Tintwistle Band: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club

Concert programme leads audience to a merry dance

What else could we have said about Tintwistle Band’s concert last night, other than its vivaciousness? Its panache? Its mix of tango, waltz, and a nice brew to round off proceedings? Sunday night’s concert with Sarah Groarke-Booth as musical director brought a touch of class and a subtle self-effacing nature at the same time. Like the Teddy Bear’s Picnic, there was something for everyone (gluten free and paleo diet options were also available).

Tintwistle Band have a proud history and have been based in the same Cheshire/Derbyshire (delete where appropriate) village for over 120 years. In 1998, they upgraded the band room to a professional standard that is the envy of most brass bands within a five mile radius. They are sitting pretty in the First Section and a band on the up. Last month, they came second in the Hardraw Scar contest – in only their second visit to the Yorkshire Dales venue.

The Musical Director for the night was Sarah Groarke-Booth. is also an actor with her alma mater being the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. After gaining a BA Honours Degree in Band Musicianship and a Masters Degree in Performance (specialising in conducting), she has conducted many brass bands throughout Wales, Greater London, and the North West of England. With her interests in acting for stage and television, it is amazing how she shoehorns her other passion of brass banding.

There was a nice theatrical and easy going air to her manner. Musically, there was a nice balance between the technically excellent and a few populist goodies. Once again, with John Whittle otherwise engaged, last night’s Master of Ceremonies was the grandson of a former Tintwistle Band and Stalybridge Old Band soprano cornet player. Yes, this fellow who has written this article.

The Programme

First Half

  1. March: The Journal of Phileas Fogg (Peter Graham);
  2. Flugelhorn Solo (performed by Stephen Barrow): Libertango (Astor Piazzolla);
  3. Cornet Trio (performed by Michelle Barrow, Christine Lloyd, and Peter Haigh): Trumpets Wild (Harold Walters);
  4. Waltz: Waltz from Suite for Variety Orchestra No. 2 (Dmitri Shostakovich);
  5. Light Music: Tea for Two (Vincent Youmans/Irving Caesar, arr. Alan Fernie);
  6. Hymn: Amazing Grace (John Newton, arr. William Heinze);
  7. Popular Music: Africa (David Paich/Jeff Porcaro, arr. Christopher Wormald);
  8. Jazz Music: Caravan (Duke Ellington, arr. Sandy Smith).

Second Half

  1. Test Piece: Music for Festival (Philip Sparke);
  2. Light Concert Music: Pastorale (Goff Richards);
  3. Horn Feature (performed by Kathryn Knowles, Elaine Bardsley, and Helen Fox): Here, There, and Everywhere (Lennon-McCartney, arr. Sandy Smith);
  4. Popular Music: Fat Bottomed Girls (Brian May, arr. Philip Harper);
  5. Bass Trombone Solo (performed by Peter Kite): Teddy Bears’ Picnic (John Bratton, arr. Stephen Roberts).
  6. Trombone Trio (performed by Peter Kite, Joanne Barrow, and Terry Chapell): Dem Bones (James Weldon Johnson);
  7. Film Music: Theme from Return of the King (Howard Shore, arr. Philip Harper).

Encore

  • March: St. Louis Blues (John G. Mortimer).

Around the world in Duke’s caravan

The first piece couldn’t have been more bombastic and full-bodied. The Journal of Phileas Fogg was a great start to the programme. Arranged by Peter Graham in a medley style, the piece best reflects the stages in Phileas Fogg’s journey (or Michael Palin’s if you remember the BBC television series from 1989). Early this year, it was used as a test piece for the Fourth Section bands at the North West Regional Championships in Blackpool. At the preview evening at Boarshurst Band Club, it was a stern test for Blackley Band.

The second one was inspired by Strictly Come Dancing. Astor Piazzollo’s Libertango offered a Latin twang, thanks to Stephen Barrow’s flugelhorn solo. The Argentinian composer was hailed by one reviewer as “the world’s foremost composer of tango music”. He has also written film music with credits including the music from 12 Monkeys (which was chosen three years after his death in 1992. Libertango was released in 1974 as an LP. Plus, it was used as the background music to Grace Jones’ I’ve Seen That Face Before.

How do you follow up Stephen Barrow’s solo piece? With a cornet horn trio. For the second time in a fortnight, it was the excellent Trumpets Wild by Harold Walters. The escapist piece was played by Michelle Barrow, Christine Lloyd, and Peter Haigh. This was followed by the Waltz from Suite for Variety Orchestra No. 2. This is the seventh movement of the said suite and one that has been popularised by Andre Rieu.

The amount of dancing could be thirsty work, so much so that Sarah fancied a cup of tea. Her hint was a link to the fifth piece, the Alan Fernie arrangement of Tea For Two. A popular piece on countless brass band compilations in the last half century, Tea For Two was written in 1925 by Vincent Youmans and Irving Caesar. It features in the stage musical, No, No, Nanette. It has also been arranged by Dmitri Shostakovich and covered by numerous artistes. These have included Duke Ellington, Judy Garland and Carl Reiner, and Alvin and the Chipmunks.

For our sixth piece, there was no sign of David Seville and his speeded-up voices. Instead, we received our first hymn of the night. Amazing Grace. The hymn, composed by John Newton and arranged by William Heinze, was beautifully played. So far, the first half of the concert was turning out to be a nice pot of Earl Grey (served with home made Victoria Sandwich cake of course).

