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[Archive] - Press Articles 2001


News Harrogate Advertiser, 30 November 2001

Where were you at concert?

On Friday, November 9, my wife and I went to a thoroughly enjoyable concert in The Royal Hall given by the Harrogate Band and most of the music had a Harrogate connection. Among the items played was a very moving arrangement by Neil Richmond of Ernest Farrar's Heroic Elegy. Farrar grew up in Yorkshire and became conductor of the Harrogate Orchestral Society in 1912. This arrangement deserves to be more widely known. A plea to the Harrogate Band - next time you play at The Albert Hall, please include this piece.
Perhaps not many people know that one of the most recognised pieces of music - the theme music for The Archers - was written by a man who moved to Harrogate when he was seven years old and later became deputy conductor of the Harrogate Spa Orchestra. That man was Arthur Wood. The Band played two items by Wood.
Then there was the Harrogate Songbook. The Band accompanied Julie Russell Wilson singing three items: I Like to go to Harrogate; The Harrogate Dog Show; and The Harrogate Band - the last item referring to a much earlier institution than the present Harrogate Band! Wonderful items. Originally written to match existing popular melodies of the day, these songs were sung on the night to music written by local composer Donald Avison. Unforgettable.
The only thing missing was a good-sized audience. Where was everybody? The concert was in aid of the Royal Hall Restoration and I wonder if the Royal Hall Restoration Trust could do more to advertise and promote the many activities that are being organised throughout the district for that very worthwhile cause.
It was very clear a great deal of effort by many people had been put into preparing for this concert. Not only by the Band but also, amongst others, by arrangers of many of the items. Harrogate Band is in the top flight of brass bands and deserves stronger local support.
Peter Rix
News Harrogate Advertiser, 2 November 2001

A heroic legacy

Ernest Farrar - click for larger versionNext Friday's band recital in the Royal Hall, Made in Harrogate, includes work by an early 20th Century composer who - had he not been killed in the First World War - would, from the evidence of his surviving work, probably have played a leading role in British musical life during the 20s and 30s.
Ernest Farrar was born in 1885 at Lewisham and at the age of 26 moved to Harrogate, in 1912, after having served his musical apprenticeship at London's new Royal College of Music; at Dresden; and South Shields. Farrar worked as organist at Christ Church, taking up his post on September 1 1912, which he also supplemented with teaching from his home at 15 Hollins Road.
One of his pupils was young Gerald Finzi, who walked over from 22 Duchy Road for lessons from a man who exercised a huge and lasting influence on the brilliant young songwriter. Another fruitful relationship was that which developed between Farrar and Julian Clifford, the popular and charismatic director of the Kursaal orchestra, the two of whom made ingenious arrangements of Wagner's music dramas, Tannhauser and Parsifal, performed when the silent films were screened in the Kursaal.
In 1914, Farrar's great orchestral tone poem, The Forgotten Merman, was also premiered at the Kursaal, shortly after the outbreak of war, and, the following year, his variations for piano and orchestra were premiered by dedicatee, Julian Cilfford. By now Farrar had enlisted in the Grenadier Guards, but returned to Harrogate to conduct the first performance, on July 3 1918, of his moving Heroic Elegy, the last music he ever heard before returning to the western front, where, tragically, he fell on September 18 1918, leading his men at the Battle of Epehy Ronssoy.
The Farrar portrait above, kindly supplied by Adrian Officer, reveals something of this brilliant and deeply sensitive musician. In view of the season and location it is especially appropriate that Farrar's music will be played next Friday evening.
by Malcolm Neesam
News

Wansbeck Win for The Harrogate Band - Unprecedented fourth title in 2001 for local favourites

