Fantastic concert well worth the three year wait

Let’s take a trip into our time machine to the 9th September 2019:

“We hope Skelmanthorpe Band’s next concert at Boarshurst will be in 2020 rather than 2021. With a most enjoyable programme and great delivery from Martin Heartfield, it was well worth waiting for.”

Thanks to COVID, it was three years and eight days since Skelmanthorpe Band’s last concert at Boarshurst Band Club. Was it worth the wait?

For the best part of two hours, Martin Heartfield and Co. gave us a most engaging concert with a highly entertaining programme. There was a nice variety of mellow pieces as well as bombastic numbers.

As with their previous concert, they gave us a taste of their programme for Bolsover Entertainment Contest. This included the ever popular Autumn Leaves with Laura Brown on horn, the solo item in its mini concert programme.

First Half

  1. Light Concert Music: Los Hermanos de Bop (Mark Taylor, arr. Sandy Smith);
  2. March: Cross of Honour (William Rimmer);
  3. Trombone Solo (performed by Damian Hall): Blessed Assurance (Phoebe Knapp, arr. Simon Wood);
  4. Flugelhorn Solo (performed by Rebecca Abernethy): The Children of Sanchez (Chuck Mangione, arr. Peter Schaars);
  5. Test Piece Movement (from Call of the Cossacks): Cossack Fire Dance (Peter Graham);
  6. Light Concert Music: The Water of Tyne (Traditional, arr. Philip Harper);
  7. Film Music (from Braveheart): For The Love of a Princess (James Horner, arr. Andrew Duncan);
  8. Light Concert Music: Nightingale Dances (Matthew Hall).

Second Half

  1. Concert Opener: Walking With Heroes (Paul Lovatt-Cooper);
  2. Horn Solo (performed by Laura Brown): Autumn Leaves (Joseph Cosma/Jacques Prevert);
  3. Original Piece: Legends of Cyfarthfa (Matthew Hall);
  4. Euphonium Solo (performed by Neil Johnson): From Your Smile (Paul Lovatt-Cooper);
  5. Light Concert Music: Valero (James Swearingen);
  6. Popular Music: Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) (Billy Joel, arr. Klass Van Der Woude);
  7. Original Piece: Shine As The Light (Peter Graham).

Encore

  • March: Belford’s Carnival March (Russel Alexander, arr. Roy Newsome)

A Nightingale dances in Moorfield Square

First up was a fantastic opening piece in Mark Taylor’s Los Hermanos de Bop. It is an original piece that was heard at the 2013 World Brass Band Championships in Norway, performed by The Cory Band. With its big band style leanings, it set the tone for a suave, swashbuckling night of music. Excellent start to the concert.

This was followed by a classic William Rimmer march, Cross of Honour. For many people, it is associated with Brassed Off, where the piece is heard at a critical time in the film (the Redundancy or Review ballot at Grimley Colliery). For lower section bands, it is a favourite contest march of choice. With Skelmanthorpe’s extra flair and great sound, a superb performance.

Next up was another classic piece, courtesy of our first soloist of the night. Enter Damian Hall on trombone with Phoebe Kemp’s Blessed Assurance. Its lyrics were written by blind hymn writer, Fanny Crosby and reflect the lyricist’s walk of faith, as expressed by the apostle Paul (Philippians 1:21: “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”). Damian’s performance was suave, sophisticated and eloquent. The sort of performance you would expect from James Bond if he traded in his Aston Martin for a solo trombone and a Mercedes coach for his local brass band. Full marks, Damian.

From last night’s answer to Sean Connery, we had another great solo performance. Enter Becky Abernethy on flugelhorn with Chuck Mangione’s The Children of Sanchez. At any brass band concert, you can tell you’re on to a winner when that appears in the programme. It is always a delight to hear, which is why it, quite rightly, won a Grammy award. With Becky’s performance, truly sensational.

This was followed by our first Peter Graham piece of the night: Cossack Fire Dance. This is the third movement from Call of the Cossacks, written especially for Black Dyke Band’s solo spot at the 2002 European Gala Concert in Belgium. The major work has five movements, which is one of Mr Graham’s ‘travelogue’ features. This vibrant piece was a perfect companion to the previous flugelhorn solo. Another great performance.

This was followed by a much quieter piece, which would take us to our minute’s silence for HM The Queen. That of The Water of Tyne. In the song, a woman sees her paramour being separated by the aforementioned river. The ferry depicted in the song is said to be near Haughton Castle. For the princely sum of £655, six people can spend a week in Haughton Castle, so long as they provide their own transport. Skelmanthorpe’s performance was top drawer.

