Boarshurst Silver Band’s Remembrance Sunday Concert: Review

Boarshurst Silver Band remembers 

As is tradition throughout the Saddleworth area, each of the village’s bands host a concert on Remembrance Sunday. This obviously meant a dip in turnout at the Boarshurst Band Club, obvious given most villages from Friezland to Denshaw had similar concerts. For those who went to see Boarshurst Silver Band, they were treated to a fantastic night.

The programme, consistent with concert of that ilk, was a mix of the Remembrance Sunday pieces and a standard concert programme. The first half was full of exuberant, quasi-patriotic marches and theme music. Our second half was a condensed version of a regular concert programme. This approach to the programme worked very well.

Taking his usual position around the band was James Garlick. As usual, a tight performance from Boarshurst Silver under his tutelage and a good manner with the audience. There was some great solo performances.

The Programme

First Half

  1. Medley: 1914 (various composers, arranged by Gordon Mackenzie):
    • It’s a Long Way to Tipperary (Jack Judge);
    • Hello! Hello! Who’s Your Lady Friend? (Harry Fragson);
    • Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty (Arthur J. Mills/Fred Godfrey/Bennett Scott).
  2. Hymn: Amazing Grace (Traditional, arr. William Himes);
  3. Cornet Solo (performed by Neil Booth): Rule Britannia (John Hartmann, arr. Denzil Stephens)
  4. Film Music: The Dam Busters (Eric Coates);
  5. Euphonium Solo (performed by Richard Wooding): Benedictus (Karl Jenkins)
  6. Film Music: Theme from 633 Squadron (Ron Goodwin);
  7. Hymn: Abide With Me (Henry Francis Lyte);
  8. Medley: Famous British Marches (arr. Gordon Langford);

Second Half

  1. Test Piece: Prismatic Light (Alan Fernie);
  2. Original Piece: Lady Stewart’s Air (Peter Graham);
  3. Trombone Solo (performed by Keith Welsh): Bluejohn (Peter Kneale);
  4. Test Piece: Gaelforce (Peter Graham)
  5. Bass Solo (performed by Liam Welsh): The Bass in the Ballroom (Roy Newsome);
  6. Hymn: The Irish Blessing (Joyce Eilers-Bacak, arr. Stephen Bradnum);
  7. Jazz Music: Caravan (Duke Ellington, arr. Steven Sykes).

We will remember them

For the first half, we began with Gordon Mackenzie’s 1914. Previously played at Belle Vue’s concert on the 20 March 2016, this is a medley of three traditional marches. On parade, it is an audience pleaser, with It’s A Long Way from Tipperary likely to get Stalybridge people weak at the knees. Part of this was sung in The Clash album track, Something About England (on their 1980 triple LP, Sandinista!).

Hello! Hello! Who’s Your Lady Friend? was a popular song from 1914. The composer, Harry Fragson, died on New Year’s Eve 1913. The third piece of Mackenzie’s medley is Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty. As well as being contemporaneous for 1914, fans of The Smiths’ music will remember Cicely Courteneidge’s sampled vocals at the start of their 1986 album, The Queen is Dead.

The second piece was rousing in another sense. This time with Amazing Grace. Boarshurst Silver Band gave us a stirring rendition of William Himes’ arrangement. For the best part of 237 years, it has been covered by various artistes. The most famous version was covered by Judy Collins (who also sang a cover of Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides, Now). She used it to expres her opposition to the Vietnam War. Apart from Ms. Collins’ version, the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards’ version was a bestseller in the UK singles charts.

Our third piece marked the first solo of the night, this time with a cornet solo from Neil Booth. The piece (if you went to the Diggle concert last week, and the Briggus one at Uppermill Civic Hall before then) needs little explanation. With great depth and tone, Mr. Booth played a fantastic rendition of Rule Britannia.

The fourth piece was the theme from The Dam Busters by Eric Coates. As film themes go, this is among the most celebrated. The film from 1955 is based on both the 1951 book which shared the same name and its precursor book from 1946, Enemy Coast Ahead (both written by Guy Gibson). Based on the 617 Squadron’s attack on the Möhne, Eder and Sorpe dams, the Derwent Dams and Lake Windermere were used for the film’s aerial action (along with the Barnes-Wallis bouncing bombs). In 1989, this was the subject of a memorable Carling Black Label advertisement.

Our fifth piece (which gave us our second soloist of the night) was a cracking number by Karl Jenkins. This time, Benedictus, the twelfth track of Jenkins’ 2001 album, The Armed Man: A Mass for Piece. On euphonium, Richard Wooding played the piece with unerring fluency and depth. A real goose pimples moment.

