Exciting New Signings
Grimethorpe Colliery Band has announced significant new signings following the recent departures of horn player Jonathan Bates and euphonium star Michael Dodd.
Helen Varley will be joining the band on Solo Horn from Black Dyke when her commitments to the Queensbury band are completed in June, whilst Andy Kennedy comes in on baritone from Hatfield Colliery Band.
Helen said "It was a tough decision to leave Black Dyke, but the opportunity to join the Grimethorpe on Solo Horn was just too good to turn down. I'm delighted to be joining this world-class group of musicians and I'm looking forward to new challenges and musical adventures.
I'm very sad to be leaving Black Dyke after four fantastic years, and I leave with wonderful memories. I would like to express warm thanks to the band and Prof Nicholas Childs, and I wish my friends all the best for the future."
Dream Come True
Meanwhile, Andy, who has also played solo euphonium and solo baritone said "My father Mick joined Grimethorpe on the back row when I was 6 and played with the band for 16 years, so being asked to be part of this band is something I dreamed of.
I used to sit at the front of rehearsals in awe of the players around the stand, so to be one of them now is an honour. I cannot wait to pull on the famous pink shirt at the British Open!"
We would like to welcome both Helen and Andy to the band — both players of outstanding talent who will strengthen our ranks Grimethorpe Colliery Band.
Cornet to Flugel
In an internal move, the departure of Flugel player Laura Hirst has meant that Jamie Smith moves from solo cornet to take on the role.
The band would like to welcome both Helen and Andy to the band — both players of outstanding talent who will strengthen our ranks.
We would like to thank Laura for her time with us and wish her every success in the future. Jamie, who studies at the Royal Northern College of Music and also stars in the A4 Brass Quartet, is one of the finest players of his generation with a great future ahead of him.
The Grimethorpe Colliery Band, currently celebrating its centenary, would like to invite applicants to audition for the vacant Bb Bass seat.
You can apply in confidence to Paul Smith (Band Manager) carolandpaul.59@
The closing date for applications is Tuesday 4th April 2017.
MEP's Thoughts on Brass Bands
Here is an interesting article by Richard Corbett who attended our Morley concert on Feb 11th 2017.
Richard is Deputy Leader of the Labour Members of the European Parliament, part of the centre-left Socialists & Democrats group and is Vice Chair of UK European Movement and also Chair in the European Parliament of the Labour Movement for Europe.
I had the great pleasure to attend a superb performance of the Grimethorpe Colliery Band on Saturday – and of being reminded of the significance of the deep-rooted Brass Band tradition. I had the honour of meeting conductor Ian Shires and star cornetist Roger Webster.
Brass bands are about music – but more than music. Many are closely woven into the local community, a matter of local pride, a focus of identity, a place to bring people together, and also a pedagogic venue, teaching and integrating youngsters. Brass bands can play almost anywhere, not least on the march, frequently performing outdoor civic duties at local events. They are part of our cultural heritage.
And this is a shared cultural heritage across Europe and beyond.
In Holland and Belgium, and nearby parts of Germany, France and Luxembourg, there is a strong tradition similar to Britain’s, although, unlike British bands, they also play saxophones (after all, Adolphe Sax came from Dinant in Belgium). The band from Willebroek, 25 miles north of Brussels, were three times European Brass Band Champions.
In the Balkans, Brass Bands play a style that owes much to 19th-century Roma (Gypsy) trumpeters and Ottoman marching bands turning local folk music into brass.
Across Europe, the Salvation Army has deployed brass bands since 1878.
In Norway, the Brass Band Federation is the largest voluntary music organisation in the country, and has the the King as its patron.
The tradition has spread beyond Europe, to Australia, New Zealand, Japan and North America. Brass bands in New Orleans date to the late 19th Century, often playing a fusion between European and African folk music.
The modern form of the brass band in Britain, with its full complement of 28 players, including percussion, dates from the mid 19th century.
