Spectacular concert sees home band stand ground

A Boarshurst Silver Band concert on home turf is always a joy to behold. In the years I have been coming to The Brass Banding Mecca of the North, it fills me with joy to see a great band grow from the Third Section up to the Championship Section. Along the way, each concert has seen the band flourish. Under Prophet (and Garlick before then), each concert has had an uplifting, carefully chosen programme with a fine performance to boot.

With the recent pandemic, these opportunities became more limited as we lost touch with our friends. In what is only their third concert at Boarshurst Band Club since last September, their ability to amuse and wow audiences was impressive as ever.

Whereas the first half showed off more their accomplished technical abilities, the second half showed off their entertaining side and eloquence. After opening with a classic by Alexander Borodin, they cranked up the classics with a couple of solos and a rock classic by Meatloaf.

Though out of the Championship Section and in the First Section, Boarshurst Silver Band gave us a concert programme worthy of a Championship Section band. In their present section, they could be a tough nut to crack. (As proven in the British Open Senior Trophy at this year’s Spring Festival).

First Half

  1. March: Entry of the Gladiators (Julius Fucik)
  2. Overture: Poet and Peasant (Franz von Suppé)
  3. Cornet Feature (performed by Ryan, Sian and Emily): Bugler’s Holiday (Leroy Anderson)
  4. Film Music (from Batman The Movie): Title Theme from Batman (Danny Elfman, arr. Alan Catherall)
  5. Classical Piece: Arioso (J.S. Bach, arr. Howard Snell)
  6. Light Concert Music: A Special Place (Goff Richards)
  7. Popular Music: MacArthur Park (Jimmy Webb, arr. Alan Catherall)

Second Half

  1. Classical Piece: Polovtsian Dances (Alexander Borodin, arr. Howard Snell)
  2. Flugelhorn Solo (performed by Joanne Ward): Concierto de Aranjuez (Joaquin Rodrigo)
  3. Popular Music: Bat Out Of Hell (Jim Steinman, arr. Tom Davoren)
  4. Tenor Horn Solo (performed by Vicky Ashley): He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother (arr. B.P. Crookes)
  5. Hymn: The Day Thou Gavest (John Ellerton, arr. Philip Wilby)
  6. Film Music (from Star Wars: A New Hope): Imperial March (John Williams)
  7. Popular Music Medley: ABBA Goes Brass (Andersson/Ulvaeus, arr. Alan Fernie)
  8. Light Concert Music: The Lost Chord (Arthur Sullivan, arr. Gordon Langford)


  • Light Concert Music: Light As Air (Goff Richards).

and I’ll never have the recipe again…

First up was a piece that another Greenfield based band opened with three years and ten months ago. That of Entry of the Gladiators, everyone’s favourite circus themed march. Written by Julius Fucik, it is one of over 400 pieces written by The Bohemian Sousa. If you’re familiar with Brassed Off, you may have heard La Florentiner several times. That was another one of his works. As a concert opener for Greenfield’s highest ranked band, one that threw a curveball for any audience members expecting Ravenswood. Fantastic stuff all the same.

The second piece was an all time classic. Whereas chicken soup is good for the soul and great for colds, Suppé is great for decongesting concert programmes. Especially and overture like Poet and Peasant. Written in 1846, it is known in the composer’s native language as Dichter und Bauer. Francesco Ezechiele Ermenegildo Cavaliere di Suppé-Demelli’s most famous work is associated in brass banding circles with Black Dyke Mills Band’s recording (with Geoffrey Brand as conductor) and Briggus’ recording on EMI Music For Pleasure’s An Evening With Brighouse and Rastrick Band. Boarshurst Silver Band’s performance made mincemeat out of the latter. Sensational!

Keeping up with the classics was our cornet feature. That of Leroy Anderson’s Bugler’s Holiday. If there’s any piece that has us yearning for sunnier clines instead of cold weather, high inflation and petrol queues at Costco, it is this one! This lightweight yet jazzy piece was performed with perfection by Ryan, Sian and Emily. Yes, we loved that one.

Next up was a favourite one of Jamie’s programme items. That of Danny Elfman’s 1989 theme from Batman. For many devotees of the Caped Crusader’s activities, there are only three Batman themes that matter: Elfman’s; Zimmer’s theme for the latest set of movies in the Batman franchise; and the TV theme (the ones where Adam West was Batman). For me, the Batman theme is often the TV theme, thanks to the TV-am strike of 1987. I also have warm feelings towards Danny Elfman’s theme and fond memories of Prince’s Batdance from the same film. As for Boarshurst Silver Band’s performance of Elfman’s theme, superb.

Filed under “hey, we’ve not heard this one for yonks” (Slawit played it on the 16th July 2017) was J.S. Bach’s Arioso. Arioso is a warm, delightful piece, suitable for solo work as well as whole band settings. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it is “vocal music that is more melodic than recitative but less formal than an aria.” For Boarshurst Silver Band, a neat contrast to the previous piece.

The next piece was similarly tranquil and came from the pen of Goff Richards (one of Jamie’s favourite brass band composers). A piece that was written for charitable endeavour in A Special Place. The piece was composed and dedicated to The Children’s Hospice South West. The original version was a fundraiser for that cause, dedicated to looking after children with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions. Shortly before Goff Richards’ death in 2011, the ailing composer (via mobile phone) heard a performance of this piece by the Cornwall Youth Brass Band. Back then, they were conducted by the late great Richard Evans. Good stuff!

