Good conducting debut for James McCabe in an enjoyable concert
Whit Week at the Boarshurst Band Club begin in style with the arrival of Lindley Band on Whit Sunday. Making his début as Musical Director for one of the world’s oldest bands was James McCabe. Best known for his sterling cornet work (previous bands including Rothwell Temperance, CWS Carrickfergus, and Fairey Band), he was appointed Musical Director for Lindley Band in February 2017. He took up his post after the Yorkshire Regional Championships
Lindley Band have a proud history. It dates back to the 1830s. 1835 to be precise, where the band was recorded in a set of minutes from Lindley Zion School. They took part in a Whitsuntide parade and were paid in beer alongside their fee. In the following year, the band committee decided to offer milk for its younger players. Perhaps their reasons were twofold (alas undocumented): one being a much needed source of calcium; the other reason, to stop youngsters from knocking back a pint of Bentley’s ales or three.
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 in 1901. 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.
Lindley is north west of Huddersfield town centre. It is also close to the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (whose A&E department is under threat of closure), and the Merrie England Drive-Thru in Oakes. James McCabe had a good debut as conductor, and the Boarshurst regulars were genuinely pleased to be part on his maiden voyage.
- March: Knight Templar (George Allan);
- Tenor Horn Solo (performed by Rachel Johnson): Cello Finale (Haydn, arr. Owen Farr);
- Light Concert Music: Mr Jums (Chris Hazell, arr. Alan Catherall);
- Bass Solo (performed by Andrew Ripley): The Swan (Camille Saint-Saens, arr. Philip Greenwood);
- Light Concert Music: Black Bottom Stomp (Jelly Roll Morton);
- March: Third Movement (Heroic March) from An Epic Symphony (Percy Fletcher).
- March: Cortege from Mlada (Andrei Rimsky-Korsakov, arr. Gordon Langford);
- Film Music (from Mary Poppins): Mary Poppins medley (Robert Sherman/Richard Sherman, arr. Andrew Duncan);
- Trombone Solo (performed by David Pickles): Wind Beneath My Wings (Jeff Silbar/Larry Henley, arr. Darrol Barry);
- Light Concert Music: Frolic for Trombones (Reginald Heath);
- Cornet Solo (performed by Richard Jones): Let Me Try Again (Salvatore Caravelli);
- Hymn: Martyn (Wilfred Heaton);
- Film Music (from Dead Poets’ Society): Seize the Day (Maurice Jarre, arr. Peter Graham)
- Light Concert Music: Sweet Gingerbread Man (Michel Legrand, arr. Eric Banks).
Whit Week Starts Here
Unless you saw any of the Whit Walks in Dukinfield, Newton, or Stalybridge earlier on, you could say Whit Week started proper at 8.05 PM. This was epitomised by the night’s first piece, Knight Templar. Composed by George Allan, it is undoubtedly the best known Whit Friday march. His other best known work is The Wizard, also popular on Whit Friday nights. Lindley Band got the concert off to a flying start. Interestingly, at Fairey Band’s concert with Nidaros Band (St. Thomas’ Church, Heaton Chapel, 03 June) they too opened with the George Allan march, in the second half. McCabe’s previous band was Fairey.
For the second piece, we had a rip-roaring solo work from Rachel Johnson. This being Haydn’s Cello Finale, arranged by Owen Farr. The piece, arranged by the fellow associated with Cory Band, gave us a fresh look at the tenor horn. Rachel, a high school teacher, had a break from brass banding and her recent return was welcomed by all.
A similarly welcome return to the programme was Mr Jums. Written by Chris Hazell and arranged by Alan Catherall, it is the best known piece of the Three Brass Cats suite. The suite was written for a ten-piece ensemble but has found favour with fully fledged bands. Contrary to popular belief, the piece has nothing to do with the T.S Eliot book Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Nor the 1981 Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical. The other two cats in the original suite are Black Sam and Borage. The fourth cat, Kraken, is the subject of Another Cat. Both Three Brass Cats and Another Cat were published in 1980.
This light piece was neatly followed by our second soloist of the night. Making his debut as a solo performer, on bass horn, was Andrew Ripley. His piece was The Swan, a delicious piece from The Carnival of the Animals. The Swan is the penultimate movement of the fourteen piece suite which is 25 minutes long in its entirety. We think, going off his brilliant performance, he needs some more solo gigs.
Taking a different step for our fifth piece of the night was Black Bottom Stomp. The jazz standard by Jelly Roll Morton featured a quartet, headed by Andrew Ripley. This was an entertaining, light, and borderline raucous piece brought to life by the Lindley Band. The original piece was released on the 15 September 1926 in the New Orleans jazz style and written the year before then.
Bringing the first half to a close was a real treat for the ears. A bit of brass banding gold in the form of Percy Fletcher’s An Epic Symphony. Or more precisely, its third movement entitled Heroic March. Dating from 1926, it was the test piece from the National Championship of Great Britain (Crystal Palace). Performed on the 25 September that year (ten days after the pressing of the previous piece on Victor Records), that year’s winners were St. Hilda Colliery band from South Shields. On the Saturday before last night’s concert, this was the test piece of this year’s French Open, in the First Division competition.
