Another thrilling programme of high-octane brass banding

Forget John Terry’s substitution and the farcical Guard of Honour. Once more, The Highlight of the Weekend was closer to Stalybridge than Stamford Bridge. This was marked by Elland Silver Band’s second gig over the last year at The World Famous Boarshurst Band Club®. With fifteen great pieces, including three memorable solo performances, it was another night to remember.

The present version of Elland Silver Band dates from 1983, though their history goes further back to 1850. 167 years ago, they were founded as Elland Old Band. Then, to coincide with Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, they changed their name to Elland Victoria. They adopted their present name in 1902, so called due to the acquisition of silver plated instruments. This caused controversy with the committee over the band’s profligacy, leading to their resignation.

Early rehearsals took place at Elland Prison, a grand title for a former gaol-house in the town centre. The lock-up closed in the 1880s when cells were added to the police station on Burley Street. Elland Silver’s former rehearsal rooms were demolished in 1963 to make way for a roundabout.

The band have been associated with many great musical directors. After the Second World War, this included Norman Newsome and his son, Roy Newsome. Also Philip Wilby and James Shepherd. In more recent times, John Harrison sowed the seeds for their success in 1994, 1995, and 1996. They moved from the Fourth Section to the Second Section. At youth level, Samantha Harrison, has turned Elland Silver Youth Band into one of Europe’s foremost Youth Bands.

The present musical director, Daniel Brooks, has steered the band towards the Championship Section. He has played solo trombone for Brighouse and Rastrick, and Leyland Band. He has previously been Musical Director for Eccleston Band. In the Yorkshire Regional Finals, Elland Silver Band finished a respectable ninth. Up against the likes of Brighouse and Rastrick, Black Dyke Band, and Yorkshire Imps, it is the hardest regional group to contest in. Which, in football terms, would be like Chelsea facing Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Juventus in the UEFA Champions’ League.

If you were absent from last night’s concert, you missed a great night. The balance between technically inclined and populist pieces was spot on. Daniel Brooks’ dry sense of humour also added to one of the fastest two hours that Sunday. If you wanted something classical, something completely new, and some stunning soloists, Boarshurst Band Club at 8pm was the place.

The Programme

First Half

  1. Contest March: Honest Toil (William Rimmer);
  2. Test Piece: Ardross Castle, first movement from Hymn of the Highlands (Philip Sparke);
  3. Tenor Horn Solo (performed by David Armitage): Misty (Erroll Garner, arr. Alan Fernie);
  4. Popular Music: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (Nicholas Ashford/Valerie Simpson);
  5. Classical Music: The Comedians’ Galop (Dmitri Kabalevsky, arr. Simon Kerwin);
  6. Hymn: Ellandium (Nick Brocklehurst);
  7. Test Piece: Second and Third movements from Vitae Aeternum (Paul Lovatt-Cooper).

Second Half

  1. Classical Music: Montagues and Capulets (Serge Prokofiev, arr. Gordon Langford);
  2. Film Music: Theme from The Incredibles (Michael Giacchino, arr. Philip Harper);
  3. Euphonium Solo (performed by Marija Anna Novicane): Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair (Stephen Foster);
  4. Popular Music: The Hustle (Hugo Peretti/Luigi Creatore, arr. Derek Ashmore);
  5. Hymn: The Day Thou Gavest (C.C. Scholefield, arr. Philip Wilby);
  6. Xylophone Solo (performed by Lewis Barton): Helter Skelter (W.G. Lemon, arr. Ray Woodfield);
  7. Overture: iMaginations (Andrew Pearce).


  • Light Concert Music: Clog Dance (J. Marcangelo, arr. Bill Charleson).

We love the sound of Rimmer in the evening

Last year’s William Rimmer march was The Cossack. This time, they treated us to a rip-roaring rendition of Honest Toil. No prizes for guessing what they will be playing on Whit Friday. With less than three weeks to go, it got us all in the mood for The Greatest Free Show on Earth.

The second piece was more demanding, a melodic piece by Philip Sparke from the Hymn of the Highlands suite. As the whole suite would have taken up a third of the concert programme (the whole shebang of Sparke’s work is 38 minutes long!), we heard the first movement, Ardross Castle. It was beautifully played and offered a neat contrast from Rimmer’s march beforehand.

Our first soloist of the night was David Armitage on Tenor Horn. Last year, he played She, a UK Number One hit in 1974 for Charles Aznavour. This time he played Erroll Garner’s Misty, with a solid performance of the jazz standard. After its original release in 1959, it has been covered by numerous artistes including Johnny Cash, Sarah Vaughan and Ray Stevens. The protagonist of The Streak turned it into a Country and Western style song in 1975.

Sticking with the fairly tenuous 1970s link, our next piece was covered by Diana Ross 1970. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, a US Billboard Chart #1 single (Number 6 in the UK singles chart) for Diana Ross, was first performed by Tammy Terrell and Marvin Gaye. For several years, it was part of an advertising jingle for DHL Express. Taking their performance from Indian’s Head to Ben Nevis type proportions was the sung chorus. A great piece.

Our fifth piece was the quickest one of the night. Daniel had aimed to conduct this piece in less than two minutes. This was the evergreen The Comedians’ Galop by Dmitri Kabalevsky. This pithy piece was the presto movement of The Comedians suite. It was a real joy to behold with amazing depth, in just 1 minute, 45 seconds. Ten seconds shorter than The Dickies‘ version of The Banana Splits‘ theme tune. Using the past tense of the parcel courier’s slogan (referenced in the previous paragraph), they kept their promises.

