Another powerful performance from Boarshurst Silver Band in this year’s Remembrance Day concert
Remembrance Day: a time for contemplation, a time to remember the fallen, whether our siblings or ancestors served in the armed forces. A cathartic time, where we remember them in front of hundred or more people. Whether at Pots and Pans, Werneth Low, Parliament Square or St. Peter’s Square, we pay our respects.
It is also a busy time for brass bands across the UK. If on parade in the morning, they may have been in concert the previous night. Or in the afternoon after the parade. For Boarshurst Silver Band, the evening after the parade. Prior to last night, the band was involved in Royton’s Remembrance Sunday parade. On the Friday before, they were involved in the British Legion’s Remembrance Concert at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Oldham.
For a soon-to-be Championship Section band, it is all systems go. As well as their forthcoming Christmas programme, the Regional Finals and Senior Trophy test pieces are being rehearsed. Also concerts elsewhere in Greater Manchester and Christmas engagements. If you wonder why their home gigs are a rarity, here’s your answer.
On the rare occasions when you get to see a home gig with Boarshurst Silver Band, they are moments to be cherished. Like seeing a double decker bus on the 343 route, or Sir Elton John doing a gig at Uppermill Civic Hall. Or Black Dyke Band doing the Saddleworth Whit Friday Band Contests.
Last night’s was no exception. For the best part of an hour, Boarshurst Silver Band gave us a Remembrance Sunday concert that was Championship Section material. As well as Eventide and The Last Post, there was a joyous mix of bombastic material. Throughout last night’s concert, The Future was our running theme.
Within two hours, Boarshurst Silver Band proved they could ‘walk the walk’ as well as ‘talk the talk’ as a Championship Section band. Last night was only the beginning of their journey.
- Classical Piece: Olympic Fanfare and Theme (John Williams, arr. Peter Graham);
- Original Piece: Prelude from Earth’s Confusion (Trevor Davis);
- Classical Piece: Pomp and Circumstance (Sir Edward Elgar);
- Tenor Horn Solo (performed by Vicky Ashley): Over The Rainbow (Harold Arlen, arr. Goff Richards);
- Popular Music: MacArthur Park (Jimmy Webb, arr. Alan Catherall);
- Light Concert Music: A Special Place (Goff Richards);
- Original Piece: Enter The Galaxies (Paul Lovatt-Cooper) (followed by performance of The Last Post on cornet by Ryan Ashley);
- Hymn: Eventide (W.H. Monk);
- Light Concert Music: Fantasia on British Sea Songs (Sir Henry Wood, arr. Denis Wright).
- Light Concert Music: Into The Future (Max Stannard).
The first piece of the night was a cracking John Williams number, arranged by Peter Graham: Olympic Fanfare and Theme. This piece was written for the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984, and premiered on the 12 June that year at Boston Symphony Hall. As many regular readers would know, anything by John Williams transcribes well into brass band music. With Boarshurst Silver Band, a Gold Medal Winning Performance.
This was followed by a Salvation Army piece, the stunning Earth’s Confusion by Trevor Davis. Last night, we heard the Prelude from Earth’s Confusion which is a pithy and joyous movement. The piece references the old prayer chorus, “prayer gently lifts me to highest heaven.” A truly stunning start.
After the first two pieces, we moved towards more traditional Remembrance Sunday concert fare. This time, Sir Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance. Dubbed in the theatrical version of Brassed Off as “a Tory song”, it is by far Elgar’s most famous work purely for “Land of Hope and Glory,” and its use in The Last Night of the Proms. The title is taken from Act III of William Shakespeare’s Othello. This was also the first of two pieces in last night’s concert that was played in their Oldham Coliseum concert two months ago.
As for Boarshurst Silver Band’s performance, there was clearly no stopping them from giving a virtuoso performance. The volume, dynamic and tone was sheer perfection. In last night’s only solo performance, that was also true.
On Tenor Horn, Vicky Ashley gave us a superb performance of Harold Arlen’s Over The Rainbow. Composed for the 1939 film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, it won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. In 1940, this song would have been fresh in the minds of many people (like Tones and I’s Dance Monkey with some of today’s listeners). Apart from Judy Garland’s version, Eva Cassidy’s has the same resonance among some people. At Boarshurst Band Club, you couldn’t fault Vicky’s performance.
Following the raffle, we fast forwarded our time machine from 1939 to 1968. This time with Jimmy Webb’s MacArthur Park, arranged by Alan Catherall (originally for Grimethorpe Colliery Band). It was first performed by actor Richard Harris, after The Association turned down Jimmy Webb’s song. It has also been covered by Waylon Jennings and Donna Summer. As for Boarshurst Silver Band’s treatment of Everyone’s Favourite Misplaced Cake Song, superb. A tasty confection.
