A satisfying Boarshurst debut for the Silver Band

Stockport Silver Band marked their debut at the Boarshurst Band Club with a most enjoyable concert on the 11 December. The fourth section band gave us a good concert with an entertaining though none too highbrow programme. There was a good sprinkling of Christmas tunes as well.

Stockport Silver Band have a proud history, rehearsing in the shadow of Stockport viaduct. Their proximity to Stockport Edgeley station, the M60 motorway, and the town’s bus station means they have one of the best connected band rooms in Britain. They were formed in 1870, though have made greater inroads into the contesting world. Earlier this year, they competed in the North West Area Regional Championships in Blackpool.

Ian Colwell has previously played for Burnage Brass Band, British Telecom Band, and Stalybridge Old Band. After an injury to his hand that forced him to retire from playing, he became a Musical Director. He joined Stockport Silver Band in February 2014. His patter was pleasant, clear, and one that put the audience at ease.

The Programme

First Half

  1. Overture: Fanfare and Soliloquy (Trevor Sharpe);
  2. Popular Music: Life on Mars (David Bowie, arr. Frank Bernaerts);
  3. Cornet Solo (performed by Claire): A Brown Bird Singing (Haydn Wood, arr. Denzil Stephens);
  4. Film Music: Walking in the Air (Howard Blake, arr. Philip Sparke);
  5. Traditional Music: Greensleeves (Trad, arr. Gordon Langford);
  6. Christmas Music: The Christmas Song (Mel Torme, arr. Philip Sparke);
  7. Light Concert Piece: Choral and Rock Out (Ted Huggens).

Second Half

  1. March: Men of Harlech (Traditional, arr. Gordon Langford);
  2. Christmas Music: The Coventry Carol (Traditional, arr. Alan Fernie);
  3. Light Concert: Czardas (Vittorio Monti, arr. Jan Rypens);
  4. March: Star Lake (Eric Ball);
  5. Christmas Music: Stop the Cavalry (Jona Lewie, arr. Phil Lawrence);
  6. Popular Music: Mad World (Roland Orzabel, arr. Gavin Somerset);
  7. Film Music: Theme Music from The Pirates of the Caribbean (Klaus Badeit/Hans Zimmer, arr Darrol Barry);
  8. Popular Music: Carillon (Robert Ian Gomm/Herbie Flowers, arr. Denzil Stephens);
  9. Light Concert Piece: Farandole from L’Arlensierre (Georges Bizet).


  • Light Concert Piece: Bandology (Eric Osterling).

Fanfare solioquy’s choral rock out

We kicked off proceedings with Trevor Sharpe’s Fanfare and Soliloquy. Born in 1921, Lieutenant Colonel Trevor Sharpe LVO OBE was Musical Director for The Band of the Coldstream Guards (1963 – 1974). During his tenure as Musical Director, came the band’s most famous engagement: their playing of the Dad’s Army signature tune.

Back in 1973, Dad’s Army offered some light relief amid a background of strikes, power cuts, and an oil crisis. It was that year which inspired a science fiction series set in Manchester. The title of which was inspired by our second piece, Life on Mars. The brass band version of the David Bowie song was a solid performance.

The third piece of the night gave us our first and only soloist. This time with Claire on soprano cornet, playing A Brown Bird Singing. The Haydn Wood piece marked a change of mood and tempo to a quiet, melodic sound. Claire did herself proud with her performance. The composer, Haydn Wood was born in Slaithwaite in 1882 and moved to the Isle of Man on his third birthday. In the same way how Elgar gained inspiration from the Malvern Hills, Snaefell and the island’s villages inspired Wood’s music.

Our fourth piece not only gave us our first Christmas piece: The Snowman‘s best known piece, Walking in the Air. It also gave us our second David Bowie link of the night. In Channel Four’s presentation of the film, David Bowie also did some narration at the beginning. Halfway through the film, Peter Auty sung the piece. On vinyl, Aled Jones peaked at Number Five in 1985.

After Stockport Silver’s superb playing of Howard Blake’s composition, we moved to a tune that was reputed to have been written by Henry VIII. For many people, tinny versions of this piece are the bane of anyone put on hold (this was used to comic effect in Ken Loach’s latest film, I, Daniel Blake). Thankfully, Stockport Silver Band’s rendition of Greensleeves was considerably better to the power of 33.

For the penultimate piece of this half, the Mercury on the Boarshurst thermometer plunged a few degrees. All thanks to Mel Tormé’s The Christmas Song, made popular by Nat King Cole. Stockport Silver Band put in a good shift. This took us neatly to our last piece of this half.

