Black Dyke Band


Conductor: Nicholas Childs

Uppermill Civic Hall
Friday 28th June, 2002

How many people reading this became interested in music at a young age through school? Everyone will have their thoughts, but for many, gaining an interest in this art form through schooling, can be the platform for the commitment that the individual puts into their music making today. As a result, when the opportunity arises to give something back to education through music, then plenty of volunteers come forward and you are guaranteed an enjoyable musical experience. Such a situation arose on 28th June for Black Dyke to return to the brass-banding heartland of Saddleworth and raise money for a new classroom to be built within a school..

Uppermill Civic Hall is a terrific venue for a brass band concert It is one of those venues whereby you know you will hear something special, and Black Dyke certainly did not disappoint the audience. Under Nicholas Childs, they commenced proceedings with a stirring performance of Queensbury, and you knew straight away, that despite Dyke's busy schedule at present that you would be given a wonderful night of music making.

Glinka's overture Russlan & Ludmilla is an old favourite with many bands for the 'overture' slot. Nicholas and the band dusted it off at a very lively tempo with some marvellous playing throughout the band, Michelle Ibbotson adding some delightful touches. Roger Webster, needs no introduction, and he was to demonstrate in the Mark Freeh arrangement of Herje Kati, why for many, he is the finest cornet player in the world. Roger was sublime and in fact, he could have took centre stage all night and you wouldn't have complained one bit. Roger was then joined by the rest of the cornet team for Leroy Anderson's Bugler's Holiday.

Like them or loathe them, it is very difficult to get away from Cookery, DIY & Gardening programmes on the television. We are constantly advised on how to 'do this, do that' with very little fuss. For many, the definitive gardening show is Ground Force, with Alan Titchmarsh & Charlie Dimmock. The opening of the programme of course is to a lively tune and throughout the show, we hear music snippets to fit in with the mood of the show. Black Dyke play all the music on the show and so next we were allowed to ponder Alan & Charlie working to their deadlines as we got the theme tune to 'Ground Force'.

You've got to be a special player to tackle the solo Cappriccio Brillante arranged by former Dyke player Sandy Smith. Lesley Howie is a very accomplished Tenor Horn player and rose to the challenge of this very difficult solo with consummate ease, and brought the house down -thank you Lesley!

Black Dyke's Associate Conductor is the composer and arranger, Peter Graham. Peter has written a wonderful piece called Cartoon Music, which is terrific entertainment with plenty of fun and frolics from the percussion section and trombonist Brett Baker - great, fun, and once again, marvellous playing.

The first half concluded with Gregson's Variations on Laudate Dominium. The hymn tune by Parry 'O Worship The King' is familiar tune throughout, and it certainly music which searches the soul. This was vintage Dyke and no-one needed any reminders why they were crowned National Champions last October. At the end of the performance, Nicholas Childs asked Michelle Ibbotson, David Thornton & Lesley Howie to take individual 'bows' before the rest of the band stood, but tribute must be paid to the bass section. The Dyke bass sound is legendary and Messrs John Gillam, Joseph Cook, Mathew Routley & Phil Goodwin are worthy of special praise here.

Opera always fits in to the brass band idiom very well, and refreshed, Dyke recommenced this concert with Introduction to Act III from Lohengrin by Wagner. This rendition had the audience licking their lips in anticipation for what was to come in the second half, and a timely reminder to us all, that if we want to hear more operatic gems from the ladies and gentlemen from Queensbury, that Dyke's latest CD release - featuring the music of Giuseppe Verdi on the Obrasso label, is well worth purchasing.

We were now to going to be treated to three different instrumentalists on the trot, which seemed a tad strange, but with the calibre of players available, understandable that Dyke would feature them. First up was 2001 Euphonium Player of the Year, David Thornton. Philip Sparke has of course written a number of major works for band, but he also wrote the solo 'Pantomine' for Nicholas Childs. Nicholas, was of course, conducting on stage, and probably just stood and marvelled at David's virtuoso performance.

A reminder of why everyone had come to the Civic Hall for the evening when a cheque for 3000 was presented to the St Mary's School in Greenfield for their new classroom. All the proceedings from the evening were donated to the school, and special thanks must be given to Phil Beckwith who promotes many of the brass band concerts in and around Saddleworth. Phil had work tirelessly with Nicholas & Alison Childs, to put the concert in place, in a very short space of time, and his efforts were well deserved!!

Arthur Pryor of course, was the trombonist from Sousa's Band and Brett Baker took his Thoughts of Love, entertain the capacity audience. Once again, Brett demonstrated why he is one of the most talented trombone players around with a delightful performance, with touches of comedy thrown in for good measure.

The last soloist of the night was Bass player, Joseph Cook. Joseph has graced the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain and as he showed off his skills with Monti's Czardos, it was easy to here why this man has become a very valuable asset to the Dyke bass section.

For Black Dyke's final offering, we were treated to the Call of the Cossacks and a real treat it is. Peter Graham wrote this five movement suite for Dyke's slot at European Gala Concert in Brussels, in May. The music is definitely not dull and sombre, it is entertainment all the way. It commences with Joseph Cook featuring in Dance of the TarTars, and then the Gypsy movement features Lesley Howie. A very lively Cossack Fire Dance, features cornetist Chris Turner, and the audience is encouraged to clap rhythmically in a very exciting segment of this suite. The standard of playing during the 20 minutes or so, that it all lasts, just takes your breath away. Every credit to every member of the Black Dyke band, because we have plenty of stage presence on a very small stage, but they coped admirably.

John Doyle is of course a Flugel Horn player of immense quality. John's performance during Dyke's performance last September of Les Preludes, gave him the solo prize, and the fourth movement, 'Doyles lament' is a tribute to John - it was simple delightful. Everything is rounded off with a reminder that if you know anyone that needs any accompaniment for a Greek Wedding, to give Black Dyke Band a call. The Cossack Wedding Dance is simply a joy to behold, and this music will feature highly on Dyke's concert programmes in the coming months - it is worth the entrance money alone.

An encore wasn't really required, but we got one, in the form of Bach's Toccata in D Minor, arranged by Ray Farr. A magnificent way to finish a marvellous concert. Congratulations, Phil Beckwith, Black Dyke Band and Nicholas Childs, for a having the foresight to give the people of Saddleworth a chance to see this great band in action, and in due course, raising an awful lot of money for a worthy cause.