Hebden Bridge Band: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club (October 2018)

Another great night with Moore fantastic music

As the clocks went back in tandem with the dark cold nights, a warm reception was in order at Boarshurst Band Club’s latest concert. Last night, Hebden Bridge Band made a modest journey to Greenfield’s most iconic live music venue. With Grenville Moore standing in for David Hamilton, his entertaining patter complemented an exciting programme.

If you are familiar with Dobcross Silver Band, Grenville Moore is pretty much part of the furniture. He rejoined Dobcross Silver as Musical Director in 2016. Mr Moore has previously played french horn for the Ulster Orchestra. If you are familiar with the RTEjr/CBeebies programme Pablo (which yours truly, your reviewer has co-written two episodes of), they performed and recorded its signature tune.

Hebden Bridge Band were formed in 1850, and are one of the oldest brass bands in the world. During the 1990s, they were sponsored by Walkley Clogs in Mytholmroyd. As well as performing to many audiences across the UK, they help to run the village’s Hymn and March Contest, which takes place in the middle Sunday of June. Firmly putting the band on the map was former musical director J.A Greenwood and – most notably, the most noble of brass band royalty – the Mortimer family.

Offering its live audience (and Stream Team Viewers) some respite from the cold, was a well-balanced programme. There was room for popular music, some classic concert staples, classical works, and fresh original pieces.

The Programme

First Half

  1. March: Song and Dance (Wilfred Heaton);
  2. Classical Overture: The Marriage of Figaro (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart);
  3. Euphonium Solo (performed by Tom Jenkins): Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair (Stephen Foster);
  4. Light Concert Music: Marching Through Georgia (Henry Clay Work, arr. Goff Richards);
  5. Tenor Horn Solo (performed by Lily Morgan): Somewhere Over The Rainbow (Harold Arlen/Edgar Harburg, arr. Goff Richards);
  6. Light Concert Music: Pineapple Poll (Arthur Sullivan, arr. Geoffrey Brand);
  7. Original Piece: The Witch of the Westmorlands (Archie Fisher);
  8. Light Concert Music: Gaelforce (Peter Graham).

Second Half

  1. Popular Music: Yellow Submarine (Lennon/McCartney);
  2. Musical Piece: Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (Richard Rodgers);
  3. Hymn: A Time For Us (Jacob Vilhelm Larsen);
  4. Hymn: ‘Mid All The Traffic (Colonel Leonard Ballantine);
  5. Popular Music: I Will Follow Him (Franck Pourcel/Paul Mauriat);
  6. Popular Music: Bohemian Rhapsody (Freddie Mercury).

Encore

  • Light Concert Music: Be a Clown (Cole Porter, arr. Alan Fernie).

Tonight’s outlook: songs, dances and Gael force winds

Our first piece of the night set the agenda for last night’s concert: a healthy dose of singing, dancing, with a vibrant opening piece. We opened with Wilfred Heaton’s Songs and Dances. Heaton was recognised by Peter Graham as “one of the most original voices in band music of the 20th century”. His radiance was reflected in Hebden Bridge Band’s performance.

From Hebden Bridge Band’s sunny performance, this was followed by a neat concert classic: the evergreen overture from The Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The operatic piece focused on (you’ve guessed it) romance, which was a slight theme of this half. If you haven’t heard anything by Vienna’s finest musical export, you might have heard the opening bars of this piece in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. A snatch of this is heard before the party enters Oompa Loompa Land in the 1971 film starring Gene Wilder. As always, fantastic.

Similarly smooth was the performance of our first of last night’s soloists. Enter on euphonium Tom Jenkins, with his performance of Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair. Written by Stephen Foster, it is a Victorian parlour song based on the composer’s short-lived marriage of his wife Jane McDowell (whose pet name was Jeanie). A brilliant, smooth, free-flowing performance free of knots and dandruff.

Our fourth item was a fine Goff Richards arrangement of Henry Clay Work’s Marching Through Georgia. This was penned at the end of the American Civil War and is sung from the point of view of a Union soldier. As well as its continued popularity with brass bands, it was sung by a carpetbagger in Gone With The Wind. Another enjoyable romp.

Continuing a slight American sub-theme was our second soloist of the night. This time with Lily Morgan on tenor horn, playing a classic tune from The Wizard of Oz. Only Harold Arlen’s Somewhere Over The Rainbow, and an arrangement of the original version instead of Eva Cassidy’s version. If you dared to look behind the silvery strip curtain at Boarshurst Band Club, you would have heard a superb performance. One that well and truly satisfied the live audience and possibly the Stream Team’s followers (so far, seen by over 1,200 viewers).