The popular Harrogate Band notched up another success last weekend when they took top prize at the Wansbeck Brass Band Entertainment Contest at Newbiggin by the Sea. This was the band's first visit to this 'invitation only' contest, organised as part of the popular Wansbeck Festival, and posed a slightly different challenge to the events most recently contested by the Band. In this 'entertainment contest' the band was posed with the task of performing a 25 minute entertainment programme, facing opposition from some of the finest bands from the North of England. The band was delighted then, to returned home, mission accomplished, having taken the crown at the first attempt!
It was an convincing and enjoyable performance which gained the band first place at the Wansbeck Contest. Despite the sauna-like conditions on stage the band stole the show with a programme packed with contrasts and entertainment. The programme opened with with the Idar Torskangerpoll's newly-penned funk item Degroove, contrasted immediately by the superb Royal Border Bridge, one of the three movements of Arthur Butterworth's Three Impressions for Brass. The band's principal cornet Robert Illsley then delighted the audience with his scintillating Concerto for Trumpet by Harry James, which won well earned cheers in response. A quieter reflection with Harrogate's own Wilfred Heaton's sublime meditation Just As I Am preceded the finale; the ever-popular Macarthur Park by Jim Webb.
This latest success brings an unprecedented fourth crown to the Band in 2001, making it the most successful in their 31-year history. In March of this year the Band were again crowned North of England Champions - this time in their first foray in the 1st Section, which earned them a seventh invitation to The National Brass Band Championships. That has been followed-up with the titles of Yorkshire and Humberside champions, the Yorkshire Brass Band Challenge Champions and now the Wansbeck Entertainment Champions.
The next opportunity to hear the band is their Gala concert on Friday the 9th of November at 8pm, when The Harrogate Band give a special performance in aid of the Royal Hall Restoration fund at that very venue. 'Made in Harrogate' is the title of the concert, which will comprise purely of music with local links, and promises a wide range of musical entertainment. Included in the evening will be music by local composers Delius, Finzi, Heaton and Wilby, but also Elgar (who spent many years in Harrogate) and music by band members themselves. Lighter moments include music by local musician Arthur Wood - who most famously penned the Archers theme tune - and even music from the Beatles - possibly the most famous act ever to grace the Royal Hall stage. All proceeds from the evening go directly toward assuring the future of Harrogate's elegant Victorian concert hall. Tickets are available from the Conference Centre Box Office on (01423) 537230.
News Harrogate Herald, 30 October 2001

Band's boost for hall fund

'Made in Harrogate' - A special performance by the Harrogate BandThe Royal Hall Restoration fund is to receive a welcome boost on Friday the 9th of November, when the North of England champions The Harrogate Band give a special performance in the hall itself. 'Made in Harrogate' is the title of the concert, which comprises purely of work by musicians who have had links with the town. Prominent in the programme will be the work of local composers such as Wilfred Heaton, Phillip Wilby, Ernest Farrar, Delius, Finzi, the band's Musical Director David Lancaster, and other composers who have either lived in the area or have been regular visitors. One such person was Edward Elgar, who came to Harrogate every year to 'take the waters', and whose second symphony had its provincial premiere in the town. In addition, the concert will feature compositions and arrangements by the band's own members, plus band founder and prominent local musician Neil Richmond. Neil's research into local music has been central to this event, and his arrangements of some of the pieces unearthed will also be heard on the night. The range of music on offer promises something for everyone, from old to new, classical to modern, plus some light-hearted moments along the way.
The Royal Hall dates from a time when Harrogate was a popular spa resort with its own professional orchestras and bands, so it seems natural that one of Harrogate's leading groups is now to draw on that wealth of history to stage this event. The Harrogate Band is grateful to Harrogate International Centre, who have donated the venue free of charge - this ensures that all proceeds from the evening go directly toward assuring the future of Harrogate's elegant Victorian concert hall.
This exciting and entertaining event takes place on Friday the 9th of November at 8pm. Tickets are available from the Conference Centre Box Office on (01423) 537230. The music featured in the concert will also be the focus of the band's next CD, 'Made in Harrogate', which is scheduled for release in January 2002.
News Harrogate Advertiser, 26 October 2001

