Stockport Silver Band brave winter conditions to fulfil Boarshurst date

Almost a year ago, Stockport Silver Band made their Boarshurst Band Club debut with a most enjoyable concert. A year later, the fourth section band gave us a good concert attended by a few hardy souls. The first half of the programme was a standard concert programme, whereas the second half was given over to Christmas songs.

Though Stockport Silver Band made the journey to Saddleworth in extreme conditions, the Boarshurst faithful’s attendance was well down on the previous week’s concert. For those of you who missed last night’s concert, you missed a very good night.

Stockport Silver Band rehearse in the shadow of Stockport viaduct. Their proximity to Stockport Edgeley station, the M60 motorway, and the town’s bus station means they have one of the best connected band rooms in Britain. They were formed in 1870, though have made greater inroads into the contesting world. Part of their programme included the Fourth Section’s 2016 test piece for the National Championships of Great Britain.

In the last year we have seen a change in Musical Director. This summer, Alex Parker has taken over from Ian Colwell. Know as Parky to his friends, he is notef for his work in the UniBrass contest. He has also spent some time with Brass for Africa in Kampala, Uganda. His delivery was clear, precise, and well humoured.

The Programme

First Half

  1. Concert Opener: Prismatic Light (Alan Fernie);
  2. Flugelhorn/Tenor Horn feature: Hey Jude (Lennon/McCartney, arr. Alan Fernie);
  3. Musical Piece (from Chess): Anthem (Benny Anderson/Tim Rice/Bjorn Ulvaeus, arr. Andrew Duncan);
  4. Musical Piece (from Aspects of Love): Love Changes Everything (Andrew Lloyd-Webber, arr. Stephen Bulla);
  5. Light Concert Music: The Ashokan Farewell (Jay Unger, arr. Alan Fernie);
  6. Test Piece: The Journal of Phileas Fogg (Peter Graham);
  7. Trombone Feature: Frolic For Trombones (Reginald Heath);
  8. Hymn: Hine-e-Hine (Traditional, arr. Darrol Barry).

Second Half

  1. Christmas Song: Jingle Bells (Derek Ashmore);
  2. Christmas Medley: Christmas Crackers (Various, arr. Ray Woodfield):
    • Joy to the World;
    • Jingle Bells;
    • Away in a Manger;
    • Silent Night;
    • Deck the Halls;
  3. Popular Music: Stop The Cavalry (Jona Lewis, arr. Frank Bernaerts);
  4. Christmas Song: Carol of the Bells (Mykola Leontovych, arr. Darrol Barry);
  5. Euphonium Solo (performed by Mark Drabble): O Holy Night (Adolphe Adam, arr. Keith Wilkinson);
  6. Christmas Film Music (from The Snowman): Walking in the Air (Howard Blake, arr. Philip Sparke);
  7. Back Row Cornet Feature: Frosty the Snowman (Walter Rollins/Steve Nelson, arr. Alan Fernie);
  8. Christmas Carol: The Coventry Carol (Traditional, arr. Alan Fernie);
  9. Christmas Song: The Fairytale of New York (Shane MacGowan, arr. Jock McKenzie).


  • Christmas Song: The Twelve Days of Christmas (K. Lever)

Prismatic lights change everything

We began with Alan Fernie’s Prismatic Light, which I have said in previous reviews, is a great concert opener. It has also been chosen by Elland Silver Youth, Linthwaite, and Stalybridge Old bands in previous concerts. This got the concert off to a good start, well received by the audience.

This was followed up by a flugelhorn and tenor horn feature. Our choice of piece was The Beatles classic Hey Jude. Arranged by Alan Fernie, it was a neat showcase for the horns with a good overall performance. On release in 1968, the single was one of four 45s released to launch The Beatles’ Apple label. One of the other three releases was Thingummybob by Black Dyke Mills Brass Band.

For the third piece was our first look at the magic of the musicals. This time a piece courtesy of Bjorn, Benny, and Tim: Anthem from Chess. The musical is based around a Cold War themed chess game between the US and USSR superpowers (supposedly based on Bobby Fischer). Anthem is sung by the Russian lead (played by Tommy Körberg in the original cast) and closes Side 2 of the original double LP. Another good performance which took us to our second trip to the West End.

Our fourth song of the night came from Aspects of Love, Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s 1989 musical. Its best known song is Love Changes Everything, a Top Ten hit for Michael Ball (who played Alex Dillingham, its male lead). It was kept off the top spot by Simple Minds (Belfast Child) and Jason Donovan (Too Many Broken Hearts). Stockport Silver Band took us back to the spring of 1989 with another good performance.

For our fifth piece was a tune written as a farewell or goodbye waltz. Jay Unger’s The Ashokan Farewell was originally written for violin in 1982. The piece was used in an American Civil War documentary, and is inspired by the Ashokan Reservoir, which overlooks the Catskill Mountains.

