Deepcar Brass Band: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club

Treacherous weather fails to dampen spirits in a most memorable concert

The journey to Sheffield from Saddleworth can be an epic trek on the sunniest of days. When you add snow to the mix it becomes a nightmare. Slush and/or ice can test the driver’s patience on the Isle of Skye Road into Holmfirth. Last night, Deepcar Brass Band gave us a concert to remember in more ways than one.

Firstly they got to Boarshurst Band Club in good time, even with the Pennine weather going against them. With snow in the afternoon and a clear night forecasted, it augured well for a smooth return to Deepcar and a good concert.

Instead, the snow returned with big flakes sticking to our pavements and roads at both ends of the Pennines. Due to this, last night’s concert had an early finish. For the hardy few who made their way to Boarshurst Band Club last night, they were rewarded with a smashing concert. Possibly one of the best at Boarshurst from a Fourth Section band.

Deepcar Brass Band are one of our younger brass bands. They were formed in 1988 – the year of the Second Summer of Love and Acid House music. Twenty years before playing for the neighbouring village football team [Stocksbridge Park Steels], England star Jamie Vardy was over a year old.

Whilst he had his Sheffield Wednesday bib on at mealtimes, Deepcar Brass Band was formed with a little help from South Yorkshire Police. Employees at the local police station went on a sponsored walk to form the band. After keeping the local youth out of trouble, the nascent training band became an adult contesting band in 2007. With Gavin Somerset as Musical Director, they entered their first contest in 2008, at St. George’s Hall, Bradford.

Almost a decade on, Deepcar Brass Band have consolidated themselves as a Fourth Section band. The present Musical Director, Cathryn Rogers, has held the position since 2016. She is a percussionist for Yorkshire Imperial Band, after studying at the University of Huddersfield. Cathryn has previously been a percussionist for Ireland Colliery Band in Chesterfield and, prior to brass banding, played the recorder and flute.

The Programme

First Half

  1. Test Piece Excerpt: 1st Movement from Second Suite in F (Gustav Holst);
  2. Flugelhorn Solo (performed by Eleanor Long): Emerald Skies (Paul Lovatt-Cooper);
  3. Film Music: Theme from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (John Williams);
  4. Film Music: Selections from Bedknobs and Broomsticks (Robert Sherman/Richard Sherman arr. Gavin Somerset);
  5. Baritone Solo (performed by Kevin Broadhead): The Holy Well (Peter Graham);
  6. Cornet Solo (performed by Colum J. O’Shea): Share My Yoke (Major Joy Webb, arr. Ivan Bosanko);
  7. Test Piece: World Tour (Rodney Newton).

Second Half

  1. Concert Opener: Spirit of Brass (Gavin Somerset);
  2. Eb Cornet Solo (performed by Geriant Hale): On With The Motley (Ruggero Leoncavallo, arr. Ray Farr);
  3. Euphonium Solo (performed by James Broadhead): Myfanwy (Hubert Parry, arr. Peter Graham);
  4. Popular Music: Mr Blue Sky (Jeff Lynne, arr. Christopher Wormald).

Omitted Pieces

  • Musical Piece (from Aspects of Love): Love Changes Everything (Andrew Lloyd-Webber);
  • Film Music: Theme from Skyfall (Adele Adkins/Paul Epworth);
  • Hymn: The Guardian of My Soul (Darren Shaw);
  • Test Piece excerpt: 4th Movement from Second Suite in F (Gustav Holst).

*                         *                         *

“Bobbing along on the bottom of the beautiful briny sea…”

Our first piece of the night was an excerpt from Gustav Holst’s Second Suite in F. We were treated to the delightful first movement of Holst’s work, which worked well as an opening piece. In its entirety, it was used as a Fourth Section test piece at the Butlins Mineworkers Championships in Skegness. Had the dreaded white stuff held off for four hours, we would have heard the fourth movement at the end of the second half.

After their sublime performance of Holst’s piece came the first soloist of the night. This time with Eleanor Long on flugelhorn playing Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s Emerald Skies. PLC’s piece was commissioned by Ross Johnson and the Camberwell Citadel Band, for flugelhorn or cornet solo pieces. Eleanor’s tone and technique was wonderful.

This was followed by the signature theme of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Composed by John Williams, the third piece of the night was magical to say the least. Little did we know in the early noughties that J.K. Rowling’s books would be a billion dollar franchise. This was the first of two pieces which had some sentimental value for Cathryn.

The next one was a selection of pieces from Bedknobs and Broomsticks. As well as enjoying the Harry Potter books, she also said how Walt Disney’s 1971 film (starring David Tomlinson and Angela Lansbury) was a favourite of hers. Arranged by Gavin Somerset, we had another enjoyable medley. Anyone wishing to arrange a Walt Disney themed brass band concert should ignore Somerset’s arrangement at their peril. All in all, a wizard performance from the band with both pieces. As Bill Maynard would have said in Oh No, It’s Selwyn Froggett, “Magic, our Maurice”.

