Elland Silver Band: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club

Vibrant programme made for party atmosphere

Elland Silver Band closed the weekend in a rousing style with one of the most entertaining concerts of 2016. On the 23 October [Sunday], their tightly packed, dynamic, 90 minute programme gave the Boarshurst faithful a real treat. One with sublime solos. Also fresh talent, helped in no small part by the band’s wonderful Youth, Training, and Starter bands. Not least their success at Hardraw Scar and Bolsover entertainment contests and, for Elland Silver Youth Band, the Rochdale contest – all in the space of six weeks.

The present version of Elland Silver Band dates from 1983, though their history goes further back to 1850. 166 years ago, they were founded as Elland Old Band. Then, to coincide with Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, they changed their name to Elland Victoria. Early rehearsals took place at Elland Prison, a grand title for a former gaol-house in the town centre. The lock-up closed in the 1880s when cells were added to the police station on Burley Street. Elland Silver’s former rehearsal rooms were demolished in 1963 to make way for a roundabout.

They adopted their present name in 1902, so called due to the acquisition of silver plated instruments. This led to the committee’s resignation over the costs – £350 (equivalent to £38,845.62 in 2016 figures). In the end, the £350 was paid in instalments. Before the First World War, efficiency was deemed one of Elland Silver’s traits. During the 1920s and 1930s, they were among the West Riding of Yorkshire’s leading brass bands with success at Crystal Palace under Jerry Crowther’s tenure as conductor.

In 1938, they were runners-up at the Alexandra Palace contest with the Second World War putting paid to continued success. Elland Silver Band was dormant for the second part of the 1940s. On reformation in 1950, they would be associated with the greats of brass banding, particularly Norman Newsome and his son, Roy Newsome. Under Roy’s command, success at local contests and a Fourth Section prize in 1958.

After a period of limbo, the band found its feet again in 1983. The last 25 years of their history is nothing short of remarkable. In 1993, John Harrison took on the role as Musical Director and steered the band to National Finals in 1994, 1995, and 1996. They moved from the Fourth Section to the Second Section.

With an eye on the future of brass banding itself, and the West Riding town’s brass band came the band’s most important development. The formation of a Youth Band with principal cornet player, Samantha Harrison, as their Musical Director. With notable Musical Directors for the senior band (Philip Wilby and James Shepherd to name a few), success continued. These were augmented with a Starter band and a Training band (with Ms. Harrison as MD for both).

As in the 1950s with the Newsomes, success for Elland Silver Band is a family affair. This time towards the great heights last seen in the inter-war years. The present musical director, Daniel Brooks, played solo trombone for Brighouse and Rastrick, and Leyland Band. He has previously been Musical Director for Eccleston Band.

From the length and breadth of the programme, this was one designed to entertain, as well as move the audience.

The Programme

First Half

  1. Contest March: The Cossack (William Rimmer);
  2. Test Piece: Finale from Spectrum (Gilbert Vinter);
  3. Principal Cornet Solo (performed by Samantha Harrison): Londonderry Air (traditional);
  4. Traditional Music: The Floral Dance (Kate Emily Barkley, arr. Derek Broadbent);
  5. Bass Trombone solo (performed by Emma Barton): One Day I’ll Fly Away (Joe Sample/Will Jennings, arr. Ron Sebregts);
  6. Hymn: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (Isaac Watts, arr. Philip Wilby);
  7. Popular Music: All Night Long (Lionel Richie, arr. Leigh Baker).

Second Half

  1. Original Music: Blue (Thomas Gansch, arr. John Doyle);
  2. Horn Solo (performed by David Armitage): She (Charles Aznavour/Herbert Kretzmer);
  3. TV Theme (from Ski Sunday): Pop Looks Bach (Sam Fonteyn);
  4. Popular Music: A Groovy Kind of Love (Carole Bayer-Sager/Toni Wine);
  5. Cornet Solo (performed by Bethan Plant): Concert Etude (Alexander Goedicke);
  6. Folk Song: Black is the Colour (of my True Love’s Hair) (James Curnow);
  7. Classical Music: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (Johan Sebastian Bach).

