A welcome home gig for Saddleworth’s highest ranked brass band

For the first time this year, Boarshurst Silver Band gave us all their first home gig. This was a week after their concert at Glossop Old Band Room and two weeks after their appearance at Mass Brass V. At Glossop Old Band Room, their afternoon concert was lauded by its attendees, though seen by fewer people than normal due to Mother’s Day. With Eccles Borough Band pulling out of last night’s concert with sufficient notice, our house band stepped into the breach.

Though Glossopian brass band lovers enjoyed the concert, the programme selection polarised some of its regular attendees at Boarshurst Band Club. Some of the piece were an acquired taste; some thought the programme could have been a bit livelier.

Technically, Boarshurst Silver Band had a great sound. In comparison to their much-lauded Glossop concert, there was improved clarity and tonal depth. The real stand out performances came from the band’s five soloists. Programme-wise, it was a traditional affair with a stirring concert opener, a rousing contest march, and a truly outstanding soprano cornet solo.

From last night’s concert, I learned that: 1) Boarshurst Silver Band is a truly excellent band, though (alas) The Greatest Brass Band You May Have Never Heard Of; because 2) they really, really need to get some more concerts under their belt. Likewise with 3) regional contests, that could go towards totting up their rankings.

As we found last night, their recently appointed Musical Director, Jamie Prophet is brilliant at engaging with the audience and the band. He clearly has confidence in the band and this was seen in last night’s concert. Knowledgeable with a debonair approach to his patter.

First Half

  1. Classical Piece: Festmusik der Stadt Wien (Richard Strauss);
  2. March: Ravenswood (William Rimmer);
  3. Soprano Cornet Solo (performed by Bill Reynolds): Demelza (Hugh Nash/Goff Richards);
  4. Light Concert Music: Country Scene (Goff Richards);
  5. Principal Cornet Solo (performed by Ryan Ashley): A Pacific Melody (Christopher Bond);
  6. Film Music: Theme from Puttin’ on the Ritz (Irving Berlin, arr. Goff Richards);
  7. Trombone Solo (performed by Tony Robertson): ‘Round Midnight (Thelonious Monk);
  8. Light Concert Music: Valley of the Pinios (Kevin Houben)

Second Half

  1. Overture: Light Cavalry (Franz Von Suppé);
  2. Classical Piece: Nocturne from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Felix Mendelssohn, arr. Robin Benton); 
  3. Flugelhorn Solo (performed by Joanne Ward): A Time for Peace (Peter Graham);
  4. Hymn: Prayer For Ukraine (Mykolay Lysenko);
  5. March: The Waltonian (Joseph John Richards);
  6. Film Music (from Casper): Casper’s Lullaby (James Horner, arr. Sandy Smith);
  7. Euphonium Solo (performed by Sam Thompson): Myfanwy (Joseph Parry, arr. Denzil Stephens);
  8. Light Concert Music: Kalinka (Ivan Larionov, arr. Ray Woodfield);
  9. Light Concert Music: Vitae Lux (arr. Torstan Aaagaard Nilsen).


  • Hymn: Dear Lord and Father of Mankind (Hubert Parry, arr. John Greenleaf Whittier).

Leaving before ‘round midnight

Giving us these cosy Viennese New Year Concert vibes was Festmusik der Stadt Wien, Richard Strauss’ concert opener. In English, it translates into the less alluring Vienna Festival Music. The piece was written for Vienna Town Council and premiered in 1943. (The modern day equivalent would be a commission by Saddleworth Town Council with Paul Lovatt-Cooper as composer). A fantastic start to the concert, bettered only by the second piece.

The second piece was a classic march by William Rimmer. That of Ravenswood, a traditional contest march heard on many a Whit Friday contest from Denshaw to Denton. It is traditionally associated with Brighouse and Rastrick Band and, could well be Boarshurst Silver Band’s Whit Friday march of choice. As for their performance, a superb rendition. It was one that left us wanting more as we heard the shorter version of Rimmer’s march.

Next up was a traditional solo piece, a dependable concert item for Boarshurst since James Garlick’s tenure as Musical Director. That of Hugh Nash’s (Goff Richards’ if you prefer) Demelza, a soprano cornet solo written with Brian Evans in mind. It is named after a name for a Cornish girl. As with the Glossop concert, it was Billy Reynolds’ turn to play. His rendition was nothing short of unbelievable. An excellent all-round performance.

Proving that neither Mr Prophet nor Boarshurst Silver Band could hassle the Goff, we had another Goff Richards piece. The ever-immersive Country Scene, which paints an aural picture of pastoral Cornwall. Presumably the Cornwall of Goff Richards’ upbringing (and Jamie’s too). This makes for a neat test in the slow melody department, and one that Boarshurst Silver Band passed with flying colours.

Next up was our second solo of the night. This time, a Principal Cornet solo with Ryan Ashley. His piece was A Pacific Melody by Christopher Bond. It was commissioned by Lode Violet for Kevin Van Giel and Brassband Willebroek. Like the previous piece, its progression is gradual and brooding. Another great solo performance.

Next up was a bit of film music. Really old film music (from 1930 to be precise). A well known piece by Irving Berlin, in the theme from Puttin’ On The Ritz. The 1930 film starred Harry Richman as Harry Raymond and its most famous song has been covered by numerous artistes. In 1983, a synth version was recorded by Taco, which was a one hit wonder throughout Europe, though didn’t chart in the UK. A fantastic piece of light concert music well performed.