Brass bands can be highly competitive,with bands organised into five sections with promotions and relegations, much like the football league divisions. Rivalries abound. A key player moving from one band to another is almost like a top footballer moving between clubs.
The Grimethorpe Colliery Band is one of the most famous bands. It was on BBC national radio every month from 1941 to 1951, it played at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012 and it has several times won the National Brass Band Championship, not least in 1992 just 5 days after the Colliery was closed, as depicted in the wonderful, moving, film Brassed Off.
Bands are mostly organised on a voluntary basis, with few resources and sometimes little experience of the commercial side of entertainment. But they do need money. Overheads are not insignificant, and even if each member of the main band is paid just a few pounds per show, the size of the band and their transport costs soon reach a significant level. The pedagogical work that many of them do (complete with youth bands that have been the nurseries of many a top musician), add to the costs.
Some get sponsorship, some rely on donations, while others try to make ends meet by giving lots of concerts: Grimethorpe played over 60 gigs around the UK in one recent year, travelling over 6,000 miles, but such a level of activity is unsustainable, given that amateur band members have jobs and families.
On top of that, there is in my mind no doubt that some bands have been ripped off by commercial agents who have booked them at prestigious events for a hefty fee, but only passed on a small proportion to the band, sometimes with the band blissfully unaware of what was being charged in their name.
Brass bands are a tradition worthy of support. Securing for them the full fruit of their labour (to coin a phrase) would go a long way to helping them. So would further opportunities to reach new audiences.
Their repertoires are far more varied than the uninitiated sometimes imagine: last Saturday’s performance ranged from Freddy Mercury’s Bohemian Rhapsody to Wagner, Indiana Jones to Puccini, The Lady is a Tramp and much else besides. Broadening their reach would not just help save them, it would bring pleasure to millions.
Richards blog can be found here
REVIEW: RNCM FESTIVAL OF BRASS
RNCM Brass Band Festival
Conductor: Phillip McCann
Soloist: Roger Webster
Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester
Sunday 29th January
An expectant audience packed into the RNCM for the appearance of Grimethorpe under Phillip McCann. The partnership may well be in its embryonic stages but by the close nobody was left in any doubt about the permanency of their concert class.
2017 marks the band’s centenary, with some of the repertoire acknowledging historic landmarks - from a brace of pieces on which they won the British Open title to major compositions for the medium first performed by them.
They opened with ‘Comedy Overture’ - a joyful work that later became an orchestral portrait of pre-War London - complete with the famous ‘Piccadilly’ motif and the languorous nocturnal section as the great capital sleeps at night. It remains a work of substance even if it now reflects on a cityscape long since disappeared.
Music of a very different time and style followed - although just as beautifully shaped and phrased. Howarth’s ‘In Memoriam RK’ was sombre and reflective in its dark lyricism - the ciphers and oblique motifs of homage to Rudolph Kempe’s mastery of Strauss, Wagner and Mahler seeping through the score. The final, elongated repose touched the heart.
So too the peerless playing of Roger Webster, in the world premiere of a new version by Howard Goodall of ‘Shackleton's Cross for Cornet and Band’. Inspired by a painting of the memorial to the great British explorer on the island of South Georgia, it was an evocative realisation of personal character as well as of geographical place, played with composed elegance.
A brace of contrasting works followed: Broughton’s ‘The Good Old Way’ based on a old Manx folk song, was an uplifting and skilful exploration of the art of harmony, counterpoint and rhythmic detailing, whilst Martin Ellerby’s heartfelt ‘Requiescent Aberfan’ was a poignant paean to a tragedy that has lost none of its awful, visceral impact half a century on.
To close, Grimethorpe recalled their famous 1991 British Open triumph with Wilby's masterful ‘Paganini Variations’.
In the intervening years it has become something of a banding tourist attraction - blighted by mediocre performance overload. Here it was restored to its rightful place in the Pantheon of great test-pieces - the most timely of reminders that it can only be truly mastered by bands of the highest class.
Grimethorpe was certainly that. The hymn tune ‘Gresford’ only added to the fact.
