Fantastic finish to Whit Friday weekend with enjoyable programme

After the welcome return of The Greatest Free Show on Earth, post Whit Friday concerts are another moment to cherish. Whether the arrival of a continental band or a band from the Colne Valley, it rounds off the weekend in great style.

Last night saw the arrival of Slaithwaite Band to Boarshurst Band Club. For a post-Whit Friday concert, it hit the spot with a most entertaining programme. One that wasn’t too demanding with a mix of traditional pieces and a movie-themed second half programme. After tramping around most of Saddleworth’s villages for a share of prize money and great times, they still gave a great performance. You couldn’t tell they got back from being stuck in traffic two days ago (and playing Bramwyn at a few venues from Denshaw to Greenfield).

For David Hoyle, it was a busy weekend. As well as being out with The Mighty Slawit, he compered the Uppermill Civic Hall concert on Saturday (featuring Emmental Brass Band and WFEL Fairey Band). Shortly after last night’s concert, he was probably ready to write his notes on Whit Friday for BBC Radio Leeds’ Yorkshire Brass programme.

Behind the podium for Slaithwaite Band is Leigh Baker. If you know your composers and arrangers, Mr Baker’s compositions are, without fail, a joy to listen to. During the encore set of Emmental Brass Band’s and WFEL Fairey Band’s Saturday night concert, we heard his superb arrangement of Lionel Richie’s All Night Long. (Near the end of last night’s concert, we also heard one of his arrangements).

For the hardcore live audience, and its online viewers, it was a really tasty treat. With their performance, it was hard to believe they were only a Second Section band (which speaks volumes about the high standard of the Yorkshire Area Regional Championships).

The Programme

First Half

  1. March: Bramwyn (John Carr)
  2. Cornet Solo (performed by Neil Booth): First Light (Ben Hollings)
  3. Light Concert Music: Appalachian Mountain Folk Song Suite (James Curnow)
  4. Soprano Cornet Solo (performed by John Mitchell): Memory (Andrew Lloyd-Webber/Trevor Nunn, arr. Alan Catherall)
  5. Hymn: The Old Hundredth (All People That on Earth Do Dwell) (Ralph Vaughan Williams, arr. Derek Broadbent)
  6. Musical Piece (from Follow The Fleet): Let’s Face the Music and Dance (Irving Berlin, arr. Goff Richards)
  7. March: Arnhem (Albert E. Kelly)

Second Half

  1. Film Music (from Gone With the Wind): Tara’s Theme (Maxwell Steiner)
  2. March: Death or Glory (RB Hall)
  3. Flugelhorn Solo (performed by Andrew Knight): Adagio from Concerto de Aranjuez (Joaquin Rodrigo)
  4. Film Music: Theme from Out of Africa (John Barry)
  5. Film Music: Theme from Jurassic Park (John Williams, arr. Alan Catherall)
  6. Film Music (from We Were Soldiers): The Mansions of the Lord (Randall Wallace/Nick Glennie-Smith, arr. Leigh Baker)
  7. Film Music Medley: James Bond Collection (Various, arr. Goff Richards)

Encore

  • Hymn: Abide With Me (William Henry Monk).

Act 1: A Terrific Traditional Concert Programme

First up was the John Carr contest march Bramwyn. Traditionally played by Second and Third Section bands, it is a more challenging one than, say T.J. Powell’s Castell Coch. On the other hand, a Second Section or First Section band can play the piece with such eloquence. This was true with Slaithwaite Band, who performed the march standing up – as you would on Whit Friday.

Next up was our first solo of the night. Enter Neil Booth on Principal Cornet with Ben Hollings’ First Light. The piece was especially written with Kirsty Abbotts in mind, when both Hollings and Abbotts were based at Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band. It refers to the first light of morning, that magical point where total darkness turns to sunrise. As for Neil Booth’s performance, such a joy to listen to. Brilliant.

For our third piece, we had a bit of Americana with James Curnow’s Appalachian Mountain Folk Song Suite. In three fun size movements, it features Sourwood MountainBlack is the Colour of My True Love’s Hair and Camptown Races. On the 14 February 1988, this was the Third Section Test Piece for the Milton Keynes Brass Band Festival. That was won by Orion Airways Brass, who are now the non-contesting Sir Richard Arkwright Masson Mills Band. Brilliant stuff.

This was followed by our second solo of the night. Enter John Mitchell on soprano cornet with Memory, by far the best known piece from Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Cats. In the West End cast, this was sung by Elaine Paige and Barbra Streisland. The former singer – also a staple of BBC Radio 2’s Sunday afternoon schedule – got the hit single in July 1981 (peaking at Number 6 in the UK singles chart). As for John’s performance, fantastic work with excellent volume.

Our fifth piece was the first hymn of the night: one that is often overlooked these days in The Old Hundredth (All People That on Earth Do Dwell). The version we heard was a Derek Broadbent arrangement of a Ralph Vaughan Williams arrangement of a traditional tune by Louis Bourgeois. It is associated with Psalm 134 of the Genevan Psalter. This short yet amazing piece is criminally overlooked in concert programmes and deserves more recognition. Slaithwaite Band’s performance was superb enough to convince the listener.

