Lydgate Band: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club

How Lydgate Band, and a few friends, delivered a magical concert at Boarshurst

Unless you have lived in Saddleworth, Oldham or Tameside for more than a decade, you may be at a loss as to where is Lydgate. Just to add to the confusion, there are three Lydgates within the West Riding of Yorkshire. One on the outskirts of Halifax, another one near Todmorden, and the one we know and love off the A669 (or the 180/184 bus routes). Which is also best known for the disused railway tunnel between Lees and Greenfield.

Due to its picturesque setting, the village which Oldham Council almost forgot about is noted for being a Whit Friday contest venue. Fewer people outside of Saddleworth may have seen Lydgate Band. Apart from a few enlightened souls and the live audience who saw last night’s concert.

Lydgate Band were formed in 1977 making them one of Saddleworth’s more recently formed brass bands. Back then, players may have taken an orange and white bus to practice nights, on the 180, 183 and 184 limited stop services. In 1988 they began entering Whit Friday contests. Today, 41 years on, they pride themselves in being a community band. One that brings joy to their communities in concerts, Whit Walks, and public gatherings as well as their players.

There was something magical about Lydgate Band’s concert. Not only in its running order, but also the story behind the concert itself. One arranged in less than a week by Boarshurst Silver Band and a few friends. Or, as they might say in Channel Four’s magnificent coming-of-age sitcom The Inbetweeners, “friends… band friends”.

Without some trusted brass banding friends, Lydgate wouldn’t have had a full band. One of the bass players was a few miles away (in Poland). There was a few players from Westwood Over-50s Band. Also one player from Boarshurst Silver Band. On soprano cornet from Stalybridge Old Band, Greta Brownridge. Greta was previously seen at Denton Band’s Boarshurst gig on the 04 February 2018, alongside last night’s Musical Director Jim Hunter.

As with the Denton Brass concert, Jim’s knack of keeping a tight ship and entertaining the audience was impeccable. Well humoured and informative with a full service concert programme to boot. Even with God Save The Queen at the finish.

The Programme

First Half

  1. March: Loyal and True (M. Rayner);
  2. Overture: The Lonely Mill (Handel Lancaster);
  3. Cornet Solo (performed by Rob Taylor): Edelweiss (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein, arr. Edrich Siebert);
  4. Cornet Feature (performed by Rob, Barry, Richard, Chris, Sharon, Nick): Bugler’s Holiday (Leroy Anderson, arr. Ray Woodfield);
  5. March: Men of Harlech (Traditional, arr. Gordon Langford);
  6. Light Concert Music: Carrickfergus (Traditional, arr. Howard Lorriman);
  7. March Medley: Journey Through America (Various, arr. Darrol Barry):
    1. The Star Spangled Banner (Francis Scott Key/John Stafford Smith);
    2. Oh Susanna (Stephen Foster);
    3. Marching Through Georgia (Henry Clay Work);
    4. The Yellow Rose of Texas (Traditional);
    5. When The Saints Go Marching In (Traditional);
    6. Blue Tail Fly (Traditional);
    7. When Johnny Comes Marching Home (Patrick Gilmore – as Louis Lambert);
    8. Deep in the Heart of Texas (June Hershey/Don Swander);
    9. Yankee Doodle (Traditional, 18th Century);
    10. The Army Goes Rolling Along (John Philip Sousa);
    11. Shortin’ Bread (James Whitcomb Riley);
    12. The Star Spangled Banner (Reprise) (Francis Scott Key/John Stafford Smith).
  8. Light Concert Music: Amparito Roca (Jaime Texidor, arr. Ray Woodfield).

Second Half

  1. Light Concert Music: The Lincolnshire Poacher (Derek Broadbent);
  2. Musical Medley: Selection from Mary Poppins (Richard M. Sherman/Robert B. Sherman, arr. Andrew Duncan);
  3. Musical Piece (from Sunset Boulevard): With One Look (Andrew Lloyd Webber, arr. William Himes);
  4. Cornet Solo (performed by Greta Brownridge): The Floral Dance (Derek Broadbent);
  5. Bass Showcase: Kalinka (Ivan Larionov, arr. Jan Sedlak);
  6. Flugelhorn Solo (performed by Rona Heath): Whitburn (Henry W. Baker, arr. Simon Kerwin);
  7. March: The Great Escape (Elmer Bernstein, arr. Thomas Wyss).