The last piece of this half was a fairly modern classic. A song previously sung by Richard Harris and Donna Summer. Everybody’s Favourite Mislaid Cake Song in MacArthur Park. The song, at a then airplay-unfriendly six minutes long, was a favourite among DJs who wanted to pop out for a cigarette, call of nature, or something else of… (erm, guess the rest). To this day, still the only song about missing cakes to have made the Top Ten of the UK Singles Chart and the Billboard Charts. A brilliant finale that took us to the interval and The World Famous Boarshurst Raffle.

She calls that “wobbly”…

Continuing our journey through the brass banding concert classics was another firm favourite. That of Polovtsian Dances by Alexander Borodin. This piece features at the end of Act Two of Borodin’s opera Prince Igor. The work was unfinished till Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Alexander Glazunov completed it in 1890. Of the amount of times I have heard the brass band arrangement of Borodin’s piece, it has never failed to impress me at all. Boarshurst Silver Band was no exception on Sunday night with a most powerful performance lighting the way for a scintillating second half.

Next up was solo time and definitely one for the Brassed Off fans. Enter on flugelhorn Joanne Ward with Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. Apart from the famous scene in Mark Herman’s film (or the stage production), the song has been covered by Manuel and his Music of the Mountains. Which, despite the exotic name, is Geoff Love of the Geoff Love Orchestra fame from Todmorden. As for Joanne’s performance, far from wobbly. Another cracker.

We moved from the ubiquitous to the esoteric with our third item of this half. A brass band arrangement of a Meatloaf song! That of Tom Davoren’s arrangement of Bat Out Of Hell. Though the title track of Meatloaf’s 1977 LP, Bat Out Of Hell didn’t become a UK chart single till 1979 – and even then it only peaked at Number 15. In 1993, it reentered the charts and peaked at Number 8. Apart from the lack of motorbike emerging from the trombonists’ entrance, a fantastic piece well played.

Next up was another slow burner of the UK singles charts: one that was Top Of The Pops 19 years after its original release thanks to a beer advert. Apart from being The Hollies’ best known single, He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother was our second solo piece of the night with Vicky Ashley on tenor horn. In 1988, the song was used to advertise Miller Lite lager and peaked at Number One – exactly 34 years ago this month. Vicky’s performance was wonderful. Fantastic work.

Like Del Boy and Rodney, or Batman and Robin, Hymns and Brass Band Music is another winning combination. John Ellerman’s The Day Thou Gavest is no exception, especially with the arranging skills of Philip Wilby to hand. At Besses Boys’ last concert at Boarshurst Band Club, it was presented a tribute to Bramwell Tovey, the legendary composer and conductor. The piece is also known as St. Clement and a popular choice at funerals. Brilliant stuff.

Just to prove that the force was with us on Sunday, our next piece came from (Sir) John Williams. That of The Imperial March from Star Wars: A New Hope. Though a joy to listen to, it is one that could be quite a test in the double and triple tonguing department for the band. Or, as Yoda would say “department triple tonguing quite a test it is”. Another piece that was well received.

Agnetha’s comments on the previous piece could have been “I don’t want to tongue…”, though she would have been pleased with the next programme item. That of Alan Fernie’s ABBA Goes Brass, a pleasing medley of songs by Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni-Frid. In its roll call is Mamma Mia!The Winner Takes It AllSuper TrouperTake A Chance On MeI Have A DreamFernando and Thank You For The Music. The only thing that was missing was a bit of space for a dance floor and four random members of the band in ABBA style gear (one for the entertainment contests?). Still, another superb performance.

Our final piece of the night was 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. A lovely piece, though some might argue it was a slightly sombre finale to a brass band concert. Then again, not too bad a finish given Britain’s recent collective mourning over the loss of Her Majesty the Queen, Elizabeth II. Well performed.

To finish the concert properly was a different encore piece to the norm. One that has featured as a main programme item in previous concerts with lower section bands. Continuing our sub theme of rock classics was Goff Richards’ Light As Air. It is a marriage (well, mash-up if you prefer) of Procol Harum’s A Whiter Shade of Pale and Air on a G String. A nice easy way to round off a most memorable concert.

As with previous concerts, Boarshurst Silver Band hasn’t been too precious about having one encore piece. It is happy to chop and change, crushing the cliché of “we’re such a band, we always finish with this number”. Also good, least for their home gigs, is they aren’t afraid to experiment with subtle changes to the concert programme.

They are always a joy to listen to; on that note, any of their concerts are well worth supporting.

Boarshurst Silver Band’s next gig…

Glossop Old Band Club, Derby Street, Glossop, Derbyshire, SK13 8LP

On the 9th October 2022 (2.00 pm), just under two weeks from the time of writing, Boarshurst Silver Band will be doing Glossop Old Band Club. Admission is free, though our friends near Whitfield (and us of course!) would like you to support the raffle and auction – and give generously to The Legendary Bucket Collection.

Next week at Boarshurst Band Club…

Our next concert is on the 2nd October when our next band is Phoenix Brass.  This is a fundraising concert for the Royal British Legion.  There will also be a potato pie supper – all for the princely sum of a fiver.  That’ll be at 7.30 pm, doors open at 6.30 pm.  Please arrive early to be sure of a good seat. 

Public Transport:

  • Trains: Transpennine Express services from Huddersfield, Manchester Piccadilly and Stalybridge;
  • 350: Ashton-under-Lyne – Mossley – Greenfield – Uppermill – Dobcross – Delph – Waterhead – Oldham (First Greater Manchester/Stagecoach Manchester).

Alight at the former Greenfield Conservative Club. Please note that after 6pm all evening 350 journeys are operated by Stagecoach Manchester.

Twitter details: @boarshurstband; #SundayBrass.

Website: www.boarshurstband.co.uk.

S.V., 28 September 2022.

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