Delph Youth and Training Band: Sunday Afternoon Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club

Mature performance made for a most engaging programme

Delph Youth and Training Band gave an accomplished performance at the first of two brass band concerts on the 20 November 2016. There was also a change to the starting time, from 12.30 pm to 1.00 pm. For the last Youth Brass concert of 2016, there was an encouraging turnout.

Delph Band was founded in 1850 and rehearse at the Delph Band Club on Lawson Square, their home since 1954. As well as the senior band (who were present on the 03 October), there are two other bands within Delph Band. One is the Tooters, aimed at young children who want to be the next William Rimmer, Nicholas Childs or Samantha Harrison. The second band is the Youth and Training Band, the focus of Boarshurst Band Club’s lunchtime concert. They were formed in 2003.

The Musical Director for the Youth and Training Band is Matt Stimpson. Throughout the concert, he put the band through their paces and kept the audience glued to their seats. The compere for the afternoon? This gentleman, who would also do the same for Sale Brass‘ third visit to Boarshurst Band Club over the space of a year.

The Programme

First Half

  1. March: Westward Ho! (Edwin Firth);
  2. Hymn: Eventide (aka Abide With Me) (Henry Francis Lyte);
  3. Popular Music: Baggy Trousers (Graham McPherson/Chris Foreman, arr. Alan Fernie);
  4. Euphonium Solo (performed by Kieran): Benedictus (Karl Jenkins);
  5. Spiritual Pieces: Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho/Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (Arr. Alan Fernie);
  6. Film Music (from The Mission): Gabriel’s Oboe (Ennio Morricone);
  7. Test Piece: The Dark Side of the Moon (Paul Lovatt-Cooper).

Second Half

  1. March Medley: 1914 (arr. 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: The Supreme Sacrifice (Charles Harris);
  3. Film Medley: A Disney Fantasy (Various, arr. Goff Richards);
  4. Flugelhorn Horn solo (performed by Barney): Doyle’s Lament (from Call of the Cossacks) (Peter Graham);
  5. Tenor Horn solo (performed by Alice): He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother (Bob Russell/Bobby Scott, arr. Brian Crooks);
  6. Original Piece: Mr Jums (from Three Brass Cats) (Chris Hazell).

Encore

  • Popular Music: Tequila (Daniel Flores, arr. Darrol Barry).

“Oh what fun we had…”

The first two pieces formed part of a traditional concert: an opening march, and a hymn. We opened with Westward Ho!, Edwin Firth’s famous march. It is a piece associated with the Whit Walks in the Saddleworth, Oldham, and Tameside areas.

For many people, the second piece of the afternoon is known as the hymn of the F.A. Cup Final tie. That of Abide With Me, which is alternately known as Eventide. The hymn was set to music whilst the composer was dying from tuberculosis. Three weeks after its completion, he died.

The third piece was a lot livelier: one of Madness’ biggest hits arranged by Alan Fernie. That of Baggy Trousers, which was troubling the top end of the UK singles charts around about the time of the concert, 36 years earlier. It peaked at Number Three in 1980 – fitting given its position in the concert running order.

Our fourth piece saw a change of tone with a cracking number by Karl Jenkins. This time, Benedictus, the twelfth track of Jenkins’ 2001 album, The Armed Man: A Mass for Piece. Performing the euphonium solo was Kieran, whose playing of the piece was very good.

The fifth piece of the afternoon was a segue of two African-American spiritual pieces: that of Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. The former was believed to have been composed by 19th century slaves and has also been known as Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho. It has been sung by Paul Robeson and Hugh Laurie.

As to whoever wrote Swing Low, Sweet Chariot has been open to dispute. Some sources suggest it was Wallis Willis, a Choctaw Freedman, shortly after the American Civil War. For many, it is the anthem of the England international Rugby Union team. Both pieces, neatly arranged by Alan Fernie were well played.

