National Finals - 4thSection: Contest details, runners and riders,
our dodgy predictions and test piece review..
Test Piece: Attleborough Suite (Malcolm Arnold)
Adjudicators: Derek Broadbent and Philip McCann
Preston Guild Hall, Saturday, September 22nd, 10.00am
Arbroath Instrumental (M. Robertson) Scotland
Bearpark & Esh Colliery (I. Robinson) North
Briton Ferry Silver (M. Faro) Wales
Carlton Brass (T. Wilson) Midlands
Clifton and Lightcliffe (R. Collinson) Yorkshire
Dundee Instrumental (J. Tonner) Scotland
Fulbourn and Teversham (P. Mott) London
Llanelli and District (R. Owen) Wales
Maltby Miners Welfare (T. Clifford) Yorkshire
Nelson Brass (K. Ritchmond) N. West
Pemberton Old Wigan (P. Ashley) N. West
Pendennis Brass (Falmouth) (G. Thomas) West
Saltash Town (D. Dobson) West
Sandhurst Silver (R. Burke) London
Shirland Welfare Training (M. Smith) Midlands
St. Dennis (B. Minear) West
Swinton and District Exc (R. Rutter) North
Ware Brass (K. Durbin) London
West Mercia Constabulary (H. Gibbs) Midlands
And finally to the men, women and youngsters of all ages that make
the Fourth Section such a joy to listen to, and such hard work to
try and predict.
Some good little bands from al around the country will be hoping
to take over the top spot from last years winners, Beaumaris
B who have gone onto even better things. This in fact
could give us the clue to who should do well, as it usually the
bands that have made quick and startling progress in a short time
that usually gets the nod.
The Midlands send three bands to try and win the title in the shape
of Area winners, Carlton Brass, who should start as one of the favourites,
Shirland Training, who pushed them very close at the Area and West
Mercia Constabulary, who qualified in third place. All should travel
with expectations of coming possibly in the prizes.
The North West have Pemberton Old Wigan, who were comfortable two
point winners of their Area and Nelson Brass who also qualified
with something to spare in Blackpool in March. Both are strong contenders.
Yorkshire hopes will be on the shoulders of champions Clifton and
Lightcliffe and Maltby Miners, both of whom sailed through the Area
championships to book their place at Preston, whilst the Scottish
contingent will be Arbroath Instrumental and Dundee Instrumental.
All four bands will be hoping for a good result on Saturday.
London provides three bands, due to Sandhurst Silver, Fulbourn
and Teversham and Ware Brass qualifying from a field of 27 bands
earlier in the year at Stevenage. All are something of an unknown
quantity outside their Area, but one of them could spring a bit
of a surprise. The North East sends Swinton and District Excelsior
and Bearpark & Esh. Both qualified well at the Area, and our
spy tells us that both are playing very well indeed at the moment
and travel to Preston with high hopes of doing well.
The Welsh bands hoping to emulate the win of Beaumaris B
last year are champions Llanelli and District and Briton Ferry.
Both are tasting National Finals for the first time in many years
and both will be hoping to do well as they are the dominant bands
in Wales at the moment in the Fourth Section.
The West of England also sends three bands in the form of champions
Saltash Town, runners up St. Dennis and Pendennis Brass. All qualified
in some comfort from a field of 23 bands at Bristol and should have
hopes of doing well in Preston. St. Dennis in particular are a famous
old name that in the 1970s came in the top six at the National
Finals in the Championship Section. This could the first step on
the long road back.
It could be any number of these bands that take the title on Saturday,
and to be perfectly honest, we dont have a clue to say with
any great conviction who will win. As this has never stopped us
in the past, well put our necks on the line and say
Pemberton Old Wigan
Bearpark & Esh Colliery
Clifton and Lightcliffe
Swinton and District
Dark Horse: Nelson Brass.
Test piece review:
Attleborough Suite for Brass Band
Composer: Malcolm Arnold
Novello Limited, distributed by Studio Music
The Fourth Section gets the second of the Malcolm Arnold works
to be featured at the Lower Section National Finals this year, and
his Attleborough Suite should provide the players and
audience alike with a very enjoyable 8 minutes and 30 seconds of
It may only be a short test piece in terms of time, but the three
movements of the work written in 1961 will test even the better
bands on the day to the full. The three movements are clearly marked
and delineated in style with an opening Overture leading
to a beautiful Ballad and delightful final Dance.
Everyone has something to do, especially the percussion, where
there is a need for four players!
The Overture is straight forward in style and gives
the bands the chance to get their lips in with a fortissimo start.
If you are cold and under prepared however, this could be the start
of a performance that sees you lose your chance of taking the title.
The timpani has plenty to do and must balance the big chords that
are being whacked out by the brass players at figure A. The sop
will have the chance to make a name for themselves before B
and in our opinion they should go hell for leather at honking out
a top B and top A without fear.
Things move along nicely and the tune is spread amongst the band
from flugel, horns and baritones before the top end gets the chance
to flex its muscles after F. The trick for success will be control
of both dynamics and balance and maintaining a nice rounded sound.
Theres some busy scoring for the lower end and the sop once
again earns their money before H. Go for it!! The movement ends
with some tricky parts for solo cornet and a steely nerve. Basses
will have to produce a last note the consistency and shape of a
rounded sheep dropping for things to end well.
The Ballad is typical Arnold. Simple lines and basic
scoring hide the terrors that can befall the unprepared. The flugel
line before A starts on a C# for instance and could sound awful
if care isnt taken and theres a bass line that could
be enhanced by a brave player taking it down an octave at the start.
Theres some lovely neat bass playing along here that must
be heard but never overpower.
The sop again picks up the thread at H and again there is the chance
of untunefulness as he passes the line onto the flugel before it
should end with a sense of calm.
The Dance is marked crotchet = 152 and thats
fast enough for any band, let alone those battling it out in the
Fourth Section! The percussion set the tone, and there will be a
need to give some thought to the effect needed with the cymbal quaver
rhythm. Bongos and timp are also featured, but beware the opportunity
of playing too loudly too soon theres a long way to
Figure A sees the Sop again earning their money and a fugue develops
from sop to cornet to horn to eup and bass before it should all
end with a full band tutti two bars before B. Nows the chance to
show off a good band sound and neat playing as running quavers are
passed from section to section.
Figure D sees the sop lead off again, before passing it on to the
flugel, solo and euph. This section is clearly marked piano, so
dont get too carried away and remember things have to link
with the percussion who are still keeping themselves busy with bongos,
timp and cymbal.
Things build from here on in to two bars before H where there is
a real chance for the full band to show a big rounded sound and
clean tongues in two bars of straight and loud quavers. H onwards
could see tuning problems in the top cornets and sop (both of whom
should be now be feeling the strain) and the music builds to I where
the percussion really set things up for an exciting ending which
features a few shock notes that will need time and though to make
clean and balanced before a nice ending when everyone comes together.
We liked this a lot, and so should the bands and the audience.
It looks quite easy on the score, but as with all of Malcolm Arnolds
works there are hidden dangers throughout. The winners will be the
band that has given this piece a great deal of hard work and more
than a little thought.