How the Friends of Music For Youth Brass finished 2018’s programme of Sunday Brass concerts in great style at the Boarshurst Band Club

Question: how do you end a phenomenal season of concerts at a band club in a southern part of Saddleworth? The answer is simple: pick the finest brass band players, create a one-off scratch band, then add a charity of your choosing. Then stir a live audience into rapture for the best part of two hours. Serve with meaty compositions and a generous serving of locally sourced cask conditioned ales. In a nutshell, all the ingredients of a truly memorable concert.

And memorable it was, a true case of “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish”. How, might you ask did Boarshurst Band Club’s concert end in such a nail biting crescendo?

Firstly, the start of December saw the start of Boarshurst Silver Band’s Jingle Bells Challenge. Its initial aim was to raise £1,000 for Music For Youth. Thanks in part to our government’s philistine approach to creative subjects, affordable musical tuition is out of reach for many households. This not only affects the brass banding movement; it also stifles innovation in popular music. What if the next Paul McCartney, Trevor Horn or Darrol Barry is being stymied by the lack of access to music lessons?

For the Jingle Bells Challenge, anyone could play Jingle Bells on a musical instrument then donate a given amount for Music For Youth. Or make a donation to Music For Youth.

By the end of this month, Boarshurst Silver Band exceeded all expectations. Several brass bands from across the UK and overseas played Jingle Bells. Solo performers had a bash too; one performed the piece with a beer bottle mouthorgan. Another ‘played’ Jingle Bells with dancing Christmas toys. Within days, the £1,000 target was smashed. Then the £2,000 mark. By the end of last night’s concert, £3,800 – inclusive of receipts from the £5.00 admission fees and raffle takings.

The geniuses behind the concert were two brass band players: Kyle Blake and Louise Belton. Both Kyle and Louise pitched to Boarshurst Silver Band the idea of an all-star concert for Music For Youth. Kyle plays trombone for The Cory Band. Yours truly saw him before a concert at The Stoller Hall and mentioned the Jingle Bells Challenge. Louise, whom we shall mention later on in the review, plays soprano cornet for Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band.

With half an hour to spare before Friends of Music For Youth Brass Band took to the stage, the ‘HOUSE FULL’ signs were there. Was this the finest non-Christmas concert at Boarshurst Band Club to have taken place in the yuletide period? Indeed it was.

The Programme

First Half

  1. Light Concert Music: Los Hermanos de Bop (Mark Taylor, arr. Sandy Smith);
  2. Overture: Ruslan and Ludmilla (Mikhail Glinka, arr. Walter Hargreaves);
  3. Soprano Cornet Solo (performed by Louise Belton, Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band): To a Higher Place (Paul Sharman);
  4. Film Music: Theme from Star Wars (John Williams, arr. Philip Harper);
  5. Light Concert Music: Lake of Tenderness (Paul Hollings);
  6. Horn Solo (performed by Siobhan Bates, Black Dyke Band): A Celtic Promise (Philip Harper);
  7. Original Piece: Fire in the Blood (Paul Lovatt-Cooper).

Second Half

  1. March: On the Quarter Deck (Kenneth Alford);
  2. Light Concert Music: Gøta (Peder Karlsson, arr. Tine Kvamme);
  3. Trombone/Horn Showcase (performed by Anna Spedding, Toni Heywood, Rebecca Lundberg, Kyle Blake, Tony Robertson): Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) (Billy Joel, arr. Philip Harper);
  4. Film Music: Overture to The Polar Express (Glen Ballard/Alan Silvestri, arr. Frank Bernaerts);
  5. Hymn: The Water of Tyne (Traditional, arr. Philip Harper);
  6. March: The Pines of Rome (Ottorino Respighi, arr. Howard Snell).


  • Light Concert Music: Malaguena (Ernesto Lecuona).

The Greatest Not-Christmas Concert over Yuletide…?

On this blog, we have extolled the merits of Prismatic Light as an effective concert opener. Last night’s band pushed the concert opener envelope a lot further with Los Hermanos de Bop. The jazz tinged piece offered a vibrant opening piece to the concert. Arranged by Philip Harper, the performance Mark Taylor’s piece was the sound of a band on a mission. A mission to improve access to music tuition for all children irrespective of background.

