Friezland Band: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club

A splendid performance and a memorable Boarshurst debut for Max Stannard

A well supported concert at the Boarshurst Band Club gave Friezland Band and their recently appointed Musical Director, Max Stannard a confidence boost. Last night’s (Sunday 12 March) concert had an excellent turnout which pleased the band no end.

Though Friezland Band have previously been to the Boarshurst Band Club, this was Max’s first visit. He was educated at Lancaster University where he gained a First Class Degree in Music. He has previously cut his teeth with Pemberton Old Band. As well as his recent appointment with Friezland Band, he also owns Max Stannard Music and arranges a number of compositions himself.

Friezland Band were formed in 1983 and rehearse at the Uppermill Conservative Club. They are a community-orientated non-contesting band. The band has a mix of younger players wishing to start out, and a number of older players.

Yesterday’s concert had an Irish-American theme, appropriate on two counts. Firstly, this being the closest Boarshurst Band Club gig to St. Patrick’s Day, and it falling on the same weekend as Manchester’s Irish Festival parade. The first half was Irish whereas the second half had an American theme. Secondly, that was appropriate, given how many Irish citizens emigrated to America, via New York.

The Programme

First Half

  1. March: Killaloe (Robert Martin);
  2. Hymn: The Irish Blessing (Traditional, arr. Stephen Bradnum);
  3. Song: Whiskey in the Jar (Traditional, arr. Brian Bindner);
  4. Flugelhorn Solo (performance by Katie): Verdant Braes of Skreen (Traditional);
  5. Popular Music: Londonderry Air (Traditional);
  6. Light Concert Music: Cry of the Celts (i. Nightmare; ii. Suil a Ruin; iii. Breakout; iv. Finale: Victory/Lord of the Dance) (Various, arr. Peter Graham).

Second Half

  1. March: Midwest March (Joseph John Richards);
  2. Hymn: Mid All The Traffic of the Ways (Colonel Leonard Ballantine);
  3. Light Concert Music: I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free (Traditional, arr. Alan Fernie);
  4. Film Music: Theme from Dances With Wolves (John Barry, arr. Frank Bernaerts);
  5. Film Music: Theme from Jurassic Park (John Williams, arr. Frank Bernaerts);
  6. Film Music: Theme from Schindler’s List (John Williams, arr. Frank Bernaerts);
  7. Film Music (from Pocahontas): Colours of the Wind (Alan Menkin, arr. Frank Bernaerts);
  8. Film Music: Theme from Gladiator (Hans Zimmer, arr. Rieks Van der Velde).

Encore

  • Film Music (from Rocky III): The Eye of the Tiger (Jim Peternik/Frank Sullivan, arr. Rieks Van der Velde).

First Leg: A Taste of Ireland

Opening the concert in traditional form was a march. Being as the first half had an Irish theme, our chosen piece was Robert Martin’s Killaloe. The traditional piece was written as a march for the Royal Irish Regiment. It is also a large village in County Clare. On previous Whit Walks in Saddleworth and Tameside, it has been a favoured street march. We got off to a good start with this piece.

Sticking with the same theme whilst respecting the conventions of a traditional brass band concert, we had a hymn. It was none other than Stephen Bradnum’s arrangement of The Irish Blessing. Based on the traditional folk song and poem, it is always a good piece for slowing things down a little. Max also quoted the lyrics which include the line: “may the road rise up to meet you”, in relation to heaven.

Our third piece was inspired by Ireland’s second most famous alcoholic drink (the audience, on being asked which was the most famous Irish drink answered “Guinness”). This time with the traditional Whiskey in the Jar. The arrangement we heard was inspired by The Pogues’ version rather than Thin Lizzy’s Top 20 single. A strong display from the playing of this piece and the previous one arranged by Stephen Bradnum.

Our first and only soloist of the night followed. On Flugelhorn, Katie played a beautiful rendition of The Braes of Skreen. Based on a traditional Irish song, the Braes of Skreen is reputed to refer to Ballinascreen, an alternative name to Draperstown. The village is situated in County Londonderry (or County Derry if you prefer), which takes to our fifth piece of the night.

The fifth piece of the night was a tribute to the late great Janet Payne. With Brassed Off inspiring the choice of piece, they went for Londonderry Air. A good tribute which was also faithful to the subject matter of the night’s concert.

