Vernon Building Society Poynton Band (January 2018): Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club

Poynton Band delivers a stylish programme in their 2018 visit to Boarshurst

For Boarshurst Band Club’s second concert of 2018, VBS Poynton Band gave us another splendid performance. For the best part of two hours, the North East Cheshire band gave us a varied programme. Some of which had Scottish and Irish leanings, as expressed by the soprano solo, and the penultimate piece. Last night’s concert was living proof that Poynton Band will consolidate their position as a Championship Section band.

Poynton Band have been sponsored by the Vernon Building Society since 1988 – thirty years this year. As we said in last year’s review, the Building Society and the band have connections with the Vernon family who have been part of the village. Their records go back as far as 1824, making one of the oldest brass bands in the world – after Stalybridge Old Band. Before the Second World War, Poynton was a mining village, with the Poynton and Worth Coal Mines providing work for its residents.

Our musical director last night was Tony Wyatt. Among Poyntonian circles he has been associated with the band for thirty years. He has played cornet for Fairey band as well as VBS Poynton. Other bands he has been linked with are Silk Brass and Whaley Band (where he was their Musical Director).

Besides giving us a good programme, Tony was articulate, informative, and well humoured. There was three solid solo performances and a neat little duet in the second half.

The Programme

First Half

  1. Overture: Prelude for an Occasion (Edward Gregson);
  2. Soprano Cornet Solo (performed by Will Dakin): Flowerdale (Philip Sparke);
  3. Test Piece: First Movement from Year of the Dragon (Philip Sparke);
  4. Horn Solo (performed by Gilly Attwell): Lark in the Clear Air (Traditional, arr. Gordon Langford);
  5. Light Concert Piece: Mountain Air (Seterslat) (Jan Magne Ford);
  6. Light Concert Piece: Lake of Tenderness (Ben Hollings);
  7. Light Concert Piece: First Movement from Four Scottish Dances (Malcolm Arnold, arr Ray Farr).

Second Half

  1. March: Punchinello (William Rimmer)
  2. Light Concert Piece: Amazing Grace (Traditional, arr. William Himes)
  3. Flugelhorn and Bass Duo (performed by Jessica Tredrea and Tom Nickless): Under The Boardwalk (Artie Resnick/Kenny Young, arr. Philip Harper);
  4. Euphonium Solo (performed by Sam Noden): Benedictus (Sir Karl Jenkins);
  5. Jazz Piece: Blue Rondo a la Turk (Dave Brubeck, arr. Keith Edwards);
  6. Hymn: Hellas (Christos Ioannidis);
  7. Film Music (from Walt Disney’s Tangled (2010)): The Glow (Alan Menken)
  8. Light Concert: Gaelforce (Peter Graham).


  • Popular Music: Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (Bob Crewe/Bob Gaudio, arr. Alan Fernie).

Prelude for a great concert

We opened with a little played piece, one that deserves a more frequent airing. Our opener was Prelude For An Occasion by Edward Gregson. Born in Sunderland in 1945, his first published piece was a collection of early vocal and choral pieces. He has also written test pieces including Essay – recently used in 2016 as a First Section test piece. Our opening piece of the night was written in 1968. As a concert opener, a worthwhile addition.

Our second piece of the night gave us our first soloist. This time featuring Will Dakin on soprano cornet with the irresistable Flowerdale. The piece is part of Philip Sparke’s Hymn of the Highlands suite which also includes Ardross Castle. Will gave us all a brilliant performance, which was well received by everyone. If you’ve been to Gairloch, Flowerdale is a short walk from The Old Inn (a great pub just off the A832).

This was followed by our second Philip Sparke piece – this time with Welsh overtones (or Chinese overtones). Our third piece of the night was Year of the Dragon, where you could be forgiven for thinking it was written in 1988, 2000 or 2012. Actually, it was written in 1984 to commemorate the centenary of The Cory Band. Written in three movements (Toccata, Interlude, and Finale), we were treated to the first movement. An explosive piece which shows off the band’s percussion section very well.

We changed the pace for our fourth piece, and the second soloist of the night. This time on horn, Gilly Attwell’s masterful performance of Lark in the Clear Air. Arranged by Gordon Langford, Lark in the Clear Air is a traditional Irish folk song set to the lyrics of Sir Samuel Ferguson. It has been performed by several artistes: most famously, Cara Dillon.

After Gilly’s smashing performance, we went for something completely different. This time a piece penned for the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer with goat noises at the end. In gold medal winning position was Poynton Band’s performance of Seterslat by Jan Magne Ford. Translated into the blander sounding English phrase of Mountain Air, this was an atmospheric piece. Besides its finishing touch of goat noises, it cooled the rather warm Boarshurst Band Club down for a good four minutes.

Our next piece could have also been set to the soundtrack of Norwegian fjords. Ben Hollings’ Lake of Tenderness is based on a simple premise. That of our silvery moon reflecting on a lake. It was commissioned by Dr. Robert Childs for Grimethorpe Colliery Band, and used for its 2015 Brass In Concert entry. With this year’s first supermoon due on the 31 January (this Wednesday), a topical one. Poynton Band’s playing of Hollings’ piece was well received. One that could have resonated with anyone seeing a reflected moon in Dovestones Reservoir as well as the fjords.

