Joyous finale to concert season at Boarshurst for James Holt and Co.

Besses Boys Band rounded off the 2021 – 22 season of Boarshurst concerts in style with a most likeable programme. Without being too demanding nor light hearted without being too light hearted, the programme included two great solos and an original piece. One that only had its second ever public performance.

As with previous concerts with Besses, musical director James Holt was informative and humorous at the same time. For this year’s record-breaking summer, the right kind of MD with the right kind of running order to put a smile on our faces. What made last night’s concert special was a nice mix of brand new music, a few modern day classics, and a few under the category of “hey, I’ve not heard this one for a while”.

With the extremely hot weather conditions, last night’s band didn’t use the upstairs room (which can be a sweat box in midwinter). They came on from the rear forecourt and eschewed the formal jackets.

For the best part of two hours, Besses Boys Band delivered the goods with a cheery programme. Hours before our temperatures reached the 35ºC mark, they went the extra mile with The World Famous Raffle. There was sixteen ‘life-changing’ prizes at stake.

The Programme

First Half

  1. March: Bramwyn (John Carr)
  2. Overture: Selections from Mack and Mabel (Michael Stewart/John Herman, arr. Keith Wilkinson)
  3. Principal Cornet Solo (performed by Claire Holt): Cry Me A River (Arthur Hamilton, arr. Alan Morrison)
  4. Original piece: The Beehive (Andrea Price)
  5. Tenor Horn Solo (performed by Laura Hampson-Logan): If (David Gates, arr. Derek Ashmore)
  6. Film Music (from An American Tail): Somewhere Out There (James Horner, arr. Darrol Barry)
  7. Light Concert Music: Nordic Polska (Philip Harper)

Second Half

  1. Concert Opener: Prismatic Light (Alan Fernie)
  2. Hymn: St. Clement (Clement Cotterill Scholefield, arr. Philip Wilby) – dedicated to Bramwell Tovey
  3. Film Music (from Rich, Young, and Pretty): How D’Ya Like Your Eggs in the Morning? (Nicholas Brodszky/Sammy Cahn, arr. Rieks van der Velde)
  4. Original piece: Gøta (Peder Karlsson, arr. Tina Kvamme)
  5. Musical piece (from Blood Brothers): Tell Me It’s Not True (Willy Russell)
  6. Hymn: Prelude in Lavenham (Geoffrey Nobes)
  7. Original piece: Starburst (Dan Price)


  • Light Concert Piece: La Mer (Beyond The Sea) (Charles Trenet, arr. Philip Harper).

If a solo paints a thousand words…

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. When Boarshurst Silver Band began their rise to the Championship Section, this was their contest march of choice. Besses gave us a breezy start to proceedings.

Next up was a neat little 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. Another vibrant performance by Besses.

Item number three was the first solo of the night. In traditional style, this came from our Principal Cornet player Claire Holt. The piece she chose (or chosen for her, depending on who you believe) was Cry Me A River. Written by Arthur Hamilton, the song has been covered by artistes from Mari Wilson (of 1982’s Just What I Always Wanted fame) to Ella Fitzgerald and Michael Bublé. Fantastic work from Claire.

The fourth programme item was a brand new work by Andrea Price, and only the second public airing of that too. Known as The Beehive, it is a jolly piece about Manchester city centre. It reflects the industriousness and fun loving nature of the great city. Its composer is the Musical Director of Wingates Band. She spent a decade as principal percussionist and soloist for Black Dyke Band. Another great performance and, most definitely, a piece most worthy of any concert programme.

Next up was our second and final soloist of the night. This time with Laura Hampson-Logan on tenor horn. Her piece was If, a Derek Ashmore arrangement of David Gates’ song. Despite getting airplay on its initial release (1971), it failed to chart in the UK yet peaked at Number Four in the US Billboard charts. Four years later, another version of If charted in the UK: Telly Savalas’ cover version, which topped the singles chart. Laura’s performance on tenor horn was superb.

For the penultimate item of last night’s first half was our first piece of film music. One by the late great James Horner, in Somewhere Out There. It is the lead song in the animated film An American Tail, sung by Peabo Bryson and Linda Ronstadt. The film spawned a sequel called Fievel Goes West and a spin-off animated TV series. Released as a Christmas film in 1986 in the US, it didn’t hit British screens till late July 1987. A well performed piece.

To finish the first half was something completely different: a piece of light concert music in Nordic Polska. Arranged by Philip Harper, it is on The Cory Band’s 2017 album Storytelling, alongside the ever-popular The Greatest Storyteller. The piece was written by LEVELELEVEN, a kind of supergroup of The Real Group and Rajaton. Harper’s arrangement includes a familiar Welsh tune.