Top brass performance for Hall appeal

'Made in Harrogate' - A special performance by the Harrogate BandThe Royal Hall Restoration fund is to receive a welcome boost on Friday the 9th of November, when the North of England champions The Harrogate Band give a special performance in the hall itself. 'Made in Harrogate' is the title of the concert, which comprises purely of work by musicians who have had links with the town. Prominent in the programme will be the work of local composers such as Wilfred Heaton, Phillip Wilby, Ernest Farrar, Delius, Finzi, the band's Musical Director David Lancaster, and other composers who have either lived in the area or have been regular visitors. One such person was Edward Elgar, who came to Harrogate every year to 'take the waters', and whose second symphony had its provincial premiere in the town. In addition, the concert will feature compositions and arrangements by the band's own members, plus band founder and prominent local musician Neil Richmond. Neil's research into local music has been central to this event, and his arrangements of some of the pieces unearthed will also be heard on the night. The range of music on offer promises something for everyone, from old to new, classical to modern, plus some light-hearted moments along the way.
The Royal Hall dates from a time when Harrogate was a popular spa resort with its own professional orchestras and bands, so it seems natural that one of Harrogate's leading groups is now to draw on that wealth of history to stage this event. The Harrogate Band is grateful to Harrogate International Centre, who have donated the venue free of charge - this ensures that all proceeds from the evening go directly toward assuring the future of Harrogate's elegant Victorian concert hall.
This exciting and entertaining event takes place on Friday the 9th of November at 8pm. Tickets are available from the Conference Centre Box Office on (01423) 537230. The music featured in the concert will also be the focus of the band's next CD, 'Made in Harrogate', which is scheduled for release in January 2002.
News Harrogate Advertiser, 3rd August 2001

Concert bid to give Japanese a yen to visit Yorkshire

Tuning up for tourism - Harrogate Band members Gavin Holman and Keith Graham prepare for their concert at Fountains Abbey The area's hard-pressed tourist industry could get a much needed boost from Japanese visitors. This is certainly the hope of the National Trust, which is tonight entertaining a delegation of Japanese travel journalists and tour operators at a brass band concert being held at Fountains Abbey. The visit is part of a regional and national campaign to woo back foreign tourists who might have been put off by the foot-and-mouth crisis.
Sasha Jackson, of Fountains Abbey, said "The Fountains estate, indeed the National Trust at large, is suffering significant financial losses due to poor visitor numbers this season. The foot-and-mouth disease has really hit the tourism industry in Yorkshire. We welcome this opportunity to provide our Japanese guests with a real heritage experience and show them what a traditional open-air concert is all about."
The Japanese delegation will be entertained by Harrogate Brass Band performing music from stage and screen as well as pieces by internationally renowned composers.
News 4BarsRest.com, May 2001

4BarsRest take a closer look at the Harrogate Band that celebrated its 30th anniversary this year

