And The Band Played On

Summer used to be the closed season with no band jobs planned and only a fairly laid back session on a Wednesday evening for anyone who wanted to turn up.

Not so anymore – particularly this year. Serious rehearsals on a Wednesday to get ourselves up to scratch for the CD recording we have planned for the first weekend in October.

Ding Dong Merrily and Rockin around the Christmas tree have produced looks of amazement and head scratching as they have wafted out over Burnley Rd in August but after all we are nearer to next Christmas than last.

Small groups of players also performed at a school summer fete, an afternoon tea party to raise funds for the Hospice, a wedding and a funeral.

We also had a visit from the BBC. Radio 4’s “In Touch” programme is a 20-minute weekly programme for and about people with sight loss and they came to rehearsal one Wednesday to talk to band members and Graham about the issues involved in being in a band with a conductor who is blind.

The programme was broadcast two weeks later. Before we realised it was September and the traditional curtain raiser at the Bridgewater followed by Chorley in the evening.

The Best Second Hand Deal in History…

A combination of Black Dyke’s Besson quality and Band Supplies outstanding service has seen the triple champion’s instruments find new homes in record time…

“Without doubt the most successful second-hand deal in history.”

That’s the opinion of Band Supplies MD Ronnie Tennant, after the respected retailer sold its complete stock of Black Dyke pre-owned Besson instruments in record time.

Nothing quite like it

“We have experienced nothing quite like it in the 30 years,” Ronnie told 4BR. “As soon as the news went up on 4BR we were inundated with calls and e-mails from all over the banding world. Players and bands just wanted to get their hands on instruments played by Black Dyke.”

First to go were the quartet of Besson Sovereign tubas – to a new home at the 2nd Rosendale Scout Group Band – quickly followed by the sale of the horns, euphoniums, baritones and cornets to all parts of the globe.

‘We had a great deal – and we have four of the happiest tuba players you can imagine’~ MD, Graham Helm

Couldn’t believe luck

MD Graham Helm told 4BR he couldn’t believe his luck after being told that the instruments were available at the Band Supplies shop in Leeds.

“We had been hoping to get our hands on a complete tuba set for some time,” he said. “Out of the blue came this offer – and with the Black Dyke connection we knew they would be cracking instruments.

We were not disappointed at all. Band Supplies had given them a complete overhaul and so it was just a question of getting to Leeds to give them the once over.

We had a great deal – and we have four of the happiest tuba players you can imagine. All this and we didn’t have to pay an import tax to get them from Yorkshire to Lancashire, so our Treasurer is even happy!”

Fantastic opportunity

Band Supplies Manager Chris Tudball added: “This really has been a fantastic opportunity for players to get their hands on superb instruments – all with that added provenance of being played by the Triple champions.

It also shows that Black Dyke, Besson and Band Supplies is also a trio that cannot be beaten for quality either!”



Durham Delights

Second Saturday in July – must be Durham time again for the Durham Miners’ Gala. Once again we’re playing for Horden a former pit village on the coast.

Coal mining has substantially ended in Durham these days but the tradition of the Gala lives on with many pit villages processing through Durham accompanied by their banner and a band. This was our third year there and we never cease to be amazed at the size of the crowds, the community spirit of the villagers and the welcome we get from “our” village As ever the weather was great and the response of the crowds outside the County Hotel where we played our specially rehearsed piece was overwhelming.

Here is a review of events.

Well, Durham came and Durham went! As expected, it was a massive day, and is more than adequately depicted on YouTube, so I will not go on about it, except that is to thank everyone in and around the band for all the effort put into it.

Once again, the band has excelled itself, not just musically, but all that choreography in front of the County Hotel balcony was a wonder to behold. Band members must surely have been feeling the strain by now, especially those with lower and larger instruments, percussion too. Good to see an exultant Dan Povey back on the banger! He has been missed since his departure to the university at Exeter, but like several other old boys – and girls – of the band, they just keep finding their way back, so thank you all of you. The march up to the field went down well, then some needed respite for a couple of hours before the return. ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ as played in front of the balcony, then up to the steps and stones for a second mini con- cert to a cheering crowd. Retracing our steps to the starting, (and finishing point), we got back on the coach and off to our host village Horden, where a very emotional three verses of the miners’ hymn Gresford, was rendered, with not a few tears being shed in a small but appreciative crowd. I suppose it’s not easy for outsiders like ourselves to really know just how much the mines meant to these villages and towns, but there was much raw emotion bub- bling to the surface throughout.



Concert Review: Hearts and Voices

In a new departure we have engaged the services of a columnist who will be reporting on some of the concerts we are involved in. For professional reasons the identity of our columnist will be protected and will be referred to Hilda V Dawes. This is what Hilda thought of the Blackburn concert that was designed as a fund rais- er for Rossendale Hospice.

Charity Concert at Blackburn Cathedral February 13th 2015, with Sean Ruane, several school choirs from the Valley, and the 2nd Rossendale Scout Group Band.

After the obligatory house keeping announcements, the band started up with ‘When Thunder Calls’ – always an impressive opener, where the band walks on, section by section, to a drum beating, the heavy artillery first, with basses sat on the cornet rows. This builds up layer by layer into a massive finale, which really did fill the Cathedral. For this concert and this venue we had a beefed up bass section, and it really paid off!

Next we had Sean singing ‘You Are The Wind Beneath My Wings’, accompanied by the band, a subdued and measured performance that came over very well. Sean, now accompanied by his pianist, gave us ‘You Are My Heart’s Delight’ and then the serenade ‘The Student Prince (Overhead the Moon is Beaming)’. Ah, the memories, but nostalgia’s not what it used to be! Enter now the school choirs, with ‘Pompeii’ and ‘Rather Be’. There is always something magical about young children singing with all their hearts, and this is what we got from them, making us all that bit happier. The first half was rounded off by Sean singing an old catholic hymn, ‘Ave Maria’, specially arranged for the band in tribute to the late Paula Helm, wife of Graham our conductor for the night. Paula was a wonderful woman, a teacher, a friend and a towering supporter of the children in her school at Burnley, not to mention supporting our band.

The second half started with a real musical explosion in the form of ‘The Conquest of Paradise’, massive chords which state the intention to rouse, at first, then receding whilst a softer lilting melody on euphonium takes command. This piece again, builds slowly but strongly to a great climax, which has an almost menacing trombone theme, then coming suddenly to a full stop, reminiscent of ‘Mars’ from the Planet Suite by Holst. Sean then followed with an old Matt Monro favourite, ‘Softly as I Leave You’, accompanied by band, then two more songs accompanied by piano, ‘If I Loved You’, (South Pacific) and then ‘Girls Were Made to Love’ and ‘Kiss’. Now the choirs again, with Royals and the Lloyd Medley, followed by ‘Matchstalk Men’ with the band. Then the finale Sean, the choirs and the band altogether for the song ‘One Voice’, more memories again! But we were to have a final treat, an encore with Sean and the band, ‘Nessun Dorma’, and what a song, what a singer and what a performance to close with. All in all, a fabulous concert, with a lot of feed- back from the audience, lots of whom were grandparents listening to their grandchildren, a large contingent of players from valley brass bands there too! Highlights for me? I liked all the music, and in a venue like this, it needed to be given all the the performers had got, and that’s exactly what happened. I was especially pleased with how the bass end of the band are shaping up now, and I heard some promising sounds, and a few big pedal notes too.

Long may it continue. HVD


Hearts and Voices