Les, Stephen, and Co. rides again

On the 15 May 2016 [Whit Sunday], we were happy with Glossop Old Band’s first visit of 2016. The return of one of Derbyshire’s best known Section Two bands was equally well received by the Boarshurst faithful. Last night, Messrs Tighe and Webb conjured up a fine and varied programme.

Representing the East Midlands, they followed Boarshurst to Cheltenham in the National Finals. Where Boarshurst Silver Band finished third in the Section Two finals, Glossop Old Band finished fourteenth.

Just to recap (if you missed the May 2016 review), Glossop Old Band are one of the oldest brass bands in the world. They merged the Glossop Original and Whitfield Rifle Volunteers Bands in 1830. Their band room, on the corner of Derby Street, dates from 1884 – 96 years before Boarshurst Band Club’s present home opened.

Once again, the Musical Director, Les Webb, was assisted by Stephen Tighe. Les Webb hails from South London, and was brought up in Sussex. He has also studied at Manchester Metropolitan University and the Royal Northern College of Music. He has also conducted Eccles Borough Band, prior to Mareika Gray’s arrival. Originally, in 2014, Les was called in at short notice to stand in for their previous conductor, who took ill on the night of a concert.

Stephen Tighe, besides being Eric Morecambe to his very own Ernie Wise, Les Webb, also has a good C.V. As well as being an adjudicator in many a contest, he is the conductor for Wakefield Metropolitan Borough Council band. He has also arranged pieces and, as we found on Sunday, has a liking for the trombone.

The Programme

First Half

  1. March: French Military March (Camille Saint-Saen);
  2. Dance: Fourth Movement from L’Arlésienne (Farandole) (Georges Bizet);
  3. Flugelhorn Solo (performed by Rachel Ward): She’s Out Of My Life (Michael Jackson/Thomas Bahler);
  4. Musical medley: West Side Story (Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim, arr. Eric Crees).
  5. Horn Solo (performed by Stuart Wilkinson): An Untold Story (Paul Lovatt-Cooper);
  6. Horn Feature: We’ve Only Just Begun (The Carpenters, arr. Derek Ashmore);
  7. Dance: Hungarian Dance No.5 (Johannes Brahms);
  8. Comic Opera: Pineapple Poll (Gilbert and Sullivan, arr. Geoffrey Brand).

Second Half

  1. March: The Australasian (William Rimmer);
  2. Hymn: The Irish Blessing (Joyce Eilers Bacak, arr. Stephen Bradnum);
  3. Euphonium Solo (performed by Matt Hill): Pantomime (Philip Sparke);
  4. Original Music: Chanson Trevaux (John Golland);
  5. Popular Music: American Trilogy (various, arr. Goff Richards).


  • March: Radetzky March (Johann Strauss, arr. Jan Sedlak).

From France aboard HMS Hot Cross Bun

The first two pieces of the night had a Francophile feel. We opened with the rousing French Military March by Camille Saint-Saen. His best known works include Dance of the Animals, Dance Macabre, and the opera Samson and Delilah. At the age of thirteen, in 1848, he was admitted to the Paris Conservatoire. Glossop Old Band’s opener got the concert off to a good start.

La deuxième pièce de la nuit was the lively Farandole by Georges Bizet (of Carmen fame). This was the fourth and final movement in Bizet’s L’Arlésienne. A farandole is an open-chain communal dance popular in Provence. L’Arlésienne was written in 1872, three years before his death, and seven years prior to publication. Another good piece.

Taking a different turn was our first soloist of the night, this time with Rachel Ward on flugelhorn. Our piece was Michael Jackson’s She’s Out Of My Life. Written by Thomas Bahler, the song has inspired an urban myth regarding Michael Jackson’s relationship with Karen Carpenter. Bahler refuted this claim stating it was about Rhonda Rivera. The song appeared on MJ’s 1979 album Off The Wall (other chart singles included Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough, Rock With You, and the title track). Rachel put in a good shift on the first solo piece of the night.

The fourth piece was the return of an old friend. At Glossop Old Band’s previous concert at the Boarshurst Band Club, a medley of music from West Side Story was the last pre-encore piece. This was the medley arranged by John Mortimer which closed with America. Last night’s West Side Story medley was the version arranged by Eric Crees which ended on a calmer note.

Our fifth piece also had a familiar air. if you went to see the Føerre Musikkorp concert last Sunday afternoon, you would have heard the solo performance of Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s An Untold Story. This time, it was the turn of Stuart Wilkinson, who played the piece as a horn solo. His performance of the Lovatt-Cooper piece was an accomplished one.

Mr. Wilkinson’s services were needed for our sixth piece, as part of a horn feature. Taking a trip to the opposite side of the 1970s was the late Derek Ashmore’s magnificent arrangement of We’ve Only Just Begun. It reached the top spot of the U.S. Billboard charts. In the UK, it peaked at Number 23. The piece started life as an advertising jingle by Smokey Roberds for the Crocker National Bank in California. Then, Richard Carpenter found that the songwriter was on A&M Records’ books [the duo’s record label]. He asked if the piece could be elaborated on, and the rest they say… led to a fantastic Horn Feature in Saddleworth.

