Glossop Old Band (Winter 2017): Sunday Brass at Boarshurst Band Club

Another smashing concert, courtesy of Marcus and Duncan

Black Friday: what’s that? What about Brass Sunday, which Boarshurst Band Club has 47 of throughout the whole year? On the concert date closest to Black Friday, Glossop Old Band made their winter visit to the Mecca of Brass Banding last night. As with previous nights, a convivial atmosphere.

Since their last visit in June, Glossop Old Band came second to Boarshurst Silver Band in the National Championship of Great Britain Finals. This in the Second Section final at The Centaur, Cheltenham Racecourse.

With Duncan Beckley as Musical Director, Glossop Old Band aim to reach the Championship Section. Their promotion to the First Section aims to be a springboard towards brass banding’s top flight. Mr. Beckley is a familiar face as a contest adjudicator, where he has regularly adjudicated the Upper Mossley Whit Friday Brass Band Contest. Born in London, he gained interest in school music lessons after being thrown out of a Maths class.

By 1976, he was in the bass section of Wakefield Youth Band. He has previously played flugelhorn, and the first band he conducted was Warren Youth. Then he moved on to Newstead Band. Speaking of bass players, Marcus Jones was Duncan’s right hand man at last night’s gig. As always, clear and informative, at ease with formalities as well (if you go to the Glossop Old Band club’s afternoon concerts) humorous delivery.

Once more, Glossop Old Band gave us a solid and entertaining programme. This was derived from their Remembrance Concert a fortnight ago (at their base on Derby Street) with some memorable solos.

The Programme

First Half

  1. March Medley: Famous British Marches (various, arr. Gordon Langford);
  2. Overture: Rule Britannia (John Hartmann, arr. William Rimmer);
  3. Soprano Cornet Solo (performed by Mandy Crowther): Demelza (Hugh Nash);
  4. Cornet Trio (performed by Jackie, Dave, and Andy): Trumpets Wild (Harold Walters);
  5. Film Music: Singin’ In The Rain (Nacio Herb Brown/Arthur Freed, arr. Rieks van der Velde);
  6. Flugelhorn Solo (performed by Rachel Ward): Forever Autumn (Jeff Wayne/Gary Osborne/Paul Vigrass, arr. Thomas Ruedi);
  7. Popular Music: Swing When You’re Winning (various, arr. Frank Bernaerts):
    1. Have You Met Mrs. Jones?;
    2. Mack The Knife;
    3. Somethin’ Stupid;
    4. Things;
    5. Beyond the Sea.
  8. Hymn: Reflections in Nature (Colonel Robert Redhead).

Second Half

  1. Musical Piece: There’s No Business Like Show Business (Irving Berlin, arr. Goff Richards);
  2. Tenor Horn Solo (performed by Stuart Wilkinson): Lark in the Clear Air (Sir Samuel Ferguson, arr. Gordon Langford);
  3. March: The Highwayman (Andrew Batterham);
  4. Baritone Solo (performed by Wendy McMylor): Little Red Bird (Goff Richards);
  5. Light Concert Music: Someone to Watch Over Me (George Gershwin, arr. Alan Fernie);
  6. Euphonium Solo (performed by Matthew Hill): Devil’s Duel (Peter Meecham);
  7. Hymn: Abendlied (Johann Brusch);
  8. Tone Poem: Excerpt from Kingdom Triumphant (Eric Ball).

Famous British reflections in nature

Our first piece was the well loved march medley, Famous British Marches. The late Gordon Langford’s arrangement does what it says on the tin before closing with Rule Britannia. For any Remembrance Day or Night of the Proms concerts, Langford’s arrangement is a must-have in any programme. A glorious start which led us to…

…More Rule Britannia. This time with William Rimmer’s overture based on the John Hartmann song. Only with more twiddly bits and ear candy for the audience. A nailed on brass banding classic from Lancashire’s most prolific brass band composer. One that was played very well, with led us to our third piece.

The third piece of the night gave us the first of five soloists. This time with Hugh Nash’s Demelza. The piece, played on soprano cornet by Mandy Crowther, never fails to lift the audience. Especially with a performance as good as Mandy’s last night. There was only one word to describe her work on soprano cornet: stunning.

For the fourth piece, it was almost time to let our hair down. Unless you were one of the trio that performed Trumpets Wild. Our very own Ned Seagoon, Bluebottle, and Eccles (for the benefit of our younger readers, the original characters from The Goon Show), were Jackie, Dave, and Andy. For light concert music, its composer Harold Walters, has given us some crackers. For example: Hootenanny (1962) and Instant Concert (1970). Trumpets Wild was an enjoyable diversion.

This led to the fifth piece of the night, a brief dalliance with film music. Nacio Herb Brown’s and Arthur Freed’s Singin’ in the Rain this time. Given recent weather and flooding in Lancashire, an appropriate choice. Their playing of Alan Fernie’s arrangement was another treat for the ears. In addition to being used in the Gene Kelly film with the same name, it also features in Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of A Clockwork Orange.

