Hade Edge Band: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club (06 October 2019)

Darker nights and rain fails to dampen spirits for Hade Edge Band

For every aspirant Musical Director, you could have your Albert Halls, Winter Gardens, and Symphony Halls in your list of fantasy brass banding venues. Few venues can quite compare with the atmosphere of a band club, like that of Boarshurst Band Club. For Jamie Smith and his new band, Hade Edge Band, it was a memorable two hours. All the more memorable as Hade Edge Band had a completely new programme.

From last night’s programme, it is clear that Mr Smith and Co. have designs on promotion. Instead of being a Second Section band ploughing its merry furrow, Jamie has taken a leaf from Messrs Brooks’ and Garlick’s book. Push the band and create a sense of togetherness as seen with Elland Silver and Boarshurst Silver bands. Hade Edge Band has a training band and a ‘B’ band which allows for promotion from within.

With only eleven pieces in all, you could be forgiven for thinking the concert was over for 9.30pm. Three of them were well over five minutes long – especially Philip Sparke’s Tallis Variations, the Second Section test piece for the Rochdale Contest on the 20 October.

Before taking his position with Hade Edge Band, Jamie Smith has conducted Hammonds Youth Band. His other band is The Fairey Band, who visited Boarshurst Band Club just over a fortnight ago. At Hade Edge, he succeeded Jonathan Beatty – also The Fairey Band’s musical director.

Though some thought the programme was overambitious and heavy going for a Second Section band, I enjoyed it. Jamie came across as a brilliant and informative Musical Director.

First Half

  1. March: Midwest March (J.J Richards, arr. Derek Broadbent);
  2. Cornet Solo (performed by Leisa Mallalieu-Ingman): Don’t Doubt Him Now (Colonel Leonard Ballantine, arr. Craig Woodland);
  3. Classical Piece: The Four Seasons (Vivaldi, arr. Philip Harper);
  4. Light Concert Music: Witch of the Westmerlands (Archie Fisher, arr. Philip Harper);
  5. Tenor Horn Solo (performed by Adrian Brooke): Queen of the Night’s Aria (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, arr. John Golland);
  6. Overture: Force of Destiny (Giuseppe Verdi, arr. Frank Wright).

Second Half

  1. Overture: Tallis Variations (Philip Sparke);
  2. Baritone Horn Solo (performed by Jerran Stead): With His First Breath (Paul Lovatt-Cooper);
  3. Classical Piece: O Magnum Mysterium (Morten Lauridsen, arr. Philip Littlemore);
  4. Euphonium Solo (performed by Steve Stockwell): Fantasy on Swiss Airs (Roy Newsome);
  5. Test Piece: Shine As The Light (Peter Graham).

Encore

  • Popular Music: Don’t Stop Me Now (Freddie Mercury, arr. Philip Harper).

A Midwest march into destiny

To begin with, we had a neat cobweb blower of a march. A classic piece of Americana in the form of J.J. Richards’ The Midwest March. The piece was also written for woodwind, making for a suitable circus march. The Fairey Band closed their concert with this piece in the encore and Hade Edge Band’s performance held up well against their fellows from Heaton Chapel.

Our second piece was a principal cornet solo. Enter Leisa Mallalieu-Ingman’s performance of Don’t Doubt Him Now. The piece was written by Colonel Leonard Ballantine, a renowned Salvationist composer living in Canada. You may be familiar with Amid All The Traffic which is his best-known work. Last night’s performance saw great tone and volume from Leisa, offering a real contrast to the previous piece.

Our third piece came from the arranger’s pen of the (legendary) Philip Harper, and the first of his three arrangements last night. First up was Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, arranged in a faster way than you would expect. If the arrangement of his violin concerto was a car, it would have been a Tesla Model S instead of a Citröen 2CV. A vibrant work that I wouldn’t hesitate to have in any concert, and a neat performance from Hade Edge Band.

Instead of violins, we turned to the world of folk music for our next number. Written by Archie Fisher in 1976, Witch of the Westmerlands came from his LP, The Man With A Rhyme. Once again, arranged by the mighty Philip Harper, another neat addition to the programme and a good performance to match.

From Cory’s legendary musical director, we move to an arrangement by one of Dukinfield’s finest faces in brass band music. John Golland’s arrangement of Queen of the Night’s Aria – the subject of our second soloist, Adrian Brooke. Mozart’s piece features in the second act of The Magic Flute. On the tenor horn, Adrian gave us a superb performance.