Clarke renews Composer Association
Grimethorpe Colliery Band is delighted to renew its links with composer Nigel Clarke as the band’s `International Composer in Association’. Principal Cornet Roger Webster confirmed that the band is planning to forge a closer relationship with Nigel over the next few years. Grimethorpe premiered Nigel’s `Further Adventures of the Same’ at the 2016 RNCM Festival of Brass and already new projects are being discussed. Nigel stated: “From a young age, I became aware of the Grimethorpe Band through the new composition work that they performed under the baton of Elgar Howarth. I am proud to continue my relationship with them and will seek to assist the band in increasing its profile outside of the brass band world and in encouraging a new generation of composers and audiences to subscribe to this extraordinary group of musicians. I am also clearly looking forward to writing for Grimethorpe Band.” Picture Nigel Clarke studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music with Paul Patterson, winning the Josiah Parker Prize (adjudicated by Sir Michael Tippett) and the Academy’s highest distinction, the Queen’s Commendation for Excellence. He gained his Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Salford. Nigel has previously held positions as Young Composer in Residence at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Composition and Contemporary Music Tutor at the Royal Academy of Music, London, Head of Composition at the London College of Music and Media, visiting tutor at the Royal Northern College of Music, Associate Composer to the Black Dyke Band, Associate Composer to the Band of HM Grenadier Guards, Composer-in-Residence to the Marinierskapel der Koninklijke Marine (Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy), Associate Composer to the Royal Military School of Music and Associate Composer to Brass Band Buizingen of Belgium. In 1997 Nigel joined the United States International Visitor Leadership Program, sponsored by the US Information Agency. He is currently Composer to Bands at Middle Tennessee State University Bands and International Composer in Association to the world famous Grimethorpe Colliery Band in the UK. Nigel has been nominated in this years 2016 British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) `British Composer Awards’ in the Wind Band & Brass Band category.
Further information about Nigel Clarke and his work can be found at his website www.nigel-clarke.com
Grant Appointed Associate Conductor
Brian Grant has been appointed Associate Conductor at Grimethorpe Colliery Band.
Speaking of the appointment, Grimethorpe Musical Director Dr Robert Childs stated, "Brian has been working closely with myself and the band for the past twelve months and there is a great chemistry between us all. I am thrilled to have him on board in a more official capacity and delighted he has accepted my invitation to become the band’s Associate Conductor”.
Brian Grant said, “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this last year working with Bob and the band. They are as busy as ever and playing superbly. I am very happy to accept the post and look forward to further fantastic times ahead".
Under Brian's direction, Grimethorpe has recently completed a very successful series of festive concerts with the vivacious Opera Babes, and Brian now has several further concert dates with Grimethorpe in his diary for the year ahead.
Everyone at Grimethorpe is looking forward to working with Brian Grant, and to another fantastic year in 2016.
Kim Joins Grimethorpe
Kim Ward, daughter of Grimethorpe Colliery Band’s legendary tenor horn soloist Bryan Smith, follows in her father's footsteps, joining Grimethorpe Colliery Band as Assistant Librarian. Kim never learned to play a brass instrument (she played clarinet) but always dreamed of being part of the band her Dad played for, and finally her dream has come true!
Speaking of the appointment, Kim stated, "I wish my Dad could see me now, he’d be so proud". Band Librarian, Jon Beaumont, stated "The band is very busy. We have more than forty concerts in the diary for the coming year alone, plus contests and recordings. I definitely need someone to assist me with the day to day chores in the library, and Kim is the ideal choice".
Grimethorpe MD, Dr Robert Childs, also commented on the appointment, stating, "I played in Grimethorpe Band when Bryan Smith was Solo Horn: he was a wonderful player, with such a beautiful sound. I’m sure Kim will be a great asset to the band".
Kim’s son, Brandon, is a 13 year old cornet player who also has his sights set on a position in the band one day too. His appointment however may have to wait a little longer...