Encore

  • March: The Radetzky March (Johann Strauss).

 

I love the sound of Rimmer in the evening

We kicked off proceedings with the William Rimmer march The Cossack. For many bands, it is a popular piece on the Whit Friday contest circuit. Of recent times, the preserve of Second and Third Section bands. With Elland Silver, it was like the return of an old friend: a welcome addition to the concert.

The second piece was the rousing finale to Gilbert Vinter’s test piece, Spectrum. In full, Vinter’s work is an enjoyable piece, with the finale an early example of the band’s technical strengths and tone. The test piece was his last one, composed in 1969 for the British Open Championships at King’s Hall, Belle Vue. Due to ill health, Mr. Vinter had the leave the adjudication box halfway through the contest (Tom F. Atkinson took over).

Our first soloist of the night was principal cornet player (also MD for the Youth, Starter and Training band), Samantha Harrison. She played the evergreen classic piece, Londonderry Air, also known as Danny Boy. Many of us (and possibly, 95% of the Boarshurst faithful), think of the scene in Brassed Off, when Danny Ormondroyd is lying in bed. Samantha’s performance was a solid one, most accomplished.

Sticking with Brassed Off, another Danny (Daniel Brooks of course) introduced our fourth piece with the line “this one needs no introduction”. It couldn’t have been anything else but The Floral Dance, arranged by Derek Broadbent. Written by Kate Emily Barkley, Derek Broadbent’s arrangement is by far the best known. It was also a Top 10 UK Hit Single for Brighouse and Rastrick Band. At previous concerts, Mr. Brooks added it to the programme as a tribute to Terry Wogan. As they enjoyed playing it so much, it became a ‘keeper’ in subsequent concerts. It has its roots in The Furry Dance which takes place in the Cornwall village of Helston.

Staying with the UK Singles Chart was the Randy Crawford song, One Day I’ll Fly Away. The UK Number 2 chart single from 1980 was the subject of a Bass Trombone solo by Emma Barton. Written by Joe Sample and Will Jennings, it was also used in the Baz Luhrmann film Moulin Rouge. This was our third Ewan McGregor link of the night. Ms. Barton’s rendition was superb.

The sixth piece of the night was a tribute to David Horsfield who passed away in the last week. This time with the moving hymn, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. Arranged by Philip Wilby, the original hymn was written by Isaac Watts. It was published in Hymns and Spiritual Songs in 1707 and has been sung to the tune of Rockingham. On Good Friday, it is used by the BBC to introduce its 7am broadcast.

For the closing piece of the first half, we ended on a lively note. One that got us in a good enough mood for nipping towards the bar. This was Lionel Richie’s All Night Long, arranged by former Brighouse and Rastrick Band Composer in Residence, Leigh Baker. Elland Silver’s percussion section came to the fore with this number. The Elland Silver version was every bit as good as the original that peaked at Number 2 in the UK singles chart in 1983.

Blue Sky Banding

We opened the second half in bombastic style with Thomas Gansch’s Blue. Arranged by John Doyle, it is used as a feature piece. Elland Silver Band began the piece with a septet before leading us to the full XXXIII. Whereas the previous piece was reminiscent of some of Mareika Gray’s concerts (with Eccles Borough and Milnrow bands), Blue could have come from the Gary Cutt book of stagecraft. A fantastic start to the second half.

Our second piece was a chart-topper for Charles Aznavour in 1974. His best known hit, She, was our third solo piece of the night, played by David Armitage. It got to Number One on our shores, thanks to the London Weekend Television series, Seven Faces of Woman. With his haunting Horn Solo, Mr. Armitage delivered a chart-busting performance.

Switching channels from LWT to BBC Two was our second televisual piece of the night. This time with our third piece of the night being Pop Looks Bach by Sam Fonteyn. Many of us recognise the piece as the theme tune to Ski Sunday. Born as Samuel Soden in 1925, it was among several pieces of library music he composed for Boosey and Hawkes. His other most famous piece, that of another LWT programme: Please Sir!, starring John Alderton as teacher Privet Hedges.

