Widdop’s new band wows audience with traditional yet exciting programme
This week’s review is dedicated to the memory of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second. East of the M60 also sends its condolences to the Royal Family.
Long Live the King.
– S.V., Monday 12th September 2022.
Another Sunday, another great Boarshurst night, and another appearance for Alan Widdop. Had it not been for the death of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, it would have been ‘back to the old routine’. In the words of the late great John Peel, in relation to the late great Mark E. Smith from The Fall, “same but different”.
Mr. Widdop, looking smart in his dark blue patterned jacket last night, is no stranger to Boarshurst Band Club. At around this time last year, he was Musical Director for The Diggle Band. After conducting the last concert before lockdown, he conducted the first one after the reopening of Boarshurst Band Club.
Yesterday, he conducted his first concert with The Lindley Band within a week of taking up his position. With a programme that was chosen by his predecessor, it worked out really well. There was three solid solo performances, and a bit of cheese courtesy of Franck Pourcel and Whoopi Goldberg.
In the light of recent events, last night’s concert opened with two minutes silence and (for the first time in 70 years) an airing of God Save The King. The programme was a most traditional one, on the right side of mellowness and liveliness. A happy medium with great overture and a rousing yet dignified finale.
- Concert Opener: Strike Up The Band (Gershwin, arr. Goff Richards);
- Overture: Nabucco (Giuseppe Verdi, arr. William Rimmer);
- Soprano Cornet Solo (performed by Richard Jones): Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes (Ben Jonson);
- Film Music Medley: The James Bond Collection (John Barry, arr. Goff Richards);
- Flugelhorn Solo (performed by Sophie): Misty (Errol Garner, arr. Darrol Barry);
- Hymn: Amazing Grace (Traditional) – dedicated to the Royal Family;
- Musical Piece (from Follow The Fleet): Let’s Face the Music and Dance (Irving Berlin, arr. Goff Richards).
- Concert March: The Ambassador (Edwin Eugene Bagley, arr. Richard Jones);
- Euphonium Solo (performed by Neil): Grandfather’s Clock (Henry Clay Work);
- Classical Piece: Blue Rondo a la Turk (Dave Brubeck);
- Trombone Trio (performed by Dave, John and Dave): I Will Follow Him (Franck Pourcel, arr. Goff Richards);
- Hymn: I’ll Walk With God (Nicholas Brodszky, arr. Goff Richards);
- Original piece: Gaelforce (Peter Graham).
- Original Piece: The Lost Chord (Arthur Sullivan, arr. Goff Richards).
There may be trouble ahead…
We opened the first half with a concert march in George Gershwin’s Strike Up The Band. Written in 1927 for the eponymous musical, the title song was more popular than the musical itself. In 1937 it took on a second life as a song for the University College of Los Angeles. A vibrant piece that got the concert off to a great start.
From America, we moved to Italy via Southport in traditional style. Yes, overture time with Giuseppe Verdi’s excellent Nabucco overture (arranged by William Rimmer). The overture features in the four-part opera, which follows the plight of the Jews as they were assaulted and banished from their homeland. Nabucco is the abbreviated name of Nabucodonosor and it was a big ask to get Mr Widdop saying this in full! Brilliant stuff.
Next up was the first of three solos. Enter Richard on soprano cornet with Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes. The music is set to a poem by Ben Jonson called For Celia. Snatches of the song have been sung in various films and TV programmes – from Carry On Screaming (by Kenneth Williams) to Keeping Up Appearances (by Patricia Routledge as a rather drunk Hyacinth Bucket). It has also been covered by Johnny Cash. As for Richard’s performance, well played.
For the fourth piece… well, the name’s Richards, Goff Richards. The late great arranger and composer has given us many musical treasures. The James Bond Collection, is one example, his celebration of John Barry’s work for Britain’s most enduring film franchise. 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. As for The Lindley Band’s performance, it had the dynamism of Daniel, the perfection of Pierce and the suaveness of Sean. We were stirred, and they were certainly not shaken: great stuff all round.
Next up was our second soloist of the night. Enter on flugelhorn Sophie, with her rendition of Errol Garner’s Misty. The famous jazz standard has been covered by numerous artistes including Ray Stevens (yes, the Ray Stevens of The Streak and Everything Is Beautiful fame). It has inspired the Clint Eastwood film Play Misty For Me. As for Sophie’s performance on the flugelhorn, superb. It was also her first solo performance in a brass band; with her experience in orchestra settings, she took to the flugelhorn like a duck to water.