Some of us abstaining from the caffeine may have opted for a mug of Rooibos tea. Especially at ten to nine on a Sunday night. Inspired by the same continent whence the tea variety came from is our seventh piece. Our first dalliance with adult orientated rock came courtesy of Christopher Wormald’s arrangement of Africa. Toto’s 1983 hit single was their biggest smash on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. It topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and peaked at Number Three in the UK singles chart (and won a Gold Disc). Toto took their name from Dorothy’s dog in The Wizard of Oz.

Taking us back to the interval instead of Kansas City was a caravan. Well, Duke Ellington’s Caravan. Regular readers may remember my appreciation of this piece as being a good concert closer. A case of ‘great minds think alike’, as Tintwistle Band concurred with this idea. Our fellows rounded off the first half with gusto.

“Now I got mortgages on homes/I got stiffness in ma’ bones…”

The second half opened with a sensational piece, Music For Festival. Sarah said that “Philip Sparke never wrote a ‘Friday piece’,” a line that I also concur with. Tintwistle Band opened their second half with the same fluency and fire in their bellies as the last piece of the first half. It was written at the request of Boosey and Hawkes in 1985, as a three movement test piece for that year’s Youth Section Finals of the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain.

After a break for the “centrifugal farce” of the Boarshurst Band Club raffle was the second piece. That of Goff Richards’ Pastorale. Another fine piece, in a more reserved nature to the Philip Sparke test piece. This was beautifully complemented by our second trio of the night.

This time, our second trio was a horn feature. Performing The Beatles’ Here, There, and Everywhere, were Kathryn Knowles, Elaine Bardsley, and Helen Fox. The calmness of The Beatles piece was particularly well suited for brass instruments, and this was proved by our horn section that night. The original song, now a little over fifty years old, features on The Beatles’ Revolver album.

Twelve years on from the release of The Beatles’ work, came Queen’s paean to obese female cyclists (predating all references to Kim Kardashian’s posterior).  Arranged by Philip Harper, Tintwistle Band’s take on Fat Bottomed Girls would have pleased Brian May. On the original single, it was a double ‘A’ side to Bicycle Race (with the said women cross-referenced).

Perhaps the aforementioned women in Brian May’s song might have overindulged at the Teddy Bears’ Picnic. This was the subject of our last solo of the night. This time with an out-of-position Peter Kite playing John Bratton’s traditional song on a bass trombone. The music is American, but the lyrics were written by the Irish songwriter, Jimmy Kennedy. Henry Hall and the BBC Orchestra performed the first recorded version with Val Rosing on vocals.

How else do you follow a piece that was more at home on Children’s Favourites? With another one. This time with Dem Bones. After a fantastic performance by Peter Kite on bass trombone, he formed a third of our third trio of the night. Written by James Weldon Johnson, it was a spiritual song inspired by Ezekiel (37:1-14). This referred to the Old Testament prophet’s visit to The Valley of Dry Bones. It has been covered by many artistes, ranging from Rosemary Clooney to Fats Waller and (not them again!) Alvin and the Chipmunks.

The final pre-encore piece was a blockbusting piece from a blockbusting movie franchise. The Lord of the Rings films, directed by Peter Jackson have been a runaway success and loved by many people (our Musical Director, Sarah, and yours truly excepted (as I have never seen the films)). Still, Howard Shore’s piece from The Return of the King was a spectacle to behold.

After this fellow rounded off proceedings, the encore piece was the jaunty St. Louis Blues. Both Tintwistle Band and the Boarshurst faithful left the band club on a high.

Overall, Sarah Groarke-Booth and Tintwistle Band took us on a joyous trip with a great variety of pieces. It was a fantastic trip which gave us a trio of trios, a piece by a band named after Dorothy’s dog, and a healthy dose of technically-oriented works. Like every good brass band concert should be.

We wish Tintwistle Band every success in their contesting and concerting endeavours. If you have missed the Sunday concert at Boarshurst Band Club (or would like to see them again), they are on at the Glossop Central Methodist Church on the 15 October, at 7.45 pm. Situated on Chapel Street, the 237 bus from Ashton-under-Lyne and Stalybridge stops nearby.

Then, on the 21 October, they will be seen at Stanley House Masonic Hall on Manchester Road, Audenshaw (219 from Ashton-under-Lyne stops nearby, or ample car parking in its grounds). In cooperation with the Ashton-under-Lyne branch of the Soroptimist International, they will be hosting a Bavarian Night. Tickets are £15 with a Hot Pot Supper and the proceeds of which will go to Reuben’s Retreat.

Next Week…

Next week’s Sunday Brass concert, on the 16 October, sees the return of Glossop Old Band. With Les Webb as their musical director, they have returned to the contest scene after several years. On Whit Sunday, they gave the Boarshurst faithful a great concert. The hub of the Derbyshire band is their cavernous band club on Derby Street, a short yet steep walk from the bus stops and railway station off Henry Street. If you get to see a concert, a short taxi ride from the railway station might be a good idea (especially if of limited mobility, or bloated after a substantial meal).

Another arm of Glossop Old Band is the Regent Big Band. This is their commercial base for the band, playing a mixture of Big Band, swing and jazz music. They are available for weddings and private functions.

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.

East of the M60′s review of Boarshurst’s second Sunday Lunchtime Youth Brass concert (Føerre Musik-Korp) shall be up on this blog by Friday. All will be revealed on the East of the M60 Facebook page in due course.

Reubens Retreat offers a retreat for children with life threatening illnesses situated in the former Woods Hospital building on the outskirts of Glossop. Other services include bereavement counselling for affected families. To find out more about Reubens Retreat, their website is reubensretreat.org.

S.V., 10 October 2016.

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