The Harrogate Band celebrated its 30th anniversary this year and had good reason to celebrate: in March 2000 they became Second Section North of England Champions and in 2001 they repeated the achievement in the First Section. In the intervening months their schedule included a performance in the Royal Albert Hall, a week-long tour to Holland, a Gala Concert (with guest soloist Nick Hudson) and a host of other concert and contest successes. In the last couple of weeks they have added the top section Yorkshire and Humberside Association trophy to their cabinet, and scooped the £750 top prize in the inaugural Nostell Priory Yorkshire Brass Band Challenge. Their award-winning website and online resource is rapidly approach 250,000 hits and attracts visitors and admirers from all around the world. "We've a full band of very committed players," said MD David Lancaster "and we're looking forward to great things in the future".
Yet not so long ago the band looked likely candidates for relegation to the Fourth Section following a series of poor Area results in the mid-90's.
The Harrogate Band was formed in 1970 by Neil Richmond, the Head of Music at the town's Granby High School. Neil recognised that the players from his successful school band had nowhere to play when they left, so with little money and pitifully few well-used instruments, The Harrogate Band was formed. There had been bands in the town before this time but the last had quietly disbanded in the 1960's. Contest successes came relatively quickly for the new band, followed by visits to the National Finals and overseas trips, which demonstrated the band's potential to achieve. Harrogate recently returned to Granby High to share a '30th Birthday' concert with the current school band, inviting each of their four former conductors to direct an item.
Today the band is ambitious for success and is working harder than ever in anticipation of promotion to the Championship Section, which can't be far away now they have the First Section title under their belt. "We're aiming high" said chairman Steve Morland, "but we want to see success built on solid foundations". Success clearly means more than just winning contests. "We work hard to improve our concert presentation and to develop stronger links with our local community, particularly with schools and other arts organisations".
That local link extends to the music the band performs: Phil Wilby is a regular visitor to the bandroom and Wilfred Heaton lived in Harrogate until his death last year - both composers are featured on the band's first CD. The second recording, planned for later this year, will develop that theme, including work by a number of composers with connections with the spa town. "Elgar came to Harrogate each year to take the waters, and both Delius and Finzi lived in Harrogate at some stage" according to David Lancaster. Arthur Butterworth, 'who lives just down the road' will also feature on the new recording. The band clearly possesses an imaginative, progressive outlook and seizes opportunities to develop new audiences or styles of presentation: a couple of years ago Harrogate gave an illustrated lecture recital on the development of brass band music to the annual conference of the National Association of Music Librarians, and a similar presentation for the National Association of Brass Band Conductors is scheduled for the autumn. They regularly give concerts of contemporary music for band at the University College of Ripon and York where David Lancaster works as lecturer in the music department.
Exciting times lie ahead for The Harrogate Band: the fixture sheet includes a joint concert with Houston Choral Society (yes, from Texas!) in Ripon Cathedral, and in August there's a rare opportunity to perform a concert at Fountains Abbey - a sublime setting for any event. Further afield the band are taking a weekend away together to play concerts in Hertfordshire and at the Peterborough Festival, and Yorkshire Television are planning a documentary about the band's preparation for the National Finals! Exciting times indeed!
David Lancaster - Originally from Wigan, Lancashire, David Lancaster began his musical career as cornet player with the Pemberton Old Band at the age of eleven. A chance encounter with the music of Harrison Birtwistle led him to take up composing, and music studies at York and Cambridge Universities followed. David has won several important prizes for composing and held the prestigious post of Composer-in-Residence at Charterhouse from 1985-88. After six years teaching music in Further Education, David returned to Yorkshire to take up the post of Music Lecturer at the University College of Ripon and York St John, where he teaches composition, world music and music technology. He is currently serving as External Examiner for music at the University of Salford. David Lancaster has conducted brass bands at all levels but has been particularly associated with Runnymede Brass who gained promotion from the fourth to the first section in only four years under his direction, qualifying to play at the National Brass Band Finals on four consecutive occasions. Since 1994 David has been Musical Director of The Harrogate Band who are North of England First Section Champions 2001. David has recently completed new works for the Wakefield Metropolitan Band, Kirkbymoorside Town Band and the Wetherby and District Silver Band.
News Yorkshire Post, 29th May 2001

Top band shares stage with Texan choral society

The award-winning Harrogate Band which has won three titles this year is to share a concert with the Houston Choral Society from Texas in Ripon Cathedral next week. The band, which became North of England First Section Champions in March, has since won the Yorkshire and Humberside Championship and the Yorkshire Brass Band Challenge in which it was asked to present a 30-minute programme of contrasted and entertaining music rather than a test piece.
The concert with the 100 voices of the Houston Choral Society, which will include a mixture of popular classics and music from both sides of the Atlantic, will be held in the cathedral next Tuesday at 7.30pm. The band's musical director, David Lancaster, said: "The choir are only in the UK for a matter of days and they were very keen to work with a genuine Yorkshire brass band. We hope that members of local choral societies and choirs will want to hear how they perform."
The Harrogate Band will also perform at the Christ Church Centre in Harrogate on Saturday, June 9 at 7.30pm. The programme will include soprano Deborah Richardson and pianist Katie Bell.
News Harrogate Advertiser, 30th March 2001

