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!