Jamie Smith joins Grimethorpe
Grimethorpe Colliery Band are pleased to announce that Jamie Smith (former Principal Cornet, Hammonds Saltaire Band) joins the band in the position of Co-Principal Cornet with immediate effect.
Musical Director, Dr Robert Childs, stated "Jamie accompanied the band on our Australian Tour earlier in the year and did a fantastic job on the solo cornet bench. I have known Jamie for a number of years and have enjoyed watching his musical development in the NYBBGB and more recently at Hammonds Saltaire. Jamie will become a permanent member of the solo cornet bench, covering the Principal Cornet position when Professor Roger Webster is away from the band with professional solo engagements and Besson commitments.’
Roger is delighted to welcome Jamie to his section and stated, ‘Jamie is one of the shining lights in the new generation of cornet players today and everyone at Grimethorpe is delighted he has accepted my invitation to join the band’.
Speaking about his appointment, Jamie said, ‘I am very much looking forward to joining Grimethorpe Colliery Band. The chance to work alongside Roger Webster was something I simply could not decline and with Bob Childs at the helm I’m sure the band will continue to thrive.’
Pipped at the Post at Brass In Concert Championships
Grimethorpe were incredibly close to taking a record breaking 17th Brass In Concert title at the 2015 BIC Championships at The Sage Gateshead but were thwarted by an unfortunate placing from just one of the five adjudicators, the other four of whom had placed the band variously first and second...
Grimethorpe were pleased however to come away with the Harry Mortimer Best Principal Cornet Award for Professor Roger Webster, the Gateshead MBC Trophy for Best Soprano Award for Kevin Crockford, the John Fletcher Best Basses Award for the boys in the back, and the overall award for Best Quality of Performance for their lunar inspired programme of "Imagined Oceans".
Grimethorpe Colliery offer their thanks to the organisers of Brass In Concert and The Sage for another warm welcome in Gateshead and look forward to returning to the contest in 2016 to take their 17th title.
Brass In Concert 2015 - Full Results
Placings & Points
Music/Music/Content/Entertainment = Total
David Thornton / Frode Rydland / Les Neish / Steve Walker / Captain Andy Gregory = Total
1. Cory (Philip Harper) (1)60pts/(3)54pts/(1)40/(2)19/(1)20=193pts
2. Grimethorpe Colliery (Dr Robert Childs) (2)57pts/(1)60pts/(2)38pts/(1)20/(9)12=187pts
3. Flowers (Paul Holland) (4)51pts/(2)57pts/(6)30pts/(3)18pts/(5)16pts=174pts
4. Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke) (5)48pts/(5)48pts/(3)36pts/(4)17pts/(6)15pts=166pts
5. Reg Vardy (Russell Gray) (3)54pts/(7)42pts/(5)32pts/(7)14pts/(3)18pts=160pts
6. Leyland (Thomas Wyss) (6)45pts/(6)45pts/(8)26pts/(6)15pts/(10)11pts=142pts
7. Woodfalls (Paul Lovatt-Cooper) (9)36pts/(4)51pts/(9)24pts/(11)10pts/(7)14pts=135pts
8. Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths) (7)42pts/(8)39/(7)28/(9)12pts/(11)10pts=131pts
9. East Yorkshire Motor Services (Alan Morrison) (8)39pts/(9)36pts/(11)20pts/(5)16/(4)17pts=128pts
10. Wingates (Paul Andrews) (11)30/(10)33/(4)34/(10)11pts/(2)19pts=127pts
11. Friary Guildford (Chris King)(10)33pts/(11)30pts/(10)22pts(8)13pts/(8)13pts=111pts
Dullea joins Dodd on Euphonium Bench
Young RNCM student Christian Dullea joins Michael Dodd on the euphonium bench at Grimethorpe in a series of new signings at the band. Originally hailing from South Wales, Christian is a product of the Greater Gwent schools system, and was formerly solo euphonium at the Regimental Band of the Royal Welsh and Rothwell Temperance before taking up the second euphonium seat at Grimethorpe.
