B&R win Saddleworth Whit Friday March Contest!
Brighouse and Rastrick Band conducted by their professional conductor Professor David King were once again crowned overall champions at the Saddleworth Whit March contests on Friday 24th May despite stiff competition from approximately 100 Brass Bands from across the UK, Europe and Scandinavia. The Band competed in 8 of 11 possible contests open to them and won 5 of these plus gaining a 3rd place, a 4th place and a 5th place. Various members of the Band also won a total of 8 individual prizes. B&R are the most consistent band in the history of the contests and have won the overall prize far more times than any other band. This year the Band won approximately £7600 for Band funds on the night.
The Saddleworth Whit Friday contests, often dubbed the "greatest free show on earth" first started in 1884, some 3 years after the villagers and business owners of Rastrick and Brighouse contributed the necessary funds to establish the Band which is still the world’s most successful and consistent public subscription band in the world. The contests are part of the Saddleworth villages Whitsuntide celebrations and require the bands to march down the main street and then play a contest march, usually on the village green or outside the village pub, which is then scored by a prominent adjudicator from the brass band world.
B&R left their Finkil Street headquarters at 2:30pm on Friday and returned at 2:00am the following morning.
Band President Paul Beaumont praised the players and Professor King for their professionalism and consistency and commented that the prize money will be most welcome as the band costs in excess of £130,000 a year to run.
Historic Announcement: B&R Youth Band
Brighouse and Rastrick Band have made the historic decision to establish a youth band; the first such decision since the band was founded in 1881. The intention of the band is to have the “Brighouse and Rastrick Youth Band” up and running during May of this year. Newly appointed Musical Director of the youth band, Dean Redfern, previous MD of Rochdale Youth Band, Boarshurst Youth Band, Delph Youth Band and more recently cornet player and Chairman of Brighouse and Rastrick Band commented, “we believe it’s a very positive move to help secure the long term future of Brighouse and Rastrick Band and to further provide additional musical opportunities for young players in the area The ultimate aim is to duplicate the success of the senior band within the championship section by becoming one of the leading youth bands in the country, developing young players to hopefully join the senior band in years to come if that is what they would like to do”.
With great facilities at B&R’s West Ridings Head Quarters, numerous offers of support from players within the senior band and the recent announcement of support from Yamaha for the new venture, Dean believes the youth band will be performing concerts later this year and competing in various competitions from early next year, with plans already in place to play at joint concerts later in the year together with the senior band.
Paul Beaumont, President of Brighouse and Rastrick, stated “the youth band has the support of everyone associated with B&R and potential players shouldn’t miss out on a great opportunity to be part of something unique and very special right from the start. As well as players we welcome parents to get involved with the day to day organisational side of running the youth band and potentially the senior band as well”.
Brighouse and Rastrick Youth Band welcome any player aged 18 or below that that can play to an acceptable level. An open day is planned at the band room on Saturday 27th April between 10.30am and 3.30pm at which any interested player is requested to come along to see the fantastic facilities the band has to offer. Auditions will be held on the day or the weekend after on Saturday 4th May again at the band room, Finkil Street, Brighouse, West Yorkshire, HD6 2NY, between 10.00am – 2.00pm. For further details email Dean on email@example.com, ring him on 07711 227625 or turn up at the open day.
1929 Medal Returns
THE INTRIGUING STORY OF THE 1929 ‘JULY BRASS BAND CONTEST’ WINNER’S MEDAL
In the fiercely competitive world of the Brass Band movement there are a number of “rival” competitions. Two such competitions are the “British Open” established in 1853 and the “National Championships” established in 1900 at the famous Crystal Palace; these were and probably still are the two most prestigious contests in the UK and both are steeped in history. In order to qualify for “The Open” bands had to be at the top of the rankings or, in the case of the less successful bands, have qualified for the final by coming first or second at a “July Contest” earlier in the year and in the case of “The Nationals” coming either first or second at one of the area qualifying competitions held throughout the country earlier in the year.
