Dobcross Youth Band dazzle in a truly spectacular concert

In the brass banding world, this weekend was dominated by Philip Harper’s successful defence of the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain Championship Section title. According to reports from the Royal Albert Hall national final, The Cory Band were unstoppable.

Similarly unstoppable, 199 miles north of Kensington Gore, was a Saddleworth youth band. Last night, Dobcross Youth Band proved to a full house at Boarshurst Band Club why they trumped their senior peers from the same village, at Blackpool Winter Gardens.

If you closed your eyes last night, you could be forgiven for thinking they were a 3rd Section – or 2nd Section – open age brass band. Their programme reflected that too, with a mix of old favourites and more challenging works. There was five superb solos, including one which was a potential shoo-in for an Entertainment Contest prize.

Like Elland Silver Youth Band, Dobcross Youth Band is another brass band that can change your perception of youth brass banding forever. There are players that could hold their own in Second Section bands. Overall, they have potential to go on to adult bands in higher sections. Last night’s tenor horn soloist is also a member of Marsden Silver Prize Band.

As for Dobcross Youth Band’s Musical Director Seth Livingstone, he came across as jovial and had a good rapport with the audience. Being born and bred in Dobcross helped, not least his work as a teacher. He was taught at the Royal Northern College of Music and also plays euphonium for Rainford Band (who pipped Boarshurst Silver Band to the Second Place spot at the First Section National Finals last month).

For the best part of two hours, Dobcross Youth Band gave us a fantastic programme with some truly stunning performances.

First Half

  1. March: Star Lake (Eric Ball);
  2. Principal Cornet Solo (performed by Amy Naylor): Georgia On My Mind (Hoagy Carmichael/Stuart Gorrell, arr. Alan Morrison);
  3. Light Concert Music: Alegria Juvenil (Iain Rayner);
  4. Hymn: Hine e Hine (Traditional, arr. Peter Graham);
  5. Tenor Horn Solo (performed by Ben Hill-Wilson): Demelza (Hugh Nash (Well, Goff Richards to be precise – Ed));
  6. Film Music (from Skyfall): Theme from Skyfall (Adele Adkins/Paul Epworth, arr. Philip Sparke).

Second Half

  1. Light Concert Music: Alloway Tales (Peter Graham);
  2. Light Concert Music: Vitae Lux (Frode Alnaes, arr. Torsten Aagaard Nilsen);
  3. Flugelhorn Solo (performed by Emily Mallinson): Concerto de Aranjuez (Joaquin Rodrigo, arr. Alan Fernie);
  4. Euphonium Solo (performed by Julian Bayley): Grandfather’s Clock (Henry Clay Work, arr. George Doughty);
  5. Percussion Solo (performed by Oliver Sowden): In The Air Tonight (Phil Collins, arr. Christopher Wormald);
  6. Test Piece Movement: Victory from Cry of the Celts (Peter Graham).


  • Popular Music: Tequila (Daniel Flores, arr. Saurer/Tailor).

Star Lake Skyfall

To begin with we had a march, respecting the conventions of a traditional brass band concert programme. This time, Star Lake, a jolly number written by Eric ‘Resurgam’ Ball. The march is inspired by the Salvation Army camp and conference centre in Bloomingdale, New Jersey. Outside of its Salvationist roots, it is a popular Whit Friday march among Fourth Section and Youth Section bands. A neat little opener to the concert.

Instead of an overture, our second piece came from the first soloist of the night. This time with Amy Naylor on Principal Cornet with Georgia On My Mind. Besides being a concert favourite, Hoagy Carmichael’s song has been covered by the likes of Annie Lennox. Amy’s performance was a joy to listen to: splendid intonation and volume throughout the piece.

Our third piece was different again: Iain Rayner’s Alegria Juvenil. In the style of a traditional Latin American piece, it was written for Youth Brass 2000. Conducted by Chris Jeans, they have won the National Youth Championship six times in a row, including this year. They have also won the British Youth Open seven years in a row from 2011 to 2018. This likeable piece was another good workout for the band.

Any veteran of brass band concerts may recognise that hymn tunes and brass bands is a match made in heaven. Dobcross Youth Band’s performance of Hine e Hine was no exception. Based on a traditional Maori lullaby, Peter Graham’s arrangement is well bodied with this reflected in last night’s performance. If you lived in New Zealand during the 1970s, this was Channel 2’s closedown music. Instead of Colin Weston or Jim Pope in Granadaland (followed by Keith Mansfield’s New Granada Theme), they had an animated kiwi known as the Goodnight Kiwi.

This was followed by our second soloist of the night. On tenor horn, Ben Hill-Wilson’s performance of Demelza. Penned by Hugh Nash, a nom-de-plume for the legendary Goff Richards, it was written as a soprano cornet solo for Brian Evans. The piece is based on a character from Poldark, set in the composer’s native Cornwall. As with his previous solo outings at Boarshurst Band Club, Ben came up with yet another stunning performance. A class act.

For our final piece of the first half, we moved from “Richards, Goff Richards” to “Bond, James Bond”. Brass bands and our favourite secret agent seems to be another match made in heaven. Whether it’s Ray Farr’s bombastic arrangement of Live and Let Die or the softer theme from Skyfall, audiences are entranced. With the latter, Dobcross Youth Band gave us a fantastic performance of the James Bond theme that was sung by Adele.