Speaking of the appointment, Dr Robert Childs stated, "Christian came to the band highly recommended and has already displayed great maturity in his playing ability and general demeanour within the band. I look forward to seeing a highly successful partnership developing between he and Michael over the coming months". Michael Dodd was equally complementary with the appointment and stated "Christian is a fine young player and I look forward to working closely with him at Grimethorpe".
All at Grimethorpe are delighted to welcome Christian to the band, and wish his predecessor Philippe Schwartz many thanks for his many years of service to the band.
British Open Champions!
Grimethorpe Colliery Band have been proclaimed the 2015 British Open Champions! The band were awarded the most prestigious prize in banding, the coveted British Open shield, following their performance of Stephen Roberts' "Reflections On Swan Lake" at Symphony Hall, Birmingham. The performance was a firm favourite with the near capacity crowd present in the hall for the band's performance, and was described by Brass Band World magazine as "stunning" with "power, control and a majestic ending, so well measured".
Adjudicators Derek Broadbent, Adrian Morris & Stephen Roberts agreed, awarding the band their fifth British Open title, and Musical Director Dr Robert Childs his sixth Mortimer Trophy.
Grimethorpe's soloists were on top form too, with newly returned Principal Cornet Dr Roger Webster and Soprano Cornet Kevin Crockford also being awarded the Stanley Wainwright Memorial Trophy and Brian Evans Memorial Trophy as the best cornet and soprano cornet players at the Championships.
British Open Brass Band Championships
Saturday 5th September
Symphony Hall, Birmingham
Test Piece: 'Reflections on Swan Lake' - Stephen Roberts
Adjudicators: Derek Broadbent, Adrian Morris, Stephen Roberts
1. Grimethorpe Colliery (Dr Robert Childs)
2. Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof. David King)
3. Cory (Philip Harper)
4. Leyland (Thomas Wyss)
5. Fodens (Allan Withington)
6. Black Dyke (Prof. Nicholas Childs)
7. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)
8. Brass Band Burgermusik Luzern (Michael Bach)
9. Co-operative Funeralcare (Allan Ramsay)
10. Flowers (Paul Holland)
11. Fairey (Garry Cutt)
12. Rothwell Temperance (David Roberts)
13. Milnrow (Mark Bentham)
14. Desford Colliery (Tom Davoren)
15. Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths)
16. Woodfalls (Erik Janssen)
17. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Phillip McCann)
18. Kirkintilloch (Russell Gray)
Stanley Wainwright Memorial Trophy: Dr Roger Webster (cornet) - Grimethorpe Colliery
Brian Evans Memorial Trophy: Kevin Crockford (soprano) - Grimethorpe Colliery
Roger Webster returns to Grimethorpe
Grimethorpe Colliery Band are pleased to announce the return of Professor Roger Webster on Principal Cornet with immediate effect. Roger will be leading the Band in their challenge for the British Open title on Reflections of Swan Lake by Stephen Roberts.
Commenting on the appointment Bob Childs said, "In my opinion Roger is still the best cornet player in the business. I'm so pleased he accepted my invitation to rejoin the Band. Roger is a product of the Grimethorpe Junior Band. He has the band in his blood and is simply returning to his roots. I would like to thank Iain Culross for his super playing over the past 18 months and especially for his outstanding playing in Australia. I wish him all the best in the future."
Roger said, "I'm excited about returning to the end chair at Grimethorpe under the baton of Bob. We've worked together many times over the years, and share the same passion and drive for musical excellence. Grimethorpe holds a special place in my Banding career and I hope I can help steer them to great successes in the future."
Grimethorpe Colliery go Down Under again!
Speaking about the tour, Grimethorpe Colliery Principal Conductor and Director of Music Dr Robert Childs said, "I played euphonium on Grimethorpe’s first tour way back in 1980; returning to Australia as the band’s conductor this summer is now a dream come true. We performed to approximately 16,000 people in concert halls the length and breadth of the country. It was incredible". Through the tour Grimethorpe featured their winning "Brass In Concert" programme as well as classical favourites, film soundtracks and original music for band.