For the second Sunday in a row (and our sixth piece of the night), another Ron Goodwin composition. This time with one of his most famous war themes, the theme music to 633 Squadron. As we mentioned last week, Ron Goodwin’s other celebrated works include the theme music to BBC’s London Marathon coverage (The Trap), the theme from The Battle of Britain, and the original startup music for Yorkshire Television. It is also worth noticing that one of the channel’s most celebrated continuity announcers, Redvers Kyle, was named after General Sir Redvers Henry Buller. General Sir Redvers Henry Buller was Commander-in-Chief in the Second Boer War.

The penultimate piece of the first half was Abide With Me. To millions, it is known as the hymn of the F.A. Cup Final tie (usually sung by a choral singer in the middle of Wembley Stadium). The hymn was set to music whilst the composer was dying from tuberculosis. He died three weeks after its completion. It was also a favourite hymn of Mahatma Gandhi and has been used in many settings.

We closed the first half with Gordon Langford’s Famous British Marches, which signalled the end of the Remembrance Sunday part of the concert. This half finished the same as it begun, with a march medley. As we’ve mentioned in previous Sunday Brass concert reviews, Gordon Langford is quite a legend in terms of arranging brass band marches.

In a prismatic lit caravan

We began the second half with part of the test piece from the North West Regional Championships. Prismatic Light gave us a true reflection of Boarshurst Silver Band’s abilities. This and the next six pieces would prove that to a tee.

Equally sensational was Peter Graham’s original piece, Lady Stewart’s Air. This was commissioned by the Federation of Australasian Brass Bands as a tribute to Adrienne Stewart. She was well-known in the brass banding communities in Australia and New Zealand.

The third piece of the second half (and our third soloist of the night) was Keith Welsh. His son would play the fifth piece of this half. Bluejohn was beautifully played on the trombone. Its composer, Peter Kneale, was born in Douglas, Isle of Man in 1926. His family was very musical, with grandfather Robert Kneale noted for his performances on trombone. The piece performed by Welsh Senior was also written for piano as well as brass.

After the raffle came Boarshurst Silver Band’s most accomplished piece of the night. Billed by James Garlick as the sort of piece they needed to perfect, was Gaelforce. The Peter Graham test piece was written at around the same time when Riverdance was in vogue. It was a pristine performance, and the embryonic stage of a band likely to become a Championship section band by the time this decade’s out.

Our final soloist of the night was Welsh Junior – Liam Welsh, on bass. He gave us all a fantastic performance of The Bass in the Ballroom. The original solo piece was written by Roy Newsome. As well as his involvement in Elland Silver Band, he was a one-time presenter of BBC Radio Two’s Listen to the Band (Frank Renton holds the present post). What may have surprised some people was how melodic a bass could be, but Mr. Newsome’s piece – and Welsh Junior – proved it was possible. Both father and son excelled in their solo performances.

The penultimate piece was The Irish Blessing, which was beautifully performed. This gave us our second Elland Silver Band link of the night – the one-time band of its arranger, Stephen Bradnum. This was the most contemplative piece of the night, creating a lull before the comparative storm of our final piece.

The final piece of the night? Duke Ellington’s Caravan, arranged by Steve Sykes. This has been a favourite piece by previous visitors to Boarshurst Band Club, including Flixton and Milnrow bands. A fantastic end to a wonderful concert.

As Boarshurst Silver Band proved on Remembrance Sunday, this is a brass band at least half a decade away from reaching the Championship Section. With James Garlick continuing to take the band towards its upward trajectory, great things are around the corner.

Next at the Boarshurst Band Club

It’s another Sunday double header on the 20 November. Starting at 1pm is the fourth in the series of Sunday Lunchtime Youth Brass concerts. Taking up their positions in the afternoon gig is Delph Youth Band.

At 8pm, Sale Brass will be doing the evening concert. This will be their second visit of 2016 to Boarshurst Band Club. As the second band of the 2016 season of Sunday Brass concert, they opened with the march, Ballerina. This is a favourite street march during the Durham Miners’ Gala. One Voice was their encore piece. Another good concert seems likely, helped also by the razor sharp delivery of Musical Director, Alan Seymour.

Buses:

  • 180: Greenfield [Clarence Hotel] – Lees – Oldham – Hollinwood – Manchester [Oldham Street] (First Greater Manchester);
  • 350: Ashton-under-Lyne – Mossley – Greenfield – Uppermill – Dobcross – Delph – Waterhead – Oldham (First Greater Manchester).
  • 354: Ashton-under-Lyne – Stalybridge – Bottom Mossley – Friezland – Greenfield – Uppermill (MCT Travel: every two hours, daytimes only).

Alight at Greenfield Conservative Club.

Twitter details: @boarshurstband#SundayBrass.

Website: www.boarshurstband.co.uk.

S.V., 14 November 2016.

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