Littleborough Band: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club, May 2017

Ady and Co.’s easy going concert with a number of favourites

Littleborough Band’s first 2017 visit to Boarshurst Band Club was met with a good turnout, in spite of the soggy conditions. With an easy going yet pleasing programme, it was a case of ‘easy like Sunday evening’. We revisited some old favourites and we had – not one, but two – duets, and a trio.

Littleborough Band were formed in 1862 as the Littleborough Public Silver Band. Their first performance was for a flood relief benefit concert. In 1883, they won the British Open Championship at Kings Hall, Belle Vue. More recently, they have had some good results at the Butlins Mineworkers’ Contests in Skegness. They remain a solid Section Three band with Ady Woodhead as Musical Director.

Ady started out at Wardle High School as a percussionist. Then he became a rock musician, though shortly returned to the brass banding fold. He moved to Milnrow and Todmorden Old bands. He joined Littleborough Band as Musical Director in September 2008.

Last night’s concert was a good night. The programme was light and amiable. Good for an easy Sunday night at The World Famous Boarshurst Band Club. It is also worth noting that last night’s concert finished with the same piece they opened with last December.

The Programme

First Half

  1. March: Death or Glory (R.B Hall);
  2. Test Piece: Darkwood (Dan Price):
    1. Boggart;
    2. House on the Hill;
    3. Blackley Village.
  3. Hymn: Lloyd (Traditional, arr. Bramwell Cotes);
  4. Baritone duo (performed by Amy Woodruff and Lucy Miller): Perhaps Love (John Denver, arr. Alan Fernie);
  5. Light Concert Piece: Appalachian Mountain Folk Song (Various, arr. James Curnow):
    1. Sourwood Mountain;
    2. Black is the Colour of My True Love’s Hair;
    3. The Camptown Races.

Second Half

  1. March: Royal Air Force Fly Past (Hugh Walford Davies/Sir George Dyson);
  2. Classical Music: Winter from The Four Seasons (Antonio Vivaldi, arr. Philip Sparke);
  3. Cornet and Euphonium Duo (performed by Kayleigh Dunn (euphonium) and Megan Ward (cornet)): All I Ask of You (Andrew Lloyd-Webber, arr. Alan Fernie);
  4. Light Concert Piece: Finale from Pineapple Poll (Arthur Sullivan, arr. Geoffrey Brand);
  5. Trombone Trio (performed by Sumayah Refaat, Mark Haworth, Alison): Frolic for Trombones (Mel Torme, arr. Philip Sparke);
  6. Test Piece: The Golden Lady (Goff Richards).


  • March: Goldcrest (James Anderson).

Death or Glory on the Appalachian Mountains


With Whit Friday around the corner, we opened with one of Brassed Off’s most famous pieces. That of Death or Glory, R.B. Hall’s march which not only opened Mark Herman’s film, but also Sunday’s concert. As well as being a decent opener, possibly a sneak preview of their contest march for Whit Friday.

After getting us all in the mood, we continued with the most ambitious piece of the night. Written as a tribute to Henry Ashcroft and commissioned by his son, Neil Ashcroft, Dan Price’s Darkwood is a test piece inspired by Blackley village (‘dark wood’ is the literal translation of Blackley). It was written in 2012 to commemorate Blackley Band’s 75th anniversary.

In three movements, the first one (Boggart) looked at the mythical Boggart that inspired Boggart Hole Clough. It is a popular open space for dog walkers and anglers. This is followed by the House on the Hill, which refers to St. Andrew’s Church off Churchdale Road. The final movement, Blackley Village, refers to the village itself which saw some expansion in the 1930s. This, thanks not only to Manchester Corporation’s Housing Department, but also its role in the textiles industry, where ICI once set up home in Hexagon Tower.

Darkwood was a joy to listen to, and for my money, one of the highlights of the concert. Maintaining ecclesiastical links, our third piece was a hymn: this being the evergreen Lloyd. As well as peek into the band’s possible contest march, a likely candidate for their hymn at any Hymn and March Contest. A beautiful performance.

