Stockport Silver Band enthrals audiences with exciting new programme

With a well supported live audience and a new look concert programme, Jim Hunter and Co gave us all a fantastic night’s worth of brass band music. Nearly two years on their previous concert, both the weather and the audience turnout were on Stockport Silver Band’s side.

When Stockport Silver Band made their Boarshurst debut, they rehearsed in the shadow of Stockport viaduct and had one of the best connected band rooms in Britain (bus, train, and – a few miles away – air). After being evicted from their rehearsal room in Edgeley, they took temporary residence at St. Cuthbert’s Church in Cheadle and the United Reformed Church on George Lane, Bredbury.

Within 24 hours of their concert, the Stockport Silver band announced on their website some news of another change of rehearsal rooms. Their new quarters will be taken up this Tuesday at the Kimberley Street Day Centre, Shaw Heath. Though not quite as convenient as Edgeley, nearer to Stockport town centre than Cheadle and Bredbury. By bus it is a modest walk from Shaw Heath; both the 309 and 313 (Stockport – Cheadle/Gillbent) combine to make for two buses per hour after 7pm. If you get the hourly 313, it is a shorter walk from Adswood Road.

Stockport Silver Band were formed in 1870 as the Cheshire Yeomanry Band. The band merged with the Edgeley Prize Band and adopted their present name in 1954. For a time, one of its conductors, Harold Bennett (who stayed with the band till 1973) was a lift operator at the Co-op’s Chestergate department store.

In 2017, Alex ‘Parky’ Parker took over from Ian Colwell. At the start of this year, he was succeeded by Jim Hunter. Besides being a safe pair of hands for many brass bands, his experience and delivery never fails to win friends. Whether among brass banders or audience members.

The Programme

First Half

  1. March: Barnard Castle (Goff Richards);
  2. Overture: The Lonely Mill (Handel Lancaster);
  3. Popular Music: Light as Air (Goff Richards – after Handel and Gary Brooker/Keith Reid);
  4. Horn Section Showcase (performed by Jan, Ray, Jenny, and Malcolm): Born Free (John Barry, arr. Alan Catherall);
  5. Popular Music: One Moment in Time (Albert Hammond/John Bettis, arr. Alan Fernie);
  6. Popular Music: (Everything I Do) I Do It For You (Bryan Adams/Michael Kamen, arr. Alan Fernie);
  7. Hymn: St. Clement (Clement Cotteril Scholefield) – dedicated to the late Ken Watts (Milnrow Band);
  8. March: Pennine Way (Maurice Johnstone).

Second Half

  1. Concert Opener: Prismatic Light (Alan Fernie);
  2. Hymn: Hine e Hine (Princess te Rangi Pai, arr. Peter Graham);
  3. Light Concert Music: Lady Stewart’s Air (Peter Graham);
  4. Musical Piece (from Cats): Memory (Andrew Lloyd-Webber, arr. Goff Richards);
  5. Musical Piece (from Cats): Skimbleshanks (The Railway Cat) (Andrew Lloyd-Webber, arr. Goff Richards);
  6. Musical Piece (from Aspects of Love): Love Changes Everything (Andrew Lloyd-Webber, arr. Stephen Bulla);
  7. March: True and Trusty (J.A. Greenwood).

Encore

  • March: The New Recruit (G. Southwell)

Barnard Castle to the Pennine Way? 6.9 miles down the A66

Throughout last night’s concert, lovers of Goff Richards arrangements and original compositions were well catered for with four pieces. Peter Graham and Alan Fernie was also well represented.

Proving you couldn’t hassle the Goff was our first of four Goff Richards pieces. This time with Barnard Castle, inspired by previous brass banding castles (i.e.: Raby by George Allan and Castells Coch, Caerphilly and Cardiff by T.J. Powell). As a march, Barnard Castle deserves a bit more love: it is a lively good all-round piece, suitable for concerts and Whit Friday contests. From Stockport Silver’s performance, I was reminded of its sparky nature.

After their energetic start, we continued with The Lonely Mill. If you went to Lydgate Band‘s and Denton Brass‘ concerts last year, you may remember Handel Lancaster’s piece. First published in 1936 by Boosey and Hawkes, it was played by Denton Brass as a dedication to the late Harry Lever. Harry who passed away early last year was a regular at Boarshurst Band Club and a walking encyclopaedia of everything Hydonian. Stockport Silver Band gave us all a lovely performance of Lancaster’s perfectly formed overture.

