Posted on: 30th July 2012

Boarshurst Band Club – 29th July 2012


Last night Blackley Band from North Manchester performed a concert of music at Boarshurst Band Club that any of the much higher ranking bands would have been proud of. In a similar fashion to football, the brass band movement has a ranking system. Blackley Band are currently in the fourth section, which on paper suggests they might be, well you know, not……. I will STOP right there!! Forget the ranking system. Blackley Band is a hard-working, enthusiastic team of brass players under the direction of a dedicated and, evidently, knowledgeable musical director in Adie Smith.

The concert opened with William Rimmers March “The Australasian”. What a fabulous sound from the off! After this stunning opening statement, the Blackley Band continued in traditional style with an overture from Shostokovich, “Festive Overture”. This music is fabulous played by a brass band, and Blackley kept everything under control with some fine playing from every department.

The next piece of music featured tenor horn player Chris Sanders in an arrangement by Darrol Barry of “Somewhere Out There”, used in the film “An American Tail” directed by Steven Spielberg. The melody of this song was an adaptation of the main melody in Beethoven’s 8th Symphony (Pathetique – ‘Sonata’). Well played by all.

Our first soloist of the evening, Jonny Earl on principal cornet, chose to play Arthur Hamiltons’ “Cry Me A River”. In this arrangement by Chris Wormald, Jonny Earl delivered such a superb cornet sound whilst preserving the sultry feel that Ella Fitgerald, and later,  Julie London created in 1955. Great band accompaniments and well played Jonny!

Sunday evening concerts always include a hymn tune, and tonight we were treated to a beautiful arrangement by Peter Graham of a ‘Swedish Folk Song’, but better known as “How Great Thou Art” or “O Lord My God”. Some really good playing, and with such control. Well played!

Off on a train journey next with Lennon & McCartney’s “Ticket To Ride”. This really was a fast train with such energetic percussion work and a real sense of purpose. Alan Fernies’ arrangement is great, but when played by like this it is excellent!

The next piece featured Adam O’Neill and Jake Gordon in a euphonium duet. Eric Ball has made an immense contribution to the brass band repertoire, and tonight we were treated to an absolutely beautiful performance of his duet for euphonium, “Calon Lan”. I have not heard such fine sounding euphoniums for a very long time. Such purity of tone and really fine band accompaniments. This duet should be played more often. Well played to you both.

To bring the first half to a close, the Blackley Band played an arrangement by Steve Sykes of John Williams’ “Olympic Spirit & Superman”. The band proudly took part in then Heywood Olympic Torch parade where they also performed this piece.

The band then took a well-earned break for drinks and a cool off, whilst the audience bought their raffle tickets and reflected on a great first half!

Continuing in the ‘Olympic Spirit’, the Blackley Band opened the second half with “Olympic Fanfare & Theme” composed for the Los Angeles Olympics by John Williams, arranged for brass band by Darrol Barry. Energy levels were definitely back to normal as the Boarshurst Band Club was filled with the sounds of ‘Olympia’.

To calm things down a little the next piece was “Largo” by G.F Handel. Conductor Adie Smith remembered his tutor at Salford, Goff Richards. Goff did so much composition and arranging for brass band, and this was certainly one of his finest arrangements. Sensitively played tonight by a very capable team.

“Pastime With Good Company” is an English folk song written by King Henry VIII in the first years of the 16th century, shortly after being crowned. It is thought he wrote it for Catherine of Aragon. Tonight the band played a very regal performance in this arrangement by Stephen Roberts.

Next we were treated to a beautifully played arrangement of Nicolas Brodszkys’ “I’ll Walk With God”, arranged for brass band by Goff Richards. The fabulous sound of euphonium player Adam O’Neill once more filled the room, with lovely accompaniments from the band.

‘If you go down to the woods today’ you probably won’t hear (or see) anything like this!! E flat tuba soloist Alex Smith (brother of conductor Adie) came to the front of the band and gave us one of the most energetic performances of John Brattons famous “Teddy Bears Picnic” ever. Absolutely great tempo, and played with all the impishness of a ‘real life’ teddy-bear. What more can I say, other than to suggest Alex hires a teddy bear suit for his next performance; it would go down an absolute bomb! The playing was first class! Well done Alex!

As a finale conductor Adie Smith chose to perform movements 3 and 4 of Philip Sparkes’ work “The Saga of Haakon The Good”. Entitled “3, The Missionary King” and “4, The Battle of Rastarkalv”, we were given a flavour of the dramatic story of the short life of Haakon the Good from 10th Century Norway. The piece was set as the 1st section test piece at the 2008 national finals in Harrogate.

The audience were so thrilled at the fine playing from this committed band of musicians that Adie Smith had no option than to play an encore. The song immortalised by Frank Sinatra, and arranged here by Thomas Wyss (a former conductor of the Boarshurst Silver Band), the Blackley Band played us out with “New York, New York!” Fantastic!

On behalf of tonight’s audience, and all at Boarshurst Band Club, and Boarshurst Silver Band, I would like to congratulate Adie Smith and the Blackley Band for providing such an entertaining and well played programme of music. We look forward to inviting you to Boarshurst Band Club in the not too distant future.


The Blackley Band are holding a Sponsored Blow on Saturday 4th August at Blackley Community Centre, Victoria Avenue, M9 ORA. The Band will play EIGHT 45 minute mini concerts back to back playing a whole host of favourites. Doors to the bandroom open at 1.30pm and all donations are welcome. The money raised will help towards the repair/refurbishment of our ‘teenage’ instruments and towards a new stage uniform. Anything left over from our fundraising efforts will go towards a CD celebrating our 70th anniversary.

Review By John Whittle, 30th July 2012

Categorised in: Misc

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