Uppermill Band: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club, March 2018

A great night from Boarshurst’s neighbours 

After the weather put paid to Whitworth Valley and Healey Band’s and Middleton Youth Band’s concerts, normal service resumed at The Mecca of Brass Banding. This time with the first of two Saddleworth bands this month. For Mother’s Day, Uppermill Brass Band came to Boarshurst’s Band Club and delighted us all.

Last night’s concert [11 March 2018] was set to a programme inspired by Mother’s Day. Not only those in attendance but also the mothers we lost. It was an accessible programme with popular song without needing to skimp on the essentials. Such as a good solo performance and a few traditional marches.

There was more to last night’s programme beyond its dedication to our The Best Female Friend. It was ‘engineered’ to improve the band’s skills in hitting the high notes, and the quiet notes. The fruits of which paid off on the 25 February at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool. Uppermill Band came third in the North West Regional Championships with the Third Section test piece Napoleon On The Alps (by Philip Harper).

Dean Redfern’s programme wasn’t only effective in boosting the band’s fortunes. It was well received by the audience who rewarded Uppermill Band with an excellent turnout.

The Programme

First Half

  1. March: Arnhem (A.E. Kelly);
  2. Film Music: Theme from The Mission (Ennio Morricone, arr. Moren);
  3. Flugelhorn Solo (performed by John Whittle): I Don’t Know How To Love Him (Andrew Lloyd-Webber, arr. Ray Woodfield);
  4. Hymn: Hine-e-Hine (Traditional, arr. Peter Graham);
  5. Popular Music: If (David Gates/Waleen Johnson);
  6. March: Death Or Glory (R.B. Hall);
  7. Folk Music: Greensleeves (Jan Sedlak);
  8. Cornet and Euphonium Duet (performed by Lesley Lewis and Davina Holt): All I Ask Of You (Andrew Lloyd-Webber, arr. Alan Fernie);
  9. March: Simoraine (Clive Barraclough).

Second Half

  1. March: Colonel Bogey (Kenneth Alford);
  2. Light Concert Music: Seventy-Six Trombones (Meredith Wilson, arr. Alan Fernie);
  3. Light Concert Music: The Irish Blessing (Stephen Bradnum);
  4. Baritone Solo (performed by David Woodward): The Paragon (E. Sutton);
  5. March: The Senator (George Allan);
  6. Light Concert: The Lost Chord (Sir Arthur Sullivan, arr. Goff Richards);
  7. Musical Piece (from Aspects of Love): Love Changes Everything (Andrew Lloyd-Webber);
  8. Musical Medley: Breezin’ Down Broadway (Various, arr. Goff Richards):
    • (From Kiss Me, Kate) Another Op’nin’, Another Show (Cole Porter);
    • (From Annie Get Your Gun) There’s No Business Like Show Business (Irving Berlin);
    • (From My Fair Lady and High Society) Get Me To the Church on Time (Stanley Holloway);
    • (From Oklahoma!) Oklahoma! (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein);
    • (From That’s Entertainment!) That’s Entertainment! (Howard Dietz, Arthur Schwartz);
    • (From The Music Man) Seventy-Six Trombones (Meredith Wilson).

Encore

  • March: Radetzky March (Johann Strauss, arr. Mourey).

If a picture paints a thousand… notes?

We opened with Arnhem, a popular march written by Albert E. Kelly. During Whit Sunday and Whit Friday Processions of Witness (in Oldham, Saddleworth and Tameside), it is heard as a street march. The first piece got us all ready for Whit Friday which (fact fans) was 74 days away from last night’s concert.

After a strident start we moved onto a piece which Dean dedicated to the mothers we have lost and loved. This being Ennio Morricone’s theme music from The Mission. The film directed by Roland Joffé was released on the 16 May 1986 at the Cannes Film Festival. Morricone’s soundtrack topped the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Classic 100 Music in the Movies chart. It made for a neat contrast to the first piece.

After a strong start came the return of a familiar face for our third piece. Well known in Boarshurst circles, John Whittle gave us our first solo performance of the night. On flugelhorn, John played an excellent rendition of I Don’t Know How To Love Him. In Jesus Christ Superstar it was sung by Yvonne Elliman (who is better known for her cover of The Bee Gees’ If I Can’t Have You on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack album). John’s performance was clinical and smooth, as he made light work of the Andrew Lloyd-Webber piece.

Our fourth piece saw us drifting from Jerusalem to Wellington. This time with 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. This was set to an animated kiwi known as The Goodnight Kiwi. This could have been a suitable tune for putting your child to bed to as well. Another solid performance.

Whereas the fourth piece is a lullaby, the next one could have been a cue to nipping to the Co-op or a detective with a shiny pate. The answer to that is If, an arrangement of the David Gates song written for his group Bread. If has also been covered by many artistes including Telly Savalas. In spoken word form, the actor who played Theodore Kojak hit the top spot of the UK singles chart. Uppermill Band did pretty well, with their arrangement sympathetic to David Gates’ original.

The next two pieces are classic songs in their own way. First off the blocks was R.B. Hall’s Death Or Glory. If you still don’t know the march, I suggest you go to your favourite video streaming site or buy a DVD or Bluray disc/VHS cassette of Brassed Off. In the Mark Herman directed film (a modern-day classic no less) it is the first thing we hear, set to a choreographed sequence of miners’ lamps.

This was followed by a piece that is claimed to be written by Henry VIII. The bane of any caller being put on hold for more than 15 minutes. Next up was a version of Greensleeves which was played with great depth and character. A world away from the tinny renditions (used to comic effect while Daniel Blake is calling the DWP in I, Daniel Blake).