Undaunted and unbeaten - the band plays on

Another chapter was written at the weekend in the extraordinary success story of the Harrogate Band, when they were again crowned North of England Champions. This popular group who have just celebrated their 30th anniversary year with an unprecedented series of successes, were competing at this year's North of England Brass Band Championships in Darlington, where just one year ago they were crowned Second Section Champions. This year they faced a new challenge, having achieved promotion to the prestigious First Section. On their first occasion in such heady territory for the group, and in the face of their most fierce competition, the band however pulled off a startling victory, seizing the title with a much heralded performance of Eric Ball's The Undaunted - an aptly named test piece for this professional and confident outfit. To cap a great day's contesting the band also took home the trophy for the Best Bass Section - the first time that section of the band had won such an honour, and gave a winning farewell to long-serving bandmaster Dave Cole, whose work takes him to Kidderminster after 17 years as a dedicated player, tireless worker and a great friend to the band. The delighted band members now face an even bigger challenge: to represent Harrogate and the North of England at the National Championships in September. The Harrogate Band's Musical Director David Lancaster was exhilarated by the success - "The adjudicator was full of praise for our performance - this is a fabulous reward for all the players' hard work over the last twelve months. It's certainly a great time to be a member of the Harrogate Band." The band is also undertaking a series of illustrious engagements around the country, including an appearance with the world-famous Houston Choral Society on June 5 at Ripon Cathedral and an Evening Gala concert in the grounds of Fountains Abbey on August 3.
News 4BarsRest.com, 19th March 2001

North East Area Results

First Section:
Harrogate Band under the baton of David Lancaster have won the North East First Section with a narrow one point win over Broughtons Brass led by Chris Bentham.
Both bands also scooped up the individual awards with Harrogate winning the Best Basses cup and Broughtons Best Percussion.
David Lancaster, the delighted conductor of Harrogate spoke exclusively to 4BarsRest. "This is our first year in Section 1, and we are thrilled to have won. Less than five years ago we were coming 8th in the third section and were really struggling, so today has been a reward for all the hard work the members have put in since that time. We are a mix of the young and old, with ex Black Dyke player Peter Wells on bass being a real bedrock of the band, and younger players such as Robert Illsley on solo cornet showing that not all the talented players are to be found in the top section bands. We are 30 years old this year and this is the highest position the band has ever achieved and to celebrate this we hope to record a CD later in the year that will feature music of Harrogate based composers such as Philip Wilby and Wilfred Heaton."

News Yorkshire Evening Post, January 2001

Band hits high note in brass section

HARROGATE band is celebrating its promotion to the First Section of the National Brass Band Championships for the first time in its 30-year history. Its musical director David Lancaster knows the move, which will be tested in the first competition of the year at Rochdale later this month, represents a huge challenge. But he said: "We are working hard and are determined to continue the run of successes which the band has enjoyed over the last few years." Playing strength has been boosted by the arrival of Gemma Pitt, Precious Low and Helen Worley, with Nick Garrett making a welcome return to the cornet ranks.The band, which helped to raise more than £1,500 for the Fire Service Benevolent Fund at a concert in the Royal Hall last month, is planning a CD recording in the autumn as well as a full programme of concerts. Mr Lancaster also wants to expand and develop the Brass Class, a weekly session for young players who will become the band of the future. The Brass Class is seeking a new director to coach the ensemble and the Harrogate Band would be pleased to hear from anyone with suitable experience and ability. People interested should contact Catherine Morland on 01423 526746.