Remembrance, as well as remembering the fallen, could relate to ‘your special place’, whether the special place is in your heart or a favourite spot. Goff Richards’ A Special Place was composed and dedicated to The Children’s Hospice South West. The Yang to the Yin of our previous piece was wonderful and well performed.
The relative peace was short lived with the arrival of a more bombastic piece. Another stunning piece from the pen of Paul Lovatt-Cooper, in the form of Enter The Galaxies. In three pulsating minutes, it pays tribute to NASA’s astronauts. Written in 2008, it is dedicated to The Cory Band who premiered the piece in their Brass In Concert programme. Apart from being a winning piece for Cory that year, this was another winner for Boarshurst Silver Band.
From SAGE Gateshead, we returned to Saddleworth for our Remembrance Day ceremony. First off with Ryan Ashley (Principal Cornet) having the honour of playing The Last Post. This was followed a two minute silence to remember the fallen.
In traditional style, we rounded off the playing of The Last Post set to W.H. Monk’s Eventide. Many people will also recognise this piece as Abide With Me, the F.A. Cup Final hymn. This, and Ryan playing The Last Post, was a real ‘get the tissues out’ job.
Our last piece was another Remembrance Sunday/Last Night of the Proms concert standard (and the second item from a previous concert at Oldham Coliseum theatre). This time, Sir Henry Wood’s Fantasia on British Sea Songs. If you have watched The Last Night of the Proms, it is another immovable programme item beloved of its promenaders.
The full piece is in nine parts, though more familiar parts include The Sailor’s Hornpipe, See The Conquering Hero and Rule Britannia. A fantastic end to a superb concert, one that left us yearning for more.
Our encore piece was another special one, penned by another Saddleworth composer. Literally taking us into the future was Max Stannard’s Into The Future. This robust piece was written by Friezland Band’s Musical Director as a follow-up to The Spirit of Brass for 2018 BrassFest UK. In one way, Into The Future could be redolent of a more peaceful future. In another way, as per its original premise, it is a toast to the future of brass banding.
If you chose to watch Boarshurst Silver Band’s Remembrance Sunday concert ahead of the five other bands’ concerts in Saddleworth, you may well have seen the future face of brass banding.
Due to Boarshurst Silver Band’s packed diary, there wasn’t the time for visual razzmatazz of last year’s concert. In the words of Agnetha Faltskog in ABBA’s The Visitors album, they “let the music speak.”
And the music spoke very well. Eloquently, with a most powerful performance. A concert that they made light work of, thanks to a well thought out programme and a 2020 vision towards being a leading Championship Section band.
If you have followed Boarshurst Silver Band over the last five years, you will have seen how they have risen up the sections. What’s scary is that the best is yet to come. Their Remembrance Sunday concert was a real treasure. We cannot wait for their Christmas concert.
There was one other part of the concert that was Championship Section material: the post-concert potato pie. With red cabbage, gorgeous pastry, good gravy, and some carrots thrown in for good measure, another great concert item. The cheese and onion pie, more like a butter pie drizzled with Cheddar cheese, was also good.
Next time at Boarshurst Band Club…
There will be two events on at Boarshurst Band Club. If King Creole sits alongside Knight Templar on your playlist, the first one will be to your liking.
On Friday 15 November, there will be a fundraising Elvis Night starring Kirk Kreole. Hailed as The Second Greatest European Elvis tribute act, Kirk will be covering The King of Rock and Roll’s classic tunes from That’s All Right, Mama to Way Down. Doors are open from 7pm with the concert starting at 7.45pm.
The proceeds of Friday’s concert will go to the Bright Futures School, a school for children with autism spectrum conditions. After outgrowing their premises in Grasscroft, they are moving to a purpose-built new building in Greenfield. Tickets cost £10, including a potato pie supper. If you fancy a good Friday night out and another chance to feast on the same great potato pie from this year’s Remembrance Sunday concert, give Bright Futures School a ring on 01457 878738.
Then on Sunday 17 November 2019, Eagley Band will be heading down to The Mecca of Brass Banding. Eagley is a village north of Bolton, just off Blackburn Road (A666). Admission will be £7.00 or £6.00 for members of Boarshurst Band Club. As usual, doors open from 7pm with the band on stage for 8pm.
- Trains: Transpennine Express services from Huddersfield, Manchester Piccadilly and Stalybridge;
- 350: Ashton-under-Lyne – Mossley – Greenfield – Uppermill – Dobcross – Delph – Waterhead – Oldham (First Greater Manchester/Stagecoach Manchester);
- 356 Saddleworth Rambler: Denshaw – Delph – Dobcross – Diggle – Uppermill – Greenfield [Railway Station] (Nexus Move)*.
* No Sunday Service.
Alight at the former Greenfield Conservative Club. Please note that after 6pm all evening 350 journeys are operated by Stagecoach Manchester. For the 356 route, please alight at the Chapel Road stop near The Kingfisher.
Twitter details: @boarshurstband; #SundayBrass.
S.V., 11 November 2019.