Concerto de tequila

From Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, we moved to South Ayrshire for our opening piece of the second half. This time, Peter Graham’s celebration of Robert Burns’ work in Alloway Tales. This suite of three Rabbie Burns songs includes the portrait of Duncan Grey, which is followed by the portrait of Mary Campbell, before closing with The De’ils Awa wi the Exciseman. Another good start to warm the cockles of the audience’s heart.

Next up was Torsten Aagaard Nilsen’s arrangement of Vitae Lux. Composed by Frode Alnaes, it is his best known work in Norway, written in 2003. It translates into English as Light of Life. If you had a hard day from work, this is the kind of tune to chill out to over a mug of green tea. Another fine perfomance from Dobcross Youth.

Our third piece of this half opened what Seth Livingstone dubbed ‘The Soloists’ Showcase’. Last night’s triple treat opened with a flugelhorn solo by Emily Mallinson. Her piece was Concerto de Aranjuez by Joaquín Rodrigo. If Pointless had a round based on the Brassed Off soundtrack, this would have mustered 83 points. Besides its use in Brassed Off, it has been performed by The Shadows, Deep Purple (as The Orange Juice Song), and Todmorden’s very own Manuel and his Music of the Mountain (the late Geoff Love). As for Emily’s performance, superb: great volume and texture.

Following the raffle came another concert classic: Henry Clay Work’s Grandfather’s Clock. In many a concert, this piece is performed by a euphonium soloist. Rising up to the challenge was Julian Bayley on euphonium. Grandfather’s Clock isn’t Mr. Clay Work’s only work: he has composed 75 compositions with another more famous one in Marching Through Georgia. Part of the song [Grandfather’s Clock] is quoted near the end of the Half Man Half Biscuit song Joy Division Oven Gloves. As for Julian’s performance, fantastic: great intonation and consistent throughout.

To finish off our triple treat of solos came a piece that would bring the house down at any entertainment contest. Enter on percussion Oliver Sowden with one of the most entertaining solo performances ever seen at Boarshurst Band Club. At face value, you might expect a percussion solo of In The Air Tonight to be straight-laced. Not so with Oliver. With no jacket required, he did his solo performance wearing a gorilla outfit.

Why the gorilla outfit? A 2008 advert for Cadbury’s Dairy Milk featured a gorilla drumming along to Phil Collins’ 1981 smash hit (from his first solo LP Face Value). The advert went viral and struck a chord with the general public (even those who cared little for Phil Collins or Genesis). As for Oliver’s performance, memorable in terms of musicality and visual impact. Sensational.

Our officially programmed finale was an exercise in playing more complex pieces. This time, the final movement of Cry of the Celts. Known as Victory, it is the most vibrant part of Peter Graham’s test piece. This borrows from the hymn The Lord of the Dance, making for a lively finish. Dobcross Youth Band’s performance was no exception to the rule, leaving us all yearning for more.

To close a most memorable concert was an equally memorable encore. This time with Daniel Flores’ Tequila. Mr Flores (under the alias of Chuck Rio), made it The Flores Trio’s only hit single in January 1958 – after changing the group’s name to The Champs. The song was covered by numerous artistes, from Wes Montgomery to Bad Manners. In the end, Dobcross Youth Band’s performance added to the party atmosphere that radiated throughout last night’s concert.

* * *

Whether in the entertainment department or overall musicality, Dobcross Youth Band never fail to impress. The programme was exciting enough to appeal to all audiences, whether you like fifteen minute long test pieces or a pithy Gordon Langford arrangement of a popular tune.

If you are anywhere near Dobcross, I urge you to see Dobcross Youth Band in concert. If you like your brass bands with a good Yorkshire comedian, Johnnie Casson is doing a fundraising gig for the band on the 26 October. The fun begins at Dobcross Band Club at 8pm (doors open at 7.30pm) and tickets are priced £15. If you haven’t seen Johnnie Casson before, he is one of the few comedians that can leave audiences roaring with laughter without resorting to lewd humour and profanity.

You can purchase tickets from Delph and Uppermill Post Offices, Dobcross Band Club, or online via You can download the Eventbrite app for Android and iOS (iPhone, iPad) devices free of charge. If you are making your way by bus, Nexus Move’s 356 Saddleworth Rambler service shall take you there from Denshaw to Greenfield railway station (alight at The Square then walk along Platt Lane).

Next week at Boarshurst Band Club…

Hebden Bridge Band will be heading their way down to Boarshurst Band Club. At the Bolsover Entertainment Contest, they came sixth out of fourteen First Section bands. Previous concerts with the Calder valley band have been a joy to watch, so next week’s should be no exception.

Doors are open at 7pm for the usual 8pm start. Admission is £8.00 or £7.00 for members of Boarshurst Band Club. As always, please arrive early to be sure of a good seat.


  • 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.

Please note that the 20 October will be the last Sunday you will be able to catch the 180 bus to Oldham and Manchester. From the 27 October, there will be no evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday journeys and all weekday and Saturday daytime journeys will run between Greenfield and Oldham, once an hour.

S.V., 14 October 2019.

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