For our next piece, no-one would believe that in the last years of the 20th Century, that a Justin Hayward song would be used to peddle Lego. Believe it or not, Forever Autumn was that very song. Instead, it was used in Jeff Wayne’s adaptation of The War of the Worlds (a better choice). Last night, we were treated to Rachel Ward’s superb rendition of the song on flugelhorn.

The penultimate song of this half was a medley: that of Swing When You’re Winning, arranged by Frank Bernaerts. Originally written for Robbie Williams’ album with the same title, it includes a piece for the first Bridget Jones film (Have You Met Mrs Jones). There is also a karaoke/pub singer standard once covered by 1980s group King Kurt (Mack The Knife), plus 2001’s Christmas Number One single (Somethin’ Stupid – covered Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman that year). The last two tracks are Things (best known for Bobby Darin’s version) and (as heard in Finding Nemo) Beyond The Sea.

After this pleasing interlude, we closed the first half with a hymn. That of the beautiful Reflections in Nature. This is set to the tune of Fewster, used to portray three pictures of the crucifixion. It closes with the resurrection of Jesus. Colonel Robert Redhead’s other contributions to the brass banding world include Quintessence, A Pastoral Symphony, and Life Abundant. A splendid finish to an enjoyable first half.

There’s no business like… brass banding

For the second half we opened with There’s No Business Like Show Business. Unless you have spent the last decade cut off from the world, Irving Berlin’s tune is a favourite in musical and theatrical settings. Everything about Glossop Old Band’s performance was appealing, which eased us in towards the next piece.

Among the first of three soloists in the second half was Stuart Wilkinson. On Tenor Horn, he gave us a brilliant performance of Lark in the Clear Air. The piece is a traditional Irish folk song written by Sir Samuel Ferguson, which has been covered by Cara Dillon. Gordon Langford’s arrangement was well played.

The third piece was a march based on a poem by Alfred Noyes. Written by Andrew Batterham, The Highwayman paints an aural picture of the likes of Dick Turpin beating down the Great North Road. Batterham’s piece deserves a wider audience, and Glossop Old Band’s performance of the march demonstrated this further. This could work well with (for example) Marcus quoting the first stanza of Noyes’ poem before the start.

For our fourth solo of the night, we turned our attention from Ireland to the Isle of Man. This time with Goff Richards’ arrangement of Little Red Bird. The folk song was translated from Manx to English and arranged by Mona Douglas from the native title of Ushag Veg Ruy. Giving us a superb performance on baritone last night was Wendy McMylor.

After covering Irving Berlin, we moved onto the works of another highly esteemed composer: George Gershwin. This time with Someone to Watch Over Me. The song was also made famous by Ella Fitzgerald and covered by countless artistes including Sting. It featured in the 1926 musical, Oh Kay! Composed in 1926, brother Ira Gershwin said it would work better as a ballad. At Boarshurst last night, it worked well as a brass banding piece and took us to the raffle.

After the raffle came our last soloist of the night, with a more technically inclined piece. That of Devil’s Duel, performed by Matthew Hill on euphonium. Written by Peter Meecham is has hints of Paganini’s Caprice not24. Which, thirty years ago, would have meant The South Bank Show was on after Spitting Image (Julian Lloyd-Webber’s theme to the Melvyn Bragg programme borrows a bit of Paganini). Devil’s Duel was commissioned by David Thornton and first performed in 2006 at Leeds Town Hall. Hill’s work on euphonium, superb.

The penultimate piece was a hymn written by Johann Brusch. If you went to see Brass Band Esbrasivo’s concert at Glossop Old Band room on the 01 October, this is Brusch’s band. Entitled Abendlied, it translates from German to English as Eventide. It is a welcome donation to the band’s library. We hope to hear this piece more often. Well played, Glossop Old Band.

As for the finale, what a finale we had: we finished with an excerpt of Kingdom Triumphant. The piece in full, by Eric Ball, clocks in at eight minutes and thirty-five seconds. Instead, we cut to the chase with its finale: the hymn tune, Helmsley. If you wish to leave the audience asking for more, the finale of Ball’s 1962 composition should be part of any programme.

We wish Glossop Old Band the very best in their future endeavours and, with Christmas along the way, a Merry Christmas. With the Christmas campaign and the regional finals around the corner, a brass bander’s lot is a busy one. Next on the agenda is a Christmas concert at All Saints Catholic Church on the 05 December, starting at 7.30 pm. Then on Saturday 16 December and the following Sunday, more of the same. At Victoria Bowling Club, Stockport (7.30pm) and at the Glossop Old Band room (2.00pm).

Next Week…

Next up at Boarshurst Band Club will be the Salford Universitiy Brass Band. Their arrival shall give the Boarshurst faithful a sneak preview of tomorrow’s brass banding legends. For example, any budding Paul Lovatt-Coopers or Mareika Grays.

The University of Salford is noted for its brass banding courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Famous alumnae include Paul Lovatt-Cooper and Garry Cutt. Previous tutors have included Darrol Barry. Most of its students have gone on to Championship Section brass bands or into arranging pieces.

Doors open at 7pm for the usual 8pm start. A special night that is not to be missed.


  • 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., 27 November 2017.

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