A great night with a top Saddleworth band 

Less than six months on their last soirée at The World Famous Boarshurst Band Club, Diggle Band delivered another great concert. Last night’s well attended concert included two great solos, a satisfying horn feature, a couple of traditional marches, and another piece by Eric Ball.

The usual Musical Director for Diggle Band is Steven Walsh. With Mr Walsh on holiday abroad, our guest conductor was Sean Conway from Wardle Anderson Band. Mr. Conway was associated in Diggle Band’s 21st century revival, though has spent most of his time conducting Wardle Anderson.

Last week, they competed at the 9th Hebden Bridge Hymn and March Contest. Two of their pieces from last night’s concert featured last week. Albeit in conditions more like Tenerife than Todmorden. As with last year, another supportive audience and a special atmosphere. Another great night with Diggle Band, as had been the case at previous concerts in June and November last year. Honourable mentions should be given to the guest players, including Fairey Band’s Nigel Lawless (adjudicator at the Dukinfield Albion Hotel contest).

The Programme

First Half

  1. March: The President (William German);
  2. Overture: The Olympic Spirit (John Williams);
  3. Hymn: In Perfect Peace (Kenneth Downie);
  4. Flugelhorn Solo (performed by David Pogson): Forever Yours (Darrol Barry);
  5. Original Piece: Armenian Fire Dance (Goff Richards);
  6. Hymn: Manchester (How Sweet The Name) (Richard Wainwright, arr. Andy Cook);
  7. Test Piece: Toccata from Suite Gothique (Leon Boellman, arr. Eric Ball).

Second Half

  1. March: Royal Trophy (William Rimmer);
  2. Hymn: Lloyd (Cuthbert Howard, arr. Paul Lovatt-Cooper);
  3. Euphonium Solo (performed by Robert McDonough): Donegal Bay (Paul Lovatt-Cooper):
  4. Horn Feature (performed by Susan Keymer, Jo Hall, George Sleight, and David Pogson): Hey Jude (Lennon/McCartney, arr. Alan Fernie);
  5. Original Piece: The Path to Peace (Alex Knox);
  6. Popular Music: I Need a Dollar (Aloe Blacc, arr. Jan van Kraeydonck).
  7. Popular Music: An American Trilogy (Mickey Newberry, arr. Goff Richards).


  • Light Concert Music: The Floral Dance (Derek Broadbent).

The President’s suite? Gothique, of course.

Kicking off proceedings was William German’s march The President. After being revived by Fairey Band in 1986, The President paid dividends with the Stockport band. It brought them success on many a Whit Friday for the next thirty years. Last week, this was Diggle’s chosen contest march at the Hebden Bridge hymn and march contest. Though it raised the roof at St. George’s Square, it raised the Boarshurst roof even more.

Continuing the bombastic theme was John Williams’ The Olympic Spirit. This was written for the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. Also released at the same time was Whitney Houston’s UK No. 1 single, One Moment in Time. The John Williams piece was well performed and offered a nice contrast to our next one.

The next one was our first hymn of the night: Kenneth Downie’s In Perfect Peace. It is based on the words of Isaiah 26 and makes for a nice relaxing piece. Born in 1946, the Glaswegian composer has published more than fifty compositions and is noted within Salvationist circles. His Purcell Variations arrangement was chosen in 1998 as a Section One regional test piece for the National Brass Band Championships. Diggle’s performance was a tight one with brevity.

The fourth piece of the night was a flugelhorn solo by David Pogson. A brass banding legend (previous bands have included Black Dyke, under the seat of Geoffrey Brand), his performance on flugelhorn was superb. This was in Darrol Barry’s arrangement of Forever Yours. According to the Pennine Music catalogue, a piece “that allows the soloists the chance to show off the instruments beautiful sound.” That was very true of David’s performance: a virtuoso one at that.

With hints of Kalinka, this was followed by Goff Richards’ Armenian Fire Dance. This was a rip-roaring light concert piece with a lot of timbre and melody to engage the audience.

From Yerevan to York Street came our sixth piece: Richard Wainwright’s Manchester (How Sweet the Name). Arranged by Andy Cook, the hymn was written as a tribute to those who lost their lives at the Manchester Arena terror attack on the 22 May. Also played at Hebden Bridge a week ago, it was as equally well received at Boarshurst Band Club as at St. George’s Square.