To finish the first half, we had the mighty Force of Destiny. Giuseppe Verdi’s overture, known as La Forza del Destino in his native language, is frequently played in the titular opera. In brass banding circles, its overture was first played in the 1962 National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain. (won by CWS Manchester). Also this year’s test piece in the Butlins Mineworkers’ championships for First Section bands (won by Boarshurst Silver Band). Considering this was an all-new programme, a solid performance.

Tallis Variations on Queen

Our first piece of the second half demonstrated two things. Firstly, and most obviously, the test piece for this year’s Second Section entry in the Rochdale Contest. Secondly, a pointer towards the running order of future concerts with Hade Edge Band.

For the best part of fifteen minutes, Philip Sparke’s Tallis Variations is a truly amazing and immersive test piece. It is based on the third of nine variations of a hymn by Thomas Tallis. Written in 1567, the original hymn was part of a psalter for the first Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury. In 2000, it was used in the European Championships, won by Yorkshire Building Society band under Professor David King. A fantastic work and a cracking performance.

The next piece was considerably lighter and came from our third soloist of the night. This time, the Lesser Spotted Baritone Horn Soloist, Jerran Stead. His piece was Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s With His First Breath. Also played as a euphonium solo, it is part of a larger work entitled Breath of Souls. It was written for Katrina Marzella and the Black Dyke Band, dedicated to her son Luca. The tone from Jerran’s horn was sweet, consistent and measured making for a good all round performance.

This was followed by a Christmas tune (What?? A Christmas tune in October?). Written by Morton Lauridsen, O Magnum Mysterium is a favourite piece of Eikanger Band’s. It is based on a responsorial piece chant from The Matins of Christmas, sung by various choirs. It is a piece that would have tested many brass bands. Hade Edge Band’s performance was an encouraging one.

After this quiet piece came the organised chaos and local institution of the Boarshurst Band Club raffle draw. This was followed our fourth and final soloist of the night. This time with Steve Stockwell on euphonium, and his performance of Roy Newsome’s Fantasy on Swiss Airs. The piece evokes images of lakeside views, mountains, and iconic narrow gauge railways like the Glacier Express. As for Steve’s performance, crystal clear as Lucerne with excellent tone.

With the clock ticking away, we finished with a stunning piece by Peter Graham. The excellent Shine As The Light. Written in 1997, it features two Salvation Army hymns: The Candle of the Lord by Joy Webb, and Chuck Yuill’s The Light Has Come. With its thunderous crescendo, it is a piece that leaves you wanting more, which is why it has become a modern classic. Hade Edge Band’s performance was no exception to this rule.

To finish off the concert properly, Hade Edge Band chose another cracking arrangement by Philip Harper. If Freddie Mercury ever got to see The Cory Band’s musical director, he would have been proud of his arrangement of Don’t Stop Me Now. Especially with a sung middle eight of “Don’t stop me…” by the band. Featuring on Queen’s 1978 LP Jazz, it peaked at Number Nine in the UK singles chart the following year. It has been used to peddle neo-Italianette shopping centres off the M60 motorway, Australian mobile phones, and used in a scene from Shaun of the Dead. It has topped many polls for The Greatest Driving Song.

* * *

Did we want Hade Edge Band to stop at all? Not at all. Strictly speaking, if they played for 24 hours instead of two hours, their lips would be frazzled to smithereens. Sally Hall, who gave sterling service in their slightly truncated percussion section would have developed tendonitis and repetitive strain injury.

In the end, Hade Edge Band were impressive – and that was with a Musical Director that has been in the job for just two months. If you give them another six to twelve months, they will be a band to look out for. I don’t think they will be in the Second Section for too long. Nor would they be the kind of band that plods along as a local band. From what we have heard, the talent is there with great potential for growth up the sections.

Next week at Boarshurst Band Club…

We move a little closer to home than Hade Edge, staying on the same side of the Pennines as The Mecca of Brass Banding. Once again, only two villages away from Greenfield, Dobcross. Next week’s band will be Dobcross Youth Band. This year, they finished above Dobcross Silver Band in the Regional Finals at Winter Gardens, Blackpool.

Doors are open at 7pm for the usual 8pm start. Admission is £4.00 or £3.00 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., 07 October 2019.

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