Track of the Week by Greg Fedorenko
Jupiter: The Bringer of Jollity, Gustav Holst, arr. Stephen Roberts (Symphonic Brass, Black Dyke Band)
This weekend marks a sad lockdown milestone for music-lovers everywhere, as in happier times it would have been the occasion of the 65th Eurovision Song Contest. Yes, readers: in the immortal words of Les Dawson, ‘where would we be without great music?’* I began research for this issue of Track of the Week in a state of some anxiety, contemplating how on earth I was going to weave in a thin narrative thread to link (i) a bunch of weirdos awarding one another points for performing terrible pieces of music in front of audiences of die-hard fanatics and (ii) Europe’s best-loved international song competition, but in the event I needn’t have worried. A quick Google revealed that in 1998, when the UK last hosted, among the stars of the interval act was none other than Grimethorpe Colliery Band. The frankly eye-opening performance, ‘a fine farrago, a great coming together, a magnificent muesli’ (in the immortal words of Sir Terry Wogan) called ‘Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity’, also included Bollywood dancers, a male voice choir, bagpipes, Lesley Garrett, Zulus and an Irish harpist, among others, thereby going to show that good brass bands are truly appropriate entertainment in any environment. The version of Holst’s piece the producers based this extravaganza on, however, sadly cuts out before the central melody, later adapted by the composer as the tune ‘I Vow to Thee, My Country’ and used thereafter as a theme tune to national disasters - presumably including the UK’s entries from 1998 to present. As such, this week’s track is an arrangement of the original performed by Grimey’s local rivals Black Dyke. Brass banding, douze points!