Encore

  • March: The New Recruit (G. Southwell).

In glorious stereo…

We opened last night’s programme with a march, setting the trend for a traditional concert programme with some extra bells and whistles. First up was M. Rayner’s Loyal and True. The march itself is a neat piece published in 1995. It is overlooked by the likes of Death or Glory and Cross of Honour by some bands, which is a shame. In terms of melody and simplicity, a lovely little entrée to get us fired up for the overture.

If you went to Denton Brass’ concert on the 04 February 2018, you may be familiar with Jim’s choice of second piece. It was dedicated to the late Harry Lever, a regular attendee of Boarshurst Band Club’s Sunday night concerts. Like last time, Handel Lancaster’s The Lonely Mill was a joy to listen to with chunks of melodic goodness. It was first published in 1936 by Boosey and Hawkes.

As with Denton’s concert earlier this year, our first soloist’s work was familiar. Enter on cornet Rob Taylor, and his rendition of Edelweiss. If you are familiar with The Sound of Music, Edelweiss is the small white flower that Captain Ludwig Georg von Trapp sings about. It was written as a lament for the Austria he once knew. Rob Taylor did a good job too.

Moments later, our yearning for Austria and other overseas destinations inspired our next piece, and subsequent ones till the end of this half. Regular attendees of brass band concert would be accustomed to seeing the performance of Bugler’s Holiday by a cornet trio. Instead, we went one better and had a stereo version. On the ‘left speaker’ we had Rob, Barry and Richard. On the ‘right speaker’ we had Chris, Sharon and Nick. The result was a fantastic, full-bodied treatment of Leroy Anderson’s piece. It didn’t half get a few woofers from the live audience.

A few miles away from where this piece was written, another band might suggest emulating Dolby Pro Logic 5:1 Surround Sound effects with Hot Toddy or Whistler And His Dog. Instead, we began Jim Hunter’s musical tour in Wales. This time with Men of Harlech, arranged as a march by Gordon Langford. For many people, the sound of Rugby Union. For some with an interest in 1970s television continuity, the one-time startup music for Harlech Television. The timing of which couldn’t have been better as Cory Band won the British Open in Birmingham on Saturday. Lydgate Band and Friends gave us all a good performance.

Their good performance made the wait at Cardiff Airport seem a lot shorter. From there on, the band checked in for their Flybe journey to Belfast International Airport. Which is not a million miles away from Carrickfergus. The traditional piece is claimed to have evolved from two separate songs and has been covered by a wide range of artistes. Including Bryan Ferry and Bryn Terfel as well as Ronan Keating and The Dubliners. Another fine job from our fellow comrades from Lydgate and surrounding area.

After the band’s enforced stopover, another trip to Belfast International Airport was taken to meet our New York Stewart International Airport flight. As an alternative to the in-flight entertainment, some American music would be an idea for the trip. Especially Darrol Barry’s medley of traditional American songs known as Journey Through America. Sandwiched between The Star Spangled Banner, there was bitesize chunks of favourites like Yankee Doodle, Oh Susanna, and The Yellow Rose of Texas. In a concert setting, you can never go wrong with any of the late Darrol Barry’s medleys: Lydgate and Company proved just that.

Closing the first half, and our travel theme, we transferred from New York to Barcelona. This time with Jaime Texidor’s best known pasodoble Amparito Roca. Written in 1925, it was named after one of his piano students (who was twelve years old at the time). On its first performance in Spain, it was a roaring success. In later years, it is claimed that Reginald Ridewood wrote the piece, though didn’t apply for the copyright. Whoever wrote the piece… who cared in the context of this concert? It was performed well all the same.

