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Welcome to the official website of Eagley Band

by Deb Lyons
Eagley Band was established in 1850 and has been performing for audiences in and around Bolton ever since. We are a friendly and social band and always welcome players, whether you’re thinking of coming regularly or just want to come along for a blow.

This website contains comprehensive information about the band – past, present and future – as well as listing all our events and engagements.

Eagley Band is a charity and has been entered onto the Register of Charities with the Registered Charity Number 1181741.

If you would like to book the band please get in touch via our contact page.

Eagley Band To Return To Rehearsing…But In A New Bandroom!

by Deb Lyons

After one year, two months and eight days without playing a single note of music together or, put another way, well over 430 days and 110 full rehearsal band nights lost to the pandemic and resulting lockdowns, we at Eagley Band are finally returning to playing together – albeit only in small groups but in our new bandroom!

It is exactly 50 years since the Eagley Mills closed down in 1971 and ever since that time, Eagley Band (formed in 1850 as Eagley Mills Band) has been trying to find a long term, permanent Bolton home in which to rehearse. Starting with a Cornet sectional followed by many small scale, sectional rehearsals for the best part of a month, at last we are looking forward to making music again and starting to prepare for our long anticipated participation in the 2021 National Brass Band Championships Finals to be held in Cheltenham towards the end of September.

Our new bandroom is situated in Bolton town centre along Institute Street, within the huge masonic building. Completely renovated and redecorated throughout and featuring a brand new, modern central heating system, Eagley Band can finally look forward to being based and rehearsing in one place rather than having to share rehearsal space with another organisation.

This means that our extensive and historic library, together with all of our stage and outdoor uniforms, waterproof coats and marching accessories are now all housed in one place, in adjacent rooms to our main rehearsal space.

Exciting and fun times lie ahead for our music making once again and we can’t wait to ease everyone back in to playing as a full band for the first time from the end of June all being well.

 

Summer 2021 – Preparing For Our Return To Playing (Plus A Little Nostalgia!)

by Deb Lyons

After fifteen months without a single rehearsal (sectional or full), concert, broadcast, recording or even playing a single note in our new bandroom in Bolton town centre, now that pandemic restrictions are being lifted we are finally able to look forward to making music as a band once again. We can’t wait! Due to the global pandemic, almost all of 2020 and the first half of 2021 will have been lost to all of the performing arts of course, both amateur and professional, but as we can now start to think about returning to playing, here is a little nostalgia from 30 years ago!

 

Back in September 1989, Eagley Band appointed a new, young Musical Director, our current MD Chris Wormald. Within months of appointing Chris, Eagley won the 1990 North West Area 3rd Section Contest at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, qualifying for the National Finals to be held in London near to the Championship Section in the Royal Albert Hall, where Chris had already played and conducted by that time. He had also swiftly negotiated sponsorship with Bolton’s VW and Audi dealership too, McMillan’s of Bolton, and so we changed the name of the band for the whole nine years that Chris was our MD. However, in addition to our new contesting successes under the leadership of Chris, he was also very keen to have the band recorded professionally for posterity, and so both 1990 and 1991 (thirty years ago no less!) saw us produce the only professional cassettes in the band’s history!

Cassettes were still very popular as a format throughout the music industry in 1990/1991 although the CD had just been invented. The price of recording on to CD would eventually become realistic and affordable for brass bands, including us at Eagley, but at the time, the challenge for every band was still to record to the best possible standard that it could.

 

The tracks which we recorded at Eagley back in 1990 and 1991 highlight both the changing repertoire which Chris was already bringing to the band as a young, published arranger with Studio Music and others at the time, but also the more traditional too. Some of the tracks recorded in 1990 and 1991 illustrate the changing repertoire; The Champions, A String of Pearls, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Praise My Soul, Mr Jums, Pineapple Poll, Divertimento (1990 Blackpool winning test piece), Deep Harmony, Londonderry Air and Superman were just some on the band’s first cassette.

By 1991, the band’s recorded repertoire included Under The Double Eagle, Die Felsenmuhle, Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, Prelude 49th Parallel, Someone To Watch Over Me, Fanfare La Peri, Nicaea, Nessun Dorma, Star Trek Next Generation, One Voice, Ruby Tuesday and Toccata In D Minor, plus many more besides.

Comparing these recorded pieces of thirty years ago with those on the band’s subsequent CDs is fascinating and highlights just how far brass band repertoire has come in three decades!

MD’s 2020 Review

by Deb Lyons

As every conductor and musical director in the world who has been asked by their bands, orchestras, choirs and varied ensembles to write some end of year thoughts for their websites and social media platforms, it is almost impossible to know where to start after a wholly unexpected, surreal and unique year for us all.