In the 1920’s when the now World Famous Brighouse and Rastrick Band was still in the process of rising to greatness, they had to qualify for their place at the “September Contest” which was held at Belle Vue, Manchester (now known as the British Open Competition and held at Symphony Hall, Birmingham) by achieving a podium finish at the “July Contest”. The Band was originally known as the “Brighouse and Rastrick Temperance Band” which was the title that the Band was formed under. Eventually (for obvious reasons; playing a brass instrument is a thirsty pastime!) the decision to alter the band's name was taken at a committee meeting held on the 10th July 1929, just three days before the 1929 July Belle Vue Contest. The motion was “that the name of the band be altered to the Brighouse and Rastrick Band." It was obviously passed. The old name was used in the programmes of both the July and September 1929 contests; the organisers claiming that it was “too late to alter them”.
B&R Temperance played at the July Contest without success on a number of occasions but actually qualified for the September Belle Vue contests in both 1916 and 1919 by coming 2nd in the July contests but was alas unplaced at the finals in the September of both years.
The Band’s first “big break” came in 1929 when, conducted by the legendary Fred Berry, they not only came first at the July Contest but went on to win the Belle Vue contest later that year as well, beating all of the “big bands” of the era. This was truly the start of B&R’s rise to fame, a rise that commenced some 48 years after they were founded in 1881 and a rise that has seen them at the very top of their game for some 84 years so far.
B&R went on to win the September Belle Vue contest again for three years running in 1932-33-34 conducted by their professional conductor, the great William Halliwell. As a result of winning the contest for three years in succession the Band won the Sunday Chronicle Cup outright and this is part of the Band’s archive collection today. Barred from competing in 1935 after completing the triple they returned in 1936, winning yet again.
It is interesting that only one other band (Batley Old Band in 1890) had ever managed to win both the July Contest and the September Belle Vue Contests in the same year prior to B&R achieving this in 1929.
Records show that the Band was presented with a trophy for winning the July Contest which they held for a year and then had to return but also received several other items which they kept. Reading from the record books this included £20 in cash, a “trombone value 18 guineas”, a “cornet value 14 guineas” and a single medal made of silver and highly inscribed. The Band were also invited to perform on the “wireless” by the BBC and they received a £10 fee for agreeing to do this.
The Brighouse Echo records that ……”they arrived back home around midnight which militated against any widespread reception by the townspeople. However they were given a great congratulatory welcome at Crow Nest Park, Dewsbury on Sunday where they played to very large assemblies, in the afternoon and evening”.
The 'Brass Band News' publication in August 1929 carries the following account of the broadcast by B&R: “The Winning band broadcasted a concert performance from the King's Hall, Belle Vue after the contest. It was a happy idea of the Belle Vue management to secure this engagement for the winning band. Brighouse and Rastrick made a splendid show, and we congratulate the band and Mr Berry on the good use they made of their opportunity. We hope this will become a regular feature for it will give the "wireless'' public a better appreciation of the fact that there are many fine brass bands equal to such work, and of course, it will give the public a better idea of the splendid work Belle Vue contests are doing and have done during over seventy years” - Brass Band News August 1929.
The whereabouts of the 1929 winners silver medal was a mystery for a long, long time. The medal was obviously the property of the Band but was missing from its collection of historical artefacts and nobody knew of its whereabouts. That was until in February of this year when Lyndon Stacey, an avid B&R supporter and patron who lives in Italy, flagged up the fact that there was a silver medal listed on the internet auction site “EBAY” which the seller was claiming had been presented to Brighouse and Rastrick Band on 13th July 1929 for winning a “July Contest”. Much research then commenced and the validity of the medal was established; this was indeed the missing 1929 winners’ medal from the Belle Vue July Contest.
The picture of B&R in 1929 above shows the players and the trophies that were won in that year; you can just see two medals – one won for winning the July contest and one for the September contest.
Despite emails to the seller requesting that the medal be withdrawn from the site, the second hand book seller and antique dealer in Wakefield failed to respond, and eventually the Band resorted to bidding for the medal on the auction site. Bidding was quite active but Julie Beaumont “Queen of the iPAD” according to husband and B&R President Paul Beaumont, made her final bid with seven seconds to go and bought the medal for the Band.
The medal is therefore now back where it belongs after all this time.
The present day Brighouse and Rastrick Band will be competing in the British Open Competition at Symphony Hall, Birmingham (the modern day version of the Belle Vue Competition) on the 7th of September this year; their status now negates the need for them to qualify at what was the July Contest, now known as the Spring Festival and held at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.