We then moved onto our third soloist of the night, and one that was an acquired taste for some of its live audience members. Enter Tony Robertson with his bass trombone solo of ‘Round Midnight. Written by Thelonious Monk in 1944, the song is often erroneously known as Round About Midnight. It has been performed by numerous jazz musicians from Mel Tormé to Chick Corea and Bobby McFerrin and Amy Winehouse. The piece was an atmospheric, sleepy one, yet highly listenable and well performed by Mr. Robertson.

The final piece of the first half was Valley of the Pinios, written by Belgian composer Kevin Houben. This takes its inspiration from the monumental monasteries of Meteora and reflects the solitude and prayers in this corner of Greece. This was a lovely contemplative piece that eased into the interval.

Enter the Waltonian

We opened the second half in style with an ever-popular overture. That of 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. Compared with their previous concerts last November and last week, a much more accomplished performance.

The second piece of the second half saw another change of style. This time we moved from our Billy on soprano cornet to Billy Shakespeare via Mendelssohn. The piece in question is Nocturne from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was written in 1842 and one of three instrumental movements in the overture of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Another enjoyable piece.

Next up was our fourth solo of the night: a flugelhorn solo by Joanne Ward. Her piece was Peter Graham’s A Time for Peace. The solo piece is based on a quote from Ecclesiastes 3:8 in the Old Testament of The Bible (“a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”). At Jamie Prophet’s last concert as Musical Director for Ashton-under-Lyne Brass Band, this was played by Rachel Dines. Joanne’s performance was another cracker. Well done.

In solidarity with the people of Ukraine, we heard Mykolay Lysenko’s Prayer for Ukraine. The piece was written as a patriotic hymn, which is a symbol for Ukrainian independence. Since 1885, when the piece was written, it has been played at religious services ever since. Like its previous performance at Glossop Old Band Room, another fine performance.

With the band’s Stream Team otherwise engaged, online viewers got to see The World Famous Raffle on Facebook Live for the first time. After the madness/comedy/pathos (delete where appropriate) of the raffle came J.J Richards’ The Waltonian. Apart from appearing on one of the two Boarshurst Silver Band CDs (both of which a single raffle prize that night), it was written in 1928, and regarded as a circus march. Though noted as an American composer, J.J Richards has Welsh ancestry. A fantastic piece to follow the raffle.

A real contrast to this was our second piece of film music. That of the late James Horner’s work with the Casper, The Friendly Ghost film (1995). More specifically, with last night’s concert, Casper’s Lullaby. The film starred Malachi Pearson and Christina Ricci. It is based on a late 1930s comic strip by Seymour Reit and Joe Oriolo. The friendly ghost’s Sunday name is Casper McFadden. His accomplices include Wendy the Good Luck Witch, Hot Stuff the Red Devil, and Spooky the Tuff Little Ghost. As for Boarshurst Silver Band’s performance, a most atmospheric piece well performed.

Next up was our final soloist of the night: enter the euphonium excellence of Sam Thompson with his performance of Myfanwy. The well loved hymn translates from Welsh to English as Beloved and has been covered by numerous artistes. Even a Scottish singer called Derek Dick, better known for his pescatarian nickname and leading the group Marillion. A well measured, superb performance by Sam.

Next up, in the light of recent events, a controversial choice of piece though one we still enjoyed anyway. That of Kalinka, a popular piece of Russian light concert music. Written in 1860, it was first performed in Saratov and is considered to be one of the most famous Russian folk songs. Less famous is the fact that it takes up to 3 days and 21 hours to get to that city from Greenfield (by bus and train). The city is also the birthplace of the sanctioned former Chelsea FC supremo Roman Abramovich (it was even their run-out tune at Stamford Bridge). A fantastic piece well performed, though one which should be dropped from the programme till hostilities between Russia and Ukraine have ceased.

The final piece of the night was a modern-day classic. That of Torsten Aagaard Nilsen’s arrangement of Vitae Lux, composed by Frode Alnaes. It is his best known work in Norway, written in 2003 which translates into English as Light of Life. Interestingly, this is the third time we heard Alnaes’ piece in the last six months, and the second time in a week. Boarshurst Silver Band’s performance was a joy to listen to, oozing colour and clarity.

The final final piece of the night was a hymn. For the encore we had Dear Father, Lord of Mankind.  Enter Hubert Parry’s Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, a favourite piece at many a hymn and march contest. The hymn’s lyrics are taken from a larger body of work known as The Brewing of Soma and set to Charles Hubert Parry’s Repton. With Boarshurst Silver Band looking at entering more entertainment contests, this could be their hymn of choice. Moreover, this was played at Jamie Prophet’s last concert with Ashton-under-Lyne Brass Band. A neat, if a little subdued finish, well played.

On the whole, Boarshurst Silver Band gave us all a fantastic performance. Its real highlights lay in the five solo performances, especially Billy’s soprano cornet solo performance of Demelza.

We can’t wait to see more of Boarshurst Silver Band, either in concert or on the contesting scene. Their concerts have been well received, as was their slot in Mass Brass V. Though I thought the programme was classy, one or two more bouncier pieces wouldn’t do the running order any harm for its live audience (perhaps Big Rock Candy Mountain could be an alternative to Kalinka).

Next week at Boarshurst Band Club…

Elland Silver Band will be coming over to The Brass Vegas of Northern England. Daniel Brooks and Co. have never failed to provide a most entertaining concert, so we should be expecting another cracker. 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., 04 April 2022.

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 )

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