Grimethorpe were invited to Australia by Andrew Kay & Associates Pty Ltd. Andrew Kay is an international theatrical producer and concert promoter whose offices are based in Melbourne. Andrew has over 30 years’ experience touring attractions and theatre groups which have included Dr Who, Mnozil Brass, Wynton Marsalis, Yehudi Menuhin and more.
Speaking about the tour, Andrew stated, "Grimethorpe Colliery Band are the most famous brass band in the world! I’m delighted that Bob Childs and the Band accepted my invitation to tour our wonderful country. The band were a sell out when they came to Australia in 2011 and we were delighted to experience the same success this year."
The band engaged the services of Craig Roberts to act as Band Manager for the trip. Craig has great experience managing bands abroad and revelled in the challenge. Speaking about the tour, Craig said, "I’ve taken many bands on tour to Canada, America and wider in the past, but managing Grimethorpe Band on this tour of a lifetime was an unbelievable experience".
During their 2 week whistle-stop tour, Grimethorpe performed at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) Brisbane, State Theatre Sydney, Llewellyn Hall Canberra, Newcastle Town Hall, Hamer Hall Melbourne, Frankston Arts Centre, Wrest Point Hobart Tasmania, Robert Blackwood Hall Monash, Norwood Concert Hall Adelaide and Perth Concert Hall.
Success at Regional Championships
Under the baton of Principal Conductor & Musical Director Dr Robert Childs, Grimethorpe delivered a tremendous performance of the set-test, Peter Graham's "The Torchbearers", which delighted the capacity crowd at St. George's Hall, Bradford, and was later described by adjudicators Nigel Boddice and Graham Jones as "magnificent".
Yorkshire Regional Championships
Test Piece: 'The Torchbearer' - Peter Graham
Sunday 8th March
Adjudicators: Nigel Boddice MBE & Dr. Graham Jones MBE
1. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Phillip McCann)*
2. Grimethorpe Colliery (Dr. Robert Childs)*
3. Rothwell Temperance (David Roberts)
4. Black Dyke (Prof. Nicholas J Childs)**
5. Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof. David King)**
6. Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel (Stig Maersk)
7. Hepworth (Mark Peacock)
8. City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey)
9. Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths)
10. Marsden Silver (Glyn Williams)
11. Drighlington (Jim Davies)
12. Skelmanthorpe (Martin Hall)
13. South Yorkshire Police (Leigh Baker)
*Carlton Main Frickley and Grimethorpe Colliery qualify for National Final
** Black Dyke and Brighouse & Rastrick pre-qualified for National Final
Best Soloist: Michael Dodd (euphonium) - Grimethorpe Colliery Band
Best Instrumentalist: Kirsty Abbotts (cornet) - Carlton Main Frickley Colliery
Best Cornet: Iain Culross - Grimethorpe Colliery Band
Grimethorpe & Howarth in BBC Radio 3 feature at RNCM
Under the baton of Mr Howarth and GCB Principal Conductor and Director of Music Dr. Robert Childs, Grimethorpe performed a symphonic themed programme of music which included:
Vinter: Symphony of Marches
Fletcher: An Epic Symphony
Gregson: Symphony In Two Movements
Howarth: Cornet Concerto
Howarth: Cantabile For John Fletcher
The performance was captured for broadcast by BBC Radio 3. A full report on the event can be found at popular brass website 4barsrest.com here with a review of Grimethorpe's performance available here
Record Breaking Brass In Concert Champions
Grimethorpe Colliery Band are the newly crowned Brass In Concert Champions! For a record breaking 16th time, Grimethorpe once again took top honours at the premier annual entertainment championships, fending off rivals from across the UK and beyond, under the direction of Dr Robert Childs.
Their First World War centenary themed programme "Lest We Forget" saw Grimethorpe secure an eleven point win over their nearest rivals, plus additional awards for Best Programme Content, Quality of Performance, Winning MD and the John Fletcher Award for Best Bass section. A detailed report on the event can be found at popular brass band news site 4barsrest.com here