Mossley Band impress in glorious concert with lively atmosphere

In the last three years, The Mecca of Brass Banding has played host to more appearances from St. John’s (Mossley) Band than other two Mossley bands. Long overdue was the Mossley Band’s visit to Boarshurst Band Club. Being as it had been several years since their last concert at the Greenbridge Lane venue, it was well worth the wait.

Formed in 1841, Mossley Band is one of the leading names in the brass banding movement. In 1853, as the Mossley Temperance Band, they were the first ever winners of the Belle Vue Championship. Today, the Belle Vue Championship is contested at The Symphony Hall, Birmingham and is known as the British Open Championship.

Between the First and Second World Wars they changed their name to Mossley Borough Band. 45 years ago, as Mossley Band, they moved into their present headquarters on Argyle Street. Over 40 years ago, in May 1979, The Right Honourable Robert Sheldon M.P. opened their clubhouse.

By the start of the 21st Century, Musical Director Simon Stonehouse took Mossley Band to the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain First Section finals. After being succeeded by Martyn Evans and the present-day Musical Director Duncan Byers, the band has had a period of stability. From 2011 to 2014 they won the Butlins Mineworkers’ Championships Second Section prize for four consecutive years.

Was there something for everyone in Mossley Band’s programme? Yes there was; not only hardcore brass band lovers but also Sci-Fi geeks, ABBA fans and Nat King Cole fanatics. To borrow the great singer’s words, truly ‘unforgettable’.

The Programme

First Half

  1. March: O.R.B (Charles Anderson);
  2. Overture: To Boldly Go (Peter Graham);
  3. Principal Cornet Solo (performed by Adam Scaife): Tico Tico (Zequinha de Abreu de arr. John Iveson);
  4. Light Concert Music: I’ll Walk With God (Nicholas Brodzsky, arr. Goff Richards);
  5. Tenor Horn Solo (performed by Ian Wilkinson): Jenny Jones (William Rimmer);
  6. Tenor Horn Trio (performed by Ian Wilkinson, Jenny McDermott and Jo Flett): Hat Trick (Roy Newsome);
  7. Popular Music: Unforgettable (Irving Gordon, arr. Frank Bernaerts);
  8. Original Piece: Starburst (Dan Price).

Second Half

  1. Musical Medley: The World’s Greatest Storyteller (Various, arr. Philip Harper):
    1. Theme from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Robert B. Sherman/Richard M. Sherman);
    2. (From Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) Pure Imagination (Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley);
    3. (From Matilda) When I Grow Up (Tim Minchin);
  2. Original Piece: Elegy (Leigh Baker);
  3. Trombone Trio (performed by Tony Mossman, Paul Garth and Harry Lilley): Frolic For Trombones (Reginald Heath);
  4. Popular Music Medley: Coldplay on Stage (Chris Martin, arr. Michael Brown) – including Clocks, Lost! and Viva la Vida;
  5. Euphonium Solo (performed by Neil Riley): Carrickfergus (Traditional, arr. Stephen Roberts);
  6. Musical Piece (from The Greatest Showman): This Is Me (Benj Pasek/Justin Paul, arr. Michael Brown);
  7. Hymn: Deep Harmony (Handel Parker, arr. John Golland) – tribute to Trevor Hamilton;
  8. Popular Music Medley: Suite from Mamma Mia! (Bjorn Ulvaeus, arr. Peter Kleine Schaars):
    1. Mamma Mia!;
    2. Knowing Me, Knowing You;
    3. Money Money Money;
    4. Dancing Queen;
    5. I Do I Do I Do I Do;
    6. Mamma Mia! (reprise);
    7. Waterloo.

Encore

  • Theme Music: Theme from The Battle of the Planets (Hoyt Crutin, arr. Philip Harper).

To boldly go, where no other band has gone before…

Kicking off our programme was a traditional contest march. If you are looking for an alternative to Knight Templar or Ravenswood, Charles Anderson’s O.R.B. is a commendable option. In its long hand form it stands for Oldham Rifle Brigade. The Oldham Rifle Brigade band had great success in the late Victorian times which continued till the late 1920s. It attracted the finest conductors including Alexander Owen and – the composer of this march – Charles Anderson.