The 1929 winner’s medal and the Sunday Chronicle Cup will be on display along with an abundance of other interesting and historic artefacts belonging to the Band on Saturday 27th April when they will be assembled for an Open Day at “West Ridings”, the Bands headquarters and rehearsal rooms at Finkil Street, Brighouse between 10:30 and 15:30. Further details are available by telephoning Mr Graham Ward on 01484 712355.
Massed Bands Report
This was the ultimate 'show must go on'.
It was the sort of night on which Ranulph Fiennes would have opted to stay in watching TV with a takeaway as blizzard conditions enveloped the north of England and the villages and roads around Huddersfield town hall, the concert venue, became dangerously close to impassable.
Whitburn Band set off at 9:30 AM from West Lothian, Scotland for what was to be a six-hour journey down the A1 to West Yorkshire. On top of that guest conductor Ray Farr was travelling from County Durham to lead the massed bands in a programme he devised and called 'Spring Spectacular'; perhaps 'Winter Wonderland' would have been more apt.
The decision to play on came mid-morning after Whitburn President Dave Kinross confirmed that his team would be all present and correct in good time for a 4pm rehearsal. Town hall officials were geared up and ready to go and B. and R. said that they too were able to field a full side, despite having players living in Glossop, South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, the Midlands and the far North East who had to battle the conditions to get to Huddersfield.
Though the show went ahead as scheduled at 7.15 PM after a 4 PM rehearsal and a hot dinner prepared by the “B&R Catering Team” it was patently clear that many enthusiasts had either assumed it would have been cancelled or else chose not to take their seats. More than 800 tickets had been sold; conservative estimates suggested that less than 250 ticket holders were in the hall. "Both bands really feel for the brass fans that were unable to attend," said B&R President Paul Beaumont. "But because of the numbers who could get there it would have been unfair on them if we had cancelled. The bands were able to put on the show as planned so the decision was made to go ahead". If B&R had cancelled then the cost to them as hosts would have been in the region of £5,000 to £6,000. This would have made a deep dent in the funds of a public subscription band that rely heavily on patron’s subscriptions, ticket sales and income from souvenirs and CD’s.
So the show went on and what a show it was as the current Scottish champions and the 2010 and 2011 Champion Band of Great Britain blended seamlessly. The bands, who will next meet when they compete in the National Championships at the Royal Albert Hall in October, produced a wonderfully warm and exciting brand of playing which was enhanced by the acoustics of the town hall, roundly praised by conductor Farr.
The globe-trotting former 'Conductor of the Year' isn't a showy man in charge of the baton, nor in his low-key but informative introductions to the music. His softly spoken style is all that's needed and he prefers to let the music he extracts from the assembled bands do much of the talking.
This got off to a rousing start with Eric Coates' theme to 'The Dambusters' followed by Verdi's 'Nabucco' overture. Tenor Horn Iain Fleming was outstanding with his interpretation of 'Capriccio Brilliante' while one of the early highlights was a Ray Farr arrangement of John Williams' film theme to 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom'.
The second half had even more to offer in terms of variety. Music linked with spring inevitably provided the theme but the music stood up no matter what it was doing outside. Cornet player Stuart Lingard shone on 'Por Una Cabesa' while the beautifully structured 'Cavaleria Rusticana' featuring B. and R. soprano soloist Andy Bannister was another highlight.
But in terms of crowd pleasers the closing numbers provided that much-needed glow. Ray Farr's arrangement of Bill Whelan's terrific toe-tingling 'Riverdance' set the stage for an outstanding arrangement of 'West Side Story' dances. For sheer energy these pieces are hard to top and, step forward percussionist Jason Poulston who threw himself into a remarkable performance.
Just the one encore, the theme from '633 Squadron' and no place for 'Floral Dance'; probably a nod in the direction of people anxious to get safely home, not least the guests from Whitburn who were looking at an estimated time of arrival of 3:30 AM.
Of course it was a great shame that these two great bands were not performing in front of the customary full house but that did not reflect in their performance which was the full two bobs' worth, nor in the appreciation of the audience who were delighted that it was business as usual.