The last piece of the first half was another great treat. Our second Eric Ball piece in the space of the week: his arrangement of Leon Boellman’s Toccata from Suite Gothique. The last movement from the test piece was the most bombastic piece of the night. That, alongside David Pogson’s solo, another highlight of this half.

A regal honour for Helston furries.

We opened the second half of the concert in the same way as our first half: another good march. This time, Royal Trophy, the William Rimmer march. One that screams ‘Brighouse and Rastrick are on their way up Chew Valley Road’. Or Diggle in our case, making the short trek to Greenbridge Lane. Another great performance which got us in the mood for our second half.

The second piece of the second half was a hymn. This being the ever-popular Lloyd. Already a good hymn for brass bands, this was enhanced by Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s handiwork. His arrangement adds more body to the hymn. This was arranged especially for the family of the deceased Archibald Roberts. Diggle Band did it proud.

Our third piece of this half was the second soloist of the night, Peter McDonough. On euphonium, he played a beautiful rendition of Donegal Bay (another fine piece by Paul Lovatt-Cooper). This was played with clarity and depth, neatly taking us to our fourth piece of this half.

For the fourth piece of the second half, a quartet. In other words, a feature for the Horn Section. With Susan Keymer, Jo Hall, George Sleight, and David Pogson, we were treated to Alan Fernie’s arrangement of Hey Jude. With extended focus on the horn section, this showed off the quartet to their full potential. The clarity and tone from all four, impressive.

After Hey Jude took us to the raffle, this was followed by The Path to Peace by Alex Knox. Mr. Knox was born in Edinburgh in 1966. He was taught cornet, French horn, and tenor horn in his formative years. In 2010, he became the Musical Director of the Music of the Lowland Band of The Royal Regiment of Scotland. This was both rousing yet peaceful in equal measure.

Unless you saw Diggle Band’s appearance on ITV’s Tonight programme (World in Action’s meek mannered forerunner), the next piece would have been a surprise entry. That of – arranged by Jan van Kraeydonck – Aloe Blacc’s I Need a Dollar. His 2010 global hit was played by Diggle Band on the 04 May episode of Tonight, on a feature about pensions. The surprise entry of the programme (at least for many of us), worked well as a brass band piece. One for a Whit Friday contest deportment march?

For the last piece, we closed with An American Trilogy. Made famous by Elvis Presley (and arranged for brass bands by Goff Richards), it never fails to lift the audience in good time for taxis, cars, or last buses (or asking for more). If Elvis lived in Meltham instead of Memphis, he probably would have appreciated Diggle’s rendition.

Sean Conway clearly enjoyed his first visit to Boarshurst Band Club since 1997. This was felt with Diggle Band and the supportive audience, from Saddleworth’s second least accessible village on public transport. This got everyone in a good mood for the encore: a smash hit from 1977.

This was none other than Derek Broadbent’s arrangement of The Floral Dance. For many people, the piece inspired by The Dance of the Furries in Helston conjures up two images. Either Terry Wogan or Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band. Oh, and we forgot to mention: Brassed Off.

Need we say more: another great night with Diggle Band. We wish them luck on their future endeavours, and hope they maintain their Championship spot as long as possible.

Next on the calendar for Diggle Band is the Brighouse Hymn and March Contest on the 02 July. This event attracts local and not-so-local brass band lovers to Bethel Street and Thornton Square. Starting at 1pm, proceedings are wrapped by 7.30pm. If you cannot make it to Brighouse, they will also be involved in the Cotswold Edge Festival of Brass, alongside their ‘B’ Band.

If you’ve missed last night’s gig, they will be back at the World Famous Boarshurst Band Club on the 19 November 2017.

Next at the Boarshurst Band Club

Next week is a special concert, featuring our very own Boarshurst Silver Band. Entitled Music from the Big Stage, the Boarshurst Band Club – for one night only – becomes the Boarshurst Opera House. This will feature songs from Broadway and West End productions, lovingly played by Boarshurst Silver Band. The vocal talents of Boarshurst’s very own Georgina Hulme will also be part of the special night.

As this event is likely to be popular, please arrive early to be sure of a good seat. If you’ve already bought your tickets from the Boarshurst Band Club, you will be in for a good night. A night with songs from the likes of Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, and so on – lovingly played and sung, complete with visuals.

Doors are open from 6.30pm with curtain up at 7.30pm.


  • 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., 26 June 2017.

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