Weather works in band’s favour as Binns and Co serve up a superb concert
After last year’s concert date fell victim to the Beast From The East, Whitworth Vale and Healey Band finally got round to fulfilling their gig at Boarshurst Band Club. A year after that date, you could say last night’s concert was well worth the wait.
For Musical Director Christopher Binns, it was his first visit to Boarshurst Band Club since the Latitude Brass Quintet’s appearance on the 07 February 2016. His return was well received, thanks to a well-rounded programme and five fabulous solo performances.
Whitworth Vale and Healey Band are the product of a merger. They were formed in 1853 when Whitworth Vale and Healey Hall bands got together. In more recent times they have been associated with the Binns family. Christopher, their present Musical Director, is also principal trombonist with Black Dyke Band. His father John, the band’s previous MD, is also the Musical Director for Oldham Symphony Orchestra.
As for the weather, Whitworth Vale and Healey Band’s journey was more successful. During our two hour soiree, hailstones the size of mint imperials and thunderstorms hit Saddleworth, Mossley, and parts of Stalybridge. Though Baltic could have been a suitable adjective for last night’s storm, the atmosphere at Boarshurst Band Club was more Balearic.
The first part of Binns’ programme was akin to a traditional brass band concert. Our second half was more light-hearted with a trio of tremendous solos – all of which sharing the same first name.
- Signature March: Whitworth Vale (J.H White);
- Overture: Il Viaggio a Reims (Gioachino Rossini, arr. Christopher Binns).
- Post Horn Solo (performed by David Tattersall): Post Horn Galop (Herman Lewis Koenig arr. Sidney Herbert);
- Light Concert Music: Pastorale (Goff Richards);
- Film Music (from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest): Wheel of Fortune (Hans Zimmer/John Sponsler/Klaus Badelt/Tom Gire, arr. Stephen Roberts);
- Euphonium Solo (performed by Max Johnson): Dublin’s Fair City (Roy Newsome)
- Classical Music: Two Movements from the Stabat Mater suite (Cantus Lacrimosus and Paradisi Gloria) (Sir Karl Jenkins).
- Light Concert Music: The Golden Lady (Goff Richards);
- Horn Solo (performed by Ian Dyson): Over The Rainbow (Harold Arlen, arr. Ray Farr);
- Trombone Solo (performed by Ian Ashworth): Over Jordan (Maurice Bale);
- Bass Solo (performed by Ian Peters): Czardas (Vittorio Monti, arr. Mark Reift);
- Light Concert Music: Mr Bizet Swings (Sandy Smith);
- Cartoon Music: Theme from Tom and Jerry (Scott Bradley, arr. Christopher Wormald);
- Hymn: Guardian of my Soul (Darren Shaw);
- Musical Piece (from The Sound of Music): Climb Ev’ry Mountain (Richard Rodgers/Oscar Hammerstein, arr. Philip Harper).
- Popular Music: I Get Around (Brian Wilson/Mike Love, arr. Paul Murtha).
Supreme Champion of the Post Horn
We began our programme in traditional fashion with a march. This time, Whitworth Vale, tonight’s band’s very own signature march by J.H White. At one time, many brass bands used to have a signature march and some – years back – would play their own march at Whit Friday contests. A vibrant piece which doubles as an excellent concert opener.
In traditional style, we continued with an overture: Gioachino Rossini’s Il Viaggio a Reims. First performed in 1825, the opera features a group of aristocrats who are planning to attend Charles X’s coronation in Reims. Il Viaggio a Reims was originally performed as a three act opera. Originally it had no overture; that was added in 1938, being derived from a set of dances in Le Siege de Corinthe (1826). Another fine addition to the programme.
Our third piece of the night was both a light-hearted departure and a traditional brass band concert item. Also a timely one as its performance coincided with the announcement of this year’s Supreme Champion at Crufts. Enter on the post horn, principal cornet player David Tattersall with Post Horn Galop. David’s performance on the post horn was superb, and could have raised a smile from the most sour faced brass band fanatic. For a time he was upstaged by the Spodden Valley Working Dog Group.
After Whitworth Vale and Healey band released the hounds, our next piece was more rural. A more genteel one by Goff Richards in the form of Pastorale. The piece conjures up an aural landscape of warm beer, grandmas on bicycles and cricket on the village green (© 1996 Sir John Major). A neat contrast to the previous piece that worked well, showing off the band’s abilities with slower pieces.
The peace was short lived as we moved from rolling hills to piracy on the high seas. Our fifth piece was our first film theme of the day: Wheel of Fortune from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise by Hans Zimmer. Having nothing to do with Nicholas Andrew Argyle Campbell’s game show (yes, we know Hans Zimmer also wrote the theme tune to Going For Gold), it features in Dead Man’s Chest (2006). The follow-up to Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) includes an abandoned wedding and raked in just over a billion dollars.
If you could put a price on the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, there was no way you could have put a price on last night’s second soloist. Having heard a solo from a brass bander with 40+ years experience, we moved on to one of Whitworth Vale and Healey Band’s youngest members. Enter on euphonium Max Johnson with his performance of Roy Newsome’s Dublin’s Fair City. Like Christopher Binns, Max has also benefited from the band’s youth policy.
On the strength of Max’s performance, don’t be surprised if he follows Christopher Binns to Black Dyke Band. Or to any other Championship Section an hour or so from Rochdale. A truly sensational performance with great fluency, volume and intonation.