We closed the first half with Friezland Band’s most complex piece of the night. That of Cry of the Celts. Arranged by Peter Graham, four movements of the suite were played. This began with the dour Nightmare, followed by Suil a Ruin, Breakout, and the finale (Victory and Lord of the Dance). There was a sizeable contribution from Phil and Jean on the horns. A very good effort that augured well for the next half.

Second Leg: An American Adventure

As with the first half, we began with a march. This time with Joseph John Richards’ Midwest March. The march is quintessentially American sounding and wouldn’t be out of place on any baseball pitch or on Coney Island promenade. Its composer, J.J. Richards, was born in Cwmafan, a village in South Wales before moving to America in his childhood. Particularly fitting as this half reflected the people who left Ireland and Wales for America.

The second piece of this half, ‘Mid All The Traffic of the Ways, was penned by a Canadian living composer, Colonel Leonard Ballantine. As stated in our Dobcross Youth Band review, it was played to the tune of Colne. We also stated that he offers one-to-one tuition with his wife, Heather, helping out behind the scenes.

Our third one of this half could have been Film Music, though not in the strictest sense. Part of it is used to this day for BBC’s Film (add year of your choosing in short hand form – i.e. ’78) review programme. Arranged by Alan Fernie, the piece in question is I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free. The traditional piece has been covered by Nina Simone, though better known for its 30 seconds or so snatch in Barry Norman’s/Claudia Winkleman’s programmes.

This led us to the fourth piece of this half, and a selection of performances that were more Hollywood than Hollinwood. The first theme was that of Dances With Wolves, a very bold theme as one would expect from the pen of John Barry. A good start to our six successive soundtrack tunes.

Better still, and forming the top half of a Spielberg movie/John Williams raffle sandwich was the theme from Jurassic Park. Their playing had some real bite, before you could say Triceratops. Or bottle tops.

Following the raffle was the bottom layer of our raffle sandwich: this time, the stirring theme from Schindler’s List. A well played piece which offered a contrast to the feistier dinosaur themed tune. As pointed out by Max Stannard, all of the film music in the main set list were in chronological order. Dances With Wolves was 1990; Jurassic Park was 1993; Schindler’s List: 1994.

Taking us to 1995 was Alan Menkin’s Colours of the Wind. This was used in the Walt Disney film, Pocahontas. The story involves the history and folklore surrounding the native American woman. She is also immortalised in statue form in Gravesend, Kent, her last resting place. Menkin’s previous credits have included the soundtrack to Aladdin. Friezland Band asserted themselves very well.

For the final piece of the main set list was the theme tune to a film that should have been a Best Soundtrack Oscar winner. That of the theme music for Ridley Scott’s Gladiator, composed by Hans Zimmer (other credits including the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean and Henry Kelly’s Going For Gold). To the audience, Max stated his slight bewilderment at the nominee that won (the music for Crouching Tiger: Hidden Dragon) and asked them if they could whistle any part of that film.

None of them could (this fellow included, who saw the film at Manchester ODEON on Peter Street). Their playing of Gladiator was first class and led us to our encore piece. This time, the considerably more whistleable theme from Rocky IIIThe Eye of the Tiger. A UK Number One single for Survivor in September 1982, Friezland’s rendition would have done the original piece proud.

Friezland Band put on a good show. Max’s humorous and scholarly patter helped to make the concert a tightly produced soiree. Oh, and this fellow (who wrote the review) was the Master of Ceremonies too.

Friezland’s next concert will be on the 23 April 2017. This will be the first of many April to October concerts at the Uppermill Conservative Club, on Sunday afternoons. The whole shebang starts at 2pm on the forecourt facing High Street. Being the 23rd April, there’s every chance of there being a St. George’s Day theme in the programme.

Next Time at Boarshurst…

The next concert at Boarshurst Band Club shall take place on the 26 March (Mothering Sunday). This time, Middleton Band will be gracing The Mecca of Brass Banding. They are a second section band with a history dating back to 1876. Their ancestry can be traced as far back as the Middleton Perseverance Drum and Pipe Band. In 1884, they changed their name to the Middleton Public Brass Band. Two years later, “Public” was substituted for “Borough”.

With the reorganisation of local government rendering the Borough name as anachronism, they adopted their present name. With sponsorship from local brewery J.W. Lees, they acquired a social club in 1976. As usual, doors are 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 March 2017.

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