Greenalls Brass Band: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club

Philip Boardman’s band opens 2018 season in good style at Boarshurst Band Club

After a month’s Christmas break, Greenalls Brass Band opened the 2018 season of concerts in good style. The Ashton-in-Makerfield based band, under the tutelage of Philip Boardman, didn’t just play with a smile. They gave us a most enjoyable programme with something for everyone. Whether you like technical pieces or happen to be the kind of person who plays Agadoo after Journey Into Freedom, this was your type of brass band concert.

For Greenalls Brass Band, this was their first visit to Boarshurst for several years. At least thirty to thirty years to be precise – back when Wilsons Bitter was on the pumps at Boarshurst. Back when the band club’s curtains and wood panels were the same colours as Greenfield’s buses – the orange, white and brown of Greater Manchester Transport. Well before last night’s youngest soloist was born.

Back then, Greenalls Brass Band was in its late teens to early twenties. They were formed in 1964 as the Haydock and Ashton Youth Band by Charles Fradley, merging two senior school brass bands. In 1975, their three-year sponsorship deal with Greenall Whitley began. They became the Greenalls Champion Band, then Greenalls Brewery Band, before adopting their present name. By 2000, the iconic Cheshire brewery had sponsored them for 25 years – outliving the Stockton Heath based brewery by two years.

The Musical Director, Phillip Boardman, joined the band in 2013. He led them to two First Place finishes and a Second Place finish at the Kirkby Lonsdale contest. Next week he aims to lead Greenalls Brass Band to success at the Preston Guild Hall contest.

The wind, rain, and cold weather didn’t deter the Boarshurst faithful from attending the first Sunday Brass concert of 2018. If you stayed at home last night, you missed a treat.

The Programme

First Half

  1. Concert Opener: Prismatic Light (Alan Fernie);
  2. Overture: Die Felsenmühle von Estalières (Carl Gottlieb Reissiger);
  3. Cornet Solo (performed by Howard Bousfield): The Paragon (E. Sutton);
  4. Cornet Feature: Vivaldi Trumpet Concerto (Vivaldi, arr Simon Kerwin);
  5. Musical Medley: Oliver (Lionel Bart, arr. Edrich Siebert):
    1. Consider Yourself;
    2. I’d Do Anything;
    3. Food, Glorious Food;
    4. If Only He Needs Me;
    5. Oliver!;
    6. Bill Sikes;
    7. You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket Or Two;
    8. I’d Do Anything (reprise).
  6. Hymn: Love Unknown (John Ireland, arr. Steve Robson);
  7. March: The Vanished Army (Kenneth Alford);
  8. Classical Piece: Perpetuum Mobile (Johann Strauss, arr. Howard Snell).

Second Half

  1. March: ORB (Charles Anderson);
  2. Classical Piece: Siciliano (Malcolm Arnold);
  3. Trombone Solo (performed by Ishmael Aasgaard): Minnie the Moocher (Cab Calloway, arr. Bob Casey);
  4. Popular Music Medley: Tom Jones in Concert (Tom Jones, arr. Frank Bernaerts):
    1. It’s Not Unusual;
    2. Delilah;
    3. The Green Green Grass of Home;
    4. Help Yourself;
    5. What’s New, Pussycat?;
    6. Sex Bomb;
  5. Flugelhorn and Bass Duo (performed by Louise Bousfield and Barbara Cross): Under The Boardwalk (Artie Resnick/Kenny Young, arr. Philip Harper);
  6. Popular Music: Lady Madonna (Lennon/McCartney, arr. Barrie Forgie);
  7. Jazz Music: Caravan (Duke Ellington, arr. Steve Sykes).

First Half

The first Boarshurst concert of 2018 started off with one of last year’s most played pieces at Greenbridge Lane (six times last year). This being Prismatic Light by Alan Fernie. Billed as a concert opener it never fails to lift the audience nor give them goose pimples. Greenalls Brass Band showed us why Alan Fernie’s piece is a popular one with numerous bands. A glowing start to a new season.

After the familiar, Greenalls Brass Band gave us bit of a nostalgia trip with Die Felsenmühle von Estalières by Carl Gottlieb Reissiger, from his 71st opus. For some older audience members, it had been well over 30 years since they heard the piece. Back when a pound would have got you two portions of chips after the concert. Translated into English as the more prosaic The Mill on the Cliff, it is a strident overture worthy of repeated play.

With the band in cruise control, we were treated to our first solo piece of the night. What a solo it was – E. Sutton’s The Paragon – performed by Howard Bousfield on Principal Cornet. A wonderful piece, well performed.

This led us to another fine display of cornet playing, with the performance of Vivaldi’s Trumpet Concerto. Arranged by Simon Kerwin, this was a brilliant showcase for the band’s cornet section. Another fine performance which led us to our first medley of the night.

Our first of tonight’s medleys looked at the music of Lionel Bart. This time with his best known works from Oliver!. Known simply as Oliver, Edrich Siebert’s arrangement covered Consider Yourself, I’d Do Anything, and so on. Once again, well played, and yours truly was tempted to sing along.