Ben Hollings’ piece could have also resonated with anyone who has seen a moon reflecting on Loch Ewe. Returning to Scotland, we closed the first half with the first movement of Four Scottish Dances. The Malcolm Arnold piece, arranged by Ray Farr, was a neat toe-tapper. One which got in high spirits for the second half. And – as Tony Wyatt reminded us throughout the first half – a chance to buy some raffle tickets or Poynton Band’s CD. Which makes for a good Valentine’s Day present if your partner loves brass band music.

“He painted Salford’s smoky tops, on cardboard boxes from the shops…”

Here’s a trivia question for you: which brass band march is heard at the beginning of Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs by Brian and Michael? It’s the one that Vernon Building Society Poynton Band used to open the second half. William Rimmer’s Punchinello. It is both a popular contest march and road march. With strong volume and tone, we all lapped it up.

Our second piece of this half was a sublime arrangement of Amazing Grace. Arranged by William Himes, his treatment of the traditional hymn has colour and vibrancy. This was expressed by Poynton Band’s performance. The song itself is a traditional hymn which has been covered by numerous artistes. Not only Judy Collins and Elvis Presley, also The Lemonheads. Sticking to the subject of 1970s UK Number One singles, The Pipes and Drums and Military Band of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards had one with their cover. It topped the charts for five weeks in 1972.

Our third piece of this half was another old favourite – also played by Greenalls Brass Band last week. Enter stage left on bass and flugelhorn, Tom Nickless and Jessica Tredrea with the well known Drifters song, Under The Boardwalk. Besides being the most popular popular music piece of 2017 at this venue, Bruce Willis’ troubled the Top Ten in 1987. In fact, The Pet Shop Boys kept him off the top spot with It’s A Sin. Poynton Band’s rendition – with Nickless and Tredrea – didn’t half raise the roof.

Following the raffle was our final soloist. This time with Sam Noden on euphonium for a modern-day brass banding classic. Cue Sir Karl Jenkins’ Benedictus. From The Armed Man: A Mass For Peace, it is a stirring piece that was commissioned for The Royal Armouries. With Sam’s rendition, his intonation and volume was spot on.

The next piece saw another change of mood: this time with Dave Brubeck’s Blue Rondo a la Turk. Arranged by Keith Edwards, it is a lively piece with never fails to please. The band is tested by its use of two time signatures: 9/8 and good ol’ 4/4. On its original release, Blue Rondo a la Turk appeared on Dave Brubeck’s 1959 LP Time Out.

After this sublime rendition, we moved to Christos Ioannidis’ Hellas. The hymn has also been used by South Melbourne FC as their song of choice. This due to the Victorian club being formed by Greek expatriates. A neat contrast to the previous piece.

This was followed by another hymn – a Disney hymn. That of The Glow, a recent addition to Walt Disney’s Princess franchise. The Princess franchise was a big banker for Walt Disney, with The Glow being used in Tangled. Without Tangled, there would have been no Frozen (which spun off from the 2010 movie). The song has been performed by Shannon Saunders and Sarah Geromino. Poynton’s version was delightful. One for a future Walt Disney themed concert at Boarshurst? Not a bad choice.

Our penultimate piece of the day is often denoted as Light Concert Music, though is anything but. Peter Graham’s Gaelforce is a joy to listen to, but a pain in the proverbials for the poor bandperson. With Vernon Building Society (Poynton) Brass Band, it was an accomplished performance. A cracking piece well played which led us to a good choice of encore piece.

After the lively Gaelforce came a piece that was made famous by Andy Williams. Taking us towards our cars, buses, trains, or pre-bus pints was Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off You. The lively tune was a great finale.

*                             *                             *

Once again, VBS Poynton Band gave us a great concert, and Tony Wyatt was a joy to listen to as well. With each visit to Boarshurst Band Club, their consistency reigns supreme. We wish them well in the North West Regional Championships on the 25 February. If you missed their concert at Boarshurst Band Club, they are doing the Vernon Charity Concert at Hazel Grove Baptist Church. This takes place on Friday 02 February 2018 at 7.30pm. If you’re getting the train, the church is in full view from the station’s Buxton platform and car park.

Next Week…

Making a modest trip from the south-western corner of Tameside will be Denton Brass. The present day Denton Brass dates from 1859. The original band was founded as Baxendale Band before changing their name to the Denton Original Band. Following a fire in 1993, the original band folded. Denton ‘B’ Band survived, briefly known as Crown Point Brass until 1999.

From 1999, they reformed as Denton Brass, leading us to the present day band. They rehearse at St. John’s Ambulance’s Taylor Street base – their home since the closure of Denton West End Working Mens’ Club. They also have a training band which welcomes anyone from school age to pensionable age to play a brass instrument.

The band’s musical director is Jim Hunter, who has previously been involved with Denton Original and Uppermill bands. In 2013, one half of last night’s duet was Denton Brass’ Musical Director: Jessica Tredrea. Doors open at 7pm for an 8pm start on the 04 February.

Please note that Huddersfield Youth Brass Ensemble’s concert – originally scheduled for next week at 2pm – has been postponed. Once we get a revised date, you will find out as soon as we do.


  • 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., 29 January 2018.

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