BUNCH OF FIVES: Brass in Concert | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Brass in Concert

If you haven’t experienced a traditional brass band contest before, Brass in Concert is a great place to start. One of the major banding contests in the UK, the event provides a one-off chance to experience this very British tradition – and see not one but TEN of the countries best bands all under one roof at Sage Gateshead on Saturday 20th November.

Brass bands were created initially with the intention of providing social activity for the workforce of large factories and mills, predominantly in the North of England.  With the image of cloth caps and always playing marches and competing in contests firmly implanted in the brains of some, the brass band like industry and society has moved forward.  Whilst it still retains some of the traditions and values, the one thing which has had a radical change is the repertoire and delivery of the concerts now offered by the brass band, the musical genre which everyone else writes off.

Returning to its roots in the North and the amazing venue of Sage Gateshead, Brass in Concert is considered as ‘The Worlds Finest Entertainment Contest’ within the brass band world and offers visitors a whole day of unbridled entertainment which will astound listeners and leave them wanting more.  

Featuring an eclectic mix of repertoire, from the West End, big band, the silver screen, pop and rock classics, you can be sure that there is something for everyone.  Bands are invited to ensure that the standards are kept consistently high, and there is a Youth Section which this year has been limited to five bands and the Championship Section consisting of 10 top class bands who are sure to delight the audience with their varied 20 minute programmes. Each programme is themed and sets have included a condensed version of West Side Story, Glenn Miller Big Band Tribute, and a Queen Tribute which had the audience rocking in the aisles.

Here, Chris Jeans, Musical Director of Youth Brass 2000 talks about his top songs featuring brass…

Brass is very versatile and often sees its performers flitting in between playing for a brass band, performing in symphony orchestras, West End shows, or on soundtracks for feature films, advertisements, pop singles and albums or even jingles.  Two of my former players for the youth band now occupy the principal chairs of top London orchestras and most people sit and enjoy music in films and adverts without realising that brass is included.

This Bunch of Fives includes five songs that I listen to featuring brass in order to highlight to the wider audience that listen to and enjoy the sound of brass. Music is my life and to choose just five songs is very difficult!

The Beatles – Penny Lane
The Beatles were one of the first pop bands of their day to heavily feature brass and the famous Black Dyke Band for whom I played principal trombone in the early 90’s recorded the instrumental version of Yellow Submarine for the flip side of Thingumybob in 1968.  Another link to my days playing for Black Dyke is the Ground Force theme tune, and my fond memories of the conductor, James Watson, playing the catchy trumpet solo that so many would recognise. Penny Lane is a classic Beatles number featuring brass – you can’t help but smile when you hear the piccolo trumpet solo of the late, great David Mason.

Michael Bublé – Haven’t Met You Yet
His brass section are amazing and the trumpet rift in this song always makes my heart sing.  All the songs on his Crazy Love album are fantastic and push my guilty pleasure button.  It inspired me to set up an ensemble and I did several concerts with my Crazy Love Band because I enjoyed listening to and performing them so much.

Queen – Seaside Rendezvous
This song is a bit of a curve ball. I love all Queen songs but this one includes an amazing musical bridge section, which features brass effects, but like most of Queen’s clever recording, are produced using voices alone. Drummer Roger Taylor did most of the brass, such as tubas and trumpets.  As mentioned before, a Queen Tribute has been featured as the Programme in a Brass in Concert entry, and I loved it.  All the classic Queen songs were arranged for brass and I tapped my feet all the way through.

The Spice Girls – Stop
Who can resist a catchy tune? This one invokes memories of celebrating the 150th Anniversary of Welford Cemetery where the band I conducted drove around Leicester on an open topped double decker bus playing this song, until we came to a bridge which was too low to pass under.  The celebration was attended by both Attenboroughs and like most concerts was a really fun experience, despite the sombre setting.

Brighouse & Rastrick and Terry Wogan – Floral Dance
I had to include this one as it is the only time a brass band has been featured in the pop charts. It reached number 2 all the way back in 1978! It’s one of the most well-known performances by a brass band and you’ll doubtless have heard it before. It was a good earner for charity too, as after Terry Wogan’s death in 2016 it was released with proceeds benefiting Children in Need. Here it is being performed by the famous Brighouse & Rastrick band.

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