Brighouse and Rastrick Band (Sunday 30 Jan 6.30pm)


Alexander Owen March: Pelorus Jack

Imogen Holst Suite: The Unfortunate Traveller

Ray Steadman-Allen Prelude on Randolph

Wilfred Heaton Meditation on Aberystwyth

Philip Wilby Paganini Variations


David King conductor



David King (conductor)

Australian by birth, David King has a distinguished career profile as an international conductor, instrumentalist and music educator spanning over 40 years. David has represented England in the European Brass Band Championships as a conductor on 13 occasions winning the title an unprecedented 10 times.

David King achieved an unprecedented ‘grand slam’ in 2003 as winning conductor at all four major international music festivals in the same year – Norwegian National Championships (Stavanger Band), European Championships (YBS Band), British Open Championships (YBS Band), and the North American National Brass Band Championships (Stavanger Band).

Professor David King is currently the International Chair in Band Studies at the RNCM. He is also Director of the National Australia Brass Academy and in 2018 was appointed Musical Director of the newly founded National Youth Brass Band of America.

David is the current winning conductor of both the National Championships of Great Britain (Brighouse & Rastrick – England) and the North American National Championships (Fountain City Brass – Kansas, USA).

Brighouse and Rastrick Band

The Brighouse and Rastrick Band is regarded by many as the best and most consistent ‘public subscription band’ in the world. In its time the majority of premier band championships have been held by ‘Briggus’, whilst the band has also attracted a formidable reputation for highly entertaining concerts for both the general public and brass band connoisseur. The band was formed over 130 years ago through public donations given by the townsfolk of the adjacent villages of Brighouse and Rastrick that face each other across the River Calder in West Yorkshire, England. Today, it still continues to be supported through public subscriptions and its own fund raising efforts. Its amateur members traditionally pride themselves on being financially independent, never having been beholden to any commercial interest, yet they are still regarded as one of the ‘elite’ on the contest and concert platforms.

Over the course of the band’s history B&R has won 10 National Championships, 3 English Masters, 2 European Championships, 2 Brass in Concert titles and one British Open title. B&R has won more prizes at the Saddleworth Whit Friday march contest than any other band in history and retained the overall Saddleworth Area prize in 2018, winning an unbeatable 6 contests on the way to completing a hat-trick of titles. B&R became the National Champion Band of Great Britain for the 10th time at the Royal Albert Hall in London in October 2017 and were proud to represent England for the third time in four years at the European Championships in Montreux in April 2018.

Programme notes:

Alexander Owen - Pelorus Jack

It is almost 112 years since Alexander Owen composed this historic march. As Owen wrote on the top of the score, it was composed ‘on a train between Roturna and Auckland, New Zealand, during world tour of Besses o’ th’ Barn Band, 18 April 1910’. Pelorus Jack was a Risso’s dolphin that became famous for meeting and escorting ships through a the Cook

Imogen Holst - The Unfortunate Traveller

Imogen Holst submitted this lively suite as part of her 1930 student portfolio at the Royal College of Music. She took her title from Thomas Nashe’s 1594 novel. The Suite was first performed on 12 February 1933 at her Majesty’s Theatre, Carlisle, by the St. Stephen’s Band, with the composer conducting. In an interview with The Daily Mail Imogen Holst said, “It is the first time, so far as I know, that a woman has conducted a brass band at a public concert….It has been a delight to rehearse the St. Stephen’s Band. It was their performance at the Crystal Palace Festival that inspired me to write this Suite, which I have dedicated to them’. As you will hear the music owns a great deal to her father’s example, but her scoring was by no means as efficient and a new performing edition has been made with the agreement of the Holst Estate, taking note of the many amendments added to the manuscript. Several Morris Dance tunes are introduced during the course of the music, including Bonnie Green Garters, Shepherd’s Hey, The Rose and The Wind Blaws Cauld.

Ray Steadman-Allen - Prelude on Randolph

In 1958 The Salvation Army published a short prelude for brass band by the then Captain Ray Steadman-Allen. RSA greatly admired the music of Vaughan Williams and this short work is founded on his much loved hymn tune Randolph. Although this is usually sung to the hymn ‘God be with you till we meet again’, RSA does not make clear in his notes whether the work was intended as a memorial tribute. Indeed he avoids any direct association with a text. The melody is presented twice in full, and the music ends as it began, in an atmosphere of peace.

Wilfred Heaton - Meditation on Aberystwyth

When Wilfred Heaton’s music began to be published by The Salvation Army in the late 1940s, RSA expressed his admiration for pieces like Just as I am and Praise. Heaton’s most substantial work from these early years remained unheard until a few years ago. Meditation on Aberystwyth is of test piece substance and difficulty and although it follows the episodic form of the SA meditation, it is more of a symphonic poem. Heaton uses the opening phrase of Joseph Parry’s famous hymn tune as an idee fixe that appears in almost every bar of the freely composed episodes. The use of sequential phrases is heavily influenced by the Salvationist composer George Marshall, while the way Parry’s tune emerges in full glory at the end is reminiscent of the ending of the first tone poem published by the SA, Eric Ball’s Exodus (1937). Heaton could not have used better models, but he is very much his own man in the precision of the scoring and characterisation of Charles Wesley’s hymn, in which he seems to be using the sea, its rolling waves and surging seas as a symbol of the storms of life.

Philip Wilby - Paganini Variations

It is over 30 years since Philip Wilby’s musical journey with brass bands began in 1989 with The New Jerusalem commissioned by the National Youth Brass Band of Great  Britain followed by Paganini Variations in 1990. Although the work has become a classic of the contest stage, it was not composed as a test piece but as a ‘prize’ for Grimethorpe Colliery Band to perform on BBC Radio 3 as the 1990 BBC Brass Band of the Year.

Any composer contemplating a journey down so well-worn a path as a set of variations on Paganini’s 24th Caprice must be well aware of the danger of ‘re-inventing the wheel’. Wilby was fortunate in that his were the first Paganini Variations for full brass band. There are 15 variations, which seem to take the listener on a musical progress from the early nineteenth century – the roots of the brass band’s lyrical and virtuoso traditions – to the present day.

Variations 4 –7 and the flamboyant cornet Bolero (no.11) inhabit the demonic world of Paganini himself, and include a version of Paganini’s own third variation. A solemn Funeral March incorporates an extended euphonium solo. The beautiful Romance which follows highlights the lyrical qualities of the flugel horn. Wilby recognises that romantic melody is still a part of the living tradition of brass band music. As he says in his own note on the work, ‘The full flavour of Paganini’s romantic heritage finds expression in a mixture of extravagant display and serene and passionate melody’.