Roberts Bakery Band: A Saturday Brass Special at the Boarshurst Band Club

A sensational concert featuring a great soloist and a highly regarded brass band composer

In the midst of the hottest May Day Bank Holiday weekend since records began, Roberts Bakery Band gave us a real scorcher of a concert. As well as giving us a superb programme, there was two key ingredients which set their concert apart from several others seen at Boarshurst Band Club.

The first one was our guest soloist. Not any old soloist; the present day flugelhorn soloist for Black Dyke Band, Zoe Hancock. In 2010 Zoe has picked up British Open and Grand Shield prizes whilst at Tredegar Town Band. This was shortly before she moved to Black Dyke Band. In 2014 a piece was written to commemorate their Double Champion victory at both British Open and National Championship contests. Once more, Zoe was instrumental in the band’s success.

Whereas our band had to make their way from Cheshire West and Chester way, it was a ‘home gig’ for their musical director. Paul Lovatt-Cooper, Roberts Bakery Band’s MD made his way from Delph. Before you ask, this is the Paul Lovatt-Cooper of Wall of Sound, Through The Flames, and Dark Side of the Moon fame.

If you look at the programme notes, you may find a slight transport theme. The first and last pieces of each half are Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s compositions. Only one of Zoe’s solo pieces is a PLC composition.

For those who braved the Mediterranean conditions, it was great to be in such exalted company. With a fair number of PLC’s own works (which are all great in my view), one of the best concerts we have seen at Boarshurst Band Club.

The Programme

Please note that all flugelhorn solos are denoted in green text and performed by Zoe Hancock.

First Half

  1. Original Music: Streamline Peaks (Paul Lovatt-Cooper);
  2. Test Piece: Kensington Concerto (Eric Ball);
  3. Flugelhorn Solo: Dreams and Dances (Philip Harper);
  4. Original Music: Doyen (Goff Richards);
  5. Flugelhorn Solo: By Trevone Bay (Paul Lovatt-Cooper);
  6. Hymn: Manchester: How Sweet The Name (Richard Wainwright, arr. Andi Cook);
  7. Original Piece: Jubilance (Paul Lovatt-Cooper).

Second Half

  1. Original Music: Through The Flames (Paul Lovatt-Cooper);
  2. Original Music: Sunrise Over Blue Ridge (Dan Price)
  3. Flugelhorn Solo: Concert Etude (Alexander Goedicke, arr. Rieks van der Velde);
  4. Film Music Suite: Bond… James Bond (Various, arr. Stephen Bulla):
    1. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (John Barry);
    2. (From The Spy Who Loved Me) Nobody Does It Better (Martin Hamlisch/Carole Bayer-Sager);
    3. Live and Let Die (Paul McCartney);
    4. James Bond Theme (Monty Norman, arr. John Barry).
  5. Flugelhorn Solo: The Seal Lullaby (Eric Whitacre, arr. Paul Sharman);
  6. Original Music: Wall of Sound (Paul Lovatt-Cooper);

Encore

  • March: Flying The Flag (Paul Lovatt-Cooper).

Streamline Peaks of Jubilance

We opened with Streamline Peaks, the first of our Paul Lovatt-Cooper compositions. It was commissioned to celebrate the centenary of the Glassworks Brass Band St-Prex. Paul was inspired by the Swiss mountains and Swiss railways. It would have felt just at home on the less exotic Liverpool Lime Street to York service of the 1980s. Which passed St. Helen’s Junction and the Pennines – hauled by Class 45 (Peaks) diesel locomotives. Whether you thought of punctual electric trains or ‘proper’ Mark 1 or Mark 2 carriages, this is a piece which gets you in the mood for a good non-work-based train journey. A fantastic start to the concert.

The second piece was a sneak preview of Roberts Bakery Band’s test piece for the British Open Senior Trophy. Any brass band concert with an Eric Ball composition is unmissable; Roberts Bakery Band’s performance of A Kensington Concerto proved just that. In 1972 it was penned for the National Championship of Great Britain. The winners of the Championship Section on the 14 October that year? Black Dyke Mills Brass Band. Roberts Bakery Band’s rendition was superb. So much so that yours truly could be seeing them again in Blackpool next week.

Speaking of Black Dyke Band, this was followed by the first solo performance of Black Dyke’s flugelhorn player. This time with Zoe Hancock’s first of four pieces: Philip Harper’s Dreams and Dances. The vibrant piece was especially composed for Zoe herself. It is a bit of slow burner which progresses to a selection of fast dances in 6/8 time. She made an immediate impression on the audience; both at Boarshurst Band Club and online thanks to the Boarshurst Stream Team’s updates.

Back when Peaks, Whistlers, and Thunderbirds (Class 45, Class 40 and Class 47 diesel locomotives to you) rumbled past Stalybridge station, British Leyland were in the process of developing a state-of-the-art coach. The resultant coach was the Leyland Royal Tiger Doyen. Only 160 examples were built between 1982 and 1988. With early promise they commissioned a brass band piece: Doyen. Written by Goff Richards, it offers the listener an aural journey across the Pennines. Across – of all the greatest of misnomers – a clear section of the M62 motorway. In his younger years, Paul Lovatt-Cooper was impressed by Doyen, which led him to explore Goff Richards’ compositions even further.

After their turbocharged performance of The Nation’s Favourite Brass Band Piece Ever To Have Been Commissioned About An Unsuccessful Coach Model came our second piece from Zoe. This time with a piece specially commissioned to celebrate her 2014 success with Black Dyke Band, By Trevone Bay. Another piece from Paul himself (who is also her fiancé) it refers to their favourite part of Cornwall which is two miles west of Padstow. It is noted for its surfing and is almost an hour on foot or 26 minutes on First Kernow’s 219 bus. Another beautiful piece which offered a real contrast on the previous one.