Taking our story back to 2019, O.R.B. gave Mossley Band great success in this year’s Whit Friday Brass Band Contests. They picked up a few Best Local and Best First Section band prizes along the way. Last night’s stunning performance proved their success was well deserved.

The second piece was inspired by Star Trek in name only. Peter Graham’s To Boldly Go is anything but Star Trek themed; it was commissioned by Ken Waterworth, bandmaster of the Melbourne Staff Band. This was written in 2015 to commemorate their 125th anniversary. A fantastic, driving piece made all the better by Mossley Band’s volume and texture.

This took us to the first soloist of the night. Enter Adam Scaife whom, several years ago when knee high to a grasshopper, performed Buster Strikes Back. Now a lot taller, he performed on principal cornet Tico Tico. The piece was written in 1917 as Tico Tico No Farelo and translates into English as Sparrow in the Bran. In the mid-1990s it was used to advertise Whiskas cat food. From the applause, it was clear that more than nine out of ten listeners enjoyed his performance. Superb stuff from Adam Scaife who is definitely one to watch in the near future.

For our next piece was a song that was heard in The Student Prince: Nicholas Brodzsky’s I’ll Walk With God. It has famously been sung by Mario Lanza, Placido Domingo and Michael Crawford. In the film, Prince Karl sung the song at the King of Carlsburg’s death bed. Played by Edmund Purdom, his singing was replaced by Mario Lanza’s dubbed voice. A brass band concert classic which stood up well with Mossley Band’s performance.

Speaking of concert classics, our second soloist of the night gave us another one in William Rimmer’s Jenny Jones. Our man with the tenor horn was Ian Wilkinson. A comforting and serene piece for the listener, it really shows off the capabilities of the tenor horn. In 1965, Lyndon Baglin’s performance was committed to vinyl on Brighouse and Rastrick Band’s Brass From Brighouse LP. If Lyndon Baglin BEM saw the live stream, he would have approved of Ian’s performance. Superb.

In brass band concerts you may see the odd trio. Far fewer brass band concerts have a trio in each half! Our first trio of the night came from Mossley Band’s horn section. This time with the late Roy Newsome’s Hat Trick. A nice bit of cheese, it has previously been performed by the Sun Life Stanshawe Band in their 1996 Obrasso release The Music of Roy Newsome. Brilliant.

Or unforgettable, even. As in Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable which inspired the penultimate item of the first half. Written by Irving Gordon, it is Nat King Cole’s best known song. In 1991 it was sung by his late daughter Natalie Cole (in a semi-posthumous duet with his father) on her covers album Unforgettable… With Love.

In another decade, our final piece of this half may have been written as Fantasia on Opal Fruits. Written by Dan Price, Starburst was commissioned by the Greater Manchester Youth Brass Band. In June 2014 it was premiered at The Bridgewater Hall. The lively piece symbolises an abnormally high rate of star formation. It is billed on his website (with a lovely view of the dovecote near Rivington Pike) as a concert opener. It was similarly effective as a closing piece for the first half.

“…Dedicated, inseparable, invincible…”

“When people work together like the members of G Force, a very strong bond develops. That’s the secret of their success.”

– Battle of the Planets (Series 1, Episode 2)

Our second half was a slightly lighter proposition. There was also a tribute to the late Trevor Hamilton who sadly passed away on the Saturday after Whit Friday.

Opening the second half was a suite of musical songs arranged by Philip Harper. Entitled The World’s Greatest Storyteller, it encompasses snippets of three pieces inspired by Roald Dahl. The first was the Sherman Brothers’ theme from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, followed by Pure Imagination (from Mel Stuart’s film adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). This was topped by Tim Minchin’s irresistible When I Grow Up from the musical version of Matilda. Mossley’s performance of this piece (arranged by Probably The Best Musical Director in the World at The Cory Band) was truly scrumptious.

This was followed up by a composition from one the world’s finest brass band solo musicians. Enter Leigh Baker’s Elegy. This beautiful piece was written as a tribute to Eddie Noble MBE. In 2002, he passed away at the age of 76. He was dubbed by the brass band movement as Mr Brighouse and Rastrick and prior to then, began his brass banding career on tenor horn at Clifton and Lightcliffe Band. In his honour, a mini concert took place at the Brighouse Hymn and March Contest prior to the announcement of that year’s contest results. Fantastic work.

