Fantastic Remembrance Day concert for Boarshurst Silver Band with new musical director

2021’s Remembrance Sunday will be a special one in more ways than one for Boarshurst Silver Band. Firstly, alongside many brass bands across the UK, the first such concert for two years. For Boarshurst Silver Band, it also marked the arrival of their new Musical Director, Jamie Prophet.

Before taking over from James Garlick, Mr. Prophet was previously the Musical Director of Ashton-under-Lyne brass band. His CV is a most impressive one: he has had a fourteen-year stint on Section Principal Trumpet at the BBC Philharmonic. His first band was Bodmin Town Band before moving on to Fairey, Black Dyke and Foden’s bands. Besides brass banding, he is associated with jazz quartet Excess Prophet and has travelled more miles than Starship Enterprise to work with chart artistes. He is also a former member of the European Union Youth Orchestra.

Since 2020, Boarshurst Silver Band have been a Championship Section band. The chance to show off their potential in brass banding’s top flight has been stymied by the pandemic with several contests postponed. Jamie’s mission is to aim for a Top Six finish in their competitions. With his musical background and a young band brimming with potential, the scene is set for consolidation at Championship Section level.

After being out on parade, Boarshurst Silver Band had their first home gig in two years. Due to the pandemic, their last home gig was the Christmas concert of 2019.

First Half

  1. March: Men of Harlech (Traditional, arr. Gordon Langford);
  2. Overture: Light Cavalry (Franz Von Suppe, arr. Gordon Langford);
  3. Light Concert Music: Prelude on Lavenham (Geoffrey Nobes);
  4. Principal Cornet Solo (performed by Ryan Ashley): Share My Yoke (Major Joy Webb, arr. Ivor Bosanko);
  5. Film Music (from Battle of Britain): Aces High (Ron Goodwin, arr. Denzil Stephens);
  6. Original Piece: Nightfall in Camp (D.A. Cope, arr. Sam B. Cope);
  7. Film Music: Theme from Schindler’s List (John Williams, arr. Jan de Haan);
  8. March: Crown Imperial (William Walton, arr. Frank Wright).

Second Half

  1. Film Music: Theme from The Dam Busters (Eric Coates);
  2. Classical Piece: Nimrod (Sir Edward Elgar);
  3. Trombone Solo (performed by Adam Stretton): Londonderry Air (Traditional, arr. Bill Geldard);
  4. Film Music: Theme from A Bridge Too Far (John Addison, arr. Reiks van der Velde);
  5. Euphonium Solo (performed by Sam Thompson): In Gardens of Peace (Philip Harper);
  6. Film Music (from Saving Private Ryan): Hymn to the Fallen (John Williams);
  7. Medley: Keep Smiling Through (Various, arr. Darrol Barry).

Encore

  • Film Music: Theme from 633 Squadron (Ron Goodwin).

Act 1: From Harlech Castle to Windsor Castle

The first piece of the night was Men of Harlech, a traditional march that is inspired by the siege of Harlech Castle in The War of the Roses. At rugby internationals, it never fails to lift the spirits of Welsh supporters at the Millennium Stadium. Part of it was also used as the startup music for HTV Cymru (rude not to as it stood for Harlech Television). A fantastic, rousing start to the concert.

This was topped by the ever-popular Von Suppé overture Light Cavalry. In 1866 it was premiered in Vienna, as part of the operetta with the same name. The best-known part of the operetta is a real toe-tapper with Boarshurst Silver Band’s performance proving that point. Great tonal depth.

For the third piece of the night, we moved onto more familiar territory. This time with Geoffrey Nobes’ Prelude on Lavenham. If you have a copy of Boarshurst Silver Band’s Phoenix CD (2019), it is a nice, serene piece based on Reverend Nick Fawcett’s hymn. Geoffrey Nobes, former Bandmaster of Portsmouth Citadel Band arranged the piece and remains an active composer today. His recorded works are published by Kevin Mayhew Productions. Another fantastic day in the office for the band.

Taking the concert up a few notches was our first solo performance of the night. This time with Ryan Ashley on Principal Cornet for Share My Yoke. A favourite piece at many a concert, it has previously been performed by Mr. Ashley at Boarshurst Silver Band’s 25 November 2018 gig. Last night’s performance was another solid one by the band’s principal cornetist.

Just under 45% of the concert programme had film music, much of it in context to the Remembrance Sunday premise. First up was a rousing piece in Ron Goodwin’s Aces High, the theme music from Battle of Britain. It is also known as The Luftwaffe March. Ron Goodwin’s other musical credits include the themes from Where Eagles Dare and 633 Squadron which we would come to later. As for Boarshurst’s performance, cracking stuff.

This was followed by Nightfall In Camp, D.A Cope’s tune which includes part of The Last Post. The piece could be seen as an early form of a mash-up as it includes the hymn Unto The Hills. It also features on Harry Mortimer: Men of Brass, which is a seminal piece of recorded brass band musical history. It was also recorded by CWS Manchester under the musical direction of Rex Mortimer, another member of the legendary Mortimer family. Boarshurst Silver Band’s performance was also a joy to behold.

From Recorded Brass Band Pieces That Every Child Should Listen To, we moved on to a piece from A Film That Every Child Should See. The film Schindler’s List is an important documentary by Steven Spielberg on Oskar Schindler’s life in the Second World War. As equally formidable as Mr. Spielberg’s film making is his trusty composer John Williams, and his theme from Schindler’s List is no exception. With great virtuosity, Boarshurst Silver Band gave us another great performance that John Williams would have liked.