The last two pieces were eminently danceable. The penultimate one was Hungarian Dance No.5 by Johannes Brahms. Many people remember him for his lullaby, the background music to many an infant crib. The composer was an extreme perfectionist with some of his works never seeing the light of day. For the slightest error, he would destroy manuscripts. As for perfection, well, our fellows at Glossop Old Band had it in spades.

Closing the first half was the jolly Gilbert and Sullivan piece, Pineapple Poll. Based on the delightfully entitled comic opera, The Bumboat’s Story (W.S. Gilbert) it is set in Portsmouth on HMS Hot Cross Bun. The original piece was premiered at Sadler’s Wells theatre on the 13 March 1951 (almost two years before The Mousetrap opened at St. Martin’s Theatre). Two movements of Pineapple Poll were played: Jasper’s Dance, and its finale. A good way to close what was a slightly longer than usual first half.

I, Australasian

The second half began in similar fashion to the first half with a march. This time, William Rimmer’s classic piece, The Australasian. On Whit Friday, it is a popular arena march at many brass band contest, particularly among Second and Third Section brass bands. For many devotees of the brass banding cause, William Rimmer is up in the Champions League for march pieces. Alongside the legendary George Allen.

A popular piece among brass bands is The Irish Blessing, a traditional tone poem and hymn by Joyce Eilers Bacak. Glossop Old Band played the atmospheric arrangement by Stephen Bradnum. It worked a treat with a rich performance coming from our guests.

This was complemented by an excellent euphonium solo by Matt Hill. For our ears was the aural treat of Philip Sparke’s Pantomime. It was written in 1986 and 1994 as a euphonium solo piece. With Matt Hill on euphonium, another sterling performance. David Childs would have been proud.

From the pantomine setting of the raffle, we moved from a piece by the composer of Tameside Overture to a piece by one of Dukinfield’s famous sons, John Golland. Whilst he was staying in Switzerland, he wrote Chanson Trevaux. A fantastic piece played well by the whole band with lush timbre.

Taking us to the final pre-encore piece is a number suited to the Elvis impersonator recently seen on the 56 bus in Harpurhey. For our third trip to the 1970s, it was Elvis Presley’s American Trilogy (arranged by Goff Richards). The bombastic nature of Elvis’ most celebrated work transferred well to brass band music, and Glossop Old Band’s interpretation was living proof.

For our encore piece was Johann Strauss’ Radetzky March. Always the final piece at the New Year’s Day concerts in Vienna, it is understandable as to why the piece never fails to please. Whether in Vienna, Varna, Astana, Ashton-under-Lyne, Hurst or Boarshurst, it always gets the audience leaving on a high. Last night’s performance was no exception.

It was another good concert with its highlights being the Philip Sparke and John Golland pieces. Plus some fantastic solo work and a very good horn feature.

Next on the agenda for Glossop Old Band is a concert at St. Mary’s Parish Hall on Saturday, 22 October. Just off High Street West on St. Mary’s Road, it is only a short walk within the town centre and close to The Globe public house. This is followed by a charity concert at the band club on the 29 October.

Like Boarshurst Band Club, our fellows at Glossop Old Band have started hosting afternoon concerts at their band club. Starting at 2pm and running till 4pm, they will be a showcase for brass bands within Cheshire, Lancashire and Derbyshire. If you like your real ales, Frank Wood’s Mouselow Farm Brewery is available for sale. Their next afternoon concert is on the 23 October, where St. John’s Mossley Band will be making the trip to Glossop.

Next Week…

You could combine a trip to Glossop with one of Boarshurst Band Club’s Sunday evening concerts. Next up at the Boarshurst Band Club is the soon-to-be-promoted to Championship Section band, Elland Silver Band. Our friends from the Calder valley are no strangers to Boarshurst Band Club with the First Section band making a previous visit last year. Only last month, the trailblazing Elland Silver Youth Band had the honour of opening Boarshurst’s season of Youth Brass concerts.

The link between the two bands is principal cornet player (and Musical Director for the youth, starter, and training bands), Samantha Harrison. At the start of this month, she was presented with the Mortimer medal for her services to youth banding at the Royal Albert Hall. Her youth band was formed in 1995 with training and starter bands following suit.

Elland Silver Band’s musical director is Daniel Brooks, who has led them to Championship Section status for 2017. The present Elland Silver Band was reformed in 1983, though previous incarnations of the band date from 1850. At first, they were known as Elland Old, then Elland Victoria (to coincide with her Golden Jubilee). Early rehearsals took place in Elland Prison, a former gaol-house opposite the town hall!

With Elland Silver being a formidable band, a tremendous concert awaits us all. To avoid disappointment, please arrive early.


  • 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.

Please Note: owing to a sewer burst, Manchester Road (between Dacres and Friezland) is closed due to repairs. Therefore, all 350 buses will be diverted via Well I’Th’ Hole Road and Shaw Hall Bank Road prior to reaching Chew Valley Road and resuming its normal route at either end.

Twitter details: @boarshurstband#SundayBrass.

Website: www.boarshurstband.co.uk.

S.V., 17 October 2016.

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