Our penultimate piece of the first was a tribute to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth The Second with another concert classic. That of Amazing Grace, a hymn was written in 1772 – 180 years before Queen Elizabeth II succeeded King George VI. In the 1970s, it took on a new life as a song beloved of protest movements. Judy Collins’ version had eight entries into the UK singles chart between 1970 and 1972. As for The Lindley Band’s tribute to The Queen, a smashing performance.
The last piece of this half was a song that could strike a chord in September 2022 as much as it did on Christmas Day 1977. If your mind drifted towards Angela Rippon and The Morecambe and Wise Show Christmas Special, you would be thinking of Let’s Face the Music and Dance. From the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film Follow The Fleet, it is by far the film’s best known song. The 1936 film is based on the 1926 play Shore Leave. A nice, bouncy way to take us to the interval.
…And Why Not?
We opened our second half with another march: this time, Edwin Eugene Bagley’s The Ambassador. His other noted works include National Emblem and American Salute. Bagley’s march was arranged by Richard, The Lindley Band’s soprano cornet player. What we got was another vibrant start to proceedings of a march you seldom hear at brass band concerts. We loved it.
This was followed by our third and final soloist of the night, and another nailed-on classic no less. Enter on euphonium Neil with Henry Clay Work’s Grandfather’s Clock. Written in 1876, it is told from the point of view of a grandchild, with the clock bought on its grandfather’s birth 90 years earlier. The original lyrics open with “My grandfather’s clock was too large for the shelf, so it stood ninety years on the floor“. 130 years on, Half Man Half Biscuit adapted that line to finish off one of their songs, Joy Division Oven Gloves. Their version goes “My grandfather’s clock was too tall for the shelf, so I sold it and opened up a stall… selling Joy Division Oven Gloves…” As for Neil’s euphonium solo, top drawer.
This was followed by one of Dave Brubeck’s most famous works, Blue Rondo a la Turk. The piece sounds less complex than it actually is. It has two different time signatures alternating with each other near the start and the finish of the piece (9/8 time with a side melody in the 4/4 time signature, inspired by the Turkish aksak time signatures). Apart from that, it was the only programme item to have inspired a 1980s band, Blue Rondo a la Turk. With the addition of Polish singer Basia, they would change their name to Matt Bianco in 1983. Good stuff.
Next up was another concert classic, one that was chosen for last night’s trombone trio. The piece in question was Franck Pourcel’s I Will Follow Him. For many people, this conjures up images of singing nuns in Sister Act, the first of two films starring Whoopi Goldberg (the second one is Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit). The song is based on an instrumental work entitled Chariot. Daves 1 and 2 and John put in a great shift.
Our penultimate piece was another well loved piece: I’ll Walk With God. Composed by Nicholas Brodszky, the hymn was used in The Student Prince, where Prince Karl sung the song at the King of Carlsburg’s death bed. Played by Edmund Purdom, his singing was replaced by Mario Lanza’s dubbed voice. Probably the best rendition we have heard to date? Could well have been going off The Lindley Band’s pristine performance.
To finish off the concert, we had Peter Graham’s Gaelforce. Though a joy to listen to for the audience, its three movements make for a real lip frazzler. The piece was commissioned by Foden’s Band with three Irish songs: The Minstrel Boy, Tossing the Feathers and The Rocky Road to Dublin. This was undoubtedly the band’s most technically demanding piece which got us all asking for more. Breathtaking performance.
If you thought that wasn’t enough, Mr Widdop and Co. had another piece in the tank. Another classic in Arthur Sullivan’s The Lost Chord. It was written at the bedside of his ailing brother Fred in 1877, during his last illness. It has been recorded by Enrico Caruso and, most notably, performed at a benefit concert for the families affected by the Titanic disaster. Interestingly, it was the encore piece at his previous concert with The Diggle Band (5th June 2022) and the last non-encore piece at the last concert before lockdown with Whitworth Vale and Healey Band (16th March 2020).
With a few familiar pieces from concerts conducted by Mr Widdop, it was (in the words of the late great John Peel) “same but different”. Its mix of familiar pieces and mellow pieces made for a stylish and dignified concert. Though last night’s programme was created by Alan’s predecessor, there was a reassuring familiarity. A degree of consistency that could only be paralleled by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second’s reign.
Our next concert is on the 18th September when our next band will be Skelmanthorpe Band. This will be our second band from the West Riding of Yorkshire, and one that has had success in regional and national competitions in recent times. That’ll be at 7.30 pm, doors open at 6.30 pm. Please arrive early to be sure of a good seat.
- 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 and Stagecoach Manchester after 7pm. Adult single fares are £2.00 with child singles now £1.00. The Any Bus DaySaver ticket is £5.00.
Twitter details: @boarshurstband; #SundayBrass.
S.V., 12 September 2022.