The Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel Brass Band
You can probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of Brass Bands famous enough to be known by their nickname. Yorkshire Imps is undoubtedly one of them. Hailing from Yorkshire which has contained many of the world’s finest bands for over a century and a half ‘The Imps’ have earned the right both in the contest arena and on the concert platform to be regarded as quite simply one of the best in the business. Since it’s formation in the 1930’s the band has featured consistently as one of the finest bands in the movement. Indeed, in Dr Roy Newsome’s ‘The Modern Brass Band’ (Ashgate, Aldershot 2006), they are listed as one of the top ten bands of the second half of the 20th century.
The band was originally formed as The Yorkshire Copper Works Band at Stourton near Leeds where the factory was based and when an industrial merger created Yorkshire Imperial in 1958 necessitating the bands name change they became affectionately known as ‘ The Yorkshire Imps.’ With roots taken from the old Stourton Band of the 1930’s and a merger with Rothwell in 1999 the current line up are rightly proud of their provenance.
The band has represented Yorkshire some twenty times at the National Finals the first being in 1946, conducted then by the famous Sam B. Wood and playing Henry Gheel’s Oliver Cromwell. They have out of those 20 appearances been placed on no less than 15 occasions. Their success in the Yorkshire Area includes 24 top three places and 9 wins. A hat trick of victories during 1977-8-9, a runner up at the National Finals in 1976 and taking the National crown with Denis Carr in 1978 firmly placed the Imps at the pinnacle of the premier division of banding. The only year during this decade that the band did not finish in Yorkshires top 4 was when they won the nationals and therefore were not required to qualify through the regions.
Their victory in the Yorkshire Area Contest in 1981 was indeed remarkable, playing under the Musical Direction of John Pryce Jones they were awarded an unprecedented 199 out of a maximum 200 points for their performance of Edmund Rubbra’s Variations on The Shining River beating Black Dyke into second place and Grimethorpe into third. Investigations continue to this day in an attempt to find the culprit responsible for the missing point!
Amongst some of their other notable achievements The Imps have been British Open Champions on 3 occasions with 13 places and a runner up position to add to their proud heritage. They can also count North Region Champions, North East Area Region Champions on 2 occasions, Southern Open Champions, Yorkshire Open Champions twice, BBC Band of the Year, Edinburgh International Music Festival winners 3 times, and Brass in Concert Champions to their list of victories.
Over the years the band has included amongst its ranks some of the finest exponents of brass playing. Cornet artist Philip McCann, Trombone virtuoso Ian Bousfield, and Euphonium legends Bob Childs and David Moore amongst them.
They have not stood still on the Concert platform either, with regular TV and Radio exposure over the years. Their music can be found on numerous recordings and they are regularly featured on BBC Radio 2’s “Listen to the Band”.
Further, if appearances at The Royal Albert Hall, Wembley Stadium, Birmingham Symphony Hall and the World Music Festival in Kerkrade aren’t enough to impress, sharing the concert platform with Diana Ross, Eric Clapton, Barry Manilow and Shirley Bassey, surely denote the Imps as one of the most sought after entertainers in brass banding.
The band regularly performs throughout the UK and Europe playing an extensive repertoire from traditional brass music through arrangements of popular and classical favourites to modern originals including many new works commissioned by the band itself. The Imps love to thrill and entertain irrespective of context, venue or medium.