Our fourth piece was the first of our two duets. On baritone, Amy Woodruff’s and Lucy Miller’s performance of Perhaps Love. Arranged by Alan Fernie, this song by John Denver was written as a duet, with Placido Domingo in 1981. It was written about his wife, Annie, whom at the time was about to split with John Denver. The song held modest positions in the Top 30 singles charts around the world. Apart from the UK’s chart where it peaked at Number 46.

After a good performance from Lucy and Amy, we closed the first half with a suite of Appalachian Mountain Folk Songs, arranged by James Curnow. This offered a cheerful trio of traditional folk songs from the said location. A good finish for the first half.

All I ask of you… is a trombone trio

As with the first half, we opened the second half with a march. This time the refined yet bumptious Royal Air Force March Past. Written in 1918 by Hugh Walford Davies and Sir George Dyson, it is popular with brass bands and military bands. It is also the only item on the concert programme to have featured on a Hooked on Classics LP (on Hooked on Classics 2: Can’t Stop The Classics on the track If You Knew Sousa (and Friends)).

This pleasing addition to the programme took us to our second most ambitious piece. That of the Winter concerto from Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. Vivaldi’s suite has inspired many derivatives, and its use in advertisements or incidental music. Like K-Tel’s Hooked on Classics franchise, Nigel Kennedy’s performance of Vivaldi’s piece was a million seller. His recording with the English Concert Orchestra sold two million copies.

After a good performance of Vivaldi’s piece was another piece, known to millions. Also another one written as a duet: this time, Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s All I Ask of You from The Phantom of Opera. In the original run of the West End production, the song is performed by Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford. Kayleigh Dunn and Megan Ward put in a good shift on euphonium and cornet.

From a musical that has seen millions of audiences from Broadway to Manchester Opera House, we moved onto an old favourite. After a spell of shore leave (five weeks to be precise since its last performance), we returned to HMS Hot Cross Bun. This time, with the finale from Pineapple Poll. An enjoyable romp and a nice bit of brass banding cheese from Gilbert and Sullivan’s 1951 comic ballet.

Also fitting the brass banding cheese category (possibly Mature Cheddar to the Mild Cheddar), was a trombone trio. This being Frolic for Trombones. Written by Reginald Heath, our trio (Sumayah, Mark, Alison) clearly enjoyed themselves. It was a nice treat that took us to the raffle. Reginald Heath’s piece is popular with military as well as brass bands, and among youth bands too.

After the raffle came our penultimate piece: a bit of a favourite in these parts and another highlight of the concert. That of Goff Richards’ The Golden Lady. The piece refers to a statue in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg’s capital city, The Monument of Remembrance (also known as Gëlle Fra). It was originally composed for Cornwall Youth Brass Band in 1990, who toured the country then noted for its defunct radio station.

To close the concert was the first piece of December’s function: that of Goldcrest. The Salvation Army march was composed in 1989 by James Anderson. It comes into its own as a concert march. There has been occasional airings of the march on Whit Friday by Fourth Section and Youth Section bands.

Once again, a good concert from Littleborough Band. Though the programme may be regarded as unambitious by some commentators, it is better to hear simple pieces played well. Better that than trying to play a more difficult piece, and making a complete Horlicks of it (especially as limitations could be apparent).

Without a doubt, their finest moments from the Boarshurst Band Club concert were the playing of Darkwood, Goff Richards’ The Golden Lady, and the luscious Frolic for Trombone. All the best to them on Whit Friday and any other contests they may enter.

Next at the Boarshurst Band Club

Next week at Boarshurst Band Club (21 May 2017) will be one of West Yorkshire’s formidable bands. That of Elland Silver Band who previously visited Boarshurst Band Club on the 23 October 2016. If last October’s concert is anything to go off, another cracking night’s on the cards.

Their Musical Director is Daniel Brooks who has taken them to the Championship Section for this year. The present band date from 1983, though previous incarnations of Elland Silver Band date from 1850. A lot of their recent progress is due to 20 years of continuous development at all levels – including the award-winning Youth Band (conducted by Samantha Harrison).

With Elland Silver Band likely to see a good turnout, arrive early to get a good seat. Doors are open from 7pm for a 8pm start. Don’t miss it.


  • 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.


S.V., 15 May 2017.


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