Charity Brass ’19, Boarshurst Band Club, 29 December 2019

How a fundraising concert for the British Heart Foundation ended Boarshurst Band Club’s 2019 season in style

In about three years from now, the end-of-year charity concert at Boarshurst Band Club could well be a regular fixture. For the second year running, a scratch band set up for charitable endeavour ended the concert season in style. As with the Friends of Music For Youth Band, this ‘scratch band’ was a cut above the rest.

Historically, scratch bands without occupational or geographical leanings have been seen in Whit Friday Band Contests as well as concert. Some have reflected non-brass band interests like The Camping and Caravanning Club Band. Others like Chav Brass and Tartan Brass, there to enjoy The Whit Friday Experience®, may be comprised of undergraduate and postgraduate music students. Behind their quirky costumes lie potential Championship Section superstars.

Sometimes, a scratch band could be akin to a supergroup. In popular music, we have had supergroups like Blind Faith, The Travelling Wilburys and Asia. James Shepherd’s Versatile Brass is probably the closest our brass banding movement has come to having a supergroup. With the stunning talent on show last night, Charity Brass ’19 could well be another entry to this elite group.

As with the Music For Youth concert last year, last night’s musicians were sourced by Kyle Blake and Louise Belton. Following the untimely death of Paul Walton, this year’s chosen charity was the British Heart Foundation. The total amount raised was £550.

Was this year’s concert another success? In terms of their fundraising efforts and musicality, a resounding “yes”. A real snip at £7.00.

The Programme

First Half

  1. Concert Opener: Festive Intrada (Ben Hollings);
  2. Christmas Piece: Sleigh Ride (Leroy Anderson);
  3. Soprano Cornet Solo (performed by Louise Belton): Silent Night (Franz Xaver Gruber, arr. Ian McElligot);
  4. Light Concert Music: Three Kings Swing (William Himes);
  5. Christmas Piece: Infant Holy (Polish Traditional, arr. Rebecca Lundberg);
  6. Tenor Horn Solo (performed by Zöe Wright): Santa Baby (Joan Javits/Philip Springer/Tony Springer, arr. Lucy Pankhurst);
  7. Christmas Piece: A Christmas Festival Overture (Leroy Anderson).

Second Half

  1. Light Concert Music: Blackbird Special (The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, arr. Reid Gijie);
  2. March: Slaidburn (William Rimmer);
  3. Principal Cornet Solo (performed by Kirsty Abbotts): The Railway Children Overture (Johnny Douglas);
  4. Light Concert Music: Little Serenade (Ernest Tomlinson);
  5. Baritone Horn Solo (performed by Ashley Jeffers): Peace (John Golland) – dedicated to the memory of Paul Walton;
  6. Test Piece: Vitae Aeternum (Paul Lovatt-Cooper).

Encore

  • Classical Piece: Finale from William Tell (Rossini, arr. Gregor Grant).

The Charity Brass ’19 Christmas Box

Our first half was given over to Christmas pieces. All seven of which were crackers to say the least.

First up was Festive Intrada by Ben Hollings, an overture of well known Christmas songs with Joy To The World and O Little Town of Bethlehem (or God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen if you prefer). Adding to the Christmassy arrangement of this overture was a healthy dose of Westminster style chimes. A fantastic start that was enough to get us in the mood for Christmas – despite being four days late – and 361 days till next Christmas.

How do you follow this one? With a bit of Leroy Anderson of course, particularly Sleigh Ride. The song has been covered by numerous artistes from The Carpenters to The Ronettes. Unsurprisingly, in the late 1970s, there was a disco version that appeared on a budget priced Christmas album. As renditions go, Charity Brass ’19’s was akin to the finest Taylor’s 1985 Vintage Port instead of QC Rich Ruby. What set this rendition apart from several performances was the whinnying at the end and stunning percussion work from Logan Hartley. First class.

For the third piece of the night, we had the first of four classy solos, and one of two Christmassy solos. Taking her position was Louise Belton on soprano cornet with Silent Night. Franz Xaver Gruber’s song – like the previous piece – has also had its fair share of cover versions. Artistes have ranged from Bing Crosby to The Dickies and The Temptations. With Louise’s performance on soprano cornet, faultless. Great volume, tone and dynamic range. One you would happily add to your Christmas playlist without hesitation.

Next up was William Himes’ Three Kings Swing, which is based on March of the Kings. This is a jazz themed take on the 13th Century Provençal melody. Thanks to Himes’ arrangement, he gave the 700-year-old hymn a facelift and this was reflected in Charity Brass’ superb performance.