That said, for everyone involved with our amazing Eagley Band, the first two and a half months of 2020 were hugely successful, incredibly enjoyable and very nearly the perfect start to what should, and would, have been the band’s glorious 170th anniversary year, as we remain one of the oldest established brass bands in the world, having been formed in the winter of 1850.

January saw the band perform a sensational and near faultless contest performance from No.1 draw in the Second Section at the 2020 Butlins Championships over in Skegness on the east coast, such a superb performance that it continues to bewilder me many months of musical inactivity later as to how Eagley Band was not declared the clear and outright winners of that contest. Only weeks later, towards the end of February, the band played outstandingly well again on a very different type and style of test piece to qualify superbly from the Second Section Area contest at the Blackpool Winter Gardens on the opposite west coast, for the National Brass Band Championship Finals of Great Britain, a performance and result which resulted in our promotion up to the First Section and would be our second such promotion in just three years. 2020 certainly began with a great deal of success, excitement and promise for us all at Eagley.

Early March saw us invited to perform at the Mayor of Bolton’s 2020 Gala Charity Ball in the Town Hall which, very happily, we were able to do on what became another fabulous night for the band and myself, but none of us had any idea that this would be literally our first, last and only public concert performance of the year. Because space was limited at this annual, black tie, civic event, our involvement was limited to only fifteen or so principal players plus myself, so it pains me to say that our much-heralded, Eagley Band 170th anniversary year actually saw the band not perform a single full concert at all, none of our planned Victoria Hall sell-out nights could go ahead, nor the reunion meals and very special concert plans either, and none of the many annual bookings the band enjoys, ranging from numerous Christmas engagements to Remembrance Sunday. Our entire year can really be summed up in two sensational contest performances and one superb Mayor’s Charity Ball, but with the post script that we have not actually played together at all, even in smaller groups, since March 16th.

With a number of vaccines now publicly announced, it goes without saying that we all hope 2021 will afford the wider arts the opportunity to return in whatever capacity is possible and all musicians and singers, whether amateur or professional, the opportunity to make music together again. It feels an awfully long time since last December, when band President Gerry Russell and I presented Cornet player Paul Field with the Eagley Band “Bandsman/Person Of The Year” award in front of our obligatory, wonderful, packed Victoria Hall.

On behalf of everyone at Eagley Band I wish everyone the safest and healthiest possible Christmas and New Year, in whatever restricted form they will undoubtedly take for us all, and here’s to being able to play, conduct, entertain and serve our community as we had previously done with such pride, professionalism and unbroken commitment for the past 169 years.

With very best wishes,

Chris Wormald

December 2020

SKY ARTS BRASS BAND PROGRAMME FEATURING OUR MD WINS THE BAFTA!

by Deb Lyons

As featured earlier on our website, on June 4th 2020 it had been announced by BAFTA, the British Academy of Film, Television and Arts, that the first programme in the recent Sky Arts “Battle of The Brass Bands” series was nominated for a prestigious 2020 BAFTA award in the ‘Sound-Factual’ category for television craft. The BAFTA Awards are industry leading and, until the pandemic this year, have always been staged in a major London venue such as the Royal Albert Hall, complete with red carpet and hundreds of television stars, presenters, celebrities and magazine photographers, televised every year on BBC1 and with hosts ranging from Stephen Fry and Graham Norton to Joanna Lumley.

The programme has won the BAFTA! In spite of strong competition in the category, it was officially announced on Friday July 17th that the brass band nominated programme featuring our MD Chris Wormald has won. Huge congratulations to all involved! The nominated programme of the Sky Arts brass band series about Whit Friday march contests features Chris not only being interviewed in the television studio retrospectively but also filmed adjudicating on the night of the contests themselves at Greenfield. Chris appears multiple times during the programme, providing insight, comment and context on how the contests work and the specific tasks and requirements of the adjudicators.

For an insight into the making of the Sky Arts BAFTA nominated programme, please click here; https://www.4barsrest.com/news/38289/the-making-of-battle-of-the-brass-bands

Eagley Band – The 2020 Video Series!

by Deb Lyons

Towards the very end of 2019, Eagley Band was one of the bands which performed a full concert ‘live’ to the world via the internet from Boarshurst Bandroom one Sunday evening. The programme featured sixteen works performed equally, either side of a short interval. Once again at absolute full strength without a single dep or ringer in sight, the Eagley concert conducted by MD Chris Wormald was a huge success and attracted wonderful compliments on social media from as far away and apart as Canada and New Zealand with regard to the performance, the arrangements and pieces chosen and the musicianship of the band.