Upholding tradition, no brass band concert worth its salt should be without a hymn. For our sixth piece of the night we got John Ireland’s Love Unknown. Whether you are sat in the cosy confines of a band club or stood outside, Ireland’s piece never fails to move you. Steve Robson’s arrangement of the brooding hymn saw a polished performance by Greenalls Brass Band.

Our penultimate piece of this half was our first march of the concert season. That of The Vanished Army by Kenneth Alford. Frederick Joseph Ricketts, under his nom de plume, has written a variety of marches. Behind Philip Boardman’s choice of march was its timing: 2018 sees the centenary of the end of the Great War. It was written in 1918 to commemorate the first 100,000 soldiers to have fallen in the First World War.

After a good performance of Alford’s piece, we closed the first half in fine form. This time with Johann Strauss’ Perpetuum Mobile. Arranged by Howard Snell, it is a fairly challenging piece though a joy to listen to from Greenalls. Strauss’ Perpetuum Mobile was also used by ABC Television (Northern England’s weekend ITV franchise till 1968) for its start-up routine. Followed by Johnny Hawksworth’s Salute To Thames, adopted by Thames Television for its start-up routine. Overall a fantastic first half.

Second Half

Our first piece of the second half was a firm favourite as Whit Friday contest marches are concerned. This being the magnificent ORB by Charles Anderson. The piece – also known as Oldham Rifle Brigade – was named after the brigade’s brass band. In the early 20th Century, the Oldham Rifle Brigade brass band was a force to be reckoned with. With a fine performance like last night’s, expect Greenalls Brass Band to do well on the 25 May with this one!

After reminding us of the fact that Whit Friday was 123 days away, our second piece of this half offered a real contrast. This being Malcolm Arnold’s Siciliano. This is the second part of a three movement suite written in 1963, originally for wind bands. This is prefaced by Prelude with Rondo the third and final movement in the 1963 work published by Novello and Co. As a brass band piece, Siciliano worked very well.

The third piece of this half was a first rate trombone solo, and our first jazz orientated piece of the night. Enter Ishmael Aargaard on trombone with his stunning performance of Cab Calloway’s Minnie The Moocher. The Cab Calloway and His Orchestra piece was first recorded in 1931. For many listeners it is associated with The Blues Brothers film starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi (1980). The performance was one well beyond the soloist’s years (he is thirteen years old). Definitely a name to watch for the future.

This was followed by our concession to popular chart music. More specifically the collected works of Sir Thomas Woodward. Tom Jones in Concert was our second medley of the night with Frank Bernaerts’ arrangement covering Tom Jones’ works in a Stars on 45 style. For some listeners, maybe a whiff of “after the Mayor’s show”, but it was well performed. Once again, yours truly fancied singing along and could have continued his set well into the raffle.

After the raffle came one of last year’s second most played pieces of the Sunday Brass series of concerts. This time, Philip Harper’s arrangement of Under The Boardwalk. The piece, popularised by The Drifters and covered by Bruce Willis in 1987, was the subject of a duo. With a bass and a flugelhorn, performed by Barbara Cross and Louise Bousfield. As always, with bass instruments, this piece never disappoints. Barbara’s and Louise’s performance was no exception to this rule.

In my compere’s notes at the start of the concert, I had namechecked the Fab Four. Speaking of which, our penultimate piece of the night was another Number One single for The Beatles. That of Lady Madonna, a chart topper four years after last night’s band was formed. Instead of Alan Fernie’s arrangement (also seen in Obrasso’s Beatles Go Brass manuscript), we heard Barrie Forgie’s arrangement. One that shifted between time signatures offering some tonguing-based gymnastics for our band. Which they did very well.

In addition to finding what would be the perfect concert opener for many a brass band concert, Greenalls Brass Band gave us a great parting shot. That of Duke Ellington’s Caravan, arranged by Sandy Smith. What a bombastic finish, a tight performance which left the audience wanting more.

*               *               *

Was it worth the 30+ year wait since their last visit to Boarshurst Band Club? Yes, yes, yes, and yes several times over. With a well defined sound and some good up and coming talent, Greenalls Brass Band are a band on the up. With the Preston Guild Hall and North West Regional Championship contests on the horizon, expect to see some good results.

Like James Garlick has done successfully with Boarshurst Silver Band, Philip Boardman has gone for the same blueprint. That of testing the band and pushing them towards success in the higher echelons of the brass banding world. We wish them the very best of luck in the next two contests and hope to see them again at Boarshurst Band Club. Hopefully well before I reach my seventies.

Next at the Boarshurst Band Club

Next week, Vernon Building Society (Poynton) Band will be making their way to Boarshurst Band Club. They opened last year’s season of Sunday Brass concerts and – like Greenalls Brass Band – also played Caravan. The Championship Section band is one of the world’s oldest brass bands with records dating back to 1824. Stig Maersk has been the band’s Musical Director since January 2017.


  • 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., 22 January 2018.

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