As part of Brighouse Business Initiative's 1940s' weekend Brighouse and Rastrick will perform 'Summer Brass' at Central Methodist Church, Brighouse, on Saturday, June 1. Tickets are £11 and available from Graham Ward 01484 712355, firstname.lastname@example.org.
B&R Guests are Scottish Champions
Brighouse and Rastrick Bands guests at their massed bands concert which is due to take place at Huddersfield Town Hall on Saturday 23rd March are the Whitburn Band.
At the Scottish Area Championships on Sunday 10th March in Perth, Whitburn were crowned Scottish Champions for the 17th time in their history; they will now compete against 19 other Bands, including Brighouse and Rastrick, Carlton Main Frickley Colliery and Grimethorpe Colliery who will be representing Yorkshire at the Albert Hall in October of this year.
However the concert on Saturday evening will be an altogether less competitive affair with both bands sharing the stage under the direction of Guest Professional Conductor Ray Farr. The concert entitled “Spring Spectacular” will include such well known music as the Dambusters March, Verdi’d Overture Nabucco, Wagner’s Prelude to the Mastersingers and Bernstein’s Dances from West Side Story.
There are a few tickets left and these are available from all ‘Kirklees’ outlets (Tel. 01484 223200).
Springtime Treat at Huddersfield Town Hall
A Spring time offering of fine popular music should prove a real treat for all at Huddersfield Town Hall on 23 March. The Brighouse & Rastrick Band’s great Massed Bands series launches into 2013 with an exciting programme chosen by Guest Conductor, Ray Farr, Conductor in Residence in the Music Dept. at Durham University and a former professional trumpet player.
He includes rousing marches such as the Dambusters’ theme, the exciting ‘Riverdance’ as well an ever-popular ‘West Side Story’ medley. In contrast, arrangements from Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ and Verdi’s uplifting ‘Nabucco’ will also be heard to really enrich the show. Given the excellent acoustics in the Hall this should prove to be another memorable evening.
B&R’s guests, making a return visit, are sixteen times Scottish Champions, the Whitburn Band from East Lothian, an eagerly anticipated thrilling combination of elite brass.
Tickets available from all ‘Kirklees’ outlets (Tel. 01484 223200).
B&R perfect test piece for the 'Areas'
Brighouse and Rastrick band are busy perfecting their contest performance for the Yorkshire qualifying rounds of the National Brass Band Championships which will be held at Bradford’s St. Georges Hall this Sunday.
B&R were Yorkshire Champions in both 2010 and 2011, going on to win the coveted National Champions crown at the Royal Albert Hall in both of these years but came 2nd at both the Area Qualifier and London Final last year (narrowly beaten by Fodens Band from Stockport). As B&R were runners up at last year’s final they have already qualified for this year but are keen to put up a good show and to regain the prestigious “Yorkshire Crown”.
The test piece, which all of the competing bands will have to play is “Harmony Music by Philip Sparke which is described as a technically challenging but very musical and exciting composition which was originally written for the National Championships Finals in 1987.
Brighouse will be directed by their Australian born professional conductor, Professor David King, who arrived in Yorkshire from Australia three weeks ago via Norway where he led Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag (Norway) Band to victory in their National Competition.
Professor King is no stranger to the music of Philip Sparke; the test piece has won more 1st prizes for B&R’s professional conductor than any other single piece, with two European wins and two Norwegian National titles being won by Professor King conducting this year’s Yorkshire regional test piece 'Harmony Music'.
The Band have been rehearsing most evenings for the past three weeks and have also rehearsed both weekends at their Finkil Street Headquarters. They will also rehearse on Saturday, the day before the contest, when a considerable number of their Italian supporters will be there to listen; a special trip having been organised to allow them to attend the rehearsal and the contest. B&R’s popularity is now so widespread that they have International supporters and patrons in many European countries as well as North America and Australasia.
The next opportunity to hear B&R on “home turf” will be on March 23rd at Huddersfield Town Hall when they will share the stage with the Whitburn Band; 16 times Scottish Champions. See our Engagements Page.
B&R to greet Scots Invaders at 'Spring Spectacular' concert
The next event in the very popular series of massed band concerts promoted by the Brighouse and Rastrick Band, to be held in the beloved Huddersfield Town Hall on Saturday 23 March, sees the Whitburn Band from West Lothian, Scotland, make the long trip south.