The next piece fulfilled another statement of intent: to entertain the live and not-live audience (via The Stream Team). Enter Mikhail Glinka’s overture from Ruslan and Ludmilla, a real concert classic arranged by Walter Hargreaves. This proved to be a satisfying workout for the percussion team featuring Jordan Hall, Stephanie Payne, Logan Hartley, and Neil Edwards. A joyous one to listen to, and we had yet to get out of second gear.

Taking us towards third gear was our first soloist of the night. From Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band, enter on soprano cornet Louise Belton. Her piece was Paul Sharman’s To a Higher Ground. Like last night’s M.D. Lee Skipsey, Mr. Sharman’s background has Salvationist leanings. He joined the International Staff Band of the Salvation Army in 1994 and is presently the Deputy Bandmaster of the Regent Hall Corps. During this delicate piece, Louise gave us all a superb display. Flawless.

For our next piece, it was a case of ‘may the fourth be with you’. If you got the pun straight away, you would have guessed which film this piece came from. Yes, Star Wars, thanks to Philip Harper’s arrangement of John Williams’ theme from Star Wars. Perhaps Lee may have been enjoying ITV’s Star Wars season whilst putting his programme together. Nevertheless, the force was well and truly with the Friends of Music For Youth Brass Band with a thunderous performance of John Williams’ best known film theme (besides ET perhaps).

From tales of the dark side, death stars, stormtroopers, and diminutive robots, we moved on to a marginally more tranquil setting. This time with Paul Hollings’ Lake of Tenderness. The piece has choral leanings and takes its inspiration from the Moon’s basaltic plains. It was commissioned by Dr. Robert Childs and premiered in 2015 by Grimethorpe Colliery Band in that year’s Brass In Concert. It neatly complements Louise’s soprano cornet solo, and it is a most tranquil. Clarity and dynamic tones, all spot on.

This led us to our second soloist of the night. This time with Siobhan Bates’ performance of A Celtic Promise. Written in 2003, it won the Best New Piece category in 2004’s Brass In Concert, showing off the horn to its full potential. Siobhan’s performance of Philip Harper’s piece was sensational; definitely a future prospect and a name we should be hearing more of in the next decade.

After last night’s juxtaposition of a horn solo and a soprano cornet solo with Hans Solo, we finished the first half in great style. No great concert is complete without a Paul Lovatt-Cooper piece, and the magnificent Fire In The Blood is no exception. The piece was commissioned by Dr Stephen Cobb to commemorate the International Staff Band’s 120th anniversary. Ten minutes of pure satisfaction and breathtaking music: neatly timed for the interval. A superb performance.

Too right it was…!

Though last night’s concert was a Not-Christmas Concert, our first piece of this half had only had one thing in common with Christmas. The word ‘deck’ as in Deck The Halls. Enter Kenneth Alford’s On The Quarter Deck, a classic street march. If The Friends of Music For Youth Brass Band were seen on Chew Valley Road, it would have been an astonishing sight. A fantastic cobweb blower of a piece.

Filed under Now For Something Completely Different was Gøta, a Swedish piece written by Peder Karlsson, arranged by Tine Kvamme. Mr Kvamme’s arrangement covers all bases in a full brass band from repiano cornet to percussion, and does so very well. Gøta is also a village in the Faroe Islands. In 2005, Peder Karlsson’s song was the final track on The Real Group’s album In The Middle of Life. Fantastic work indeed.

For our third piece of this half was a showcase for the band’s trombone and horn players. Cue Rebecca Lundberg, Anna Louise Spedding, Tony Robertson, Toni Heywood and Kyle Blake. This time with a Billy Joel song, Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel). Arranged by Philip Harper, the song originally appeared on Billy Joel’s 1993 album The River of Dreams. A well bodied performance which displayed the strength in depth of the quintet.

Our fourth piece of this half was the only remotely Christmas themed number of the night. This time, the theme from The Polar Express. The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis (of Back to the Future fame) and released in 2004. It is based on Chris Van Allsberg children’s book from 1985. Performance wise, more Orient Express than Transpennine Express. Lovely stuff.

