Flixton Brass Band: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club, 11 June 2017

Another tight performance for Boarshurst Silver Band’s fellow travellers to Cheltenham

In their second visit to Boarshurst Band Club over the last nine months, Flixton Band gave us a tight performance at yesterday’s concert [11 June 2017]. At the top end of Section Two, Flixton Band will be following Delph Band and Boarshurst Silver Band to Cheltenham in the National Championship Finals (16 September 2017). With excellent dynamic range, their performance was clinical and a real joy for the ears.

Their piece de resistance lay in its solo performances. The programme wasn’t too heavy, reflecting the fact that Flixton Band (alongside a hundred other brass bands) needed a break from Whit Friday’s festivities.

If you missed the previous concert review, Flixton Band was formed in 1877 as the Flixton Volunteer Band. In 1894, they played in front of Queen Victoria on the opening day of the Manchester Ship Canal. The ‘volunteer’ part of its name was dropped in 1908. The band lay dormant from 1933 to 1967. Their instruments were held till their reemergence as the Flixton Silver Band. In 1988, with the ‘silver’ dropped from their name, they resumed contesting.

At last year’s concert, the Musical Director was Jason Smith. This time Flixton Band’s Musical Director is Ian Brownbill. He is a Director and Musician for Engine, a production situated on Trinity Way in Salford. He has also worked with Jimmy McGovern, whose credits include the early Brookside episodes, Hillsborough, and Cracker. In 2007, he was the original creator of King Cotton, the story of a Lancashire mill worker and a cotton picking slave.

In brass banding circles, Ian has played solo cornet for Black Dyke Band. He is also a highly regarded adjudicator. As adjudicator, the contests he has overseen include the 1998 Tameside Open Championships, the Belgian Nationals, and Brass at the Guild (Preston). He has previously been the Musical Director for Haydock, and United Norwest Co-op Milnrow bands (more on the latter band later).

Even with other concerts being on in Saddleworth, there was a healthy turnout at The World Famous Boarshurst Band Club. For those who went to Boarshurst, they were rewarded with a good performance.

The Programme

First Half

  1. Film Music: There’s No Business Like Show Business (Irving Berlin, arr. Goff Richards);
  2. Film Music (from Braveheart): The Love of a Princess (James Horner, arr. Andrew Duncan);
  3. Cornet Solo (performed by Katie Tyson-Phillips): Swedish Hymn (arr. Peter Graham);
  4. Film Music (from Finding Nemo): Beyond the Sea (Jack Lawrence/Charles Trenet, arr. Frank Bernaerts);
  5. Light Concert Music: A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square (Eric Maschwitz/Manning Sherwin, arr. Alan Fernie);
  6. Popular Music: Tomorrow (Tim Booth/Larry Gott/Jim Glennie/Brian Eno);
  7. Flugelhorn Solo (performed by Vicky Finnigan): Concierto de Aranjuez (Rodrigo, arr. Alan Fernie);
  8. March: La Florentiner March (Julius Fucik, arr. Barsotti).

Second Half

  1. Light Concert Music: Cielo Andaluz (Pasodoble) (Pascual Marquina Narro);
  2. Hymn: The Guardian of My Soul (Darren Shaw);
  3. Cornet Solo (performed by Tim Brocklehurst): La Califfa (Ennio Morricone arr. Stuart Pullin);
  4. Popular Music: Soul Bossanova (Quincy Jones);
  5. Bass Solo (performed by David Hardman): Danny Boy (Traditional, arr. Alan Fernie);
  6. March: Death or Glory (R.B. Hall);
  7. Hymn: I’ll Walk With God (Nicholas Brodszky, arr. Goff Richards);
  8. Light Concert Music: Vitae Lux (Frode Alnaes, arr. Torsten Aagaard Nilsen).

There’s No Business Like… Brass Banding

Everything about Flixton Band’s concert was appealing, and it came to show there was no people like band people. This was epitomised by the playing of There’s No Business Like Show Business. Written by Irving Berlin, Goff Richards’ arrangement of the piece was played with vim and vigour. Many people will recall Ethel Merman’s singing voice in Annie Get Your Gun. Oh, and don’t get us started on her later disco version.

Sticking with the stage and screen theme, we turned to the screen. This time with James Horner’s theme from Braveheart. Entitled The Love of a Princess, it was a sweet, driving theme from the film starring Mel Gibson, thanks to the alliance of Andrew Duncan’s arrangement and Flixton Band. The late James Horner is also associated with the theme music for Titanic (1997), starring Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet.

The third piece was our first soloist of the night. As with the 11 September 2016 concert, a chance to see Katie Tyson-Phillips on solo cornet. This time with Swedish Hymn, a Peter Graham arrangement of An Old Swedish Hymn for soloists. In English language form, many of you would recognise the hymn as How Great Thou Art. She gave a beautiful performance of the expressive hymn.

For our next piece, almost a product of Stoke-on-Trent instead of Stockholm. One that featured in Walt Disney’s Finding Nemo. Written by Jack Lawrence and Charles Trenet, Robbie Williams’ version of Beyond The Sea was used in the film’s end credits. The brass band arrangement was skilfully played by Flixton Band and complemented Robbie’s version on Swing When You’re Winning.

The fifth piece has assumed a worthy guise as a concert friendly piece. Coming in, stage left, was Eric Maschwitz’s and Manning Sherwin’s A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square. It has been sung by many artistes including Dame Vera Lynn, Nat King Cole, and Rod Stewart. In 1979, it inspired a film with the same name starring David Niven and Oliver Tobias. Another pristine production from Flixton Band.