Based in the town of Whitburn, roughly midway between Glasgow and Edinburgh, the band is well placed to make its regular high profile public appearances on the pitch at Murrayfield, the home of Scottish Rugby Union, to perform the pre-match National Anthems on ‘International’ days. What magnificent occasions!
Like Brighouse and Rastrick, Whitburn are a town band, formed way back in 1860 but, like many others, they took several decades to develop into a progressive outfit, eventually gaining promotion from the Fourth Section in 1948. Since then steady improvement has continued under eminent Professional Conductors such as Major Peter Parkes, Phillip McCann and Russell Gray. In recent times they have always been ranked in the world’s top twenty ‘Contesting’ bands and have now won the Scottish Championship a total of sixteen times.
Guest conductor for the evening, a new name to these events, with a wealth of musical experience as player, composer/arranger and adjudicator is Ray Farr. After studying at Birmingham School of Music and the Royal Academy of Music, Ray worked for 10 years as a professional musician with the BBC Radio Orchestra before taking up the baton as a conductor, appearing in hundreds of concerts in some of the finest concert halls around the world. In 1979 he became resident conductor of the Grimethorpe Colliery Band during which time he started to write his popular musical arrangements for brass and wind band. A move in 2003 saw Ray accept a position as Conductor in Residence at Durham University where he now teaches conducting and arranging, combining his university work with a busy freelance career.
With Brighouse and Rastrick Band being recently placed fourth in the 4BarsRest brass band 'World Rankings', the combination of them with guest band Whitburn and conductor Ray Farr is sure to put on a great show at this massed concert, performed in this its 68th continuous season.
For more details and ticket outlets, see our Engagements Page.
Garry Cutt confirmed as Principal Guest Conductor
Brighouse and Rastrick Band are extremely pleased to announce that Garry Cutt has agreed to increase his time commitment to the Band and assumes the title of Principal Guest Conductor with immediate effect. Paul Beaumont, President of B&R said "Garry has been taking selective concerts and rehearsals over the last two years and has forged a great working relationship with all the members".
Professor David King will continue to be responsible for 100% of the preparation and delivery of all contest work, thus ensuring that Garry has no conflict of interest with his responsibilities as the new Professional Conductor of The Fairey Band.
Garry commented on his appointment, "It's a great job to have. Brighouse are one of the three big names in English banding that play concerts to capacity audiences. In many ways I have got the best of all worlds. Quality concerts with B&R; the four major contests with Faireys, and of course, freelance conducting abroad, when time permits".
Lucy Murphy (as she was until last month) is one of the bands' great soloists. Garry and Lucy tied the knot in December, so when announcing the flugel horn soloist at a recent concert at the York Barbican, Garry humorously introduced "....The Wife!"
Andrew Bannister returns to B&R
Brighouse and Rastrick Band are pleased to announce the return of Andy Bannister to the soprano cornet seat with immediate effect. The seat became vacant when Kevin Crockford decided to return to Grimethorpe Colliery Band 12 months after he left them to join 2010 and 2011 National Champions B&R.
The soprano cornet is an incredibly important part in a brass band being the highest pitched instrument in the band and because there is only one soprano cornet allowed in a contesting band.
Andy commented: "I am delighted to be returning to Brighouse & Rastrick Band. I first played soprano at B&R over 20 years ago and had 5 incredibly happy years. To be able to return to my old seat is an exciting prospect and I just can't wait to get started and be part of the great B&R organisation once more"
Paul Beaumont, entrepreneur and President of B&R remarked: “It’s an interesting situation when Kevin Crockford leaves B&R to re-join Grimethorpe due to the amount of time it takes him to travel to Brighouse and then Andy Bannister re-joins B&R from Grimethorpe as a result of the time commitments associated with the position at Grimethorpe – anyway we are very pleased to have Andy back in the fold and would like to take this opportunity to thank Kevin for his commitment and professionalism while he was with us. B&R has always carefully balanced our commitments with our family life, choosing quality and return from concerts over quantity”.
