Editor´s Notes.

Any of our readers who have been following the Oldham Band (Lees) on will be aware that they have recently been attaching achievements to their ambitions. These musicians have recently been recording in St. Thomas Parish Church in Stockport, and even since then have worked alongside, if under the guidance of, the producers and sound engineers of the in house team of World of Sound.

The band is now delighted to announce the release of their second CD, the splendidly titled Diadem Of Gold, a title borrowed from a set-exam title in a national competition that the Oldham Band (Lees) won for the first time last year. The album, in fact, commemorates the entire year of 2018, one of the most successful in the band´s long and illustrious history.

Diadem Of Gold is available now for only ten pounds, but for only £12.50 you can purchase both this new release and Dark Side Of The Moon, the band´s 2008 debut album.

They are bound to have sold several after a wonderful recent concert for Rochdale Music Society, so it would be worth visiting their web or facebook pages to see how to order your copies.

Brass band music was a harmony constant in the North West of England soundscape throughout the sixty years we lived there, before moving over here to Lanzarote. For a long period we lived on the border between Prestwich and Whitefield, home of the Besses O´The Barn Brass Band, and each year there was a colourful festival in the Saddleworth and Uppermill area just outside Oldham in which bands like Oldham Lees competed with names like The Brighouse and Rastrick outfit.

Big Band Canarias

We have lived on Lanzarote now for just over four years, and only this week we have discovered that there exists a Big Band Canarias. We have booked tickets to hear them supporting vocalist Gerardo Nunez at the Teatro Victor Fernandez Gopar ´El Salinero´ in Arrecife on 21st November. We will, of course, publish a review of that concert here as we continue to follow Sidetracks And Detours all across the arts.

In the meantime, however, we thought readers might like to hear what Graham Marshall of Rochdale Music Society (RMS) had to say about that recent gig by Oldham Band (Lees).  Graham will be a familiar name to many readers as we recently published a post of his about the fortieth anniversary celebrations of RMS, and also his reassuring in-depth analysis of what the future might hold for classical music.

The future of classical, or any other, genre of music will always depend, I guess, on society´s receptivity but so long as we all continue to carry the same catholic tastes as does Graham there will be room for all classifications and categorisations (for that is all they are, really. It´s all just music!)

So read on to hear Graham´s comments on what sounds a quite remarkable concert.

R M S present Oldham Band (Lees):

Heywood Civic Centre, October 2019.

Reviewed by Graham Marshall

The Rochdale Music Society has been promoting great music played by great musicians for the last forty years in venues across the borough. In recent years the venue has been the Civic Centre in Heywood which provides a welcoming, comfortable and acoustically generous setting for both audience and performers alike.

On Saturday, October 26th the Society’s 40th Anniversary Season began with a flourish as the members of the award-winning Oldham Band (Lees) flooded the auditorium with a rich assortment of colourful and expertly served musical delights.

The Band’s range of musical genres is wide enough to embrace an Overture by Rossini – that to his opera Tancredi – and a brilliant Gershwin encore piece – Strike Up The Band – as well as consorting with one of its members – Matt Corrigan – as richly voiced and finely tuned vocalist in offering several deliciously delivered songs, including Beyond The Sea (some of us remembered the original Charles Trenet version) and Cry Me A River, recorded by Julie London and scores of others.

The concert began in traditional fashion with a March, Senator by G. Allen, recoded in 1959, which made an instant impression of the disciplined playing we were to experience throughout. This was followed by the Rossini overture, after which the Band’s leading Cornet player, seasoned instrumentalist and conductor Alan Hobbins, responded to the extreme technical challenges of Napoli with great aplomb.

The Buglers’ Holiday by Leroy Anderson then featured the Band’s buglers in a tantalising display of technical dexterity before the prize-winning Flügel player, Toni Heywood, gave an enchanting performance of George Michael’s Faith.

The first half of the concert ended with some beautiful melodic expression in the Prière à Notre Dâme from the Suite Gothique for Organ by Léon Boëllmann and some suitably full-throated deep brass sounds in the Toccata from the same Suite.

The Oldham Band (Lees)

The second half began with an exemplary account of the March: Le Rêve Passe (The Soldier´s Dream) by G. Krier. Chipanecas, which followed, gave each band member an opportunity to show how well they can make breathing sounds and click their fingers in time while accompanying the traditional hand-clapping song tune from Chiapas in Mexico.

Matt Corrigan returned to Cry Me A River, written by Arthur. Hamilton in 1953 and recorded and made famous two years later by Julie London. He then performed Feeling Good by Anthony Newley.

It was then with some diffidence that the Musical Director, John Collins, introduced Keep Me Praising, a lively and inventive combination by Andrew Mackereth, the bandmaster of the Salvation Army in Nuneaton, of two much loved Salvation Army Songbook tunes. He need not have been diffident – it worked out well in performance, and the audience showed its appreciation of the fact!

The penultimate work proved, for this reviewer, to be, musically, the least satisfactory. The Benedictus, from Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man, is very repetitive in its original context, and even though it gave the soloist an opportunity to shine as with ‘a pure, clear light’, it sounded quiet monotonous in this wordless arrangement by A. Small.

On the other hand, the Finale To Fraternity by T. Deleruyelle which ended the concert programme is another regular test piece and gave the Band members the chance to show that they can be just as proficient in playing softly as they can in letting things rip!

John Collins is to be congratulated, along with every member of the Oldham Band (Lees), for marshalling his forces with understated authority and excellent musical results.

The Rochdale Music Society’s next concert will be on December 7th and feature the Victoria String Quartet in music by Mozart, Wm. Alwyn and Schubert.

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