After a superb performance of the Ashokan Farewell, the crowning glory of this half was The Journal of Phileas Fogg. The test piece composed by Peter Graham, was played by Stockport Silver Band at the Rochdale Contest in October. In 2016, this was the Fourth Section test piece for the National Championships of Great Britain. Ending with Lady Stewart’s Air, it is a joyous piece for a concert setting, and Stockport Silver Band gave us a brilliant performance.

The penultimate piece of this half was the somewhat quirky (or cheesy to some ears) Frolic For Trombones by Reginald Heath. This was chosen for the band’s trombone feature and gave us a bit of light relief for our ears. It has previously been played by Littleborough and Lindley band. The latter band, as a trio, like our friends from North East Cheshire. Another good blast.

To finish off the non-Christmas part of our concert was a hymn. That of Hine e Hine, a Maori lullaby written by Princess Te Rangi Pai in 1909. From 1979 to 1994 it was used by Television New Zealand’s Channel 2 for its closedown music. Instead of a picture of Queen Elizabeth and the National Anthem (or Keith Mansfield’s The Granada March with a clock and Colin Weston), they had an animated kiwi. Known as The Goodnight Kiwi. A very good first half.

Towards The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

With less than a week till the Boarshurst Silver Band Christmas concert, the second half programme got us in a mood for The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. We began with what the band called “the good version of Jingle Bells” – the one arranged by Derek Ashmore. Its leit motif is a snatch of The Floral Dance which places it above the other arrangements.

We followed this up with a medley of Christmas songs arranged by Ray Woodfield. Entitled Christmas Crackers, it has five bite size chunks of Jingle Bells, Joy to the World, Deck The Halls, Away in a Manger, and Silent Night. Another good blast which led us to a popular protest song with a few jingle bells for good measure.

The tune in question? Jona Lewie’s Stop The Cavalry. Arranged by Phil Lawrence, this works well in a band setting. With a few jingle bells, some reference to Christmas, and a snowy promo video, the makings of a popular Christmas number. It was kept off the top spot by a posthumous chart topper (John Lennon’s (Just Like) Starting Over) and a rather obscure school choir fifteen minutes away from Stockport Silver’s band room.

Our fourth Christmas song was Carol of the Bells, a traditional piece by Mykola Leontovych arranged by Darrol Barry. It is based on a Ukrainean folk chant which has been recorded by several artistes, and the subject of many parodies. In 2009, The Muppets did a parody which climaxes with a large bell (beaten by Animal). Another sound performance.

This was followed up by Stockport Silver Band’s one and only soloist of the night. That of Mark Drabble on euphonium with his well played rendition of O Holy Night. It is set to a French poem entitled Minuit, Chrétiens (which translates into English as Midnight, Christians). Like the previous piece, it has been performed by many artistes including Mirelle Matteau and Celine Dion.

This was followed by The Snowman‘s best known piece, Walking in the Air. Since its premiere in 1982, The Snowman has been a regular feature on our television screens. Halfway through the film, Peter Auty sung the piece. On vinyl, Aled Jones peaked at Number Five in 1985.

After this super performance, came our second snowman themed song. With Frosty The Snowman, this was a feature for the back row cornets. Clocking in at just under two minutes, this was an enjoyable diversion. The song has been performed by countless artistes including The Jackson 5 and Nat King Cole.

The penultimate piece of the second half took us to Coventry. Fitting given its recent success in becoming the UK’s City of Culture for 2021. No prizes for guessing which piece then: The Coventry Carol. The carol is so called as it was traditionally part of a mystery play entitled The Pageant of the Shearmen and Tailors.

Before our encore, we finished with a piece which tops many a personal Top Ten of Christmas Songs. This tune was kept off the Christmas Number One Spot by The Pet Shop Boys in 1987 (Always On My Mind). It can only be The Fairytale of New York, as arranged by Jock McKenzie. A great finale, bettered only by the encore.

An encore with audience participation: or a rehearsal for next week’s Christmas concert? Cue that old standby: The Twelve Days of Christmas. Due to the sparse audience, both the audience and Stockport Silver Band took part in the song (yours truly held the Three French Hens card).

Once again, our friends from Stockport Silver Band gave us a great concert. Full marks to them for fulfilling their Boarshurst date, given that the snow was worse south of Poynton. Sadly, very few people saw their performance. Deputising for Stockport Silver Band last night was former Sale Brass MD Alan Seymour.

Next Saturday, they will also be seen carolling at The Elizabethan in Heaton Moor. At 4pm, the following Sunday, they will be performing at the Duke of York pub in Heaviley (113 Buxton Road, a 192 or 199 bus ride away). We wish them all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Next at the Boarshurst Band Club

Well, it is that time again: the highlight of the brass banding calendar, as far as Christmas concerts are concerned. The 17 December will see Boarshurst Silver Band perform their Christmas concert. As well as brass band music of the highest calibre, there will be the usual Christmas tomfoolery. Oh, and audience participation as usual.

Christmas isn’t Christmas without Boarshurst Silver Band’s Christmas Concert. Hence the packed houses every time, so please arrive as early as possible. The whole shebang will commence at 8pm with doors open from 7pm.


  • 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., 11 December 2017.

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