Jazz Tour to Lancashire

Thundering Herd, Farleigh's Big Band, has been entertaining the Farleigh community for as long as most of us can remember, and it has seen many a talented Farleigh jazz musician rise through its ranks. This year, at the annual Swing into Spring Jazz dinner evening, it took on one of its most ambitious challenges to date, transforming into a Bioscope Orchestra to provide the musical backing to the silent movie, Buster Keaton's One Week, a solid and exhausting 20 minutes of playing accompanied by ingenious sound effects.

This trip to Lancashire over the spring Bank Holiday weekend came about as a result of a chance meeting at a milestone birthday celebration for our jazz supremo, Chuff Byrne, between Matthew Mostyn, Deputy Head of Stonyhurst College, and Mr Reeves, Director of Music at Farleigh. Having toured extensively in the past, the time felt right to once again showcase Farleigh Jazz to a wider audience.  

Friday and Saturday were spent as guests of Stonyhurst College, where Thundering Herd and Five Foot Six guest featured in the College's Friday night solo concert. As always, the children delivered a polished performance of big band swing, a highlight of which was seeing the aforementioned Mr Mostyn join Five foot Six on his tuba in a rendition of the jazz classic, Five Foot Two.

On Saturday, the children were treated to a fascinating tour of the libraries and their contents and the College museum, which houses a small selection of rare and extraordinary artefacts, providing an insight into the history of the College and Catholicism in England. This was followed by a Jazz workshop after which the band performed for parents. The afternoon was spent tree climbing, zip wiring and gorge walking, before we were all invited back to Stonyhurst for a barbecue and croquet.

After Mass on Sunday at St Peter’s Church, Stonyhurst, it was off to Clitheroe in the baking sun for our appearance at the Ribble Valley Jazz Festival’s open-air stage. The children delivered yet another great performance for the massive crowd hell bent on enjoying the sun-drenched atmosphere. They took their hour long set in their stride, a real crowd pleaser, the youngest musicians by far, yet already seasoned performers.

Our thanks to Stonyhurst for their generous hospitality and for making the weekend so memorable and enjoyable.


Chuff Byrne and Teresa Henderson