Almost a year ago, Manchester was rocked by the terror attack at Manchester Arena after an Ariana Grande concert. 22 concertgoers lost their lives on the 22 May 2017. As a tribute to the victims, Andi Cook arranged the Richard Wainwright hymn Manchester: How Sweet The Name. Within a fortnight of the attack, a £1,000 was raised for Andi Cook’s arrangement. Once again, another good performance.

We finished off with another one of Paul’s pieces: another cracker in the form of Jubilance. Back when your reviewer was starting out at secondary school, Roberts Bakery Band’s Musical Director was taking his GCSEs at Fred Longworth High School, Tyldesley. To commemorate the school’s 50th anniversary, the school band turned to one of its ex-pupils. The PLC composition is lively, punchy, and (for the band) a joy to play. A fantastic piece for brass bands of any section, not only school or youth bands. A great finish to the first half.

Through the flames in a wall of sound

Opening the second half was one of Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s best known pieces. That of Through The Flames. It has famously been performed by Black Dyke Band and appears on a 2017 Chandos Records release with a few other pieces from Saturday’s concert. It is a fiery piece designed to open any concert in style. In part it also reminded me of Through the Fire and Flames by Dragonforce, especially in its opening bars. A great choice.

The Yang to our Yin of the previous piece was a sublime work by Dan Price. This time with Sunrise Over Blue Ridge. It refers to the mountain range within the larger Appalachian Mountains, where various Indian tribes once set up home. The piece is dedicated to Cory Band, who premiered Dan Price’s work in November 2008, at that year’s Brass In Concert Championships. Another great piece.

For our third piece of this half came Zoe Hancock’s third piece of the night on flugelhorn. This time with Rieks van der Velde’s arrangement of Alexander Goedicke’s Concert Etude. The brass banding classic was well and truly enhanced by Zoe’s precision and clarity.

After focusing on Swiss electric trains and Lancastrian integral coaches, you could almost picture the speeding powerboats in our next piece. This time, Stephen Bulla’s arrangement of various James Bond themes as Bond…James Bond. Covered in this suite was the theme from Live and Let Die (hence the powerboats reference), and Nobody Does It Better (from The Spy Who Loved Me). Oh, and Monty Norman’s James Bond Theme (it would be rude not to). That night’s only concession to the silver screen was a real blockbuster. You cannot have a Bank Holiday weekend without a bit of James Bond; and Roberts Bakery Band upheld that tradition (ITV would have been proud).

This was followed by our final solo piece from the excellent Zoe Hancock. Offering a real contrast was Eric Whitacre’s The Seal Lullaby. Arranged by Paul Sharman, it is based on Rudyard Kipling’s book. In 2004, it was going to be the subject of an animated film, but the studios decided to make Kung Fu Panda instead. So Eric sang the song to his baby son. A few years later, another group picked up his piece (The Towne Singers) and gave it a new lease of life.

At Boarshurst Band Club, Zoe’s rendition of The Seal Lullaby was impressive. Overall, every one of her superb solos made for a memorable concert.

The last piece of the night was influenced by the last piece of last week’s concert. Paul and Zoe were present at Boarshurst Silver Band’s concert where James Garlick chose PLC’s Wall of Sound. Though Boarshurst Silver Band gave a great performance last week, Roberts Bakery Band asserted themselves very well with ‘The Director’s Cut’. They performed the piece at a faster, exhilarating tempo. Fantastic work.

Our final piece could have been about The World’s Favourite Airline in its nationalised guise, but BA’s early jingle [Fly The Flag] was written in 1975. Flying The Flag was commissioned by Brass Band Erschwil, to celebrate their tenth anniversary with their conductor Martin Altenbach. It was presented to Martin in October 2015 at a celebration concert in Switzerland. What a great piece to finish a memorable concert.

*               *               *

Roberts Bakery Band gave us all a concert of the highest quality. Had the weather been a lot cooler, more people would have enjoyed Saturday’s concert in person. With excellent flugelhorn playing from Zoe and a superb programme, a night to remember. We wish them well in next week’s British Open Senior Trophy at Blackpool Winter Gardens. Believe me: they will be back in the Championship Section before you know it.

Live Stream Viewing Figures:

So far, the Top Ten most viewed pieces from last night’s concert on the live stream are as follows (correct to 07 May 2018):

  1. By Trevone Bay (Flugelhorn Solo by Zoe Hancock): 5,800;
  2. Dreams and Dances (Flugelhorn Solo by Zoe Hancock): 5,400;
  3. Concert Etude (Flugelhorn Solo by Zoe Hancock): 3,400;
  4. The Seal Lullaby (Flugelhorn Solo by Zoe Hancock): 2,700;
  5. Doyen: 2,500;
  6. Jubilance: 2,100;
  7. Manchester: How Sweet The Name: 2,000;
  8. Bond…James Bond: 1,800;
  9. Streamline Peaks: 1,800;
  10. Wall of Sound: 1,500.

Next week at Boarshurst Band Club…

Ady Woodhead’s Littleborough Band will be making their way to The Mecca of Brass Banding. Earlier this year, Littleborough Training Band came to Boarshurst Band Club with Victoria Seymour in the driver’s seat. Next week, it’ll be the turn of the senior band.

The band was formed as the Littleborough Public Silver Band in 1862. Their first performance, on the 20 December that year, was a fundraiser for the Littleborough Relief Fund. As per usual, doors open at 7pm for an 8pm start.

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. The 180 and 350 services are operated by First Greater Manchester.

Twitter details: @boarshurstband#SundayBrass.

Website: www.boarshurstband.co.uk.

S.V., 07 May 2018.

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