Tintwistle Band: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club (February 2017)

Another sparkling display from Tintwistle Band

What can be said about any concert under the tutelage of Sarah Groarke-Booth other than its sleek programme? On a freezing February night, some hardy souls (this reviewer included) braved the zero celsius temperatures for the warm reception of an iconic brass banding venue. Warming the otherwise frozen audience was another sound Tintwistle performance.

In the last six months, this is Tintwistle’s second visit to the Boarshurst Band Club. The previous concert had a glorious mix of the technical, the populist, and an arrangement of the Teddy Bears’ Picnic. With the exception of the children’s song, this month’s concert was no exception.

Tintwistle Band (if you missed the previous review) are situated in the Derbyshire/Cheshire village, close to the Longdendale reservoirs (Bottoms Reservoir being the closest to Tintwistle). They are a First Section band who have recently returned to the second highest section of brass banding.

Their musical director, Sarah Groarke-Booth is also an actor who cut her teeth at the Old Vic theatre school in Bristol. In between keeping the band in tip top form, she finds time to act in theatrical and televisual productions, and play the trumpet.

Sarah’s sharp delivery and self-effacing patter, as seen in the previous concert, was apparent. We were treated to four fantastic solos and two trios. For the hardy souls who braved the near-Arctic winds they were treated to a great night’s music. If you liked your brass band music arranged by Alan Fernie, you were in for a treat.

The Programme

First Half

  1. Overture: Summon the Heroes (John Williams, arr. Philip Sparke);
  2. Musical Medley: Highlights from Chicago (Fred Ebb, arr. Iain McKnight);
  3. Flugelhorn Solo (performed by Kathryn Knowles): She (Charles Aznavour/Herbert Kretzmer, arr. Alan Fernie);
  4. Cornet Trio (performed by Michelle Barrow, Christine Lloyd and Peter Haigh): Way Down Yonder in New Orleans (Henry Creamer, arr. Stephen Roberts)
  5. Film Music (from Breakfast at Tiffany’s): Moon River (Henry Mancini, arr. Alan Fernie);
  6. March: General Mitchell (Robert Brown Hall, arr. Geoff Kingston);
  7. Baritone Solo (performed by Alex Henshall): Sally In Our Alley (Gordon Langford);
  8. Light Concert Music: Sweet Georgia Brown (Maceo Pinkard/Ben Bernie, arr. Goff Richards).

Second Half

  1. March: March from The Jazz Suite (Shostakovich, arr. Andrew Duncan);
  2. Waltz: Waltz from The Jazz Suite (Shostakovich, arr. Alan Fernie)
  3. Euphonium Solo (performed by Gary Lloyd): Benedictus (Karl Jenkins);
  4. Popular Music: Who Wants To Live Forever (Brian May, arr. John Glenesk Mortimer);
  5. Light Concert Music: Welsh Lullaby (Peter Graham);
  6. Bass Trombone solo (performed by Peter Kite): Mah Nà Mah Nà (Piero Umiliani, arr. Peter Ratnik);
  7. Trombone Trio (performed by Joanne Barrow, Peter Kite and Terry Chapell): Sad and Blue (Alan Fernie);
  8. Film Music: Theme from Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens (John Williams, arr. Stephen Bulla).

Encore

  • March: The Great Escape (Elmer Bernstein, arr. Martin Ellerby).

Act 1: Summoning the Heroes

Starting off proceedings with a bang was the first and only overture of the night. It was also one of two excursions towards the music of John Williams. The first of which was Summon The Heroes. It was used as the signature music for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta (which was forgettable for Team GB owing to its lack of medals). Some critics could credit John Williams’ pieces as the highlight of a somewhat forgettable centenary games of the modern-day Olympiad.

If Manchester won the 1996 bid, Tintwistle Band could have played the theme (possibly arranged by Philip Sparke as with this piece). Instead, the band got off to a flying start twenty one years on at Boarshurst.

Sticking with the US theme (well, in musical form), we had a foot tapping medley of music from Chicago. This included bite size chunks of five familiar pieces from the musical. Including Roxie and All That Jazz. Another feast for the ears.

The third piece was our first solo of the night. This time with Kathryn Knowles on flugelhorn. Last year, she was part of the horn feature that played The Beatles’ Here, There, and Everywhere. As a soloist, she played Alan Fernie’s arrangement of She. The song, a UK Number One hit single in 1974 was sung and co-written (with Herbert Kretzmer) by Charles Aznavour. It was the signature tune to The Seven Faces of Woman, a popular TV series that didn’t get aired in the UK. Her performance was superb.

Highlighting the multi-talented nature of the cornet trio for our fourth piece was Way Down Yonder in New Orleans. Written by Henry Creamer and arranged by Stephen Roberts for brass band, it is a lively piece. One enhanced by addition of a triangle, duck caller and a bicycle horn. The original song was written in 1922 and later included in the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939). Needless to say, we loved it dearly.

