Lively programme with memorable solos makes for great night

For such a small place, Mossley has a place in brass banding history that is the envy of larger population centres. Last night’s band was the first winner of the British Open championship which started life in Belle Vue, Manchester. Back then, it was known as The Belle Vue Championship.

169 years on (most obviously without the same personnel as their fellow players of 1853), the Mossley Band played their first Boarshurst Band Club concert of 2022.  Ironically, 24 hours on from Boarshurst Silver Band’s 2nd Place finish in the British Open Championships Senior Trophy.

Like Middleton the previous week, entertainment was the key to their programme. As with their last visit to Boarshurst in June 2019, the programme was traditional and easy going, with a nice selection of stage and screen music. Fans of Elvis Presley and The Beatles were well catered for as well.

Was there something for everyone in Mossley Band’s programme? Yes there was; especially Elvis and Beatles fans, and lovers of great solo pieces – and a nice Derek Broadbent arrangement (we haven’t heard one of these for a long time).

The Programme

First Half

  1. Contest March: The Senator (George Allan);
  2. Overture: Overture from Mack and Mabel (Jerry Herman, arr. Keith Wilkinson);
  3. Principal Cornet Solo (Performed by Adam Scaife): Slavische Fantasie (Carl Hohn, arr. Simon Kerwin);
  4. Popular Music Medley: Abbey Road Medley (i. Golden Slumbers; ii. Carry That Weight; iii. The End) (Lennon/McCartney, arr. Sandy Smith);
  5. Hymn: Dear Lord and Father of Mankind (Charles Hubert Parry, arr. Cecil Bolton and Eric Banks);
  6. Flugelhorn Solo (performed by David Coy): Concerto D’ Aranjuez (Joaquin Rodrigo);
  7. Popular Music: Music (John Miles, arr. Derek Broadbent).

Second Half

  1. Musical Medley: The World’s Greatest Storyteller (Various, arr. Philip Harper):
    1. Theme from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Robert B. Sherman/Richard M. Sherman);
    2. (From Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) Pure Imagination (Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley);
    3. (From Matilda) When I Grow Up (Tim Minchin);
  2. Euphonium Solo (performed by Neil Riley): La Belle Americaine (John Hartmann)
  3. Euphonium Duet (performed by Neil Riley and Angela Stewart): Me and My Shadow (Al Jolson, arr. Rydland);
  4. Film Music: Theme from Shrek (Harry Gregson-Williams, arr. Alan Fernie);
  5. Horn Feature: Hey Jude (Lennon/McCartney, arr. Thomas Wyss);
  6. Popular Music Medley: A Tribute to Elvis (Various, arr. Thijs Oud).

Encore

  • Popular Music: CC Rider (Lena Arant/Ma Rainey arr. Thijs Oud).

Our first love and last love

Kicking off our programme was a traditional contest march. A classic march by George Allan in The Senator. Among First and Second Section bands, it has been a popular contest march on the Whit Friday band contest circuit. Mossley Band’s performance reminded us of the fact that Whit Friday was a mere 33 days away. From their first rate performance, this was the sound of a band waiting to get back on the contest trail. We cannot wait!

Next up was an overture, and no ordinary one at that: enter the overture from Mack and Mabel. Opening in 1974, Mack and Mabel the musical included a book by Michael Stewart. In 1981, the musical made its English début at the Nottingham Playhouse theatre yet bombed in the West End. The following year, after some rooting in their local radio station’s record library, Torvill and Dean stumbled upon the musical’s soundtrack album. The rest, as they say was ice skating history. Needless to say, Torvill and Dean would have loved Mossley Band’s performance: it was superb.

This took us to the first soloist of the night. Enter Adam Scaife whom, several years ago when knee high to a grasshopper, performed Buster Strikes Back. Last time he performed Tico Tico. Last night, he performed Slavische Fantasie. Translated into English as the less alluring Slavonic Fantasy, it was written in 1891 for bassoon and piano. As for Adam Scaife’s performance, truly stunning. One that turned out to be a send off for the young man, as he will be study at the Birmingham Conservatoire. All those years ago on East of the M60, we said you would be one to watch. Our response is “well done” and “onwards and upwards”.

This was followed by the first suite of the night. Well, OK… an aural triptych, a medley if you prefer. A good one if you like The Beatles. Arranged by Sandy Smith, Abbey Road Medley is a three-part medley of Beatles songs from their last studio LP, Abbey Road. The three songs are Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight and The End. A great choice of medley and a real change from the norm for a Beatles related programme item. Good performance too.

Next up was a hymn, presumably Mossley Band’s go-to hymn for any self-respecting hymn and march contest. That of Dear Lord and Father of Mankind. 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. As for Mossley Band’s performance, another cracker, which took us to another great solo.

Our second soloist of the night, David Coy performed a well-loved piece from Brassed Off. That of Concerto de Aranjuez on flugelhorn. Apart from Mark Herman’s film, Joaquin Rodrigo’s piece is inspired by the Spanish city of Aranjuez, 42km south from Madrid. It has inspired many cover versions, including one by Todmorden’s second most famous musical star, Geoff Love (as Manuel And His Music of the Mountains). As for David’s performance, one he made light work of at that. Wobbly? Most certainly not!