The final piece of the first half was a nailed-on classic in William Walton’s Crown Imperial. Written for the coronation of Edward VIII, his abdication led to Walton’s work being used for the coronation of George VI. The Oldham composer’s other works include the music from Belshazzar’s Feast and Sonata for String Orchestra. In the late 1960s, he wrote New March for Granada, which served as Granada Television’s choice of start-up music till 1973. A great way to finish off the first half.

Act 2: Dammed If You Do, Dammed If You Don’t…

At this point, Boarshurst Silver Band’s concert assumed a traditional air. That of a march, overture, solo, some film music and a rousing finale for the first half. The second half, whilst remaining true to its Remembrance Sunday sensitivities, was a bit lighter.

First off was Eric Coates’ theme from The Dam Busters. The 1955 film, based on the 1951 book by Paul Brickhill (and Guy Gibson’s 1946 book Enemy Coast Ahead) tells the story of the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dam raids. In popular culture, the film inspired an iconic Carling Black Label advert (1989) where an English goalkeeper saves bouncing bombs. It is also used in Black Lace’s I Am The Music Man. Boarshurst Silver Band got us off to a great start in the second half.

The second piece of the second half was a real joy to listen to, putting to shame many previous renditions we have heard in recent times. At many Remembrance Sunday concerts, Sir Edward Elgar’s Nimrod is a must for any concert programme. It is the ninth and, by far, best known one of his fourteen Enigma Variations. Boarshurst Silver Band’s performance had eloquence, superb tonal depth and clarity by the truckload.

This was followed by our second soloist of the night. Enter trombonist Adam Stretton with a classic piece in Londonderry Air. Or Danny Boy if you prefer. For many people, it is associated with Brassed Off, and the second piece from that film in the space of two concerts (Greenfield Brass Band’s piece from that film was Clog Dance). As for Adam’s performance on the trombone, sensational.

Next up was a piece from what was reputed to be The Loudest Film at the time. John Addison’s theme from A Bridge Too Far (dir. Richard Attenborough, 1977) seems to be overlooked compared with Coates’ and Goodwin’s work, which is a shame really. The film is based on Operation Market Garden, the failed Allied Forces’ attempt to break through German lines and a few bridges. Boarshurst Silver Band’s performance did the piece justice.

This was followed by the third and final solo of the night: a euphonium solo by Sam Thompson. His piece was In Gardens of Peace, written by Philip Harper. It commemorates the life of Henry Nichols, who was killed in the Battle of the Somme in 1917. More famously, it has been recorded by Glyn Williams with The Cory Band. Dan Thomas has also performed the piece with York Railway Institute Band. As for Sam’s performance, another good one to add to that list.

After the raffle, we were back on familiar territory with another John Williams piece. This time, from Saving Private Ryan, the excellent Hymn to the Fallen. Williams’ brooding theme has become a modern classic, more so through its use on Remembrance Sunday concerts. As for Boarshurst Silver Band’s performance, another great one.

The last piece of the night was more rousing and had a great singalong quality to it as well. Enter stage left our late great Salfordian composer Darrol Barry with Keep Smiling Through. After a glorious dad joke on the Vera Lynn statue, the lead users of The Brass Banding Mecca of the North, played Darrol Barry’s marvellous medley. As for the pieces, an intro and outro of We’ll Meet Again followed by The Army, The Navy, and the Air ForceLilli Marlene, and White Cliffs of Dover. A neat finale – or so we thought.

The real finale was Boarshurst Silver Band’s choice of encore piece. That of Ron Goodwin’s theme from 633 Squadron. Released in the UK on the 04 June 1964, it was the first aviation film to be made in colour. Its tune is a standard concert item for the RAF Band. In the late-1980s to early-1990s, it was used in Piccadilly Radio’s flying-eye traffic report slot The Eye In The Sky – as background music to “the news on the queues”. Fantastic stuff.

On the whole, Boarshurst Silver Band’s first fully-fledged concert with Jamie Prophet at the podium was a success. Each piece was well played with excellent clarity, and all solos were of an excellent standard. As for the programme, it was a well crafted one that balanced entertainment with Remembrance Sunday sensitivities. Also a pointer towards the execution of subsequent concerts – some meaty pieces and something entertaining in the Brighouse and Rastrick Band mould.

We can’t wait to see more of Boarshurst Silver Band under Prophet’s direction. Especially with the Christmas concert a few weeks away. So far, his aim of Championship Section consolidation looks good.

Next time at Boarshurst Band Club…

Next Sunday sees the arrival of Skelmersdale Prize Band. Their last concert was in the spring of 2019 where they gave us a most entertaining programme. In the last year, they have gained promotion from the Fourth Section to the Third Section by means of their runners-up place in the Fourth Section Regional Finals. As usual, doors open from 6.30 pm with the band on stage for 7.30 pm.

Public Transport:

  • 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).

Alight at the former Greenfield Conservative Club. Please note that after 6pm all evening 350 journeys are operated by Stagecoach Manchester.

Twitter details: @boarshurstband; #SundayBrass.

Website: www.boarshurstband.co.uk.

S.V., 15 November 2021.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s