Billed as ‘cheese’ by Mr. Brooks, the timing of our fourth piece was pretty poignant. Days after announcing his return to live performance, one of Phil Collins’ most celebrated songs got the Elland Silver treatment. Their performance of A Groovy Kind of Love was far from cheesy: it was soulful, with a rendition that Mr. Collins would have been impressed with. Written by Carole Bayer-Sager and Toni Wine, it wasn’t just a chart topper for Phil Collins. With Graham Gouldman in the line-up (years before joining 10cc), The Mindbenders’ version peaked at Number 2.

Following the raffle, our final soloist of the night was Bethan Plant on Cornet Solo. This time with Concert Etude by Alexander Goedicke. It was a full bodied piece with a mature performance that belied her age. The same would be said of our last pre-encore piece we shall describe shortly. Alexander Goedicke was a Russian composer and Concert Etude was composed in 1948 for piano in G minor. He was also self taught.

The tone changed to the quieter yet lively Black is the Colour (of my True Love’s Hair). The folk song, written by James Curnow was covered by Nina Simone. It was first known in the Appalachian Mountains in 1915, though some sources think the piece is Scottish. It was also covered by Joe Sample, a one time member of The Crusaders (Randy Crawford’s previous group). James Curnow was also self taught.

For the last piece of the night (prior to the encore), what a finale. All the stops had been pulled out, from euphonium to percussion. The closing piece was Johan Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. As well as outstanding play from all sections, the show stealer of this piece was 11-year-old Lewis on xylophone. As well as being a popular classical piece, this too was a chart single – for Sky in April 1980 (peaking at Number 5). If John Williams was in attendance, he would have been awestruck by the volume, clarity, and Lewis’ virtuoso performance.

With the audience already exhilarated by the finale, there was no rest for both the band and the Boarshurst faithful. As with Glossop Old Band last week, Elland Silver’s encore was The Radetzky March by Johann Strauss. The already exhilarated audience were taken to stratospheric heights with the concert having a party atmosphere.

Next on the agenda for Elland Silver Band is the Ken Billington Memorial Concert at All Saints Church on the 29 October at 7.30pm. Tickets are available at £8.00 per person and feature the Geneva Cornet Soloist, Ben Godfrey. This is followed by the Holmfirth Contest on Sunday, 06 November, and the Brass Factor event at Wetherby on Saturday, 12 November.

Next Week…

Our visitors on the 30 October are Stacksteads Band. Established in 1872 on the outskirts of Bacup, they are a Third Section band that earned promotion from the Fourth Section last year. Stacksteads village is between Rawtenstall and Bacup, on the 464 bus route from Rochdale to Accrington.

Their Musical Director is Fred Bowker, who took Stacksteads Band to the National Finals in Cheltenham in 2014. He has been associated with the band since the 1980s. This is his second stint as Musical Director, after rejoining them in 2012. Whilst doing the Band Musicianship Degree at Salford University, he was taught by Roy Newsome.

On flugelhorn for Stacksteads will be Boarshurst’s MC, John Whittle. Therefore, if you’re going to the Boarshurst Band Club on the 30 October, this fellow (the author of this piece) will be standing in.

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.

In Memoriam: David Horsfield

In the last week, we saw the death of player, conductor, adjudicator, and publisher, David Horsfield. After a brave battle against cancer, he passed away on Tuesday, 18 October, at his home in Bailiff Bridge, Brighouse. His achievements include the formation of Kirkless Music and the inauguration of the Brighouse March and Hymn Contest, through his involvement with the Brighouse Lions.

He is survived by his spouse, Jenny, and two sons, Graham and Martin. We are eternally grateful for his role in brass banding throughout Yorkshire and much further afield. This week’s review is dedicated to the memory of David Horsfield, who sadly passed away last week.

S.V., 24 October 2016.

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