From Austria, where Silent Night was written in Salzburg, we moved to Poland for our next piece, Infant Holy. Also known as Infant Holy, Infant Lowly, its original Polish title was W Żłobie Leży. In 1920, playwright and musician Edith Margaret Gellibrand Reed translated the piece into the English language. As for Charity Brass’ performance of Rebecca Lundberg’s arrangement, another stunning one with great strength in depth.

This was followed by our second soloist of the night. This time with Zöe Wright’s performance of Santa Baby. Many listeners would be familiar with Eartha Kitt’s original. Or Madonna’s version. The song is a tongue-in-cheek look at a woman’s Christmas list – which requested items like Tiffany jewellery and yachts. The kind of things that would have been too expensive for Bullseye (now if she asked for a speedboat…) or any of today’s game shows.

Zöe’s performance was stunning, encapsulating Christmas in just under four minutes with the chutzpah of a well-made Christmas dinner. Turkey, trimmings, Christmas Pudding, the lot. Without the indigestion and the overflowing bin bags in the aftermath.

Finishing off the Christmas set was another Leroy Anderson piece: A Christmas Festival Overture. Like the Ben Hollings piece, this was another overture of Christmas songs, doing exactly what it said on the (Dundee Cake) tin. This time with Once In Royal David’s City, Ding Dong Merrily on High and a reprise of Silent Night. Oh, and the notorious Jingle Bells.

All in all, the Charity Brass ’19 Christmas Box was a tasty one at that. There was more enough to sate our appetites for the thrilling second half.

Another rich assortment

To open the second half, we had Reid Gijie’s arrangement of Blackbird Special. Written by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, this enables players to enter the stage by section in order of appearance (allowing for some Garry Cutt style stagecraft). As for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band themselves, they will be appearing in The Doobie Brothers’ 50th Anniversary Tour as the support act. As concert openers go, this is a cracking number – and this was reflected in their exuberant performance.

From New Orleans, we moved to Lancashire for our next piece: the village of Slaidburn, which inspired another Lancastrian to pen a march. If you guessed William Rimmer and Slaidburn, give yourself a gold star. For some bands, this is either a contest march or a deportment march. Charity Brass’ performance was an object lesson in how to play Rimmer’s piece. Possibly the finest performance of Slaidburn we have heard up to now at Boarshurst Band Club.

Next up was our third soloist of the night: the excellent Kirsty Abbotts from Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band. Her piece on principal cornet was The Railway Children Overture. Based on the Edith Nesbit book, it is set in rural Yorkshire and inspired a BBC mini-series in 1951. In October 1970, this spawned the film version, directed by Lionel Jeffries. As memorable as the film was Kirsty’s stunning performance, which conjured up images of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. Truly sensational in all departments.

Our fourth piece was the lightest one of the programme, at least from the audience’s viewpoint than the players. Ernest Tomlinson’s Little Serenade is a delicate piece which showcases the band’s abilities in the slow melody department. It was originally written as incidental music for a 1955 radio play entitled The Story of Cinderella. With the links between pieces being tight, there was no chance of any coach turning into a pumpkin by midnight. A fantastic performance of a gentle piece.

After the raffle came the fourth and final soloist of the night. This time with Ashley Jeffers on baritone horn with Peace. Written by John Golland, this was dedicated to the late Paul Walton. The piece has its origins in an organ piece, written for his niece who was also taken away too soon. Its slow melody could be taxing for some players, even Championship Section baritone soloists. In the end, Ashley’s performance was another joy to behold. Stunning work.

After four fabulous soloists and a superb Christmas programme in the first half, how would you finish a concert as exceptional as this one? We had yet to hear a Paul Lovatt-Cooper piece (and everybody knows that no self-respecting brass band concert should be without a PLC composition these days). They could have played Fire In The Blood or When Thunder Calls, something straightforward.

In the end, we were treated to Vitae Aeternum. A top drawer piece with three Salvation Army hymns: God Came in Jesus to Live Among Us; I Will Praise You, Lord, With All My Heart; and His Provision. It is a piece that brings a message of hope: an 11 minute one which we need for taking us into 2020. One that ends in a stunning rip-roaring finale. It was commissioned by Gerard Klauke of GK Design and premiered by Black Dyke Band at their 2007 concert at the De Lawei Concert Hall, Drachten.

As for the performance, a thoroughly deserved standing ovation greeted Charity Brass. This was by far the high water mark of an already outstanding concert.

