Belle Vue Band: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club (28 May 2017)

A good programme, plus a tribute to the people we lost at the Manchester Arena

Yesterday [28 May], Belle Vue Brass Band gave us a good concert at the Boarshurst Band Club. A little shorter than the previous year’s engagement, it was also marked with a dedication to the 22 people who lost their lives at the Manchester Arena after last Monday’s Ariana Grande concert. This included a minute’s silence, which followed Amanda Greaves’ recital of Tony Walsh’s poem This Is The Place.

Belle Vue Brass Band was formed in 2005, with its ancestors include the Reddish Prize Band (formed in 1996), Reddish Band (1991 – 96) and Gorton Silver Band (1856 – 1991). Most of its players hail from Stockport, Tameside and East Manchester. They have also appeared in a Bisto advert, after being spotted by a film maker outside Gorton Indoor Market. They have also appeared on a German television channel.

Taking charge of the baton last night was Keith Reeves, sub-conductor at last year’s concert. Last year, he took over from Peter Brannigan as Musical Director. His self-depreciating nature bounced off well with Amanda Greaves, ‘his glamorous assistant’ and flugelhorn player.

The Programme

First Half

  1. March: The New Colonial (Robert Brown Hall);
  2. Overture: The Dawn of Spring (Egon Wellesz);
  3. Soprano Solo (performed by Colin Greaves): I Believe (Éric Levi);
  4. Modern Classical: Choral and Rock Out (Ted Huggens);
  5. March: Giuseppe’s Band (Mario Panzeri/Nino Rastelli/Nino Ravasini, arr. Gordon McKenzie);
  6. Light Concert: Stål Himmel (Alan Fernie);
  7. March Medley: 1914 (various composers, arr. Gordon McKenzie):
    • It’s a Long Way to Tipperary (Jack Judge);
    • Hello! Hello! Who’s Your Lady Friend? (Harry Fragson);
    • Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty (Arthur J. Mills/Fred Godfrey/Bennett Scott).

Second Half

  1. Film Music: Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (Ron Goodwin);
  2. Euphonium Solo (performed by Alan Ryan): Benedictus (Sir Karl Jenkins);
  3. Film Music Medley: The Greatest War Themes (arr. Darrol Barry):
    • Introduction (Darrol Barry);
    • Colonel Bogey (as used in The Bridge on the River Kwai) (Kenneth J. Alford);
    • Theme from The Longest Day (Maurice Jarre);
    • The Dam Busters March (Eric Coates);
    • (There’ll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover (Walter Kent/Nat Burton);
    • Theme from A Bridge Too Far (John Addison).
  4. Film Music: Hymn to the Fallen (from Saving Private Ryan) (John Williams);
  5. Hymn: Dear Lord and Father of Mankind (Hubert Parry);
  6. March: The Pathfinder (John A. Greenwood).

New colonials join Giuseppe’s band

Our opening piece was another famous Robert Brown Hall march: this time The New Colonial. The American composer is better known for Death or Glory, most famously heard at the start of Brassed Off. With this piece, we were given a sneak preview of their Whit Friday contest march. A good start.

Our second piece was used as a test piece and listed as the second piece at last year’s visit to Boarshurst. The Dawn of Spring was written in 1912 by E. le Duc or Egon Wellesz, depending on your sources. Less well known is the fact that E. le Duc and Egon Wellesz are nom de plumes for… William Rimmer. The Southport born composer created the piece for orchestral arrangement. On the 27 May 1922, it was a test piece for the Salisbury (Section B) Contest.

The third piece of the night was our first soloist. This time with Colin Greaves on Soprano Solo with the piece, I Believe. At first, this Wally Brain thought it was Frankie Laine’s number. It was Éric Levi’s tune, most famously performed by Katherine Jenkins with Andrea Bocelli. The opening lyrics, taking on a new poignancy given recent events, were quoted by Amanda. A good performance from Colin.

This led us to our fourth piece, something a bit more uplifting. That of Ted Huggens’ Choral and Rock Out. In two movements, the first part is inspired by chorale music. The second part implied that the rock band was optional. Last year, there wasn’t the drum breaks; this time, with a charismatic drummer, we got them. Close but no guitar. The light piece was written in 1973.

Our fifth piece was a rare outing for Giuseppe’s Band. On searching for the piece, it was like rocking horse dump for the band. Then, thanks to an eBay purchase, they found the piece composed by Mario Panzeri, Nino Rastelli, and Nino Ravasini. Mario also composed Non ho l’età, the song for 1964’s Italian Eurovision Song Contest entry. Nino Rastelli’s Italian lyrics for J’attendrai were heard in the 1981 film, Das Boot. With Rastelli and Panzeri, Nino Ravasini co-wrote the music for The Drum Band of Affori in 1943. Due to its lyrical content, Benito Mussolini wasn’t too pleased, so the fascist leader put the composers on trial.