Sticking to the wonders of stage and screen, we continued the theme with another erstwhile light concert item. This time with a bit of Gilbert and Sullivan in the form of Pineapple Pol. The piece, written by Arthur Sullivan, forms part of a 1951 comic ballet set on HMS Hot Cross Bun. Whether you call it ‘cheese’ in the slightly perfunctory sense or ‘classic’, it never fails to please audiences from 18 days old to 81 years old. Sweet.

Our penultimate piece of this half was something different again, but love (or lust?) inspired Archie Fisher’s work. Enter The Witch of the Westmorlands, based on legend and superstition with a slightly risqué narrative. In 1971, it was sung by Barbara Dickson on her album From The Beggar’s Mantle (with the original writer on guitar and concertina). A wonderful diversion.

Away from a part of the world noted for its mountains and Manchester’s drinking water supply, we finished the first half in the Republic of Ireland. This time with Gaelforce, Peter Graham’s take on Riverdance style music. A real lip smasher for brass bands, it anything but light concert music for players (though light for the audience). In the end, Hebden Bridge Band put in a great shift, leading to a well-deserved break.  

Yellow submarines are good for beating congestion (especially as Liverpool has no bus lanes) 

For the first piece of the second half, Grenville tried to deny all knowledge of its addition in the programme. So for this Lennon and McCartney number he went on strike. Well and truly topping The Brass Banding Cheese Stakes was an arrangement of Yellow Submarine. Which Hebden Bridge Band happily played without Grenville Moore’s watch. Whatever you made of the arrangement, it was a nice easy one to get the band going again.

The next piece was more demanding than the previous one: Richard Rodgers’ Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. Slaughter… is one of Richard Rodgers’ most appreciated ballets. It was written in 1936 and appears in the musical comedy On Your Toes. Once again, the boy meets girl schtick comes to play albeit with dire consequences. The piece included shotgun effects from percussion and a snatch of Three Blind Mice. Another satisfying piece, made all the more satisfying by Hebden Bridge Band’s performance.

Offering a worthy contrast to the previous two pieces was the first of two hymns. First off the blocks was Jacob Vilhelm Larsen’s A Time For Us. This piece forms part of a wider body of work known as the Colourama Suite (which clocks in at 22 minutes in its entirety). This follows The Impala Blue ’59 and precedes Sunrise and African Jig. A neat break from the norm.

This was followed by another brass band concert favourite. Enter Colonel Leonard Ballantine’s ‘Mid All The Traffic. Set to the hymn tune Shenandoah (or Colne if you prefer), this is another piece that never fails to please anyone. Leonard isn’t only active as a musician: through Skype he offers one-to-one training sessions (great if you live in Thornham as well as Toronto, or New Earth as well as Nova Scotia). What more could we say: another good shift at the coalface.

The penultimate pre-encore piece took us back to 1992 when Sister Act (starring Whoopi Goldberg) was a box office smash. No prizes for guessing I Will Follow Him. Written by Franck Pourcel with lyrics by Paul Mauriat, it was covered by a variety of singers. Little Peggy Marsh’s version of this song charted almost everywhere apart from the UK. Likewise with Petula Clark’s version. Thanks to Sister Act, it lives on. If you were among the live audience at Boarshurst Band Club, last night’s performance could have staked a similar claim.

The last pre-encore piece was an iconic rock song, which was championed by the late Kenny Everett on Capital Radio before its single release. A Christmas Number One in 1975 and 1991 which has topped many radio listeners’ All Time Top 10/100/1000 polls. Enter Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Also a timely one, given the release of Bryan Singer’s eponymous biopic showing at all good cinemas. Did Hebden Bridge Band’s rock us in any way, shape or form? Yes they did.

After wrapping up the concert, we came to a right humdinger of an encore piece. One that fitted in two camps: Halloween and musicals. How does one work out the two links? Be A Clown by Cole Porter. An eminently singable finale which reflected both sides of the band: their sense of fun as well as an excellent ability to entertain its audience.

If you ever see Hebden Bridge Band in concert, they are well and truly worthy of your attention. Last night’s programme was accessible enough to entertain converts to brass banding as well as the converted. Definitely a case of ‘treat’ rather than ‘trick’.

Next Week…

Making the not-so-long journey to Boarshurst Band Club will be another fine band from the West Riding of Yorkshire. One that holds court in a similarly cosy band club off Huddersfield Road. If you said ‘Diggle Band’, go to the top of the class.

If their summertime concert was a scorcher, the outlook for Diggle Band’s winter concert should be a winter warmer. With great local support, please arrive early to be sure of a good seat. As per usual, doors open at 7pm for the usual 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. Both services operated by First Greater Manchester.

Twitter details: @boarshurstband; #SundayBrass.

Website: www.boarshurstband.co.uk.

S.V., 29 October 2018.

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