Sticking to films (well, our previous piece could also be regarded as Film Music), was the best known piece from Breakfast At Tiffany’s, the Audrey Hepburn film. This time, Henry Mancini’s Moon River. The well bodied sound from Tintwistle Band made for a dreamy piece, more or less how the writer intended. It was written to suit Audrey Hepburn’s vocal range and has also be covered by Andy Williams, Danny Williams, Morrissey and Westlife.

This was followed by our first march of the night, and what a piece we had. For our sixth piece was General Mitchell, a criminally overlooked march written by Robert Brown Hall (more famous for Death Or Glory). “Bumptious”, in Sarah’s words, was a most appropriate adjective and this was reflected in their performance. Could General Mitchell be a march to look out for in Whit Friday 2017? It has previously been played by The Band of the King’s Division.

The second soloist of this half was Alex Henshall, on Baritone. On the most overlooked of brass instruments (as far as solo pieces are concerned), he put in a fantastic performance of Sally In Our Alley. In spite of any references to Dame Gracie Fields, it has nothing to do with the Rochdale singing sensation of the early to mid-20th century. The piece was arranged by Gordon Langford from a traditional song.

We closed the first half with what was the lightest piece at this point. A concert classic in the form of Sweet Georgia Brown. This was also the Harlem Globetrotters’ signature tune, written in 1925 by Ben Bernie and Maceo Pinkard. It has been covered by Nat King Cole, The Beatles, the Count Basie Band and Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. Tintwistle Band’s first half ended in fine style with number.

Act 2: Who Wants to Play Forever?

The second half opened with a double bill of Shostakovich’s music, with both the March and the Waltz played from The Jazz Suite. Tintwistle marked their return to the stage in great style with the two pieces. The March was arranged by Andrew Duncan, forming part of Shostakovich’s second jazz suite, written in 1938. The Waltz formed part of the composer’s first jazz suite from 1934.

Our third piece of this half has become some sort of a modern classic, and a popular solo one to boot. That of Karl Jenkins’ Benedictus. Taken from the twelfth track of his 2001 album (entitled The Armed Man), Gary Lloyd delivered a sensational performance on euphonium. The contemplative tune has won many friends among bands and concertgoers. Mr. Lloyd’s performance was no exception.

Our next piece was the second Tintwistle concert to feature a Queen song. Though not Sarah’s favoured Queen song (she said “Fat Bottomed Girls” which was played at the previous concert), this piece could also be regarded as Film Music. That of Who Wants To Live Forever, previously played by VBS Poynton Band. The song, written by Brian May, is used in the first of Russell Mulcahy’s Highlander series of films.

After a bit of Queen, we moved onto a more contemplative piece, dedicated the late great Janet Payne who recently passed away. This was the delightful yet serene Welsh Lullaby written by Peter Graham. If Janet was listening in from the heavens, she would have been proud. This was well received by the Boarshurst faithful who shunned the yawnsome offerings on the haunted fish tank.

Our final solo piece of the night, by contrast, was more light hearted and demanded audience participation. On bass trombone, Peter Kite impressed us with Piero Umiliani’s Mah Nà Mah Nà. A piece of quirky bubblegum music, the original version is overshadowed by The Muppet Show’s take with two pink cows. (We shan’t elaborate on why Vanilla lifted part of the piece for their debut, No Way No Way).

After Kite’s awesome performance came the second and final trio of the night. This time with a piece as reassuring as an old pair of shoes, or a slightly battered yet comfortable pair of trainers. That of Alan Fernie’s Sad and Blue. As well as being Peter Kite’s second chance to shine, he was accompanied with Joanne Barrow and Terry Chapell. It was as comforting as the thick zip-up cardigan and, beautifully played too.

For our last non-encore piece was the second outing for a John Williams piece. This time, the signature tune for the seventh episode of the Star Wars saga, Episode VII: The Force Awakens. For one of the guest players (from Marple Band) and the reviewer, the second Star Wars theme that Sunday (Marple Band played the theme from Episode I: The Phantom Menace at Glossop Old Band club in the afternoon). It was a rousing finish, surpassed only our encore piece.

We finished off with Elmer Bernstein’s theme from The Great Escape. His theme never fails to please or lift the audience, as this fellow can testify when Mossley Band have played this on the Whit Walks. Tintwistle’s playing of the encore piece was tight, and the same could have been said of the previous sixteen pieces that night.

Once again, Tintwistle Band have proved to be good value for money at the Boarshurst Band Club. We hope to see more from them in the near future and wish them luck in their future endeavours.

Next Time at Boarshurst…

With a busy schedule ahead for Boarshurst Silver Band, the next concert shall take place on the 12 March. This time, Friezland Band will be gracing The Mecca of Brass Banding. They are a non-contesting community band which rehearse at the Uppermill Conservative Club on High Street. Doors open at 7pm for a 8pm 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., 13 February 2017.

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