Next up was our second soloist: on baritone solo, Kevin Broadhead with Peter Graham’s The Holy Well. Instead of referring to a spring in Great Malvern, it is the main theme from On Alderley Edge, commissioned by Riki McDowell for euphonium soloists. The Holy Well forms part of the Nether Alderley country park in the care of the National Trust. A good performance from Kevin.

This was followed by our third soloist of the night: enter Colum J. O’Shea on cornet. The piece he played was Major Joy Webb’s Share My Yoke, a joyous solo piece by any means. One all the more joyous by Colum’s pristine performance.

The end of the first half was our second airing of the World Tour, Rodney Newton’s Fourth Section test piece. Last week, Denton Brass band played the first and final movements of the piece (with All Through The Night and Endearing Young Charms in between). Instead we got the full, unabridged version of Rodney Newton’s work. A real joy to listen to, whether in Blackpool Opera House or Uppermill Civic Hall. Deepcar Brass Band proved just that, inside a snow-lashed Boarshurst Band Club.

Concerto for a snowy day

Thanks to Mother Nature, the snowy weather meant a shorter second half. The snow began to stick on Chew Valley Road, making for hazardous driving conditions. Buses were curtailed, diverted or delayed. Waiting times for taxis were longer, thanks to buses being stuck. Saddleworth’s Local Link shared taxi service finished earlier than normal. Negotiating Saddleworth’s streets would have been troublesome for Radio Cars (whose Local Link minibuses are based in Ashton-under-Lyne).

In the light of such circumstances, four pieces were played in the second half. We began with Gavin Somerset’s The Spirit of Brass. Written for BrassFestUK 2017, it was influenced by Gavin’s favourite composer, John Williams. If you liked Williams’ Olympic Fanfare for the 1984 Los Angeles games, you would have loved this piece. Needless to say, Deepcar Brass Band did us all proud.

Our fourth solo of the night came from Geriant Hale. On Eb cornet solo, he gave us a beautiful performance on On With The Motley. A brass banding concert classic, it is the most famous piece from Ruggero Leoncavallo’s 1892 opera, Pagliacci. This piggybacked onto our final soloist of the night, which was one of our most contemplative pieces.

On euphonium, we heard James Broadhead’s stunning solo of Myfanwy. Last night saw the second airing of Joseph Perry’s hymn (it was played by Littleborough Training Band at the earlier afternoon concert). It translates as Beloved from Welsh to English and has been performed by many choirs and solo artistes. A fantastic solo performance.

Our last piece would have originally been the fourth movement of Gustav Holst’s Second Suite in F. With our abridged second half programme, we cut straight to the encore piece. A toe-tapper in Christopher Wormald’s arrangement of Mr Blue Sky. It is the best known song from the Electric Light Orchestra’s 1977 double album Out of the Blue (and the fourth and final part of Concerto For A Rainy Day). In conditions similar to those experienced by Jeff Lynne (when he wrote the songs in his three-week stay in Switzerland), it was a great end to a splendid concert.

In such awful weather and driving conditions, you couldn’t fault Deepcar Brass Band for fulfilling their Boarshurst gig. They gave us all a fantastic concert with an accessible programme and a full preview of the Fourth Section test piece. We wish them every success in the Yorkshire Regional Contest on the 04 March (at Huddersfield Town Hall). We wish to see them back at Boarshurst Band Club as soon as possible. Hopefully without Mother Nature thwarting their journey.

Next at the Boarshurst Band Club

Next week is one of the most important nights in Boarshurst Band Club’s calendar. It’s the preview night for the North West Regional Championships. As usual, there will be four or five bands (five this year) playing their section’s test piece. This year’s line up is:

  • Hammonds Saltaire Band (Championship Section, Morgan Griffiths): Odyssey, Richard Norbury;
  • Stockport Silver Band (Fourth Section, Alex Parker): World Tour, by Rodney Newton;
  • Dobcross Silver Band (Third Section, Grenville Moore): Napoleon on the Alps, by Philip Harper;
  • Delph Band (Second Section, Phil Goodwin): Ex-Terra Lucem, by Jonathan Bates;
  • Boarshurst Silver Band (First Section, James Garlick): Brass Metamorphosis, by James Curnow.

The adjudicator will be Mike Kilroy. He is a regular adjudicator at Delph’s Whit Friday Band Contest. In 2016 he was also the Programme Concert adjudicator for that year’s Brass In Concert at SAGE Gateshead.

The whole thing starts at 7.30pm, thirty minutes earlier than the usual Sunday Brass concerts. Arrive early to be sure of a good seat.

Buses:

  • 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., 12 February 2018.

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