Pride Brass: A Special Sunday Brass Night at the Boarshurst Band Club

Début concert opens new season of Sunday Brass Nights in style

September can only mean one thing for many people across the UK: back to school or back to work. Also the realisation that darker nights and cooler autumn weather are around the corner. In Glossop and Greenfield, the 01 September meant the return of brass band concerts. Whereas Glossop Old Band Room had the excellent Fairey Band, Boarshurst Band Club played a major part in brass banding history.

Pride Brass’ first ever public performance. The first ever concert to be held by a LGBTQI brass band in Saddleworth.

With LGBTQI players and their allies, Pride Brass’ arrival to the scene is a long time coming. Formed by Anthony Longden-Kirk, its arrival coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. At this concert, and subsequent concerts held by Pride Brass, part of the takings will be given to Stonewall. The charity was formed in 1989, a year after (the now repealed and deservedly reviled) Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act came into existence.

Pride Brass’ programme was vibrant, with a healthy mix of popular music and traditional brass band concert standards. As well as Flixton Band’s Matt Ryan (Pride Brass’ MD), there was two more conductors. James Garlick (Boarshurst Silver Band) and James Holt (Besses Boys Band) conducted two pieces each.

Like brass banding should be to all walks of life, whether sexuality or background for example, Pride Brass gave us a most accessible programme. Whether at Boarshurst Band Club or any forthcoming events, they will be well received by anyone aged 3 to 90 years of age.

The scene is set for a memorable concert.

First Half

  1. March: Anchors Aweigh (Charles Zimmerman/H.C. Newton);
  2. Euphonium Solo (performed by Neil Venables): Pure Imagination (Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley, arr. Philip Harper);
  3. Popular Music Medley: ABBA Selection (Bjorn Ulvaeus/Benny Andersson, arr. Frank Bryce):
    1. Money, Money, Money;
    2. I Have A Dream;
    3. Fernando;
    4. Thank You For The Music.
  4. Horn Quartet (performed by Jess Tredrea, Martyn Owen, Daniel Jackson, Kim Golson): Hey Jude (Lennon/McCartney, arr. Derek Broadbent);
  5. Light Concert Music: Felton Lonnin (Lee Morris)∆;
  6. Light Concert Music: How D’Ya Like Your Eggs In The Morning? (Nicholas Brodzsky/Sammy Cahn, arr. Rieks van der Velde);
  7. Jazz Standard: Caravan (Duke Ellington/Juan Tizol, arr. Steve Sykes) ∆∆.

Second Half

  1. Concert Opener: Prismatic Light (Alan Fernie);
  2. Flugelhorn Solo (performed by Jess Tredrea): Under The Boardwalk (Artie Resnick/Kenny Young, arr. Philip Harper);
  3. Light Concert Music: Water of Tyne (Philip Harper) ∆;
  4. Trombone Quartet (performed by Anthony Longden-Kirk, Steph James, Jo Highfield, Hannah Stretton): I Will Follow Him (Franck Pourcel/Paul Mauriat, arr. Goff Richards) ∆∆;
  5. Light Concert Music: Stål Himmel (Alan Fernie);
  6. Musical Piece (from West Side Story): Somewhere (Leonard Bernstein, arr. Eric Crees).

Encore

  • Popular Music: YMCA (Jacques Morali/Victor Willis/Henri Belolo, arr. Frank Bernaerts).

Notes:

∆ – Conducted by James Garlick (Boarshurst Silver Band).

∆∆ – Conducted by James Holt (Besses Boys Band).

All other pieces conducted by Matt Ryan.

Maiden voyage

With all the necessary checks and balances made in advance of last night’s concert, Pride Brass set sail with Anchors Aweigh. An appropriate piece for the band’s maiden voyage, it is the march song of US Navy. It was written by Charles Zimmerman in 1906. His other works include the musical score of the stage version of The Wizard of Oz (1902). A fantastic start to a most historical two hours in The Mecca of Brass Banding.