The penultimate piece was an emotional one due to one of Uppermill Band’s members leaving the band due to ill health. This was a duet with Lesley Lewis (Cornet) and Davina Holt (Euphonium) for the Andrew Lloyd-Webber song All I Ask Of You. The song from The Phantom of the Opera was written as a duet between Christine Daaé and The Phantom of the Opera. Though John’s flugelhorn solo was superb, Lesley’s and Davina’s duet had an extra edge. This was not lost on the audience last night.

To close the first half we had a march piece that Musical Director Dean Redfern had to play at his audition with Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band. That of Clive Barraclough’s Simoraine. The complex march is a portmanteau of two family members of the composer: Simon and Lorraine. Hence ‘Simo[n]’ and ‘[Lor]raine’ with the first four letters of Simon and the last five letters of Lorraine. Overall, a brilliant first half.

Seventy-six trombones mark a lost chord

The second half was livelier and a little lighter. To dust the cobwebs we began with Kenneth Alford’s Colonel Bogey. The march has featured in one other film besides Brassed Off: The Bridge Over The River Kwai. A nice little post-interval number which set the tone for the rest of this half.

Our second piece could have been a good circus march. Instead it was used in the musical The Music Man. Cue Meredith Wilson’s piece Seventy-Six Trombones. In the musical production its main characters include a spiv, a (stereotypically) prim librarian, and several brass and reed band types. Largely clad in red and gold (more like Adamson’s [Military] Band instead of Dobcross Silver Band). This would be the first of two outings for this piece in this half alone.

After an exuberant start to the second half we calmed things down a bit. This time with Stephen Bradnum’s The Irish Blessing. Based on the original Irish tone poem, it is a contemplative piece. One which for three or so minutes you could switch on for a chilled out night after work. The popular piece not only exemplified why 300 notes would do instead of 3,000. It was a test of Uppermill Band’s ability to play well at low volumes. Which they did so well at Boarshurst. Which also contributed to their third place position as a Third Section band in the regionals at Blackpool.

Gratuitous car allegory time: if The Irish Blessing was your grandma’s Ford Ka, The Paragon is your thirty-something sister’s five door Ford Fiesta with a beefed-up engine. Able to perfect the triple tonguing needed for E. Sutton’s classic piece was David Woodward on baritone. The only soloist of the second half put in a brilliant shift. Had Jim Shepherd heard Woodward’s performance he would have been pleased.

After the raffle gave Uppermill Band a nice rest, we were treated to a great march by George Allan. Better noted for Knight Templar, The Senator of Allan’s marches, isn’t remembered as much. It is always a joy to listen to on Whit Friday and it is as good as The Mighty KT. Uppermill Band reminded us of why this march is a cracker, by putting in a splendid performance.

The next piece had slightly melancholic leanings. The Lost Chord was composed by Arthur Sullivan in 1877 by the bedside of his ailing brother Fred. Five days after he composed the song, Fred passed away. It has been performed by the likes of Enrico Caruso, who sung the piece at a benefit concert for the survivors of the Titanic disaster.

After this stirring performance came our final Andrew Lloyd-Webber piece. This time with Love Changes Everything, taken from Aspects of Love. The song, a 1989 Number Two chart single for Michael Ball is by far the musical’s best known piece. If you are familiar with its lyrics, you will find the song a suitable match for a Mother’s Day themed concert programme. This piece succeeded on both levels: in terms of performance and poignancy.

Our last pre-encore piece was a medley. A musical medley no less, arranged by Goff Richards. Entitled Breezin’ Down Broadway we heard bite-size chunks of songs from seven musicals: Kiss Me, Kate; Annie Get Your Gun; High Society; My Fair Lady; That’s Entertainment; Oklahoma!; and The Music Man. Through coincidence instead of by design this gave us a second helping of Seventy-Six Trombones (152 Trombones anyone?). The lively medley got us all asking for more.

For our encore piece we finished off with The Radetzky March. One of Johann Strauss’ best known works, it is the traditional encore piece at the New Year’s Day Concerts in Vienna. The piece was written as a dedication to Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz and – like The Blue Danube – became a de facto national anthem for Austria.

As with previous visits to Boarshurst Band Club, Uppermill Band succeeded in giving us a superb concert. In addition to being dedicated to the best female friend you can ever have, it also meant the return of some familiar faces. It was also a welcome return for John Whittle. A couple of Boarshurst Silver Band players and a Stalybridge Old Band player also deputised.

Next on their calendar, Uppermill Band have the Holme Valley Contest on the 28 April. Taking place on the last Sunday in April each year, last year’s top prize went to Hade Edge Band. We wish Uppermill Band, and all other participating bands the very best of luck. If you’re making the short trip to Holmfirth next month, try the pie and peas.

Next at the Boarshurst Band Club

Next week sees our second Saddleworth band of this month. This time, Dobcross Youth Band. Whereas previous concerts featuring youth bands have Sunday afternoon slots, Dobcross Youth Band are an exception to this rule. Their excellent local support from the village, and other parts of the Saddleworth area, should make for a busy night. On that note, please arrive early to be sure of a seat.

Unlike the usual Sunday Brass evening concerts (which start at 8pm), next week’s concert has a 7.30pm start. If you think there’s going to be a mad surge at 7pm, don’t panic. Doors will be open from 6.30pm, an hour before Dobcross Youth Band takes to the stage.

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 March 2018.

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