For the second concert in a row, we were treated to Irving Berlin’s Let’s Face the Music and Dance. It appears in the 1936 musical film Follow The Fleet, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Apart from The Morecambe and Wise Show sketch with Angela Rippon, it has been used for a 1990s insurance advert. Capturing this piece with cinematic elegance is Goff Richards’ arrangement, which never fails to amaze audiences. Slaithwaite Band’s performance was living proof of this, with a slick, Oscar-winning rendition.

The last piece of this half was another classic tune. A mid-20th century march in Albert E. Kelly’s Arnhem. It is a rousing march written to commemorate a British Army defeat, which contributed to the defeat of the Nazis in World War II. During the Whit Walks (and along Chew Valley Road on Whit Friday contest nights), it is used as a street march. A superb finish to the first half.

Act 2: Second House at the People’s Picture Theatre

The penultimate piece of the first half gave us a window into the second half programme. Apart from the encore, the whole of the second half was dedicated to music from stage and screen.

First up was Tara’s Theme from Gone With The Wind. Written by Maxwell Steiner, it was originally an instrumental tune. Later, with the addition of song lyrics by Mack David, it took on another life as My Own True Love. It was released in 1948 by Margaret Whiting. A lovely start to the second half.

Next up was the first of two pieces from Brassed Off. We opened the mini Brassed Off set with R.B Hall’s Death or Glory. As with Arnhem, another march you often hear on Whit Walks and on the deportment march. It opens Brassed Off with the glow of miners’ helmets on the way out of Grimley Colliery. Another great performance that would lead us our third soloist of the night.

Inevitably, this would be Andrew Knight’s flugelhorn solo with Concerto de Aranjuez. In the film and stage versions, it is Gloria Mullins who takes her position on flugelhorn, after the male members get over the presence of a female player. 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 Andrew’s performance, it certainly wasn’t wobbly.

Next up was a bit of John Barry, and his memorable theme from Out of Africa. Starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep, it is based on the Isak Dinesen novel, also Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Story Teller by Judith Thurman, and Silence Will Speak by Errol Trzebinski. The film won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. Another great performance.

This was followed by another airing for John Williams’ theme from Jurassic Park. Opening in Summer 1993, Steven Spielberg’s dinosaur based movie franchise is inspired by the Michael Crichton novel. Over the last five years, it has been a popular addition to many concert programmes at Boarshurst Band Club (including the house band when conducted by James Garlick in a special movie themed concert). Sadly, it didn’t come with Leigh Baker’s suggested lyrics prior to the performance, which was something out of Harry Hill’s playbook. A beautiful performance of Alan Catherall’s arrangement.

Next up was a more contemplative piece from the film We Were Soldiers. This was the Randall Wallace and Nick Glennie-Smith composition The Mansions of the Lord. The hymn was used at Ronald Reagan’s funeral and could well be described as a modern-day classic. Randall Wallace’s musical credits include the soundtrack to Braveheart and Pearl Harbor. Nick Glennie-Smith’s C.V is a comprehensive one; he has worked with Sir Cliff Richard and Hans Zimmer (of Pirates of the Caribbean and Going For Gold themes fame). He has also written library music for KPM Music (in the mid-1980s, Easy-Go was used as Granada Television’s start-up theme). A lovely bit of quietness which offered a real contrast to the next piece.

The last piece of the night couldn’t have been more a polar opposite of the previous one. What a finale we had in Goff Richards’ sublime medley, the James Bond Collection. It has the themes from Goldfinger, the iconic original theme from Dr. No and the excellent Nobody Does It Better from 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. With Slaithwaite Band’s performance, they had the suaveness of our Sean, the rumbustiousness of Roger, and the tenacity of Timothy. Who could ask for anything more??

From Messrs Connery, Moore and Dalton we moved to a traditional hymn for the encore. A classic piece at funerals and on F.A. Cup Final Day. If you guessed William Henry Monk’s Abide With Me, award yourself a gold star. It is also known as Eventide and could well be a tribute to the brass banding people we have loved and lost in recent years.

* * *

On the whole, Slaithwaite Band gave us all a wonderful concert. This was enhanced by the eloquence of Leigh Baker’s vocal delivery – both factual and humorous. Wherever they may be, they are well worth seeing.

Next Week at Boarshurst Band Club…

Our next concert at Boarshurst Band Club is on the 19th June, where we shall be welcoming The City of Bradford Brass Band. They are the highest ranked constituent of the City of Bradford Brass Band Community which includes BD1 Brass. Doors are open from 6.30 pm for the usual 7.30 pm finish.  Please arrive early to be sure of a good seat.

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 before 7pm; evening journeys are operated by Stagecoach Manchester.

Twitter details: @boarshurstband; #SundayBrass.

Website: www.boarshurstband.co.uk.

S.V., 13 June 2022.

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