This was followed by the first soloist of the night. Picking up the golden ticket was Neil Venables on euphonium. His piece was Pure Imagination, from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Mel Stuart’s film version of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Arranged by Philip Harper, it is part of a suite known as The Greatest Storyteller (which includes the theme from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and When I Grow Up from the musical version of Matilda). As euphonium performances went, a tasty confection.

Our third piece focused on one of the greatest pop quartets and singer-songwriting teams of all time. If you guessed ‘ABBA’, give yourself a gold star. Frank Bryce’s ABBA Selection gave us four of the group’s finest works: Money, Money, Money; I Have A Dream; Fernando, and Thank You For The Music. Since their 1974 Eurovision Song Contest win in Brighton, the collected works of Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Annafrid have won friends with many listeners. It has inspired Muriel’s Wedding and Priscilla: Queen of the Desert as well as the musical/movie juggernaut of the Mamma Mia! franchise. Brilliant stuff.

As well as ABBA, The Beatles’ back catalogue has been transcribed into brass band form with great success. One example is Hey Jude, where Derek Broadbent’s arrangement was performed by our first quartet of the night. The original song evolved from Hey Jules, a ballad sung to Julian Lennon following John Lennon’s split with his first wife Cynthia. For audio geeks, Hey Jude was the first song to be recorded on their Apple label and on 8-track recording equipment at Trident Studios, London. Instead of eight tracks, our quartet gave us a very good performance. A few more “na-na-na-naaas” from the audience could have been good (perhaps an idea to consider for future concerts).

Changing the tone (and our conductor from Matt Ryan to James Garlick) was Felton Lonnin. Arranged by Lee Morris, it is based on the ballad known as The Kye Have Come Hame, telling the story of a child lost in a farmer’s field. It has also been sung by the High Level Ranters, Eliza Carthy and Eleanor Waterson. Rachel Unthank and the Winterset also sung the song with Brighouse and Rastrick Band. A lovely piece.

With Matt Ryan returning to the podium, came our penultimate piece of this half. Written by Nicholas Brodzsky and Sammy Cahn in 1951, How D’Ya Like Your Eggs In The Morning? is a classic Rat Pack standard. It has been covered by many artistes including Dean Martin. It featured in the film, Rich, Young, and Pretty, starring Jane Powell as Elizabeth Rogers. Vic Damone also made his first appearance in that film. A well performed counterpart to the last piece of this half, a more livelier affair about recreational vehicles.

Rather than evoking memories of Sprites being stuck in Towyn, Duke Ellington’s and Juan Tizol’s Caravan never fails to lift the audience. With Steve Sykes’ sublime arrangement, it is a great piece that comes into its own at the end of a concert. Or at the end of the first half, as exemplified by Pride Brass’ performance. Taking us to the interval, we had a crew change: this time with James Holt wielding the baton.

A prismatic light under the boardwalk

Within the LGBTQI rights movement, the multicoloured Gay Pride flag is its most visible symbol. There is also a number of separate flags for bisexuality, asexuality, lesbianism and gender fluidity among other LGBT subcultures.

At one end of a triangular prism, you may see white light. At the opposite end, a rainbow appears. In other words, a Prismatic Light as per Alan Fernie’s creation. Starting out as a piece for Loanhead Youth Band, it has outgrown its original raison d’etre by being a concert opener. Whether played by a local band or the world’s Number One brass band, it never fails to excite the audience. Pride Brass’ performance was a dazzling one which got us ready for an exciting second half.

Equally dazzling was our second soloist of the night: this time with Jess Tredrea’s second appearance on flugelhorn. Her piece was Under The Boardwalk, originally a hit for The Drifters. In 1987, it was covered by Bruce Willis and kept off the top spot by The Pet Shop Boys (with the excellent It’s A Sin). A year later, Bette Midler covered it, featuring in the film Beaches. With the wind beneath her wings, Jess put a fantastic performance of Philip Harper’s arrangement. Bright and breezy, with the chutzpah of Blackpool in high season. Beside the Prosecco bar on Central Pier.

