Boarshurst Silver Band, 22 December 2019: Here's How Christmas Concerts Should Be Done

A meaty programme and a pantomime: two hours of fun for all the family

For some people, Christmas isn’t Christmas till a big man with a long white beard heads their way. The soundtrack to their Christmas might include Mariah Carey or Peter Graham as well as traditional favourites like Jingle Bells and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. In many cases a brass band completes the picture, maybe a pantomime.

If you went to Boarshurst Silver Band’s Christmas concert, you got both: over an hour’s worth of superb brass band music and a pantomime. As Christmas concerts went, this was a Christmas concert by a Championship Section band. Make no mistake: the equal of anything that, for example, The Fairey Band or Elland Silver Band would put out in the run-up to Christmas.

Being a Christmas concert, this also included awards and dedications. Instead of being a separate chunk between the concert and the pantomime, awards were given out between pieces.

Concert Programme

  1. Overture: Olympic Fanfare and Theme (John Williams, arr. Rieks van der Velde);
  2. Christmas Piece: Christmas Joy (Various, arr. Jean-Francois Michel);
  3. Popular Music: MacArthur Park (Jimmy Webb, arr. Alan Catherall);
  4. Christmas Piece: Schneewalzer (German traditional, arr. Goff Richards);
  5. Original Piece: Enter The Galaxies (Paul Lovatt-Cooper);
  6. Popular Music: Merry Xmas Everybody (Noddy Holder/Jim Lea, arr. Derek Broadbent);
  7. Christmas Music: The Twelve Days of Christmas (Fredric Austin);
  8. Christmas Medley: Christmas Swingalong (Various, arr. Derek Ashmore):
    1. Winter Wonderland (Felix Bernard/Richard B. Smith);
    2. All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth (Donald Yetter Gardner);
    3. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Hugh Martin/Ralph Blane).

Encore:

  • Christmas Music: Jingle Bells (James Lord Pierpont arr. Derek Broadbent).

The Concert

At odds with usual practice, the concert was a continuous set. We opened with John Williams’ Olympic Fanfare and Theme. This was written for the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. It has a bombastic nature with added sweat and a soupçon of Ronald Reagan era patriotism thrown in for good measure. The soundtrack to Daley Thompson’s success that year. As a brass band piece, a joy to listen to as a concert opener. Especially with Boarshurst Silver Band’s Gold Medal winning performance.

Next up was a Christmas piece: Christmas Joy. This medley did everything that was said on the cake tin. A Quality Street style cornucopia of singalong tunes for the festive period.

Speaking of cake, this led us to everybody’s favourite mislaid cake song of all time. One that has been dubbed the worst song of all time in some polls. The song in question is Jimmy Webb’s MacArthur Park, most famously sung by Richard Harris in 1968. It peaked at Number Four in the UK singles chart and has covered by Donna Summer and The Four Tops. Boarshurst Silver Band’s version was another joy to behold.

After this seven minute long piece, there was time for some audience participation. This time with the schunkeln-tastic Schneewaltzer. No Christmas concert (or any self-respecting Bavarian Night) is complete without this waltz.

Better still was the next piece: Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s Enter The Galaxies. This was premiered at Brass In Concert 2008 by The Cory Band, who won that year’s competition. The piece, in just three minutes, is a tribute to the pioneers of space exploration and a real feast for the ears. Boarshurst Silver Band’s performance was truly awe inspiring.

From a PLC composition, we moved on to the works of Messrs Lea, Holder and Hill – collectively known as Slade. Given the time of the year, this meant Merry Xmas Everybody instead of Coz I Luv You. Lovely stuff, but this was only the warm-up act for our next bit of audience participation in the next to penultimate piece.

Next up was The Twelve Days of Christmas, the most familiar version set to lyrics by Fredric Austin. As is often the case, this meant members of the audience (and Boarshurst Silver Band) jumping at any given point of the song, such as “Five Gold Rings”.

To finish off the first half was Derek Ashmore’s suite, Christmas Swingalong. Like Christmas Joy, another piece that does exactly what is says on the tin. Only with Winter Wonderland, All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas in a swinging style. Fantastic stuff.

As for the encore, there was no getting away from Jingle Bells. Especially Derek Broadbent’s arrangement of this Christmassy number. A fantastic finisher for the ‘first half’ of the Boarshurst Silver Band Variety Performance.

Throughout the concert part of the Christmas Concert, Boarshurst Silver Band gave us all a fantastic performance. Every inch of it Championship Section material. The next part of the night would show off another side of the band’s talents.

The Pantomime

Thanks to a little help in the scenery department and the scriptwriting skills of Sean Curley, Boarshurst Silver Band’s sterling musical performance was overshadowed by the pantomime. This year, they chose to do Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with a Christmas Market stall doubling as Snow White’s cottage.

Among the seven dwarfs was Elvis – a play on the joke in the script directions (should be ‘elves’ not ‘Elvis’). There was also a dinosaur in the play – totally incongruous and purely for comic value. Instead of a poisonous apple, it was a dodgy pint that sent Snow White to sleep before her prince came. The faraway land in question was Dobcross.

For the best part of half an hour, the Boarshurst Silver Band version of Snow White was superb. We cannot wait to see what next year’s pantomime would be, because it would take some beating.

Next at Boarshurst Band Club

This coming Sunday [29 December], the Scratch Band will be bringing Boarshurst Band Club’s Sunday Brass calendar to a close for 2019. Comprising of 35 of the finest Championship Section brass band players, this one-off charity band will be raising funds for the British Heart Foundation.

As with last year’s Friends of Music For Youth Band’s concert, they will be conducted by City of Bradford Band’s Musical Director Lee Skipsey. Admission is £7.00 and the concert begins at 8.00pm (doors open from 7.00pm).

Public Transport

  • Trains: all-stations Transpennine Express service to Greenfield from Mossley, Stalybridge, Marsden, Slaithwaite, Huddersfield and Manchester Piccadilly stations.
  • Bus: 350 bus from Ashton-under-Lyne, Mossley, Uppermill and Oldham (First Greater Manchester/Stagecoach Manchester).

Please note that all 350 journeys after 7pm are operated by Stagecoach Manchester. Alight at the stop outside the former Conservative Club and the Christmas tree next to the bridleway on Chew Valley Road.

S.V., 26 December 2019.

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