For the first half, this was a most entertaining performance. The second half would be equally entertaining, taking on a slightly lighter air.

Tell Me It’s Not Opal Fruits…?

In the second half, we kicked off with a classic concert opener. The ever-dependable Prismatic Light. The piece was written by Alan Fernie for Loanhead Youth Band’s 10th anniversary concert in 2012. With its musical cues from John Williams’ works, it is a piece of Olympian proportions enjoyed by many bands. Fantastic stuff, and a good piece to follow The World Famous Boarshurst Raffle.

Next up was a tribute to Bramwell Tovey, the legendary composer and conductor who recently passed away. The piece was St. Clement. In other words, Clement Cotterill Scholefield’s The Day Thou Gavest. The hymn is also set to words by John Ellerton and is a popular choice at funerals. Besses Boys Band’s performance was a worthy tribute to the great composer, late of the Sarasota Orchestra and the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra.

This was followed by a nice bit of brass banding cheese; Brodszky’s and Cahn’s How D’Ya Like Your Eggs in the Morning? One that we haven’t heard at The Mecca of Brass Banding since April 2017. The piece has been covered by many artistes including Dean Martin. It was written in 1951 for the film, Rich, Young, and Pretty, starring Jane Powell as Elizabeth Rogers. The film also saw the first appearance of Vic Damone. Five years and three months since its last performance, a welcome addition to the programme. Gorgeous stuff.

Also filed under One We Haven’t Heard For Years was a song about three Norwegian villages called Gøta. Written by Peder Karlsson it refers to three villages in the island of Eysturoy on the Faroe Islands. It is also the abbreviated form of Norðragøta. In 2005 it was sung by The Real Group, a Swedish a cappella group. Besses Boys’ performance was another cracker.

From the Faroe Islands, we moved to Merseyside, the home of Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers. It began as a one-act play where two brothers were switched from birth. By far, its best known song is Tell Me It’s Not True, the subject of Besses Boys’ next to next to last piece. The anthemic song is performed by Mrs Johnstone (the two brothers’ mother) and the whole company at the end. Another great performance, and one for the tissues if you saw the musical.

Our penultimate piece was a classic Salvationist hymn. That of Geoffrey Nobes’ Prelude on Lavenham. It has become a modern day concert staple with the piece based on Reverend Nick Fawcett’s hymn. The arranger was formerly Bandmaster of Portsmouth Citadel Band, one who is still composing today. Another good day at the office, though one that would be eclipsed by a dazzling finale.

The final piece of the night was the excellent Starburst. Written by Dan Price, it was commissioned by the Greater Manchester Youth Brass Band. In June 2014 it was premiered at The Bridgewater Hall with the piece symbolises an abnormally high rate of star formation. It is billed on his website as a concert opener, one that has paid dividends for Crofton Silver Band’s Bolsover Contest entry in 2019. A superb finish.

To finish their concert and the 2021 – 22 season of concerts, we turned to a French song that gained greater popularity in English. That of La Mer (Beyond The Sea), Charles Trenet’s song. The first popular cover version was sung by Bobby Darin. In more recent times, it has been covered by Robbie Williams on his 2001 LP Swing When You’re Winning. As the song was used in the end credits of Finding Nemo, this was a good choice of encore song by Besses Boys Band.

*                  *                  *

Even with a mega sixteen-prize raffle, James Holt’s pithy yet informative (and humorous) delivery made for a tightly produced concert. We can’t wait to see their next one at The Mecca of Brass Banding, presumably on the 16th July 2023.

Next at Boarshurst Band Club…

After last night’s concert, the good people at Boarshurst Band Club will be having a summer break from brass band concerts. The next event at The Mecca of Brass Banding is on the 28th August 2022. That’ll be the Boarshurst BBQ which starts at 6.00 pm. Admission is £25.00 for adults or £12.00 for senior citizens and children. For your twenty-five (or twelve) quid, you can eat and drink as much as you want. What’s more, if you do get a hangover on Monday and don’t need to work (August Bank Holiday), you could treat yourself to a strong black coffee and a lie-in.

The next concert will be on the 4th September. Subject to confirmation, Pride Brass will be our first band of the 2022 – 23 concert season.

Last but not least, don’t forget to follow the Facebook page and Twitter feed of Boarshurst Band. That way you should be fully up to speed with forthcoming concerts and other events.

Twitter details: @boarshurstband; #SundayBrass.


S.V., 18 July 2022.

Lady Wilton Hall image by Impudicus, 2014 (Creative Commons License: Attribution-ShareAlike).

One thought on “Besses Boys Band: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club (17 July 2022)

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