Elland Silver Band: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club (October 2018)

Stratospheric Elland Silver Band performance makes for yet another memorable concert

In space, no one can hear your MD scream. Martians might have heard the applause from last night’s concert which reverberated from Boarshurst’s palatial quarters. Taking us to another dimension last night was Elland Silver Band’s concert at The Mecca of Brass Banding.

Elland Silver’s last concert at Boarshurst Band Club was on Trinity Sunday. Shortly after The Greatest Free Show on Earth®, it had all the hallmarks of the usual Elland Silver concert; a tight and thoroughly entertaining night. As for last night’s gig, more of the same but better.

Once again there was proof of the band’s successful red/white rose alliance. In our last review we mentioned the Red Admiral Music Academy, based in Mawdesley near Ormskirk. One of its alumnae brought the house down with his solo spot. Another soloist ran a number of classes with the Red Admiral. The other soloist only runs one of the finest youth bands in Europe.

Since May of this year, Elland Silver Band have added Hit It! to their portfolio. Hit It! offers seven to twelve year-olds the chance to learn percussion instruments in a brass band setting. With percussion instruments forming part of many contemporary test pieces, an early start can only be a good thing.

The fruits of their collective labour were on display for all to see. From Granadaland to Grenada thanks to The Stream Team, and the live audience at Boarshurst. As for the programme, accessible yet totally different to their previous concerts. All in all another great night.

The Programme

First Half

  1. Concert Opener: Olympiada (Samuel R. Hazo, arr. Jonathan Bates);
  2. Cornet Solo (performed by Lewis Barton): Concert Etude (Alexander Goedicke, arr. Rieks van der Velde);
  3. Original Piece: Space Invaders (Andy Scott);
  4. Classical Piece: The Second Waltz (Dmitri Shostakovich, arr. Alan Fernie);
  5. Flugelhorn Solo (performed by Samantha Harrison): Alfie (Burt Bacharach/Hal David, arr. Bill Geldard);
  6. Jazz Piece: Li’l Darlin’ (Neal Hefti, arr. Philip Sparke);
  7. Light Concert Music: Riverdance (Bill Whelan).

Second Half

  1. Original Piece: When Thunder Calls (Paul Lovatt-Cooper);
  2. Euphonium Solo (performed by Marija Anna Novicane): Donegal Bay (Paul Lovatt-Cooper);
  3. Film Music: Singin’ in the Rain (Nacio Herb Brown/Arthur Freed, arr. Alan Fernie);
  4. Original Piece: Spring In Your Step (Nick Brocklehurst);
  5. Original Piece: Ghost Walk (Nick Brocklehurst);
  6. Hymn: Nottingham (Goff Richards);
  7. Musical Piece: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story (Leonard Bernstein, arr. Eric Crees).

Encore

  • Light Concert Music: Tritch Tratch Polka (Johann Strauss II, arr. Goff Richards).

Towards another dimension

Elland Silver Band are no fan of clichéd introductions, realising that hardcore concertgoers appreciate a break from the normal opening pieces. First off the blocks was Samuel R. Hazo’s Olympiada. Written in 1996, the piece reflects the athlete’s challenge and the prize which awaits the competitor. The composer was born in 1966 and has composed many pieces for wind and concert bands. With added pizazz from the arranger’s pen of Jonathan Bates, a great concert opener. With tonight’s band, a podium finish and a lofty position in the final medals table. (If Prince Andrew is reading this, why couldn’t the Beeb have used this song for The Invictus Games?)

Had Elland Silver Band diversified into athletics, there are no prizes for guessing who would have been their answer to Usain Bolt. Their hugely talented cornet player Lewis Barton. A product of the Red Admiral Music Academy, the 13-year-old cornet player gave us a stunning rendition of Alexander Goedicke’s Concert Etude. Every note was flawless. It was a performance that was way beyond his teenage years and he made it look so easy. What was scary about it is the fact Master Barton has several years of brass banding ahead of him. A future legend in the making.

The third piece of the night was different again. Written by Andy Scott for Foden’s Band’s slot in a previous Brass In Concert event was Space Invaders. Though the most avant garde piece of the night, it was accessible for the audience. For the band, a challenge with various time signatures to play with, symbolising each attack wave on Taito’s video game. The piece was written to commemorate the anniversary of Space Invaders’ launch in Japan. Which, fact fans, was the 16 June 1978 (sharing its birthday with James Corden). In its native country, there was a shortage of 100 Yen pieces. Wearing both my brass banding and retro gaming hats, a real blast.

From Japan (or Olympia Amusement Arcade in Scarborough), we moved to Russia for our fourth piece. This time, Shostakovich’s The Second Waltz, arranged by Alan Fernie. The waltz was based on traditional Russian folk tunes, which was frowned upon under Stalin. The piece was used in a 1955 film, The First Echelon, released two years after Josef Stalin’s death. A lovely piece.

For our fifth piece, we move onto some more film music. This time, the title track from Alfie. Playing the theme tune, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David was our second soloist of the night. Enter on flugelhorn, Samantha Harrison. If you haven’t been to an Elland Silver concert for a while, you may have seen her performances on principal cornet. Last night, she proved to be a force to be reckoned with on flugelhorn. Take a bow, Samantha: yet another great solo piece.

