Tintwistle Band: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club (27 October 2019)

Another fine Boarshurst début, and another superb concert

In the last few days, the weather gods haven’t exactly been on our side. There was reports of flooding in Derbyshire, Cheshire and the Midlands. Last night on Greenbridge Lane, there was no need to sail to Boarshurst Band Club in a Mirror dinghy. Nor a way of sailing from Chew Brook to Bottoms Reservoir without going via Stockport.

Making sure everything was shipshape for Tintwistle Band last night was Andrew Mallon, their Musical Director. As with Hebden Bridge’s concert last week, another pacy yet tight programme with something for everyone. Like Gareth last night, he was knowledgeable, precise, and humorous.

As for Tintwistle Band, they never fail to please. Under their previous Musical Director, Sarah Groarke-Booth, they always gave a fantastic concert. If there was ever one failing, it was the paucity of marches in her concert programmes. After a two-year absence from Boarshurst Band Club, Andrew Mallon addressed the issue with three marches in his programme. (Well, as they say in the brass banding world, you wait ages for a march then three come along at once.)

Last night’s concert was a satisfying one for the close of summertime. If you like Beatles songs and Gordon Langford arrangements (who doesn’t?), this concert would have suited you to the ground.

First Half

  1. Concert Opener: Fanfare and Flourishes (James Curnow);
  2. March: Under the Double Eagle (Josef Wagner, arr. Gordon Langford);
  3. Principal Cornet Solo (performed by Michelle Barrow): Rusalka’s Song to the Moon (Antonín Dvořák, arr. Gordon Langford);
  4. Popular Music Medley: Abbey Road Medley (Lennon/McCartney, arr. Sandy Smith);
  5. March: Army of the Nile (Kenneth J. Alford);
  6. Hymn: The Day Thou Gavest (John Ellerton, arr. Philip Wilby);
  7. Light Concert Music: Born Free (John Barry/Don Black, arr. Alan Catherall).

Second Half

  1. Film Music: Theme from The Incredibles (Michael Giacchino, arr. Philip Harper);
  2. Euphonium Solo (performed by Gary Lloyd): Slavische Fantasie (Carl Höhne, arr. Peter Graham);
  3. Light Concert Music: Mr Jums (Chris Hazell, arr. Alan Catherall);
  4. Bass Trombone Solo (performed by Peter Kite): Bass in the Ballroom (Roy Newsome);
  5. Popular Music: Honey Pie (Lennon/McCartney, arr. Sandy Smith);
  6. Jazz Standard: That’s A Plenty (Lew Pollack, arr. Goff Richards);
  7. Jazz Standard: Valero (James Swearingen, arr. Sandy Smith).

Encore

  • March: Theme from The Great Escape (Elmer Bernstein, arr. Thomas Wyss).

Fanfare and flourishes along Abbey Road

We opened the concert with James Curnow’s Fanfare and Flourishes. In such a short space of time, this work depicts a military tattoo in miniature style. In some way, it set the tone for the rest of the concert: a beefy one which said everything in five words instead of fifty. A neat start to the proceedings.

Next up was a bit of a forgotten march: Gordon Langford’s arrangement of Josef Wagner’s Under The Double Eagle. Written in 1893 (as Unter dem Doppeladler in its native language), it refers to the double eagle in the coat of arms of Austria-Hungary. Its mix of traditional march sensitivities and Austrian waltz music makes for an instantly listenable piece. Brilliant stuff.

This was followed by the first of last night’s three soloists. Enter on principal cornet Michelle Barrow with Rusalka’s Song To The Moon. Also known as Měsíčku na nebi hlubokém, it is the best known excerpt from Dvorak’s opera, Rusalka. This is seen in Act 1, and the aforementioned piece has also been arranged for string instruments. As for Michelle’s performance, superb.

The fourth piece of the night was our first of two works by Messrs Lennon and McCartney. Our first Fab Four related indulgence of the night was Abbey Road Medley. In its entirety, it is a medley of Beatles songs from the Abbey Road LP that takes up the whole of Side B. Sandy Smith’s arrangement cut to the chase with the last three tracks: Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight and The End. Another good excursion and a fresh change from the usual Fab Four related concert items.

To make up for the lack of marches in previous Tintwistle Band concerts, we addressed the balance with a no-nonsense, traditional march. That of Kenneth Alford’s Army Of The Nile. It is a popular march in Processions of Witness, and a deportment march in many a Whit Friday band contest. Another great performance.

After the excitement of two marches in last night’s concert programme, our next piece was a real contrast. A superb hymn like The Day Thou Gavest by Clement Cotteril fitted the bill last night. Chosen by Queen Victoria for her Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1897, Tintwistle Band performed Philip Wilby’s arrangement. At least the equal of Peter Hargreaves’ arrangement at Silk Brass’ concert, Tintwistle Band delivered the goods.