For the third piece of the night, we turned to Gary Brooker’s and Keith Reid’s most famous song. If you guessed A Whiter Shade of Pale, go to the top of the class. If you mentioned their group name (Procol Harum), have a gold star. With a little help from another Handel, and Goff Richards, the result is Light as Air. Combining both Procol Harum’s song and Air on a G String, it makes for a good addition to the concert programme. Stockport Silver Band put in another good shift.

With a few missing soloists, there was no soloists in last night’s programme. Instead we had a showcase for the band’s horn section. A horn trio, but a horn trio with 33.3% extra free (to reward Boarshurst Band Club’s loyal audience members perhaps). The piece in question was Born Free by John Barry. As the title song of the 1966 film, it was sung by Matt Monro. In the film, a couple adopt a lion cub up to adulthood before releasing her into the wild in Kenya. The song has also been covered by Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra and comedian Vic Reeves.

Following a delightful performance from Stockport Silver’s horn trio plus one, our next stop on our journey through the charts was 1988. Back when Whitney Houston’s One Moment in Time. Written by Albert Hammond and John Bettis, it was adopted as the theme music for the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. Stockport Silver Band’s performance was a medal winner; an Olympian performance which had more in common with the Seoul games than Daw Bank bus depot.

The next piece, continuing our Golden Hour, took us to 1991. There was one song which dominated the charts that year, and it came from the same year’s smash hit film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Starring Kevin Costner, Bryan Adams’ (Everything I Do) I Do It For You closed the film in spectacular fashion. Stockport Silver Band’s performance was a good ‘un, making a fist of the song’s middle eight key change. In the UK Singles Charts, Bryan Adams’ most famous/infamous tune (delete where appropriate) was Number One for 16 consecutive weeks. A record which stands to this day.

Whereas (Everything I Do) I Do It For You was dedicated to your best friend, advocate, clothes washer and cook, our next piece was dedicated to another dear friend. This time, Milnrow Band’s Ken Watts, who had an equally marathon stint at their Harmony Street band room (47 years). Following his recent death, the hymn St. Clement was dedicated to his memory. Written by Clement Cotteril Scholefield, it is also known as The Day Thou Gavest, Lord is Ended. It was sung as part of the 1897 Diamond Jubilee celebrations of Queen Victoria’s coronation. A lovely, sensitive piece.

To finish the first half, we had another march. This time, Maurice Johnstone’s Pennine Way. There are few marches in print that have reflected the travails being stuck on Bleaklow Moor, having a quick one in the Tan Hill pub, and finishing in Kirk Yetholm. Somehow Johnstone succeeded, and Stockport Silver Band scaled this piece in style without blisters or cramp. Like Barnard Castle, this one deserves a bit more love. Overall, a tight and well thought-out first half.

How Prismatic lit the way for last night’s new recruit

At first, the first half programme would have finished with Prismatic Light, with Pennine Way opening the second half. Instead, we opened our second half with Alan Fernie’s Prismatic Light. Which I have said on several occasions is a great concert opener. The piece was written by Alan Fernie for Loanhead Youth Band’s 10th anniversary concert in 2012. With its musical cues from John Williams’ works, a piece of Olympian proportions enjoyed by many bands. Stockport Silver Band’s performance was no exception to that rule.

This was followed by our second piece Hine e Hine, a Maori lullaby written by Princess Te Rangi Pai in 1909. Correctly pronounced as “Heen E Heen” (our thanks go to David Ashworth), it is a popular lullaby on both northern and southern hemispheres. From 1979 to 1994 it was used by Television New Zealand’s Channel 2 for its closedown music, with an animated kiwi known as The Goodnight Kiwi. Over in Granadaland, we had a choice of Graham James, Colin Weston, Jim Pope, or Charles Foster saying “goodnight” before Keith Mansfield’s New Granada March kicked in. A lovely piece, also the first of two Peter Graham arrangements of last night’s concert.

Whilst staying in New Zealand with another Peter Graham piece, was another brass band concert classic in the form of Lady Stewart’s Air. It was commissioned by the Federation of Australasian Brass Bands as a tribute to Adrienne Stewart. Plus it appears on the test piece entitled The Journal of Phileas Fogg used in the 2016 National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain’s regional finals. Good stuff.

This was followed by the first of three Andrew Lloyd-Webber songs in our concert programme. First of the three was Memory, which was the first of our two songs from Cats. Based on the T.S. Eliot book, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, this is by far its best-known number. It is sung by the former glamour cat, Grizabella in the stage production. As well as Elaine Paige’s version, it has also been sung by Celine Dion and Barbra Streisland. Ms. Paige’s version peaked at Number Six in July 1981, in the UK Singles Chart. Another astute performance.