The encore that followed was equally well received: Gregor Grant’s arrangement of the Finale from William Tell. In Brassed Off, this is played in the National Finals where we see Danny Ormondroyd leaving his sick bed for the Royal Albert Hall. So far, The Cory Band‘s amazing clip on their Facebook page has been seen by over a million viewers. Alongside Cory’s rendition, Charity Brass’ performance was no slouch either. It was one that Philip Harper would have been proud of.

* * *

By 10.00pm, Charity Brass’ farewell to 2019 was met with warmth and elation among its live and streamed audiences. For some, this was the greatest concert at Boarshurst Band Club from this year’s programme. Last night’s concert was up in 2019’s top tier next to those by Leyland Band, Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band, and The Fairey Band.

Could Charity Brass ’20 equal Charity Brass ’19 on the 27 December 2020, so soon after Boxing Day? We shall see.

Donating to the British Heart Foundation

To make a monetary donation to the British Heart Foundation, please go to the donation form which is entitled Make A Donation.

British Heart Foundation shops

You could also call in to your nearest British Heart Foundation shop if you wish to offload any preloved clothes, books, CDs or other collectables. Some bigger shop enable you to donate furniture such as their branch in Rochdale.

  • Hyde: Unit 3, The Square, Hyde, SK14 2QR;
  • Ashton-under-Lyne: 36 Warrington Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, OL6 7JS;
  • Oldham: 2 Henshaw Street, Oldham, OL1 3AA;
  • Middleton: G23a Middleton Shopping Centre, Middleton, M24 4EL;
  • Rochdale: 57 – 59 Yorkshire Street, Rochdale, OL16 1BZ
  • Rochdale (Furniture and Electrical Store): 3 Wheatsheaf Shopping Centre, Baillie Street, Rochdale, OL16 1JZ.

Charity Brass ’19 were:

  • Musical Director: Lee Skipsey (City of Bradford Brass Band);
  • Solo Euphonium: Adam Bokaris (Grimethorpe Colliery Band);
  • Repiano Cornet: Mandy Holling (Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band)
  • Principal Cornet: Kirsty Abbotts (Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band);
  • Flugelhorn: Anna Louise Spedding (Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band);
  • Solo Baritone: Ashley Louise Jeffers (Foden’s Band);
  • Eb Bass: Harry Beach (Hepworth Silver Prize Band);
  • 2nd Cornet: Maria Hall (The Oldham Band (Lees));
  • 3rd Cornet: Claire Louise Skipsey (City of Bradford Brass Band);
  • 2nd Euphonium: Adrian Nurney (Grimethorpe Colliery Band);
  • Solo Horn: Zöe Wright (The Hammonds Band);
  • 1st Horn: Grace Jeffers (Foden’s Band);
  • Eb Bass: Steve Bey (Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band);
  • Principal Percussion: Logan Emmie Hartley (Black Dyke Band);
  • 2nd Cornet: Niall Horan (Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band);
  • 2nd Trombone: Kyle Blake (The Cory Band);
  • Percussion: Logan Emmie Hartley (Black Dyke Band);
  • Soprano Cornet: Louise Belton (Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band);
  • 2nd Solo Cornet: Andy Bannister (Grimethorpe Colliery Band);
  • Bb Bass: Matt Wade (The Cory Band);
  • Bb Bass: Andy Cattanach (Foden’s Band);
  • Percussion: Rhodri Younger (Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band);
  • 3rd Cornet: Christian Bentley (The Hammonds Band);
  • 2nd Baritone: Owen Watson (The Hammonds Band);
  • Solo Trombone: Rebecca Lundberg (The Fairey Band);
  • 1st Horn: Jess Wilson (The Oldham Band (Lees));
  • 2nd Horn: Debbie Lea (Hepworth Silver Prize Band);
  • Percussion: Harry Lewis (City of Bradford Brass Band);
  • Percussion: Tim Sidwell (Hepworth Silver Prize Band);
  • 3rd Solo Cornet: Ginette Nurney (Grimethorpe Colliery Band);
  • 4th Solo Cornet: Sam Fisher (Grimethorpe Colliery Band);
  • 5th Solo Cornet: Lucy Heeley (Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band);
  • Bass Trombone: Tony Robertson (Hepworth Silver Prize Band).

A 2020 vision

Once again, Westoe Brass Band will be bringing in the New Year on the 19 January 2020. This concert will start at 7.00pm (please note the earlier starting time compared with the usual 8pm start) and doors will be open from 6.00pm.

As this is the last East of the M60 post of 2019, we would like to wish all our readers a Happy New Year.

S.V., 30 December 2019.

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