Uppermill Band: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club

A delightful concert with a good mix of traditional and entertaining pieces

You could be forgiven for thinking that the phrase “after the Mayor’s show” would have applied to yesterday’s visitors, after last week’s gig with Hammonds Saltaire Band. Our guests, Uppermill Band, shook off that tag and asserted themselves very well with an entertaining performance.

Uppermill Band are in a transitional period. Firstly, due to ill health, Alan Widdop resigned his position as Musical Director. Secondly, February’s result in the Second Section heat of the North West Regional Championships at Blackpool didn’t work in their favour. His replacement, Dean Redfern, is set to get Uppermill Band back on the road to success. With nine deputies last night [Sunday], few could see the join thanks to a tight performance.

Uppermill Band were formed in March 1979 as a Youth Band (so a late Happy 38th Birthday is in order). Shortly, they became a Fourth Section band, then a Third Section band. In 1988 and 1989, they got to the National Finals in London as a Third Section. With the band losing players to other bands and universities (six joined the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain), they returned to the Fourth Section. By the nineties and noughties, they consolidated themselves around the Second and Third Sections.

Dean Redfern has joined Uppermill Band from Brighouse and Rastrick Band. Prior to his arrival, he was their chairperson as well as a player. Outside of his brass banding role, he is also the Sales Director for JW Lees Brewery, Middleton.

All in all, it was a good night with nineteen pieces played. Plus a few familiar faces providing reinforcements. Hence this fellow being the Master of Ceremonies.

The Programme

First Half

  1. March: The Senator (George Allan);
  2. Cornet Solo (performed by Sarah Hudson): Forasha (Darrol Barry);
  3. Cornet Trio (performers: Sarah Hudson, Sarah-Jane Greenwood, and Sue Ellis): Three Jolly Sailormen (Trio for Cornets) (Edrich Siebert);
  4. Light Concert Piece: Swinging Safari (Bert Kaempfert, arr. Edrich Siebert);
  5. Flugelhorn Solo (performed by John Whittle): So Glad! (William Himes);
  6. Hymn: Amazing Grace (John Newton);
  7. Horn Solo (performed by Anne Jackson): Over The Rainbow (Harold Arlen, arr. Goff Richards)
  8. Light Concert Piece: Amparito Roca (The Sheltered Cliff) (Jaime Texidor, arr. Ray Woodfield);
  9. Light Concert Piece: Iolanthe: March of the Peers (Arthur Sullivan).

Second Half

  1. Light Concert Piece: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (J.S. Bach, arr. Ray Farr);
  2. Brass Quartet (performers: John Whittle, Louise Kershaw, Anne Jackson, and Davina Holt): The Irish Blessing (Traditional, arr. Stephen Bradnum);
  3. Light Concert Piece: All Through The Night (Traditional, arr. Gordon Langford);
  4. March: Marching On (Jerome Naulais);
  5. Film Music: Theme from 633 Squadron (Ron Goodwin, arr. John Mortimer);
  6. Film Music (from Brassed Off)/Traditional: Londonderry Air (Traditional, arr. Stephen Roberts);
  7. Film Music: Theme from Singin’ in the Rain (Nacio Herb Brown/Arthur Freed, arr. Alan Fernie);
  8. Film Music: Theme from Born Free (John Barry, arr. Alan Catherall);
  9. Film Music (from Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron): Homeland (Hans Zimmer).

Encore

  • Film Music: Theme from The Great Escape (Elmer Bernstein, arr. Thomas Wyss).

First Half: The Senator’s March of the Peers

There’s no prizes for guessing what this year’s contest march would be for Uppermill Band: the opening piece of last night’s concert. The Senatora firm favourite among brass bands on Whit Friday is one of George Allan’s best known contest marches. One of Shildon’s famous sons, The March King of the North East was also a Wagon Painter at the local railway works. A good traditional start.

For our second piece, we had our first soloist of the night, Sarah Hudson on cornet. This time with Darrol Barry’s Forasha. Darrol Barry was born in Salford in 1956 and developed an interest in arranging pieces whilst in his school band. He is gainfully employed as the Resident Composer and Arranger for the Royal Guard of Oman – quite a contrast from the silver skies in Pendleton. The piece was written as a 21st Birthday present – quite a change from the usual stuff and the “key at the door” clichés. Her playing of the ethereal piece was beautiful.

In our third piece, we saw some more of Sarah Hudson, albeit with two other cornet players: Sarah-Jane Greenwood, and Sue Ellis. They played the Three Jolly Sailormen (or, for the purpose of this performance, the Three Jolly Sailorwomen). This jolly interlude was the first of our two pieces arranged by Edrich Siebert. It is a popular piece with the HM Marines band. In 1952, it was performed by The “All Star” Concert Brass Band and released on a 78 rpm record (Paxton PR 577). The conductor on that release was the legendary Harry Mortimer.

The fourth piece is a popular easy listening tune which has been used in many advertisements, and as incidental music. This time, Edrich Siebert’s arrangement of A Swinging Safari by Bert Kaempfert. At a lower pitch to the original piece, it was a very good rendition. Among other things, A Swinging Safari has been used as music for rolling starts at oval racing venues.

The fifth piece was our second soloist and – if you’re a devotee of the Sunday Brass concerts at Boarshurst – a very familiar face. On flugelhorn, John Whittle with his performance of William Himes’ So Glad!. So glad we were indeed – the Boarshurst Faithful were treated to a smooth performance by one of Boarshurst Band Club’s movers and shakers.