Our second and final piece from Cats (and our second Andrew Lloyd-Webber number) was a lesser known piece: Skimbleshanks (The Railway Cat). The railway cat’s number is a lively one which was well reflected in Stockport Silver’s performance. Also an appropriate tune for their programme, being as the band rehearsed in the shadows of Stockport’s iconic viaduct. A purr-fect piece to take us up to the raffle.

If a bottle of Prosecco or a box a Celebrations would have changed anything from the raffle prizes, your waistline and liver might have taken a hit. Everyone knows that Love Changes Everything, as epitomised by Aspects of Love‘s best loved song. In 1989, it was a Top Ten hit for Michael Ball (who played Alex Dillingham, its male lead). Exactly 30 years ago, it was kept off the top spot by Simple Minds (Belfast Child) and Jason Donovan (Too Many Broken Hearts). Another good performance.

To finish, our next two pieces reminded us of the Whit Friday walks. Or Whit Sunday in some areas; maybe the odd St. George’s Day parade. Also during the Whit Friday brass band contests. The ‘official’ closing piece was J.A. Greenwood’s True and Trusty, which on many a walk is a popular street march. Stockport Silver’s performance was loud and well formed, without the fear of flying church banners or walkers getting ahead of the band.

For the encore, this was followed by True and Trusty‘s more bumptious sister, The New Recruit. Written by G. Southwell, it is a popular yet melodic march during Whit Friday band contests alongside lower section bands. As well as being the first live audience to see Stockport Silver Band’s new concert programme, we have also heard their choice of Whit Friday marches.

Overall, Stockport Silver Band gave us a very good concert programme. One with enough popular music and traditional concert pieces to cater for everyone. Which is testimony to Jim’s wide-ranging experience as Musical Director. With the band moving to more permanent rehearsal facilities at Kimberley Street Day Centre, Shaw Heath on Tuesday, we hope their stay is a lengthy one.

With a Musical Director who has been described as a great tutor by fellow brass banders and a more permanent band room, things are looking up. We wish Stockport Silver Band the very best in whatever they do.

With some personnel issues, last night’s concert was made possible by fellow players from Stalybridge Old, Diggle, and Tintwistle bands, plus a few others. If you saw Mass Brass 3 on the 23 March, you may recognise Phil Kerr from Diggle Band, who came to the aid of Stockport Silver Band. Greta Brownridge, soprano cornet player for Stalybridge Old Band, also helped out. In the words of Jim Hunter, she could also stake a claim on Boarshurst Band Club being her second home.

Our thanks also go to everyone who helped out Stockport Silver Band. As well its programme, last night’s concert was proof of how the brass banding movement can pull together in times of need. The show, as they said in the past tense, went on.

Addendum: Vacancies at Stockport Silver Band

Stockport Silver Band will be celebrating their 150th anniversary next year. To take the band towards 2020, the band is looking for two of the following players:

  • 1 x Solo Cornet player;
  • 1 x Eb Bass player.

The above positions are negotiable and dependent on ability (Principal Cornet included).

If you fancy a blow, though prefer to play a euphonium or flugelhorn, Stockport Silver Band welcomes other players. They are a friendly relaxed non-contesting band, so neither Jim nor the rest of the band will bite your head off when you’re starting out. To make the most of your time, they also have a steady programme of concerts and local events like the Bramhall Duck Race and Stockport Pride. The band also has occasional social events.

Rehearsals take place on Tuesday evenings between 8pm and 10pm at Kimberley Street Day Centre, Shaw Heath (the 313 bus from Stockport to Cheadle stops nearby on Adswood Road). If you know someone who lives in Stockport or surrounding area who wishes to learn a brass instrument in a friendly environment, show them this article. Or direct them to Stockport Silver Band’s website, their Twitter feed or Facebook page.

Next week…

Making their way down along the M58, M6 and M62 next week is Skelmersdale Prize Band. Unless we are proved wrong, Skelmersdale Prize Band’s visit to Boarshurst Band Club is probably their first one in a concert setting. The band were formed in 1878 – 141 years ago and 39 years after the formation of Boarshurst Silver Band. Their first rehearsals took place in a bakery.

As always, doors are open from 7pm for the usual 8pm start. Admission is £3.00, or £2.00 for members of Boarshurst Band Club.

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., 01 April 2019.

One thought on “Stockport Silver Band: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club, 31 March 2019

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