We finished our first half with a breathtaking finale: two movements from Sir Karl Jenkins’ Stabat Mater. More precisely, Cantus Lacrimosus and Paradisi Gloria, its first and twelfth movements. Inspired by a 13th century Christian hymn, it is divided into twelve movements. Cantus Lacrimosus (Song of Tears) is based on the first four verses of Stabat Mater. Paradisi Gloria (Paradise) is based on versus 18 to 20 of the same hymn. After finishing the first half on a high, we expected more of the same in the second half (spoiler: it was also good).
“You wait aeons for a solo from an Ian… then three come along at once”
The second half gave us a lighter programme, though a lighter programme with style and substance. Continuing what seems to be a tenuous golden link throughout the concert was The Golden Lady. Based on a statue in Luxembourg, Goff Richards’ piece was written in 1990 for the Cornwall Youth Brass Band’s tour of Luxembourg. Whether played by a youth band or a Third Section band, it is a lovely feel-good number. Whitworth Vale and Healey Band’s performance turned the feel-good volume up from 10 to 208.
At around quarter past nine last night, the strong Saddleworth winds and thunder could have whisked one of the world’s most iconic brass band clubs towards Kansas. Taking us to Dorothy’s desired destination was the first of three solo performances by an Ian. First off was Ian Horn – Ian Dyson on the horn with Over The Rainbow. Harold Arlen’s song has had a life beyond its use in The Wizard of Oz. A different deeper version by the late Eva Cassidy was similarly popular. As for last night’s performance, a good ‘un from Ian One.
Ian Trombone’s piece was different again. Being another one of the younger members, Ian Ashworth is another brass bander who could potentially reach the dizzy heights of the Championship Section. His piece was Over Jordan, based on five spiritual songs arranged by Maurice Bale. Like his fellow contemporary Max Jackson, Ian Ashworth’s performance oozed clarity, balance, and accuracy by the bucket load. Brilliant stuff.
In our trio of Ians, the turn of Ian Bass to finish our Soloists Called Ian Showcase. Enter on bass Ian Peters with another solid gold concert standard. How could anyone with a brass banding bone in their body not like Czardas? Especially one with a bass that went down as well as Scotch Broth in a Force 10 gale. Yours truly and a few others could be forgiven for thinking of Stephen Sykes’ performance in 1984’s Granada Band of the Year. He would have been proud of Ian Peters’ performance at Boarshurst.
This was followed by our slight concession to swing music. With Mr Bizet Swings, Sandy Smith pays homage to the composer of Carmen in a swing style. The results are delicious, enough to plump for the Miniature Heroes in the raffle prizes. Whitworth Vale and Healey Band’s performance was a similarly tasty confection.
Instead of chocolate, one or two of us prefer Wensleydale on crackers to Wispa bars. Chocolate and cheese are good for mousetraps, but lovers of Tom and Jerry cartoons know different. In the much loved cartoon series where Jerry always has the upper hand, Scott Bradley’s theme never fails to leave a smile on anybody’s face. Last night’s performance encapsulated Tom and Jerry’s antics better than any 6K 78″ television with Bose speakers. This was thanks to the might of the band’s percussion section which added to the atmosphere. Fantastic work all round.
Just to calm the mood a bit more, we moved on to another thing that brass bands are good at: hymns. One can never fail to be moved by Darren Shaw’s Guardian of My Soul. It is based on two hymns: I Worship You and O Jesus, I Have Promised. Another fine performance which demonstrates both the band’s abilities with quieter pieces and, as we have found at this point, its part in a well balanced programme.
With the inclement weather, there was no way that anyone with half a brain would have climbed Pots and Pans at quarter to ten. The more sensible among us would have enjoyed last night’s final piece Climb Ev’ry Mountain. Arranged by Philip Harper, it is one of many well-known songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein, featuring in The Sound of Music. Composed 60 years ago, it has also been covered by Barbra Streisland, Shirley Bassey and Christina Aguilera. A lovely way to finish the concert – on a high in the literal sense.
Strictly speaking, the last piece – our encore of the night – got us thinking of sunnier days. Instead of freezing one’s you know whats at the former Conservative Club bus stop, we turned to The Beach Boys with I Get Around. Until last night, I had never heard a trio of Ians perform a solo piece each; nor an arrangement of Brian Wilson’s and Mike Love’s finest works in brass band form. Nevertheless it hit the spot very well and got us heading towards Ice Station Scouthead in a sunny mood. On a slightly ironic note, I Get Around was played when First Greater Manchester cancelled its last 180s, 184s and 350s due to the slippy conditions in Saddleworth.
Who needed central heating when Whitworth Vale and Healey Band gave us all the warmest of receptions? There was plenty there to hold the interest of any concertgoer, whether 18 month old or 108 years old. Christopher Binns was authoritative and guided us all through a great concert. With more performances like their Boarshurst gig, they wont be staying in the Third Section for long.
Does the Second Section lie within Binns’ 2020 vision? We hope so, and hope their return to Boarshurst Band Club isn’t thwarted by the weather next year.
St Patrick’s Day sees the arrival of Slaithwaite Band to The Mecca of Brass Banding. The Second Section band has started doing monthly concerts at their band club. Due to its short distance from Greenfield, expect to see a good turnout from our fellows on the other side of Marsden Moor.
Doors are open at 7pm for an 8pm start. Admission will be £4.00 (or £3.00 for members of Boarshurst Band Club). Arrive in good time to get a good seat.
- 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.
S.V., 11 March 2019.