In a marked contrast from the first five pieces, the sixth piece was a quieter one. No brass band concert is complete without a hymn – and especially on Palm Sunday, which begins what is known as Holy Week. Our hymn was Amazing Grace, one of the most popular hymns around, and one that has been a chart single for some artistes. Judy Collins’ rendition made the most waves in the early 1970s, closely followed by The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards’ version. Uppermill’s was a good rendition too.

The third solo of the night meant another popular song. This time, Over The Rainbow with Anne Jackson on horn. The song is approaching its 80th birthday (78 this year) and Anne’s playing of Harold Arlen’s song was a well performed number. Covered by Eva Cassidy as well as being associated by Judy Garland, it is deemed as “one of the most enduring standards of the 20th century”.

For our eighth piece, we moved from The Wizard of Oz to another country next door to Australia. This time with Amparito Roca – or The Sheltered Cliff in its English translation. As for the New Zealand connection, it has been used by the All Blacks rugby union team. Uppermill’s breathless delivery was thanks in part to a challenge by Mr. Redfern. That of playing the piece faster than three and a half minutes. They succeeded by playing it in two minutes and twenty seconds.

The last piece of the first half was something lighter. That of Iolanthe: March of the Peers. Composed by Arthur Sullivan, it is taken from the Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera. In the opera, Iolanthe has been banished from fairyland from marrying a mere mortal. Its first performance was on the 25 November 1882 at the Savoy Theatre in London. Technically, it was the first new theatre production to have been illuminated with electric lighting.

Second Half: Toccata’s Great Escape

The second half of the concert began with a real workout for Uppermill Band. This time with Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. Arranged by Ray Farr, this was the band’s most complex piece of the night and they put in a good shift. Toccata also paid dividends for Messrs Williams, Monkman, Fry, and Flowers in 1980 (collectively known as Sky) being a Top Ten single.

The next piece, and subsequent pieces throughout this half, gave the band a bit of a rest. Our second piece of this second half was a marked difference to Bach’s work. This time in quartet form, the evergreen tone poem, The Irish Blessing (arranged by Stephen Bradnum). Once again we welcomed John Whittle and Anne Jackson, who were joined by Louise Kershaw and Davina Holt. Crystal clear, concise, and tight, were the best adjectives for their performance. Superb stuff.

Our third of this half was similarly brooding and easy going. This being Gordon Langford’s arrangement of All Through The Night. Another good performance which led us to the fourth piece of this half.

Prior to the raffle, the fourth piece of this half was dedicated to the late great Janet Payne. This time with Jerome Naulais’ Marching On. This was an arrangement of Onward Christian Soldiers, a popular hymn and road march on the Whit Walks. It was well played with a solid performance by all members.

The last five pieces (and the encore) took on a film theme. To begin our homage to the silver screen, we opened with the theme from 633 Squadron. Written by Ron Goodwin and arranged by John Mortimer, this was a good post-raffle piece. As detailed on previous posts, Ron Goodwin also brought us the startup music for Yorkshire Television (from 1968 – 82) and countless other theme music. Other credits include The Battle of Britain suite and the soundtrack for Force 10 from Navarone.

The next film theme could also be billed as traditional music. For many, Londonderry Air (or Danny Boy) is associated with Brassed Off. Hence its popularity at many brass band concerts. Another well played piece that sat snugly next to another light concert favourite. That of Singin’ in the Rain. Nacio Herb Brown’s piece, arranged by Alan Fernie, was another treat for the ears. Apart from the Gene Kelly musical film, it also conjures up images of the Morecambe and Wise parody, or a scene from Stanley Kubrick’s film version of A Clockwork Orange.

From Brown to Barry was our next port of call: this time, John Barry’s main theme from Born Free. The 1966 film saw the Yorkshire composer gain Academy Awards, a Grammy, and a Golden Globe for his works. By all accounts, last night’s was a solid performance with a nice bit of oomph for good measure.

The finale ended in breathtaking style with one of Hans Zimmer’s finest – though possibly under appreciated – works. That of Homeland, the main theme from the 2002 Dreamworks film, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. The main theme from the equine animated feature was a standard piece among its longer serving players (which Dean picked up on when introducing the piece).

As for the encore, it was our turn to put in a shift. Yes, audience participation time. For The Great Escape, the Boarshurst Faithful were encouraged to whistle along to this piece. It remains a popular piece at concerts and in entertainment contests as well as on the street as a deportment march. (Mossley Band have performed Elmer Bernstein’s theme for well over a decade on Whit Friday).

Uppermill did themselves proud, even with the need for nine deputies at last night’s concert. We wish them well in the near future and hope they have a good Whit Week too. If you would like to see them again, they will be doing a home gig at Uppermill Conservative Club on the 07 May 2017. This, being one of the Con. Club’s season of summertime concerts on their High Street forecourt.

As well as offering us all a good concert, they also sold their latest CD. Entitled Stepping Stones (so called after the stones across the River Tame, leading to the Huddersfield Narrow Canal), it was sold for £5.00. You can also purchase your copy from the Uppermill Band website, priced £7.00. The CD includes some of the pieces played at last night’s concert.

Next Time at Boarshurst…

The next concert at Boarshurst Band Club will be on Maundy Thursday (13 April 2017). This will be the traditional Road End Fair concert with Boarshurst Silver Band and the Saddleworth Morris Men. This will take place at 7.30 pm.

Also, on Easter Sunday (16 April 2017, 8.00 pm) will be BMP (Europe) Goodshaw Band. Situated in a village between Burnley and Rawtenstall, close to Crawshawbooth, they are a Fourth Section band that has been sponsored by BMP (Europe) Ltd for several years. The company was formed in 1985 as a subsidiary of Andrews Industries. Goodshaw Band was founded in September 1867 with David Heap as their first bandmaster.

Doors will be open from 7pm onwards for both concerts.

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., 10 April 2017.

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