Away from the 3D animated world in the 2004 film was our penultimate piece of the concert. That of Philip Harper’s arrangement of The Water of Tyne. Based on a traditional folk song, the song is sung by a woman whose paramour is separated by the said river. The piece follows the course of the River Tyne from Deadwater Fell to Tynemouth and has been covered by the likes of Sting and Jimmy Nail. It is sometimes known as Waters of Tyne. Another sound performance, but a lull before the storm that was our final piece.

The final piece of the night made the breathtaking first half finale seem like a softer piece like The Irish Blessing. Enter the colossus that is Ottorino Respighi’s march from The Pines of Rome. The composer was inspired by 16th, 17th, and 18th century music with his pieces written for violin. The Pines of Rome is inspired by marauding Roman soldiers. With the arranging skills of Howard Snell, and the finest of brass bands, a monumental feast to savour. One of the finest performances to grace Boarshurst Band Club since records began.

If you thought the band’s performance of The Pines of Rome was superb, this was followed by one of the finest encore performances to have graced the stage at The Mecca of Brass Banding. Enter Ernesto Lecuona’s Malaguena, a joyous slice of Cuban style whimsy complete with audience participation. Malaguena is one of his most famous works, and originally the sixth movement of Suite Andalucia. It has been covered by Connie Francis.

At 9.45pm, the live audience left with beaming smiles on their faces. Friends of Music For Youth Brass Band didn’t only give us a stunning concert; they gave a fantastic finish to Boarshurst Band Club’s 2018 programme. What was more unbelievable was the fact that last night’s band had only been together for a fortnight. Their last rehearsal finished an hour before the concert began.

Who knows what 2019 will bring: could it finish with a finale as glittering as the old year’s?

Friends of Music For Youth Brass Band were:

  • Musical Director: Lee Skipsey (City of Bradford Brass Band);
  • Solo Euphonium: Adam Bokaris (The Fairey Band);
  • Repiano Cornet: Adam Neild (Black Dyke Band)
  • Principal Cornet: Alan Hobbins (Oldham Band (Lees));
  • Solo Cornet: Anna Louise Spedding (Leyburn Band);
  • Principal Baritone: Ashley Louise Jeffers (Fodens Band);
  • Bass: Ben Dixon (Pemberton Old Wigan Band);
  • Solo Cornet: Bethan Plant (The Brighouse and Rastrick Band);
  • Cornet: Claire Louise Skipsey (City of Bradford Brass Band);
  • Solo Euphonium: Daniel Jackson (Hepworth Silver Prize Band);
  • Solo Horn: Debbie Lea (Hepworth Silver Prize Band);
  • Solo Horn: Grace Jeffers (Pemberton Old Wigan Band);
  • EEb Tuba: Gregor Spence (Skelmanthorpe Brass Band);
  • Principal Percussion: Jordan Hall (Oldham Band (Lees));
  • Repiano Cornet: Joseph Hainsworth (Hepworth Silver Prize Band);
  • Trombone: Kyle Blake (The Cory Band);
  • Percussion: Logan Emmie Hartley (Black Dyke Band);
  • Soprano Cornet: Louise Belton (Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band);
  • Assistant Principal Cornet: Maria Hall (Oldham Band (Lees));
  • Bb Bass: Matt Wade (The Brighouse and Rastrick Band);
  • Percussion: Neil Edwards (Black Dyke Band);
  • Cornet: Niall Thompson (Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band);
  • Second Baritone: Owen Watson (The Hammonds Band);
  • Second Bass Trombone: Rebecca Lundberg (Leyburn Band);
  • Solo Horn: Siobhan Bates (Black Dyke Band);
  • Percussion: Stephanie Payne (City of Bradford Brass Band);
  • Percussion: Tim Sidwell (Hepworth Silver Prize Band);
  • Flugelhorn: Toni Heywood (Oldham Band (Lees));
  • Bass Trombone: Tony Robertson (Hepworth Silver Prize Band).

Towards 2019

An exciting programme awaits us all next year with Westoe Colliery Band kicking off proceedings. This will take place on the 20 January 2019, starting at 7pm. Due to their longer travelling time to and from Boarshurst Band Club, please note the earlier starting time (most of Boarshurst Band Clubs concerts start at 8pm).

As this is the last East of the M60 post of 2018, we would like to wish all our readers a Happy New Year.

S.V., 31 December 2018.

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