Paul concluded: “Brighouse and Rastrick are looking forward to a very successful 2013 – expect further news of additional star signings shortly. After winning the National trophy in both 2010 and 2011 and then coming second (to a very worthy Fodens) in 2012 we are in fighting form and are clearing space in the trophy cabinet at West Ridings – our band room and headquarters in Brighouse”.
Happy New Year from B&R!
At the end of last year, Brighouse and Rastrick Band performed at their traditional Christmas concerts at Central Methodist Church, Brighouse on Saturday 15th December. At the 3pm matinee performance the Band were joined on stage by Halifax Young Singers, at the evening concert however they took to the stage alone. Both concerts were a sell out and the Church was full to bursting with a friendly and very appreciative audience, which included numerous patrons and regular followers of the Band.
The Band was conducted by their Associate Musical Director Garry Cutt who, despite suffering from what Paul Beaumont, the President of B&R described in his introduction as “severe man-flu” directed the Band in a wonderful program of music which had a distinctly Christmas flavour to it. Throughout both performances the audience were encouraged to join in singing a number of popular carols which they did with great enthusiasm (ably assisted in the afternoon by the choir who included descant performances to a number of the carols).
The Halifax Young Singers Choir, which numbered around 45 of the “older” members on this occasion, performed seven Christmas items in the afternoon concert including the traditional song “Gaudeamus”, “Nowell for the Merry Citie”, “Pine Cones and Holy Berries” and the old favourite “O Holy Night”. The quality and professionalism of the performers (all under 17 years of age) was stunning. They were conducted by their Musical Director Lynn Hudson and accompanied by Craig Cockerill on the piano. This is the second occasion that the Choir have performed with B&R and plans are in progress to get the full choir (around 80 singers including the younger members) together with the Band in Huddersfield Town Hall in March 2014.
B&R were on top form and clearly enjoyed performing on their “home turf”. Displaying their usual remarkable capability and rich luxurious sound they romped through a number of Christmas favourites including Leroy Anderson’s “A Christmas Festival” and “Sleighride”, Prokofiev’s “Midnight Sleighride” and Philip Spark’s arrangement of “The Snowman”. As usual the Band featured a number of their hugely talented soloists and Flugel player Lucy Murphy played a hauntingly melodic version of the popular carol “Away in a Manger” which had been specially arranged for her by Peter Graham who has been working extensively with the Band recently. Another of the “B&R Ladies” Principal Horn player Leah Williams played the Disney favourite “Over the Rainbow” and the Band’s Principal Euphonium player David Thornton showed his technical dexterity in a highly complex variation on “We Three Kings” which was again arranged personally for him. All solo items were absolutely faultless and together with the other items played by the Band demonstrated why B&R are right up there at the top of their game and one of the best and most consistent bands in the world.
The first half of each of the concerts concluded with a spectacular rendition of “Kingdom Triumphant” a hugely emotional and rousing piece written by Eric Ball who was the Professional Conductor of B&R in the middle of the last century. In complete contrast, as a good number of the audience rose to their feet to give the Band a standing ovation, they struck up with their Top 20 hit from the 70’s “The Floral Dance” to end the concerts.
During the evening concert the President of the Band made a presentation to Mr David Howe, who held the position of B&R’s concert secretary for 12 years prior to his retirement earlier this year; this position was described as “one of the most difficult non-playing positions in B&R”. Mrs Jennifer Howe, David’s wife, was presented with a bouquet of flowers for her extensive work with the Band also.
Paul Beaumont took the opportunity towards the end of the concerts to thank the committee, patrons and supporters committee’s for their commitment to the Band, and also thanked the Vice Presidents for their assistance throughout the year; he also praised the work of Dean Redfern who is not only Chairman of the Band but also a playing member. On behalf of the players he also thanked the “B&R catering team” who frequently serve hot food to 70 or 80 performers in between concerts.
B&R also performed two concerts at Harrogate’s magnificent Royal Hall on the Saturday before Christmas with the Harrogate Gilbert and Sullivan Society, and a concert at Buxton’s Opera House the day after. The band then had a well-earned rest over Christmas before re-grouping in January to play at York’s Barbican Theatre on the 12th. The Band have completed over 40 concerts in the UK and Europe in 2012 along with over 100 rehearsals and 5 major contests.