Following the one minute silence was Skelmanthorpe’s musical tribute to The UK’s Favourite Grandmother, our pillar of consistency for 70 years. That of Queen Elizabeth the Second, who could well be the subject of Andrew Duncan’s arrangement of For The Love of a Princess. Written by James Horner, it is the main love theme from Braveheart. Starring Mel Gibson as William Wallace, it sees him leading his countrymen in a rebellion from the tyranny of William I (the King of England). In the light of recent events, a bit more research about the tune’s backstory would have been helpful. Apart from that, a fantastic performance of a great piece.

To finish the first half, we had our first of two pieces by Matthew Hall. First up from his back catalogue was Nightingale Dances, an arrangement of Manhattan Transfer’s cover of A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square. The Manhattan Transfer version was the final track on their 1981 LP Mecca for Moderns. Unlike the original song, this was brassier and bolder, the latter being an apt description for the first half programme. Another great performance, leaving us in anticipation for a great second half.

Shine as the light hits those autumn leaves

The second half began with a most rousing overture. That of Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s Walking With Heroes. The first piece of the second half is the title track of his 2008 album. The highly talented composer does bombast as well as tranquil. Performed at The Mecca of Brass Banding (aka the Boarshurst Band Club), Skelmanthorpe Band would have done the Mighty PLC proud. The piece was billed as a ‘thank you’ to everybody who had worked throughout the pandemic.

Next up was our third horn solo of the night, and a sneak peek into their Bolsover Entertainment Contest programme. That of Autumn Leaves, a superb arrangement of the jazz standard, written in 1945. It has been set to lyrics by Jacques Prèvert and Johnny Mercer in French and English languages respectively. On the solo horn was Laura Brown, no stranger to solo performances at Boarshurst Band Club with Skelmanthorpe Band. Her performance on the horn was superb.

We then moved on to our third piece of this half, and the second and final Matthew Hall piece of the night. That of Legends of Cyfarthfa. This stunning piece combines the music of Joseph Parry and Cyfarthfa Band. It includes a variety of Welsh melodies like Blodwen, Aberystwyth, Myfanwy and the Tydfil Overture. A most amazing piece, made all the better by Skelmanthorpe Band’s performance.

This was followed by the fourth and final soloist of the night, showing another side to the musical talents of Paul Lovatt-Cooper. Showing off PLC’s softer side in melodic form was euphonium soloist Neil Johnson with From Your Smile. It was commissioned by Gary and Leanne Curtin to commemorate the birth of their son Jamie. It also appears on Mr. Curtin’s solo album Eiretime. As for Neil’s performance, another cracker.

Next up was another cracking tune, a lively number in James Swearingen’s Valero. As jazz standards go, this is the sound of a secret agent on a mission. On a mission to deliver mid priced Cadbury’s chocolate or special fried rice from the nearby takeaway. A firm favourite with many concertgoers, Skelmanthorpe well and truly smashed it.

We moved on to our penultimate piece of the night in Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) by Billy Joel. The song features on his 1993 LP River of Dreams. It is inspired by his daughter Alexa Ray Joel, from his previous marriage with Christine Brinkley, and is the seventh track on the album. It also continues the family sub-theme of this half. Well played.

Billy Joel’s number was a lull before the storm of our last piece of the night. An excellent piece of Salvationist music in Peter Graham’s Shine As The Light. If you thought most of the concert was breathtaking, their performance of Peter Graham’s test piece took the concert Skelmanthorpe Band’s finest hour in the second half. Written in 1997, it features two Salvation Army hymns: The Candle of the Lord by Joy Webb, and Chuck Yuill’s The Light Has Come. With its thunderous crescendo, it is a piece that leaves you wanting more. Last night’s band was no exception to the that rule. Sensational.

As for the encore, we had a more straightforward piece. A march in Russel Alexander’s Belford’s Carnival March. At face value, you would think this was a circus march. On listening to the piece, you are not far off. Written in 1926, the march has some Sousa-esque leanings. What a rousing finale to the concert, well played.

* * *

We hope Skelmanthorpe Band’s next concert at Boarshurst will be in 2023 rather than 2025. Here’s hoping we wouldn’t be proved wrong this time. All the best to them at the Bolsover Entertainment Contest.

Next week at Boarshurst Band Club…

Boarshurst Silver Band (the house band of Boarshurst Band Club) will be performing next Sunday. Yes, next week will see the 2022 British Open Senior Trophy runners up do a home gig. Doors are open at 6.30pm for the usual 7.30pm start. As always, please arrive early to be sure of a good seat.

Buses

  • 350: Ashton-under-Lyne – Mossley – Greenfield – Uppermill – Delph – Waterhead – Oldham (First Greater Manchester/Stagecoach Manchester).

Please alight outside the former Greenfield Conservative Club which is just before (to Oldham) or after (to Ashton) the zebra crossing. All post-7pm journeys of the 350 route are operated by Stagecoach Manchester, and the maximum adult single fare on all buses is £2.00.

S.V., 19 September 2022.

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