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LP Review: National Brass Band Festival 1967

Featuring: Brighouse & Rastrick, Grimethorpe Colliery, City of Coventry, GUS (Footwear), Hanwell
Conductors: Sir Arthur Bliss, Eric Ball, Frank Wright, Walter B. Hargreaves
Pye Records: NPL18200

Nationals

The latest CD featuring the winning performance and part of the pre-results entertainment at the 2017 National Finals at the Royal Albert Hall marked a significant milestone. It was 50 years to the day that the first such commemorative recording of the event was made.

Time, listening appetites and technology may have eroded its importance as a commemorative release since 1967, but it still maintains something of a tradition.  

Midst of change

And whilst the days of ticket touts around Kensington Gore busily flogging seats for the Championship Section event and Gala Concerts (one at 5.00pm and another at 8.00pm) may also be long gone, even now you still get a sense of what things used to be like when waiting for the hall doors to be open on contest morning.     

In October 1967 Britain found itself in the midst of change: Harold Wilson had announced the UK would seek to join the Common Market, the BBC opened up Radios’ 1 to 4, and the Beatles released ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’.

The ‘Summer of Love’ may have bypassed a large majority of those waiting to listen to the featured massed bands (the announcement of Black Dyke as National Champions came during the concert), but perhaps they would have been more excited by the advert tucked away in the concert programme (costing 1 shilling) announcing that the event was being recorded and ‘...will be available at your record dealers shortly’, than by John, Paul, George and Ringo’s latest efforts anyway. 

 
The ‘Summer of Love’ may have bypassed a large majority of those waiting to listen to the featured massed bands (the announcement of Black Dyke as National Champions came during the concert), but perhaps they would have been more excited by the advert tucked away in the concert programme (costing 1 shilling) announcing that the event was being recorded and ‘...will be available at your record dealers shortly’, than by John, Paul, George and Ringo’s latest efforts anyway. 

Production

The production was entrusted to two men; Bob Auger and Monty Presky. 

Auger was one of the greatest sound engineers of his time, working with everyone and everybody from Sir John Barbirolli and The Kinks to Sammy Davis Jr and John McCabe (who he recorded 16 piano albums with).

Be it the RAH’s notorious acoustic or taping ‘Yellow Submarine’ outdoors with Paul McCartney and Black Dyke, it was all in a day’s work for Auger. Presky meanwhile produced the next four years worth of festival concert albums before setting up ‘Stereo Gold Award’ who released the ’12 Tops’ pop series, notable for their covers of scantily clad young ladies!

Sheer Bliss

Seven pieces were chosen from the concert, meaning that contributions by trombonist Maxwell Thornton and GUS (Footwear), Grimethorpe Junior Band and the Royal Welsh Male Voice choir were ignored, whilst the conducting duties were in the hands of Sir Arthur Bliss alongside Eric Ball, Walter Hargreaves and Frank Wright.

Even through the crackle, Bliss conducts ‘Crown Imperial’ with aristocratic poise, although he seems hell bent on recreating the mayhem of the battle for Moscow with his take on the ‘1812 Overture’. Perhaps he was no fan of Napoleon as he literally tramples over the ‘Le Petit Caporal’ with wild abandon. It’s gloriously over the top - and the audience love it.  

Dignity returns with maestros Ball, Wright (who conducts the world premiere of the iconic march ‘Bandology’) and Hargreaves in the other featured items, although it certainly sounds as if the ‘Wee Professor’ is in his element with ‘Radetzky March’.

Perhaps he was no fan of Napoleon as he literally tramples over the ‘Le Petit Caporal’ with wild abandon. It’s gloriously over the top - and the audience love it.  

Unearthed gem

The unearthed gem in this time capsule treasure trove though lies with Derek Garside, then celebrating 20 years as principal cornet with CWS (Manchester), playing ‘Facilita’ with masterful aplomb.

Standing alone on the platform in the vastness of the RAH, accompanied on piano by his wife, Janne Edwards-Garside, it’s a virtually flawless performance; the murmurs and coughs between variations muffled like a cathedral congregation desperate not to spoil the effect of such God given gifts.  

The applause (which starts as Garside hits his final top C) is memorably thunderous. 

They don’t make cornet players like him anymore, but thankfully they did carry on making recordings such as this (1968 was in a fetching purple cover) for a few more years to come.

Steve Jack


Side 1:

1. Crown Imperial (William Walton arr. Frank Wright) *

2. Waltz Memories of Schubert (arr. Eric Ball)**

3. Facilita (John Hartmann) Derek Garside (cornet) accompanied by Janne Edwards-Garside

4. Bandology (Eric Osterling arr. Frank Wright)***

Side 2:

1. Radetzky March (Johann Strauss arr. W.B. Hargreaves)****

2. Prelude to La Traviata (Verdi arr. Drake Rimmer) *

3. 1812 Overture (Tchaikovsky arr. Dennis Wright) *


Conducted by: Sir Arthur Bliss (*) Eric Ball (**) Frank Wright (***) and Walter B. Hargreaves (****)



Regent Hall Concerts - RAF Wind Soloists

Friday 19 January • Charlton House. Charlton Road. London. SE7 8RE SE7 8RE


The Brighouse & Rastrick Band - EYMS Brass Band at Hull City Hall

Saturday 20 January • Hull City Hall. 67 Carr Lane,. Kingston upon Hull HU1 3RQ


Black Dyke Band - Morley Town Hall

Saturday 20 January • Morley Town Hall, Morley, Leeds LS27 8DX


Wantage Silver - Gary Curtin

Saturday 20 January • Reading Central Salvation Army RG1 7JR


The Hepworth Band - Soprano Sarah Ogden

Sunday 21 January • Christ Church, Sude Hill, New Mill, Holmfirth HD9 7BL


Shipston Town band

January 18 • We currently need a Kit percussionist, horn and Bb Bass as we prepare for the forthcoming Midlands Area at Bedworth in March. We are graded Section 4


The Corsham Band

January 18 • Having now been promoted to the 2nd Section for the forthcoming Contest season, the band are now looking for a back row cornet player, 2nd or 3rd, to join our team


Derwent Brass

January 17 • Derwent Brass | Championship | Midlands invites applications for PERCUSSION. At Derwent Brass percussion is an important and integral part of the band. We are looking for a talented percussionist, ideally with good tuned ability, to complete the section.


Julian Bright


Conductor, Compere/MC, Cornet Soloist