from Fiddler on the Roof (sung in the musical by Topol). For the best part of four minutes, we were treated to some of the lowest notes ever heard on a trombone. It worked very well.

Our third piece was an original reworking of a traditional hymn. Entitled Wondrous Cross, it is based on Isaac Watts’ hymn, When I Survey The Wondrous Cross. There has been further adaptations on the hymn, which include Hamburg (Lowell Mason, 1824), and Rockingham (Edward Miller, 1790). Philip Wilby’s arrangement worked well with the band.

Straight in at Number 12 (or rather, our fourth piece of the second half) was the Charles Tiller arrangement of Gimme Some Lovin’. A smash hit for the Spencer Davis Group, it peaked at Number Two in 1966. This was the group’s penultimate Top Ten hit as co-writer had designs on his next project, Traffic. Our second link to the Birmingham beat scene was another hit for Delph Band.

We could almost taste the hot dogs and French fries with the next piece (but the Golden House a few doors up from Boarshurst Band Club is better). Our very own answer to The Drifters was Matthew Curtis and Philip Shaw, on Bb Bass. Under the Boardwalk was the fifth piece of the second half and, believe it or not, the notes were lower than Charles’ bass trombone solo. The ‘engine room’ of Delph Band made for a memorable feature. In automotive terms, a V8 rather than a 50cc moped engine.

Prior to the raffle, we had our first jazz piece of the night. This time, the traditional standard, Just a Closer Walk With Thee. It has been covered by Patsy Cline and Willie Nelson among other artistes. Harry Dean Stanton sang it in the 1967 film, Cool Hand Luke. Some excellent play from the band with clear definition of the dirge-like notes and uplifting ones midway through.

After the raffle, there was something unusual for our seventh and eighth pieces of the second half. The first encore from a soloist. Or, more correctly, two pieces from one soloist. This time, on euphonium solo, Keith Palmer with James Curnow’s Rhapsody for Euphonium, a joyous workout for Mr. Palmer. Then he bettered his previous performance with his playing of Bring Him Home, taken from another one of Philip’s favourite musicals (from Les Miserables). A real double delight.

Delph Band saved their best piece till the last. We closed (well, prior to the encore) with John Barry’s theme from Zulu. This was a real showcase for Delph Band with the noise of clashing shields and firearms coming from the percussion section. There was also the added bonus of narration by John Whittle (who also returned to his position of MC).

With Zulu marking the pinnacle of last night’s concert, alongside the solo works, there was a right humdinger of an encore piece. Closing the concert at 2215 hours was The Proclaimers’ best known work, 500 Miles (I’m Gonna Be). First charting in August 1988, it opened their popular album, Sunshine on Leith. By 2007, the song was revived for Comic Relief with Matt Lucas (as Little Britain’s Andy Pipkin) and Peter Kay (as Brian Potter from Phoenix Nights). Some of us, true to Kay’s reworking, were tempted to shout “Bobby Davro” in the chorus.

Out of interest, it is 500 miles from Arnhem to Fraserburgh, as the crow flies. Or 500 miles from Boarshurst Band Club to Kristiansand. The involvement of two conductors and a varied programme made for a highly entertaining concert. There was a joyous mix of mainstream music and ‘traditional’ brass banding pieces. More than anything, the unique bass solos added something to the night.

Wherever they may be, you are going to get a good concert from Delph Band. Sunday night’s was no exception. If you wish to join, rehearsals take place from 8pm to 10pm on Wednesdays and Fridays (bus: 350 from Oldham, Uppermill, Greenfield, Mossley, and Ashton-under-Lyne).

Next Week…

Next up at the Boarshurst Band Club is Tintwistle Band. A Derbyshire band in the First Section (well, Cheshire prior to the 1974 county boundary changes), they have a long and proud history. On the 11 September this year, they were runners-up to Elland Silver Band in the Hardraw Scar entertainment contest. Their musical director is Sarah Groarke-Booth.

The band room was refurbished in 1998, and hailed as one of the most state-of-the-art band rooms in the United Kingdom. Rehearsals take place on Mondays and Thursdays from 8pm to 10pm hours (bus: 237 from Ashton-under-Lyne, Stalybridge, Hadfield and Glossop).

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., 03 October 2016.

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