For the penultimate piece of this half, we went for something slightly more downtempo. A jazz standard by Neal Hefti. How could you not resist Li’l Darlin’? The piece was written by Hefti in 1957 for the Count Basie Orchestra. With the addition of lyrics, it was performed live on The Judy Garland Show in 1959. So smooth, but a lull before the first half finale song.

To close the first half, we had a piece that was performed during the interval of 1994’s Eurovision Song Contest. A number that is often filed as Light Concert Music in spite of being anything but for its players. Ever one to push the band, Daniel Brooks’ choice of first half finale was Riverdance. This time with a bit of Garry Cutt style stagecraft creating a surround sound effect. A wonderful finish to a first half which saw Elland Silver boldly going further than several brass bands had done beforehand.

When thunder calls, everybody’s singing in the rain

Continuing the Garry Cutt style stagecraft antics, we returned to the stage with the first of two Paul Lovatt-Cooper pieces. First off was the rip-roaring When Thunder Calls, which saw some members of the band taking their positions from different parts of Boarshurst Band Club. The piece was commissioned by Dr. Nicholas Childs for the Swiss Open Championships in 2011. A similarly bombastic and worthy bedfellow to Olympiada. A fantastic return.

Our second Paul Lovatt-Cooper piece was equally memorable: it was performed by our third soloist of the night. Enter on euphonium Marija Anna Novicane, with her performance of Donegal Bay. Compared with the previous piece, a real contrast. Marija’s performance was the epitome of smooth, taking us to a delightful part of Ireland instead of Mars.

For our third piece of this half, we returned to the world of stage and screen with an all time classic. No matter how old you may be, there’s every chance you would have heard of Singin’ in the Rain, the title song of the 1929 musical. It has been used in a Morecambe and Wise sketch that parodied the Gene Kelly film. Only a few years beforehand in featured in Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of the Anthony Burgess novel A Clockwork Orange. In 2009, it formed part of a Number One hit single for Britain’s Got Talent winner George Sampson. Elland Silver’s version was another chart topper in our eyes and ears.

For our fourth piece, we had all been sharpened up and made ready for a bit of the odd original piece. Correction: two original pieces, penned by Nick Brocklehurst. First up was Spring In Your Step. This song was written fairly recently. Yet, in structure, a pastiche of anything you may have heard in brass band concerts during the 1970s and 1980s. A fantastic piece worthy of performance as a light concert music item. Add a fantastic Championship Section band to the mix like last night’s, say no more.

Our second piece from Nick Brocklehurst could fall under two categories. Firstly, as a neat piece for Brass In Concert and countless entertainment contests. Secondly, as a novelty item which is missing in many of today’s concert programmes (i.e.: Howard Snell’s The Clock With The Dresden Figures, or The Whistler and His Dog by Arthur Pryor). Raising the spirits of Boarshurst’s cosy concert venue was Ghost Walk. With theremin style effects and a gloriously haunting melody.

Needless to say, we loved it. If you wish to keep up to date with Nick Brocklehurst’s compositions, he’s under the alias of @NickBrockMusic on Twitter. Plus he has his own Facebook page. Continuing the red/white rose alliance, Elland Silver Band’s resident composer is also a Lancashire lad.

This was followed by our penultimate piece of this half: a hymn. This time, Goff Richards’ arrangement of Nottingham. The music was written by Wenzel Müller. In lyric form, it was written as Take My Life and Let It Be by Frances Ridley Havergal. Another fine performance.

Our last piece of the night was a right feel good number: this time, Symphonic Dances from West Side Story which features fun size pieces of America and Somewhere. For the uninitiated, Leonard Bernstein’s modern take on Romeo and Juliet (featuring the Jets and the Sharks). It is a well-loved musical, which has seen some of its songs being covered by various artistes. One example is The Nice’s 1968 cover of America. A fantastic finish. Well, at least we thought it was.

Upstaging the medley of West Side Story songs was the choice of encore piece. Making sure the party did last beyond 10pm was Johann Strauss’ Tritch Tratch Polka. After the summing up, everyone was swaying to the piece made popular by the late great James Last. Ashton-under-Lyne Band’s rendition a fortnight earlier was brilliant. Daniel Brooks’ decision to leave it till the encore was a fantastic move.

In addition to taking its streamed and live audiences to another dimension, the time and space dimensions were warped by Elland Silver Band. It was one of the fastest two hours at Boarshurst since… their last concert on Trinity Sunday. With the exception of the encore, a truly different programme to any other concerts so far this year.

As always, great value for money, a well-balanced programme, and some great soloists. We cannot wait for their next Boarshurst gig.

Next Week…

Another band from the West Riding of Yorkshire will be heading to Boarshurst Band Club. This time, it will be the turn of Hebden Bridge Brass Band. Established in 1850, the First Section band are noted for their part in their summertime hymn and march contest. During the 1990s, they were sponsored by Walkley Clogs.

As always, doors open at 7pm for an 8pm start. Admission will be £5.00 (or £4.00 for concessions and members). To avoid disappointment, arrive as early as possible.

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., 22 October 2018.

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