For the penultimate piece of this half, our first hymn of the night. This time with Nick Brocklehurst’s Ellandium. Its name is derived from the demonym of a person from Elland. The piece’s first airing at Boarshurst Band Club was very well received. As Daniel said, Nick Brocklehurst is one to watch out for, and we thoroughly agree with that. He also has a Soundcloud account with his original compositions. To explore his works, go there.

Before we got to our last piece of the first half, Principal Cornet player Samantha Harrison was presented with a bouquet of flowers and a bottle of Prosecco. This was to commemorate her work in the senior band. She has decided to take a back seat from the senior band to devote more time to the Elland Silver Youth Band.

Closing the first half, we were treated to the second and third movements from Vitae Aeternum. Composed by Paul Lovatt-Cooper, the title translates from Latin into English as Eternal Life. The last two movements of the piece are the most bombastic part with the third movement ending on a crescendo. At the Holme Valley Contest earlier yesterday, this was played in full by Crofton Silver Band. Elland Silver’s rendition was superb.

“I’ve got blisters on my fingers…”

I could have been fired for using that reference to describe the penultimate piece of the second half. Why? The first piece of the second half is synonymous with a certain Alan Michael Sugar. In other words, The Apprentice. We kicked off the second half with Serge Prokofiev’s best known work, Montagues and Capulets. Elland Silver Band were not only refreshed from the interval; they really meant business.

The classical piece is reputed to the most commonly used walk-on signature tune at sports events. It is used for that purpose by Daniel’s other love, Preston North End Football Club. As well as being used at Deepdale and countless sports venues, it has had countless uses. One being an arrangement by Rob Hubbard as the intro music for Sanxion, a shoot-em-up game for the Commodore 64. It was used to peddle satellite dishes by SES Astra in a promo video that was shown on their satellite’s spare channels. A great many of these dishes were some of Lord Sugar’s Amstrad ones.

From Gordon Langford’s arrangement of the classic work, we followed this with the theme music from The Incredibles. The Incredibles is an animated film from 2004 featuring a family of superheroes. Co-starring Samuel L. Jackson and Holly Hunter, they are forced to flee suburbia to do superhero type things. Like going into telephone boxes, flying about, and trying to save the world. Did it convince me enough to watch the film? Possibly, though the follow-up is due for cinematic release next year.

After an heroic all band effort, our 33 superheroes, also in red, reconvened for the next piece. Our second soloist of the night was on euphonium: Marija Anna Novicane. Another good prospect, studying at the Royal Northern College of Music, she performed a beautiful rendition of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair. The song, written by Stephen Foster, was a US parlour song alluding to a permanent separation. It has also been segued with Danny Boy in Joan Baez’s version from 1975.

Sticking with 1975, our fourth piece was a disco classic from that year. This time, Van McCoy’s The Hustle, a US Billboard #1 single (and a Number Three chart single in the UK). Though the Boarshurst audience were given a chance to strut their stuff, nobody took up Daniel’s offer. A great upbeat number, either as a concert staple or a deportment march (as your reviewer remembers from a previous Whit Friday on Chew Valley Road).

If, like your reviewer, you attended the Holme Valley Contest in Holmfirth earlier on, you would have heard the hymn, St. Clements (performed by Hade Edge Band). This was also the fifth piece of the second half. Also known as The Day Thou Gavest, it is a powerful hymn. With a bit of Ellandium magic, its power was felt in note perfect form.

After the raffle came out third and final soloist of the night. On xylophone, we were treated to a truly unforgettable performance by Lewis Barton. His piece was the exhilarating Helter Skelter. Rather than the Lennon/McCartney number, it was Ray Woodfield’s piece. This created a festival like atmosphere within its three minutes and thirty seconds. The atmosphere, and the applause afterwards was electrifying.

The penultimate piece of the night was an original overture by Andrew Pearce. This time with iMaginations. It is inspired by superheroes, though in the sense where Captain America meets up with Superman. This is one piece that deserves a wide audience, and the incredibles of Elland Silver Band sold that to me. Continuing our connection with 1975, the composer of this piece was born that year in County Durham.

For the encore was a crowd pleaser, one where Daniel was able to take a back seat. Two boxes were ticked for the Clog Dance. One being our link with the 1970s; the other, this year’s Brassed Off reference. For the former, it was released by Violinski in March 1979 and peaked at Number 17 in the UK singles chart. The ‘ski’ in Violinski was former Electric Light Orchestra member, Mik Kaminski. Its composer, John Marcangelo, was born in Whitehaven. Elland’s version, as per the Brassed Off arrangement, was a cinch to them.

Next on the agenda for Elland Silver Band is an engagement at Burnby Hall Gardens on the 04 June. As for the next engagement, pretty obvious: Whit Friday. Elland Silver Band – both Senior and Youth bands – will be seen in any of the Saddleworth and Tameside contests from 4pm till 11pm. If you attend the Delph or Denshaw contests, probably till 3am the following morning.

Next Week…

Over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend (28 May 2017), Belle Vue Brass will be next up at the Boarshurst Band Club. The community band rehearse at Reddish Conservative Club and fulfil numerous engagements in and around East Manchester. They were formed in 2005 and have made appearances in a Bisto commercial, and on German TV.

At last year’s concert, Peter Brannigan was Belle Vue’s Musical Director. He has been succeeded by Keith Reeves.


  • 180: Greenfield [Clarence Hotel] – Lees – Oldham – Hollinwood – Manchester [Oldham Street];
  • 350: Ashton-under-Lyne – Mossley – Greenfield – Uppermill – Dobcross – Delph – Waterhead – Oldham.

Alight at the former Greenfield Conservative Club. Both services operated by First Greater Manchester.

Twitter details: @boarshurstband#SundayBrass.


S.V., 22 May 2017.

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