The penultimate piece of the afternoon’s first half was the Ennio Morricone piece, Gabriel’s Oboe. This was used in The Mission, a 1986 film starring Robert de Niro and Jeremy Irons. The film was based on the experiences of a Jesuit missionary in South America. Few people appreciated Morricone’s soundtrack as the film was a box office flop. Perhaps there was the small matter of an aviation based film that went out in early October. (I’ll give you a clue: it certainly wasn’t Biggles).

The final piece was The Dark Side of the Moon which, disappointingly for any Pink Floyd fans reading this blog post, has nothing to do with their 1973 album. Instead, it was the Paul Lovatt-Cooper test piece, written in 2007. It was selected as the test piece for the Regional Championships in 2008. Alongside Baggy Trousers, Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s 10-minute opus was a real highlight of the first half.

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s Mr Jums

The second half began almost as we began the first half. Another march, this time the rousing 1914, arranged by Gordon Mackenzie. As detailed in the Boarshurst Silver Band Remembrance Concert review, this is a medley of three traditional marches. That of It’s A Long Way from Tipperary (sit back, lie down, and think of Stalybridge). This was followed by Hello! Hello! Who’s Your Lady Friend?. The composer, Harry Fragson, died on New Year’s Eve 1913. A year before the song rose in popularity.

The third piece of Mackenzie’s medley is Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty. One for The Smiths fans as well. If you have their 1986 album, The Queen is Dead, you will remember hearing Cicely Courteneidge’s sampled vocals at the start of its title track.

The second piece of the second half was a hymn, a poignant one given that Remembrance Sunday was only the last week. This was Charles Harris’ The Supreme Sacrifice, and our third piece at this point to have an alternate title. It is also known as O Valiant Hearts and remembers the fallen of the First World War. A change of tone from the previous piece but an appropriate one to follow 1914. A tight performance.

We lightened the mood with our next piece, the second medley of the concert. What a medley we were treated to as well – Goff Richards’ A Disney Fantasy. Arranged by the late great composer, it is a whistle stop tour through some of the most popular Walt Disney themes. This included Zip a Dee Doo Dah (Song of the South), I Wanna Be Like You (The Jungle Book), and When You Wish Upon A Star (Pinocchio). As with Baggy Trousers, one that could have got the Boarshurst faithful into song.

The next two pieces featured Delph Youth and Training Band’s soloists: on Flugelhorn, Barney; and on Tenor Horn, Alice. For the flugelhorn solo, we were treated to Doyle’s Lament, the fourth and penultimate movement in the Call of the Cossacks by Peter Graham. The other four movements are: Procession of the Tartars; Gypsy Dream; Cossack Fire Dance; and (the last one) Cossack Wedding Dance. A fantastic effort from Barney.

For Alice, her magnificent playing of He Aint Heavy, He’s My Brother was another highlight of the afternoon. The Hollies’ tune has charted three times in the UK and reached the top spot twice. In 1969, it peaked at Number Three. In 1988, courtesy of a Miller Lite beer commercial, it was Number One for two weeks.

The latest version, covered by The Justice Collective, was the coveted UK Christmas Number One Single of 2012. They were a charity ensemble set up to raise awareness of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign. With a who’s who of Liverpudlian musicians among the line-up, it was quite an ensemble. Two original members of The Hollies were present. There was also ex-Frankie Goes To Hollywood vocalist, Holly Johnson (who also featured in a cover of Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey from 1989 for a similar cause).

Closing the second half was Mr. Jums. The jovial piece is taken from the suite entitled Three Brass Cats. Written by Chris Hazell, it is inspired by T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (whence the Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical Cats came from). One thing for sure, is the piece has nothing to do with the Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical score.

The lightest piece of the second half was the encore: that of Tequila. It was a smash hit on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and, within The Mecca of Brass Banding, another hit at that. A good closing piece.

Delph Youth and Training Band had a performance which many Third and Fourth Section bands would be proud of. Hopefully we should be seeing some more of them before long.

Next Month…

The Christmas campaign will be well and truly under way. Therefore the season of afternoon concerts will be having a winter break. Next up at Boarshurst Band Club will be Skelmanthorpe Band on the 27 November 2016 (8.00 pm start).

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., 24 November 2016.

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