Giuseppe’s Band was an enjoyable addition to the programme. The next piece was a more contemplative one: Stål Himmel. Composed by Alan Fernie, this translates from Norwegian to English as Silver Sky. This was a marked contrast from the piece that would follow. That of 1914, arranged by Gordon McKenzie. With three morsels of uplifting marches of patriotic leanings, this covered It’s A Long Way to Tipperary. The second part: Hello! Hello! Who’s Your Lady Friend?. Finally, Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty took us towards the interval. If you went to the Whit Walks in Manchester city centre earlier today, you probably would have heard this piece.

This Is The Place

We kicked off proceedings with a film theme: that of Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines. This got the second half off to a good start. Written by Ron Goodwin, his best known works include the theme music for 633 Squadron, and The Battle of Britain. Interestingly, given that Sunday saw the Great Manchester Run, The Trap is associated with the BBC’s London Marathon coverage.

We had a change of tone for the second piece – our second soloist of the night. As with last year, on principal euphonium, we saw Alan Ryan’s performance of Benedictus. Once again, a solid one. The piece, composed by Sir Karl Jenkins, forms part of a suit known as The Armed Man. Written with peace in mind, it was specially commissioned for the Royal Armouries museum in Leeds.

Our third piece of this half was the polar opposite: Darrol Barry’s medley, The Greatest War Themes. A pleasing fast-paced collection of war themes, this includes one by the father of Jean-Michel Jarre. Post-intro, we began with Colonel Bogey, then the theme from The Longest Day (by J.M.J.’s vieil homme). This was followed by The Dam Busters March, then (There Will Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover – popularised by Dame Vera Lynn. This was rounded off by the theme from A Bridge Too Far by John Addison.

This took us to the raffle, which was followed by the recital of Tony Walsh’s poem, This Is The Place. With the recent events at Manchester Arena, the recital by Amanda Greaves was well read and, coupled with the minute’s silence that followed, cathartic.

This was followed by a piece written by John Williams. As said on this blog several times, anything by this composer works well as a brass band. We followed this up with Hymn to the Fallen, which featured in Saving Private Ryan. After a solid performance of this number, we had for our penultimate piece of the night, Dear Lord and Father of Mankind. The most familiar tune for this hymn is Repton, composed by Hubert Parry.

After this quiet piece, we closed with John A. Greenwood’s The Pathfinder. For several years, this has been Belle Vue Brass’ contest march of choice. Not least its historical significance to Belle Vue Brass Band’s ancestry detailed in our previous review.

Once again, another good show from Belle Vue. Nothing too demanding but affable nonetheless. Amanda’s patter with Keith (and his self-depreciating manner) was a joy to behold. Like countless bands throughout the United Kingdom, Belle Vue Brass Band will be aiming for success this Whit Friday, at the Tameside and Saddleworth contest venues.

Next Week…

Making their way to Boarshurst Band Club next week are Lindley Band. Situated in the North West of Huddersfield (and close to the M62 motorway), they have a long and proud history dating back from the 1830s. The band was recorded in a set of minutes from Lindley Zion School back in 1835. It is stated they took part in a Whitsuntide parade and were paid in beer alongside their fee. It is fitting of them that next Sunday’s concert takes place on Whit Sunday.

During the 1890s, they were a Championship Section band, entering the British Open Championship on numerous occasions. In 1900, they won the Open and became runners-up the following year. They have also featured on Life on Mars.

Lindley Band are a First Section band with its own purpose built rehearsal studios on Holly Bank Road. Built in 2009, it has a committee room, a music library, and the all important rehearsal room. Close to its nerve centre are Flugel Way and Cornet Close.

Their Musical Director is James McCabe. Born in Northern Ireland, he started out with the CWS Carrickfergus band. In 2002, he was the British Open Cornet champion at his first attempt. Three years later, he moved to West Yorkshire, where he joined Sellers International Band, then Rothwell Temperance Band on Principal Cornet. Other bands he has been associated with include Fairey Band and Black Dyke Band. In 2017, he joined Lindley Band as their musical director.


Alight at the stop outside the former Greenfield Conservative Club.

  • 180: hourly service from Greenfield [The Clarence] to Oldham, Hollinwood and Manchester [Oldham Street] (First Greater Manchester).
  • 350: hourly service from Ashton-under-Lyne, Mossley, Uppermill, Dobcross, Delph, Waterhead and Oldham for Greenfield (First Greater Manchester).

Twitter details: @boarshurstband#SundayBrass.


S.V., 29 May 2017.

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