For the third piece of this half was our second trio of the night. This time a trombone trio in the form of Reginald Heath’s Frolic For Trombones. Heath’s work is a fairly common concert item. It is a nice bit of Dairylea which is either enjoyed by listeners or the first piece one loves to hate (yes, I know some people replace ‘Frolic’ with ‘Chronic’). In our case, somewhere beyond Dairylea in the performance stakes. More like the finest chunk of crumbly Lancashire that money can buy. Tasty stuff.

The collected works of Chris Martin and Co. can polarise music lovers as much as Reg Heath’s work. Michael Brown’s Coldplay on Stage is a neat suite of songs by the all-conquering British album orientated rock group. The suite includes Clocks, Viva la Vida and Lost!. When transcribed to brass band form, it makes for better listening than their original single releases. Perhaps too much radio airplay might have had sullied my judgement of their works. Michael Brown’s work is among my favourite brass band medleys with popular music leanings, and Mossley Band put in a good shift.

Next up was our third and final soloist of the night. Enter on euphonium Neil Riley. This time with Carrickfergus, a traditional song arranged by Stephen Roberts. The folk song has been performed by The Dubliners, and is based on a bawdy gentleman. Carrickfergus itself is in County Antrim and on the banks of Belfast Lough. Fantastic work from Neil.

We returned to the world of stage and screen for the next number. This time, a piece from The Greatest Showman entitled This Is Me. In the film it was sung by Keala Settle and reached the Top Three of the singles charts in the UK (#3) and Scotland (#2). The single went twice platinum across the UK. Mossley Band’s performance was another cheerful diversion.

Our penultimate piece was a tribute to Trevor Hamilton, who passed away on the Saturday after Whit Friday. The choice of hymn was a superb one: John Golland’s arrangement of Deep Harmony. In just three minutes, Mossley Band’s performance of the hymn almost got your reviewer going bleary eyed. It was sensitive, moving, and demonstrated the power of hymn music with a superb brass band. One of my highlights of that night’s concert.

To finish the concert, we moved from Seel Park to Skopelos. One or two of you might recall that Skopelos doubled as Kalokairi in Mamma Mia! which inspired the medley of ABBA song. The suite from Mamma Mia! opened with a chunk of ABBA’s 1976 Number One single. This was followed by bitesize chunks of Knowing Me Knowing You, Money Money Money, Dancing Queen, and I Do I Do I Do I Do, before returning to Mamma Mia! and finishing with Waterloo. Mossley Band didn’t need the gimmick of a dancing ex-PM to engage the audience’s attention. Just a stunning, toe-tapping performance.

If you thought that wasn’t enough, Mossley Band gave us a real cracker of an encore. Enter another superb arrangement by Philip Harper: this time with the theme tune from the Battle of the Planets. Written by Hoyt Crutin, this pulsating theme is heard in the opening and closing titles of the Japanese Sci-Fi cartoon. The programme is an American adaptation of the original 1972 series Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. In 1978 it was adapted for English audiences as the Battle of the Planets. A fantastic, somewhat unexpected concert closing piece. If any brass band considers a multimedia Sci-Fi themed concert, Philip Harper’s arrangement set to the cartoon’s titles should be considered.

*                  *                  *

As the cliché goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Mossley Band’s first concert at Boarshurst Band Club for several years was well worth waiting for. Duncan Byers came across as jolly and informative and Mossley Band’s programme was an exciting one.

We hope Mossley Band’s next trip to Boarshurst Band Club will be closer to next year. If you get the chance of seeing them in concert, I fully recommend spending the best part of your three hours with them. Their next concert is on the 07 July at the Ring O’Bells public house in Marple.

Next Week…

Diggle Band will be making the short trip downwards to The Mecca of Brass Banding. After having a brass band club without a brass band, Diggle Band were reformed in 1996 and have come up in leaps and bounds. Headed by Alan Widdop, another great night awaits us all.

Next week’s concert will have excellent local support. To avoid disappointment/standing up/or being locked out, arrive as early as possible. Admission is £8.00 (or £7.00 for members and concessions). Doors are open from 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. Please note that after 7pm that the 350 service is operated by Stagecoach Manchester.

Twitter details: @boarshurstband; #SundayBrass.

Website: www.boarshurstband.co.uk.

S.V., 24 June 2019.

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