This was followed by our third crew change aboard M.V. Pride Brass. Making his second appearance at the bridge came James Garlick, who conducted the band during Water of Tyne. During this piece, our friend is separated from another friend by the aforementioned river. The ferry depicted in the song is said to be near Haughton Castle. Besides there being no ferry nowadays, buses are virtually non-existent. Another solid performance.

Following James Garlick’s stint behind the wheel, we broke for the raffle which had a dizzying number of prizes. Instead of the usual three or four prizes, 25 (yes, twenty-five) prizes in all – CDs, fizzy falling down water, chocolates, and a meal voucher.

After the organised chaos of the raffle came another crew change. Complete with running board and a reprogrammed ticket machine came James Holt’s second stint at the podium. This time with a trombone quartet headed by Anthony Longden-Kirk, Steph James, Jo Highfield, Hannah Stretton. Their piece, Franck Pourcel’s I Will Follow Him. For many people, this conjures up images of singing nuns in Sister Act. The song is based on an instrumental work entitled Chariot. Did we love it? Oh yes we did.

Our next to last piece was another Fernie favourite. A quieter number in the form of Stål Himmel. From Norwegian to English, Alan Fernie’s work translates into the more prosaic Steel Skies. The piece is based on the composer’s experience during a stay in Norway. This sublime performance was a showcase for the band’s performance with quieter pieces.

To finish the concert, Mighty Vessel Pride Brass finished up in New York City. This time with a piece from West Side Story, everyone’s favourite modern-day twist on Romeo and Juliet. From the musical, we closed with Somewhere. Sung by Tony and Maria, it appears in a melancholy part of the production where Tony dies in the hands of Maria. Another great performance which left us asking for more.

Staying with New York City, our encore piece came from Messrs Jones, Hughes, Rose, Willis, Hodo and Briley. Known as The Village People, they started as a temporary group. Then Victor Willis put out an ad in a theatre trade paper which read “Macho Types Wanted: Must Dance And Have A Moustache”. For many people, only one song springs to mind: YMCA. It has been the bane/linchpin of wedding discos around the world for over 40 years. In early 1979, it was their one and only UK Number One single.

As for Pride Brass’ performance, a thrilling finale complete with dancers. Needless to say, The Village People’s worldwide smash will be as synonymous with Pride Brass as The Floral Dance is to Brighouse and Rastrick Band. It also has great potential as a deportment march for Whit Friday (though In The Navy could be just as good on Chew Valley Road).

* * *

We wish Pride Brass the very best and hope they repeat the success they had at Boarshurst Band Club. Whether in Tameside or Tennessee, their mix of Agnetha Faltskog and Alan Fernie will win new friends to both the brass banding and LGBTQI rights movements. Long may they continue.

Next week at Boarshurst Band Club…

Our first Championship Section band of the new season will be heading to Boarshurst Band Club. This time, from the White Rose county, the turn of Skelmanthorpe Band. The most senior of the Skelmanthorpe Band Community is one of two bands under the shadow of Emley Moor television transmitter.

Doors are open at 7pm for the usual 8pm start. Admission is £10.00 or £9.00 for members of Boarshurst Band Club. As always, please arrive early to be sure of a good seat.

Buses

  • 180: Manchester [Piccadilly Gardens] – Hollinwood – Oldham – Lees – Greenfield (First Greater Manchester);
  • 350: Ashton-under-Lyne – Mossley – Greenfield – Uppermill – Delph – Waterhead – Oldham (First Greater Manchester/Stagecoach Manchester).

Please alight outside the former Greenfield Conservative Club which is just before (to Oldham) or after (to Ashton) the new zebra crossing. All post-6pm journeys of the 350 route are operated by Stagecoach Manchester.

S.V., 02 September 2019.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Pat Barr says:

    Bravo Stuart, you are the Mastermind of musical facts!

    Liked by 1 person

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