Escape from New Earth Street

With the live audience suitably refreshed (and the slight electrical surge from kettles by those watching The Stream Team’s efforts), we opened with a lively number. A piece which formed the ‘B’ side to The Floral Dance by Brighouse and Rastrick Band. No prizes for guessing The Lincolnshire Poacher, released the same year as Lydgate Band’s formation. Based on the traditional folk song, Derek Broadbent’s arrangement is an affable piece of brass banding cheesiness. Lydgate Band and Co turned up the Dairylea Factor making for a moreish combination.

For our next piece in the second half came another jolly medley. This time, one you couldn’t help singing along to, thanks in part to the Sherman Brothers. Our Selection from Mary Poppins gave us some more easy-to-digest chunks of songs from Mary Poppins. Including Chim Chim Chiree, A Spoonful of Sugar, and that long one which almost every Walt Disney fan has heard of. Another good show.

Sticking to the world of stage and screen we moved onto a piece from Sunset Boulevard, Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s 1993 musical. Arranged by William Himes, and arguably one of Jim’s favourite pieces, was With One Look. In the first act, it is performed by Norma (played by Glenn Close and Petula Clark in previous West End and Broadway productions). In our ‘second act’, it was beautifully performed by our fellows from Lydgate and beyond.

For the fourth piece in the second half, we flipped over from the ‘B’ side to the ‘A’ side of Brighouse and Rastrick’s Number Two single on our GEC music centre. Strictly speaking, a chance to hear Greta Brownridge’s soprano cornet solo performance of The Floral Dance. Based on the traditional Furry Dances in Helston, Cornwall, it is by far Derek Broadbent’s most famous work. For Briggus, a dependable encore at every concert since December 1977. In all, Greta gave a very good performance.

After the raffle, this venerable Saddleworthian institution was followed by a Bass Showcase. Highlighting the abilities of last night’s bass section was their performance of Kalinka. To use contemporary diction, “a keeper” in many brass band concerts due to its thunderous bass work and toe-tapping credentials. Harry Larinov’s never fails to enrapture the audience, and last night’s performance ticked those boxes straight away.

For our penultimate piece (or next to penultimate one before the encore), we had a display of fabulous flugelhorn work from Rona Heath. This time with a change of tempo and a hymn: three verses of Henry Baker’s Whitburn. As well as a fine performance by Rona, this gave us an insight into Lydgate Band and Friends’ efforts with quieter pieces. Overall, some great work.

With reference to the band’s own great escape by Jim, we finished off with Elmer Bernstein’s most famous work. The march from The Great Escape. It has been adopted by Mossley Band on Whit Friday. Also by many a football fan, commemorating their team’s escape from relegation or an emphatic comeback. Now 55 years old, the escape film starring Steve McQueen screams “unimaginative Easter/Christmas TV schedules” and shows us how British Commonwealth prisoners escape from a German POW camp. A rousing finish, and a good end to a memorable concert.

Or so we thought.

The true last piece of Lydgate and Company’s concert was another march: G. Southwell’s The New Recruit. Which we thought was either the Old New Recruit, or the New New Recruit (any answers are appreciated). A rousing piece, at least the equal of our first piece of the night in terms of its bumptiousness. Well played.

*                           *                           *

In spite of such short notice, trying to find suitable players, a good musical director, and a varied programme, Lydgate Band and Friends succeeded. All in the space of five days. Even with the concert being announced at short notice, they were rewarded with a good turnout at the Boarshurst Band Club. The Stream Team’s efforts were appreciated with some great viewing figures (so far, 924 people have seen the band’s performance of Amparito Roca).

Last night’s band weren’t the only stars of the show. Everyone who attended as well as Boarshurst Silver Band’s backstage team helped to make last night’s concert a night to remember. Cooperation was the key to its success.

We hope last night’s concert gives Lydgate Band more confidence in a live setting. One or two players said they were nervous before 8pm; by 10pm, they were on a high. Here’s to their continued success.

Next Week at Boarshurst Band Club…

Milnrow Band will be heading down to The Mecca of Brass Banding on the 16 September. If previous Sunday Brass Nights with Mark Bentham and Co are anything to go by, next week’s concert should be a cracker. As usual, doors open from 7pm for an 8pm start and, most importantly, 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., 10 September 2018.

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