The sixteen works which were broadcast ‘live’ and which have been captured individually on multi-camera video are; O.R.B., Amazing Grace, Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry (Cornet Soloist – Lynsey Hayes), Birdland, Appalachian Mountain Folk Song Suite, Portrait of My Love (Euphonium Soloist – Caitlyn Stranks), Knight Templar, Forty Second Street, Bohemian Rhapsody, The President, Saving All My Love For You (Flugel Horn Soloist – Janet Walsh), Tom And Jerry, Heart of Courage, Mr Blue Sky, Moonlight Serenade and Mahler’s Resurrection. Over the next eight weeks, we are going to be uploading a new video every few days to our Facebook page, so that two of the videos can be seen each and every week. Please enjoy our current 2020 band in ‘live’ concert! All of the pieces performed are published, either by their original publisher or by Obrasso (Switzerland) but every arrangement performed on the videos is published and available from all established brass band music retailers.

Traditional brass band concerts usually start with a march, so as not to break with tradition here is our concert opener the march ORB.

Good evening and welcome to Sunday Brass at Boarshurst Band Club – this evening we have MD Christopher Wormald and 2nd Section #eagleyband at the club. Established in 1850 the band have seen success on the contesting stage and in the concert hall. We welcome them to Boarshurst Club and look forward to a great evening of brass entertainment.First piece of the evening is great march – O.R.B. (Anderson) #Sundaybrass #boarshurstbandclub #marstons #keepmusiclive #boarshurstlivestream

Posted by Boarshurst Silver Band on Sunday, November 17, 2019

Pandemic Robs Eagley of National Title Opportunity In Our 170th Year

by Deb Lyons

Today’s official announcement by the organisers of the National Brass Championship Finals of Great Britain that this year’s 2020 finals, scheduled to take place in late September down in Cheltenham, have definitely been cancelled due to the pandemic has, on the surface, come as no real surprise to anyone. It was a decision which, although only announced today, on Thursday July 9th by Kapitol Promotions, everyone had expected for some weeks, but now it is official, the clarity has very quickly brought home many ramifications of the Covid-19 virus.

As has been widely publicised, 2020 is Eagley Band’s 170th anniversary year having been formed way back in the winter of 1850 and therefore one of the oldest brass bands in the world. Each and every year it is extremely difficult to qualify for the National Brass Championship Finals of Great Britain as the only way to do this is to play superbly in the Spring regional area contests and be judged by the adjudicators to have finished in the top three places at the Blackpool Opera House and Winter Gardens complex in late February. This year, Eagley accomplished this feat to the delight and thrill of all the players and Musical Director Chris Wormald. Within hours of the results being announced a top quality hotel in Cheltenham was booked, a luxury band coach was booked, everything was organised with the current band’s usual swift efficiency and the set test piece bought on the day that the title was announced.

As we all know, the world changed completely by mid-March and with today’s announcement, the pandemic has now officially robbed Eagley Band and all of the other excited finalists throughout the UK of the opportunity to become National Champions of Great Britain in September. It remains to be seen how the 2021 brass band contesting season will now pan out and how all of the many complex issues of promotion and relegation will take effect.

BAFTA NOMINATION FOR TV PROGRAMME FEATURING OUR MD!

by Deb Lyons

On June 4th 2020 it was announced by BAFTA, the British Academy of Film, Television and Arts, that the first programme in the recent Sky Arts “Battle of The Brass Bands” series has been nominated for a prestigious 2020 BAFTA award in the ‘Sound-Factual’ category for television. The BAFTA Awards are industry leading and, until the pandemic this year, have always been staged in a major London venue such as the Royal Albert Hall, complete with red carpet and hundreds of television stars, presenters, celebrities and magazine photographers, televised every year on BBC1 and with hosts ranging from Stephen Fry and Graham Norton to Joanna Lumley. The awards are currently sponsored by Virgin Media having previously been sponsored by Orange and EE.

Programme One of the four programme Sky Arts brass band series, the BAFTA nominated episode about Whit Friday march contests, features our MD Chris Wormald not only being interviewed in the television studio retrospectively for the programme but also filmed adjudicating on the night of the contests themselves, in situ at Greenfield. Chris appears multiple times during the programme, providing insight, comment and context on how the contests work and the specific tasks and requirements of the adjudicators.

The following press statement was released;

“Episode One of the Sky Arts television series “Battle of The Brass Bands” has been nominated for a prestigious 2020 BAFTA award. The episode covering the Whit Friday contests has been nominated for a BAFTA in the ‘Sound-Factual’ category and will battle for the prize alongside nominations from BBC1 for ‘One Planet’ and the Netflix ‘Formula 1: Drive to Survive’ series. The four part Sky Arts “Battle of The Brass Bands” series also covered the British Open, National Championships and Brass In Concert contests, gaining widespread popular and critical acclaim. The 2020 BAFTA winners will be announced for the first time on-line this year due to the pandemic, on Friday 17th July.”

For an insight into the making of the Sky Arts BAFTA nominated programme, please click here; https://www.4barsrest.com/news/38289/the-making-of-battle-of-the-brass-bands