Our sixth piece was different again. Also the first time (at least since East of the M60 has covered the Sunday Brass concerts at Boarshurst Band Club) we have heard a Brian Eno collaborated piece. That of James’ Tomorrow, co-written by Tim Booth, Larry Gott, and Jim Glennie as well as Brian Peter George St John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno. Definitely one to baffle anyone who haven’t heard of James but a great piece in its brass band form.

The last two pieces were inspired by Brassed Off, possibly the greatest British film from the 1990s. We began with Vicky Finnegan on flugelhorn solo (you can guess the rest; I don’t need to tell you which piece this is (oh, go on then…)). This being Concerto de Aranjuez by Joaquín Rodrigo. Besides its use in Brassed Off, it has been performed by The Shadows, Deep Purple (as The Orange Juice Song), and Todmorden’s very own Manuel and his Music of the Mountains. Manuel, by the way, was the late Geoff Love.

To close the first half at around 8.41 pm (you’ll get the 41 pun against ‘pm’ if you’ve seen Brassed Off often enough), we had Julius Fucik’s La Florentiner March. In the film, we see Grimley Colliery perform the piece in the semi finals at Piece Hall, Halifax. At Boarshurst Band Club, Flixton band rounded off this half in good style.

The guardian of my soul walks with God

Opening the second half was the lively Paso Doble by Pascual Marquina Narro. This piece of Spanish music was a good opener. It was seen in the 2013 series of Strictly Come Dancing, where Susannah Reid took to the dance floor. Pascual Marquina Narro’s music has been used in several films, including Strictly Ballroom (which continues our second tenuous Leonardo di Caprio link of this review).

Taking a different turn in our second piece of the second half was The Guardian of My Soul. Written by Darren Shaw, the Salvationist composer’s piece takes in the song I Worship You, the music from Aurelia, and O Jesus, I Have Promised. A lovely contemplative piece which is worth another airing.

The third piece of this half belonged to the third soloist of the night. On soprano cornet, Tim Brocklehurst with La Califfa. The Stuart Pullin arrangement of Ennio Morricone’s piece was superbly played by Tim, with tonal depth from the soprano cornet. Ennio Morricone’s piece was the eponymous theme tune of the 1970 film starring Romy Schneider.

Sticking with film music, we continued with the most ubiquitous tune of the second Austin Powers film. That of Quincy Jones’ Soul Bossanova. It was one of four songs from the 1960s to feature on the official soundtrack album (alongside The Guess Who’s American Woman, covered by Lenny Kravitz). Needless to say, we loved that one, as it really did put the horn into flugelhorn.

Forming the two slices of bread with a raffle sized filling was two more tunes from Brassed Off. Firstly, on bass solo, we had David Hardman’s performance of Danny Boy. This wasn’t your usual arrangement of Danny Boy (or Londonderry Air if you prefer). Alan Fernie’s arrangement gave the traditional tune more gravitas than several other arrangements you have heard. On a brooding bass with the power of David Hardman, a stunning performance.

Post-raffle was Death or Glory, an English sounding march which did better outside the composer’s home country. Robert Browne Hall was American and composed several marches. Death or Glory, also known as the Tenth Regiment March, is popular among lower section and youth band at contest level. Many readers (and at least 99.9% of the audience on Sunday) always think of the opening scene in Brassed Off with the miners’ lamps in the distance. The piece was played 110 years and four days after his death in 1907.

From Grimley Colliery to Mossley Market Place, I’ll Walk With God was a fitting post-Whitsuntide piece. This hymn is a favourite piece in many concerts, and Flixton Band proved this point. The Nicholas Brodszky piece had lyrics by Paul Francis Webster. In that guise, it was used in the film The Student Prince. The piece was sung by Mario Lanza in the film, and it was also covered by The Bachelors.

Closing the concert was a real barnstormer of the piece. Turning the goose pimple factor up to eleven was Torsten Aagaard Nilsen’s arrangement of Vitae Lux. Composed by Frode Alnaes, it is his best known work in Norway, written in 2003. It translates into English as Light of Life. A joyous end to a joyful concert.

If you’re a fan of Brassed Off, last night’s concert at the Boarshurst Band Club would have floated your boat. There was a good, diverse selection of pieces. The dynamic range of the band was beautiful from start to finish.

If you liked what you have heard (or missed Sunday’s concert), they will be performing at Walton Park in Sale on the 25 June 2017 from 2pm to 4pm. If you time your trams, trains, or buses right, you should be in Boarshurst for just before 7pm (and have time for Sunday dinner between connections). They will also be on at Eden Square, Urmston (11am to 1pm, 08 July), and at their summer concert at St. Clement’s Church – again in Urmston (7.30pm to 9.30pm, 15 July).

We wish Flixton Band the best of luck in their future endeavours. Furthermore, we hope that the National Championship Finals would be a good one for Greater Manchester’s trio of Second Section brass bands.

Next Week…

From one of the finest Section Two brass bands in Lancashire, we turn our attention to one of Lancashire’s finest Championship Section bands. One that has qualified for the National Championships of Great Britain at the Royal Albert Hall in October. On the 18 June, Boarshurst Band Club will be hosting a concert with Milnrow Band.

For Milnrow Band, this is the second time in the band’s 148 year history, where they have qualified for the National Championships of Great Britain. They have also started a crowdfunding initiative on JustGiving.com, to help with their trip to London. As with last year’s concert, Mark Bentham is the Musical Director.

To be sure of a seat, please arrive early to avoid disappointment. Where else can you see a Championship section band, and get change from a tenner in 2017? Next week’s concert should be a cracking spectacle.


  • 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.

Website: www.boarshurstband.co.uk.

S.V., 12 June 2017.

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