A spoonful of sugar (helps the Sweet Gingerbread Man)
Opening our second half was another brass banding classic: the Cortege from Mlada by Rimsky-Korsakov. This rampant, strident piece really blew off the cobwebs. Though not announced as such, this could have been their tribute to Gordon Langford (who arranged the piece).
Our next piece of the second half was the first film theme. This time, a medley of Mary Poppins songs. The singalong qualities of Sherman Brothers’ works (arranged by Andrew Duncan) included all The Greatest Hits from Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious to Tuppence. Definitely one for audience participation. This pacey medley of songs was an enjoyable composition and – most definitely – worthy of inclusion in any self-respecting Movie Night or Disney Night concert programme.
The third piece of this half was our third soloist of the night. This time, we were treated to the rich trombone sound of David Pickles. The piece was Wind Beneath My Wings arranged by Darrol Barry. Our second film theme of the night came from Bette Midler’s Beaches (1989). James, recalling the film, stated how it was used in the sad part of the story near the end. Apart from its use in Beaches, it is a popular karaoke standard – and a funeral piece. Written in 1982, it was first performed by Roger Whittaker.
This was followed by Frolic For Trombones by Reginald Heath. At a previous concert (Littleborough Band), this was performed as a trio. Instead, we received a full band performance of the piece which took us towards the raffle. A good piece which epitomised the lighter nature of our second half programme.
After the raffle came the fourth and final soloist. This time, with the cornet mastery of Richard Jones. His well played piece was Let Me Try Again. Composed by Salvatore Caravelli, the original French title of the song is Laisse Moi le Temps. The composer’s stage name is inspired by the Sud-Aviation Caravelle turbojet aeroplane with its distinctive passenger windows. It has been performed by Frank Sinatra in its English language form (the lyrics were by Paul Anka).
As a dedication to the 22 who lost their lives at the Ariana Grande concert (and the seven in London the previous Saturday), our sixth piece of this half was Martyn. The hymn was written by Wilfred Heaton, a Salvationist composer who hailed from Sheffield. As well as composing brass band music, he also spent a few months as Musical Director for Black Dyke Mills Band. A good choice of hymn and one that is often overlooked.
The penultimate piece was written by Jean Michel-Jarre’s dad, Maurice Jarre. That of the rich Seize The Day. As well as writing the music to The Longest Day (see any of the two Belle Vue Brass reviews), this piece of his featured in Dead Poets’ Society. It is based on the motto of the film which is carpe diem. A good closing piece. Well, at least it was till our encore.
Closing the concert proper was a tasty confection indeed. The gloriously twee yet listenable Sweet Gingerbread Man. Written by Michel Legrand, it has been performed by Sarah Vaughan, Sammy Davis Junior, Bobby Sherman, and the King’s Singers. It also appeared on the 201st episode of The Muppet Show, aired on ITV on the 05 February 1978. With dancing gingerbread men.
From the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational live music venue that is Boarshurst Band Club, James McCabe had a good debut as Musical Director. Some people may have found the programme as a little underwhelming. He has a good eye for the pragmatics of a brass band concert with a largely traditional programme, and a great selection of solos. His vocal delivery was clear and informative.
He will get to know his audiences better with each concert. This in time may influence subsequent running orders. Last night’s concert was a good base to work with. From increased practice of hosting concerts, he will showcase more complex pieces. With their playing abilities, Lindley Band with James McCabe could be one to watch. All in all, a good concert for anyone liking a balance between technical and popular pieces.
Next on the agenda for Lindley Band is The Greatest Free Show on Earth: Whit Friday. They will be seen in any of the Saddleworth and Tameside contests from 4pm till 11pm. Sadly, rain is forecast for the high water mark of Whit Week. With Whit Friday likely to be Wet Friday again, its brollies, wellies, and cagoules at the ready.
On the 01 July, they will be performing in the Concert on the Hill at Huddersfield YMCA. This is in Salendine Nook, a short walk from Lindley. Not so short a walk, on the following day, is their participation in the Brighouse Hymn and March Contest.
On Trinity Sunday (11 June 2017), Flixton Band will be next to grace the stage of Boarshurst Band Club. They were formed in 1877 as the Flixton Volunteer Band. This was the result of the formation of the Flixton 1st Volunteer Battalion, Manchester Regiment. Among their early engagements was at the opening of the Manchester Ship Canal in 1894. In 1933, the original band disbanded, due to a lack of free time and the depression four years earlier.
The present band were formed in 1967, so this year sees two anniversaries. One being the 140th anniversary of the first band’s formation. The other one, fifty years since its reformation. Like Boarshurst Silver Band, Flixton Band will also be travelling to Cheltenham for the National Championship Finals.
- 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., 05 June 2017.