Leyland Band & Elland Silver Youth Band


Great Northern Spring Brass Arts Festival
Conductors: Russell Gray & Samantha Harrison
Soloist: Amy Gilreath
Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
Sunday 9th May

LeylandThe second afternoon concert at Bridgewater Hall was provided by the vibrant duo of Leyland conducted by Russell Gray and Elland Silver Youth directed by Samantha Harrison.

Classy form

Polished and precise from the opening chords of Monterverdi’s ‘Fanfare from Orfeo’, right through to the enjoyable Ray Harryhausen inspired blarney of ‘Visions of Kholkis’ by Tom Davoren, Leyland was on classy form.

The choreographed opener was a short, punchy aperitif, followed by a funky bit of 1970’s retro soul and a clever (and very well played) showcase on Stevie Wonder’s ‘Suspicion’. It was thumping stuff – all that was missing was the bad Afro hairstyles, stack heels and flared jeans.


John Golland’s sad, introspective, ‘Peace’ was a lovely contrast, with Kristy Rowe a sublime baritone soloist. Her cultured shaping of the melancholic solo line (with her remarkable circular breathing giving the elongated phrases extra poignancy) was backed by a subdued and thoughtful ensemble accompaniment.


American trumpeter Amy Gilreath was the cultured guest soloist, with a well chosen showcase of her talents in John Glenesk Mortimer’s ‘Concert Piece – Opus 12’, which was a tasteful, almost Edwardian extended Etude.

It suited the soloist’s light timbre and was accompanied with intelligent restraint by the band under Russell Gray’s impressive direction.  After coming a very long way to perform at the Festival, an encore was inevitable (and welcome) and once again the soloist chose a discerning piece of lyricism in the Fitzgerald, ‘Ballade’.

With the dynamic straight jacket released, Leyland then produced a corkingly good take on Simon Dobson’s wonderfully bizarre Obsessive Compulsive Disorder inspired march, ‘Lock Horns, Rage On’, before Philippe Schwartz displayed his impressive solo credentials on the almost medically twinned euphonium solo ‘Euphoria’ by Derek Bourgeois.

A neatly played (and directed) bit of Irish sentimentality in ‘May Morning Dew’ led into the 3D animated old Jason and the Argonauts epic and Tom Davoren’s colourful interpretation of the ‘Golden Fleece’ myth in ‘Visions of Kholkis’, which rounded off a very impressive concert from a very impressive sounding band.

National Champions

After a short break to change the seating arrangements, the newly crowned Intermediate Section National Youth Champions Elland Silver Youth, took to the stage for their short, but well played contribution to the entertainment.

The ‘March’ from the ‘Jazz Suite No 2’ by Shostakovich was bold, balanced and neatly styled, before their talented principal cornet player Philip Varley reprised his prize winning rendition of ‘The Nightingale’, which saw him crowned ‘Best Instrumentalist’ at the Manchester event a few weeks back.

His confident performance was controlled and purposeful, whilst Sam Harrison kept a tasteful lid on the accompaniment from the ensemble.

To round off a slightly too short contribution, Elland produced a bravura account of Ray Farr’s ‘Carmina Burana’ inspired ‘Adventures in Brass’. The audience could have sat back and enjoyed a bit more, but unfortunately just the three items were all they got.

It was a bit of a missed opportunity.

Iwan Fox