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Welcome faces return to Black Dyke

The Queensbury bandroom is a hive of activity as Black Dyke prepares for more high profile appearances on stage an screen.

Black Dyke
  An oratorio trio — John Pryce Jones, Philip Wilby and Prof Nicholas Childs at Black Dyke's bandroom this week

The famous Black Dyke bandroom in Queensbury was a hive of activity this week as the band prepares for a series of high profile appearances on both the stage and screen.

Just a few days before they can be seen as part of Sky Atlantic's major documentary 'The Beatles, Hippies and Hells Angels — Inside the Crazy World of Apple' (being aired on Saturday 17th June at 9.00pm) Director of Music Prof Nicholas Childs welcomed conductor John Pryce Jones and composer Philip Wilby as they started work on Philip's oratorio 'The Holy Face', written to celebrate the bicentenary of the Halifax Choral Society later this year.

Fond memories

John has worked with the band before on the acclaimed recording of 'The Messiah', which featured the great Maurice Murphy on trumpet — an experience he remembers fondly.

"What a player," he said when speaking to 4BR. "He turned up without an instrument to play the famous trumpet part, but just nonchalantly borrowed one and played like an angel. He was a truly remarkable musician."

He added: "It's also wonderful to be back again and to work on such a wonderful piece by Philip. It's always a pleasure and a thrill to conduct Black Dyke."

First experience

John also recalled his first brass band experience in Wales, when he was taken to listen to the Markham Band. "I was conducting at Welsh National Opera and one of the chorus asked me if I wanted to come along. I thought I was going to have a listen, but when we got there and I asked what time they usually started he replied '...whenever you are ready!'"

That was the start of a brass band association that has remained ever since — and saw him lead Yorkshire Imps to the British Open title in 1980, with a certain Nicholas Childs in the ranks.

Having to work with musicians such as John and Philip is one of the great perks of my jobProf Nicholas Childs.


He was also delighted to link up with John once again, especially on such a significant project. "Having to work with musicians such as John and Philip is one of the great perks of my job.

The oratorio is simply magnificent and it will be a great honour to help the Halifax Choral Society celebrate its 200th anniversary in such a way later this year.

It was a bit of a busy night as we also had a film crew here for a feature on our forthcoming performance at Glastonbury — and we have another television programme coming on Thursday evening to film us for another feature, so watch out for that too."

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Derek Renshaw

ABBA Member
Conductor, Band Trainer and Adjudicator.