In the brass banding movement, we have lost many friends in the last three years including the legendary Richard Evans. For the final piece of the first half, our arranger has outlived the songwriter. Arranged by Derek Broadbent for brass band, Music was the late John Miles’ biggest hit single. It peaked at Number Three in the UK singles chart with the song produced by Alan Parsons (of The Alan Parsons Project fame). For some listeners, this was a real nostalgia trip – not only for the original song but also for today ears, the seldom heard Derek Broadbent arrangement. One that screams ‘1970s’ or ‘1980s’ brass band concerts. A fantastic trip back in time, well performed in time for the interval and the raffle.

When I grow up… to be a trombonist

Opening the second half was a suite of musical songs arranged by Philip Harper. Entitled The World’s Greatest Storyteller, it encompasses snippets of three pieces inspired by Roald Dahl. The first was the Sherman Brothers’ theme from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, followed by Pure Imagination (from Mel Stuart’s film adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). This was topped by Tim Minchin’s irresistible When I Grow Up from the musical version of Matilda. Once again, Mossley’s performance of this piece (arranged by Probably The Best Musical Director in the World at The Cory Band) was truly scrumptious. As tasty a treat as it was in June 2019.

Equally tasty was another traditional concert staple: a euphonium solo of La Belle Americaine. For listeners of a certain age, John Hartmann’s piece is associated with Lyndon Baglin’s 1961 performance with the CWS Manchester Band. Taking up his position 61 years on was Neil Riley. As for John Hartmann, he was a Prussia born composer who turned to music after military service. In 1855, he moved to England, joining the Crystal Palace Company and played cornet for the Crystal Palace Band.

As for Neil’s performance, superb playing, great volume. It wasn’t the last we saw of him, as he featured in the next piece – as one half of a euphonium duet with Angela Stewart. Their piece was Me and My Shadow, written by Al Jolson, Billy Rose and Dave Dreyer. As well as The Jazz Singer star, it has been covered by Peggy Lee, Judy Garland and Mantovani. A lovely little duet from Angela and Neil.

Next up was another piece of film music. This time, the theme from Shrek, arranged by Alan Fernie and composed by Harry Gregson-Williams. Since 2001, the Shrek franchise spawned four animated films, two spin-off films, and a spin-off television series. The piece is a pastoral one, and another treat for the ears. Well performed as well.

After giving the euphonium players their fifteen minutes of fame, we moved on to the Horn Section. This time with another Beatles tune: an arrangement of Hey Jude. At previous concerts, I have heard the aforementioned Beatles song in the past, with some arrangements lacking in colour. The one we heard, written for the horns in mind, was a more punchy version by Thomas Wyss. It was bouncier, and Mossley Band’s performance did this arrangement justice. Excellent work.

For the last two pieces, we moved away from The Fab Four to the King of Rock and Roll. With Garston swapped for Graceland, we finished the night with A Tribute to Elvis. Yes, another medley, but what a fantastic one we had at that. We opened with Also Sprach Zarathustra and CC Rider – in the spirit of The King’s Comeback Special era concerts. Before returning to CC Rider, we continued with An American Trilogy and Can’t Help Falling In Love.

As Elvis themed medleys go, this was another break from the norm, making for a sparkling finale. With such a great reception for A Tribute to Elvis, the encore piece was CC Rider, from the said medley. CC Rider – or See See Rider – is a blues song written by Ma Rainey and Lena Arant, and first recorded by Ma Rainey in October 1924. As well as Elvis’ cover, it has also been covered by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, and Eric Burdon and the Animals.

*                  *                  *

In 2019, I said that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” over Mossley Band’s Boarshurst concerts. Little did we know what would have happened three years on from there.

Once again, Mossley Band delivered a superb concert. Its Musical Director Duncan Byers was informative and to the point, choosing to let the music speak for itself.

Next up at Boarshurst Band Club…

Following a two-week break, the next band at The Mecca of Brass Banding is BD1 Brass. They are the ‘B’ Band of City of Bradford Brass Band, though a pretty good one at that. So good, they came second in the Second Section Yorkshire Regional Finals of the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain. As a marked contrast to last night’s band, they are one of the youngest (in terms of their formation instead of personnel) brass bands in Britain. BD1 Brass was formed in 2014 – 173 years after Mossley Band.

Their Musical Director is Jonathan Bates. In Boarshurst circles, he wrote Janet’s Song for Boarshurst Silver Band’s 2017 LP Images.

Doors are open from 6.30 pm for the usual 7.30 pm start. To be sure of a good seat, please arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Buses:

  • 350: Ashton-under-Lyne – Mossley – Greenfield – Uppermill – Dobcross – Delph – Waterhead – Oldham.

Alight at the former Greenfield Conservative Club. The 350 is operated by First Greater Manchester. Please note that after 7pm its evening journeys are operated by Stagecoach Manchester.

Twitter details: @boarshurstband; #SundayBrass.

Website: www.boarshurstband.co.uk.

S.V., 08 May 2022.

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