From Liverpool, we moved to Kenya for the final piece of this half. This time, John Barry’s theme from the 1966 film Born Free. In the film, a couple adopt a lion cub up to adulthood before releasing her into the wild in Kenya. Its eponymous theme song is sung by Matt Monro. It has also been covered by Andy Williams and Vic Reeves. A lovely piece to send us to the interval, well performed.

“Let the chainsaws have a go at it…”

The second half of last night’s action-packed concert opened with what is, for my money, one of the finest film themes of recent times. That of Michael Giacchino’s theme from The Incredibles. Enhanced by the arranger’s pen of Philip Harper, it makes for a most lively work that parodies more staid superhero films. A thrilling start with a theme which screams ‘feel good music’ to the nth degree.

This was followed by the second soloist of the night: Gary Lloyd on euphonium. His piece was Carl Höhne’s Slavische Fantasie. Translated into English as the less alluring Slavonic Fantasy, it was written in 1891 for bassoon and piano. Apart from being another successful transcription into brass band music, Gary’s performance was a joy to listen to with good volume.

Our third piece of this half was a more lightweight yet listenable number. How could you not resist the slightly feisty yet peaceful Mr Jums by Chris Hazell? Based on a scruffy yet adorable ginger tom, it is a much-loved part of The Cats Suite (written for the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble). The suite in full is inspired by the stray cats that shared Chris Hazell’s home. As proven by Tintwistle Band’s performance, cats and brass band music make for a winning formula.

Next in the programme was our third and final soloist of the night. This time, the rare sight of a bass trombone solo. Rarer still, is the performance of a tuba solo piece on a bass trombone. Up to the challenge last night was Peter Kite with Dr. Roy Newsome’s Bass In The Ballroom. After heated negotiations with The Tuba Society (Andrew’s words), Peter’s solo went ahead. The results were delightful leading to, in my view, the strongest solo performance of the night.

After Peter Kite came another song from the protagonists of Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite. This time, our post-raffle piece was The Beatles’ Honey Pie. A rare jazz/ragtime incursion for the Four Lads Who Shook The World, it appeared on The White Album LP (1968). It has also been covered by Barbra Streisland and The King’s Singers. Another good show which set the trend for our next two pieces.

For our penultimate piece of the concert came our first of two jazz standards. First up was Lew Pollack’s That’s A Plenty, arranged by Goff Richards. In his arrangement we had a duck caller and a dog toy, which added to the appeal of this piece. In 1917, it was recorded by Prince’s Band and covered by numerous artistes ever since. In 1974, it inspired The Pointer Sisters’ second album. Another gorgeous slab of the light concert music cake.

Our final piece was another jazz standard, though one that has been heard at Boarshurst Band Club a few times before. This time, James Swearingen’s Valero, arranged by Sandy Smith. At the start of this piece, Andrew acknowledged the soloists before (temporarily) signing off for the night. Sandy Smith’s arrangement is a most exhilarating piece, and one that was performed well by Tintwistle Band. If you went to this year’s National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain’s First to Fourth Section finals in Cheltenham, Valero was used to announce each section’s results.

As for the encore, our audience had a chance to sit back, relax, and think of Steve McQueen on a motorbike. If you guessed The Great Escape, award yourself a Gold Star. Written by Elmer Bernstein, it has taken on a second life as a celebratory football song for avoiding relegation. It could be a victory cry from escaping a Woodhead Pass traffic jam – whether on a motorbike or a 237 bus to Glossop. For several years, Mossley Band have adopted this for their Whit Friday march up Stamford Road. A fantastic finale.

* * *

As the saying goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Over two years on from their previous visit to Boarshurst Band Club, this was true with Tintwistle Band. Every concert of theirs is a joy and, coupled with Andrew Mallon’s pacy delivery, well worth spending the best of two hours on a freezing Sunday in October.

We hope it isn’t another two years till we see Tintwistle Band at Boarshurst Band Club. Wherever they may be in the Pennines, Greater Manchester, Derbyshire or the West Riding of Yorkshire, they are well worth seeing.

Next week at Boarshurst Band Club…

Opening a fresh month at The Mecca of Brass Banding will be Rochdale Borough Youth Band. They are the brass banding arm of Rochdale Council’s music service. With local support, this could be a popular concert.

Doors are open at 6.30pm for a 7.30pm start. Please note the earlier start time for our youth brass band concerts. 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.

Public Transport

  • 350 bus: Ashton-under-Lyne – Mossley – Greenfield – Uppermill – Delph – Waterhead – Oldham (First Greater Manchester/Stagecoach Manchester).
  • Trains: Manchester Piccadilly – Stalybridge – Huddersfield (First Transpennine Express) – then walk along Shaw Hall Bank Road and Chew Valley Road till you see Greenbridge Lane on your right hand side. Turn right onto Greenbridge Lane.

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

S.V., 28 October 2019.

Tintwistle War Memorial image by Clem Rutter, 2010 (Creative Commons License: Attribution-ShareAlike).

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