The last piece of this half was a woodwind piece by Ted Huggens, arranged for brass band. Entitled Choral and Rock Out, the latter part implied that the rock band was optional. Incidentally, the piece was composed by the Dutch composer in 1973. The same year which John Simm’s and Philip Glenister’s Life on Mars was set in. Also the year when Ajax Amsterdam won the European Champions Cup. Interestingly, the police station in the BBC One series is the town hall extension in Stockport, a short walk from our guest’s band room. All in all, a pleasing finish.

Second Sermon at the Stockport Church of Bandology

The second half began with a traditional march. One that is set to move rugby union fans to sing en masse at Cardiff Arms Park. Men of Harlech got the band off to a good start in the second half. It is the Wales RFU team’s song of choice. Part of the march was used as the start-up music for Harlech Television (HTV Wales).The march was written to commemorate a seven-year siege at Harlech Castle between 1461 and 1468.

The second piece of the second half took us to Coventry. A journey which, if taken by rail from Harlech would mean a change at three stations over five hours. This time, our first Christmas piece of the second half, The Coventry Carol. The carol is so called as it was traditionally part of a mystery play entitled The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors.

The next piece was a brass banding classic with a difference. Czardas has been previously performed by Silk Brass but last night’s arrangement saw a great role for the xylophonist. It added a novel yet eminently listenable twist to the popular piece. This put us on a joyous footing for the raffle, followed by our second march of the night.

The second march of the night was Eric Ball’s Star Lake. It refers to the said lake which is situated in Wisconsin. The Salvationist march piece is a popular contest march with Fourth Section and Youth Bands. Stockport Silver did very well with this one.

This was followed by Stop The Cavalry. Arranged by Phil Lawrence, the piece worked well in a band setting. As we said in last week’s review with Littleborough Band, it was originally going to be a protest song. Cue some jingle bells and a reference to Christmas, you have got a protest song that has become a popular Christmas number. It was kept off the top spot by a posthumous chart topper (John Lennon’s (Just Like) Starting Over) and a rather obscure school choir from Heaton Mersey.

Our next piece was originally sung by Tears For Fears in late-1982, though a UK Christmas Number One single in 2003. Covered by Gary Jules and Michael Andrews, Mad World was used in the film Donnie Darko. This was one of the few pieces that could have been classed as either Christmas Music, Film Music, or Popular Music. Light Concert Music at a stretch, being as the cover version is darker than Roland Orzabel’s original. The 2003 cover (sorry, Tears for Fears fans) worked better in a brass band setting. Our fellows from Stockport proved that, good and proper.

Sticking with 2003, the same year saw the beginning of one of Walt Disney’s most successful movie franchises. The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, which sees Jack Sparrow getting into all scrapes, was the subject of our last piece of film music. At previous concerts at Boarshurst Band Club, the music of Hans Zimmer has always been a good match for brass banding. His theme to the films starring Johnny Depp was another case in point.

The penultimate, non-encore piece was Carillon. The piece, composed by Robert Ian Gomm and Herbie Flowers has been a favourite among some of the bands at Boarshurst. An easy piece on the ear that was well performed (second track in Sky’s self-titled début album from 1979). Needless to say, it met the approval of your reviewer who has the first two Sky albums.

Prior to the encore, our last piece 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. It was written in 1872, three years before his death, and seven years prior to publication. This ended the concert on a flourish.

For the encore of what turned out to be a joyous debut, we closed with Bandology, one of Eric Osterling’s most celebrated marches. Many people have called Mr. Osterling the Modern March King.

Overall, a good, though undemanding programme for some ears. Stockport Silver Band asserted themselves very well and, from the audience as a whole, they were well received. We hope to be seeing more of them at contest level or in live performance. Hopefully with a return visit to Boarshurst Band Club on the cards. The place, as quoted from another musical director and yours truly (who also compered last night’s concert), that is known as The Mecca of Brass Banding.

If you would like to see more of Stockport Silver Band, they will be performing in Wythenshawe Civic Centre on Saturday, 17 December 2016 at 11am. The 11 bus offers a regular service from Stockport bus station before continuing to Altrincham.

Next at the Boarshurst Band Club

Next week at Boarshurst Band Club is the highlight of the brass banding calendar, as far as Christmas concerts are concerned. The 18 December will see Boarshurst Silver Band perform their Christmas concert. As well as a display of supreme brass band music, under the aegis of Musical Director James Garlick, there will be the usual Christmassy stuff. There may be audience participation and singing involved.

Previous Christmas concerts with Boarshurst Silver Band have always been more light hearted and (on some occasions) surreal, even. With this concert attracting packed houses every time, please arrive as early as possible. The whole shebang will commence at 8pm. Christmas isn’t Christmas without this fixture.


  • 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., 12 December 2016.

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