One of the most historic names in the annals of brass band history - Besses o' th' Barn Brass Band from Whitefield in Bury - celebrates 200 years of music making in the town and beyond on Saturday 27 October with a gala reunion concert. The current band will be joined by a 'second' band of former players streching back to the periods when Frank Bryce, Ifor james, Roy Newsome and for a short time yours truly wielded the baton. The concert will be directed by the current MD, Trevor Halliwell, whose connection with Besses goes back nearly 30 years.
For periods in the 1880s, 90s and into the early 20th century Besses was right at the top of the prize band cultrue, under the direction of Alexander Owen. Undertaking two world tours in the Edwardian years sealed its standing as probably the most famous band in the world. The Alex Owen years are gong to be celebrated during this gala reunion evening, but also the dedicated music making through the 20th century, remembering the eras of Willie Wood, Frank Bryce, Ifor James and of course Roy Newsome.
The programme includes arrangements by Alex Owen, Frank and Roy and in a nod to Ifor James's more contemporary input, there are some recent arrangements by Trevor and myself. Some of the band's former principal soloists will be on their feet, treating us to their skills and the current band will be showcasing its own current activity with a performance of Kenneth Downie's sparkling Purcell Variations.
The conert is going to open with William Rimmer's transcription of Mozart's Magic Flute Overture, which was composed only a generation before Mr. Clegg started a reed band in his cotton mill in Whitefield. Of all the items in the programme, the one I'm looking forward to most is probably Labour and Love, the first national finals original and historically one of the most important pieces of music in brass band history.
I'm looking forward immensly to presrnting the concert, introducing the music and players, including one very special cornet player whose Besses connection goes back over 60 years. See you there!