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Nationals 2001: Reactions from the adjudicators, players and Nicholas Childs

Views from the winning conductor, players and judges, plus some of the details from the winning adjudications


Reflecting on the first Black Dyke win at the National Finals since 1995, Nicholas Childs took time to talk exclusively to 4BarsRest before he had to prepare for the evenings Gala concert with the International Staff Band of the Salvation Army and the Symphonic Brass of the London Symphony Orchestra.

Dyke - winners

The Welshman was obviously delighted that he had won, but he told us that his first thoughts were very much directed towards his mother who at the moment is suffering with illness at home and was unable to see him and the band take the National title.

“ My mother is unwell at the moment and this is the first time in literally years that she has been unable to attend the National Finals to see both Robert and myself conduct. I managed to phone her on my mobile as soon as I heard we had won and neither of us could say much after I just said we had won – both of us were a bit full up!”

Nicholas Childs had retired to the changing rooms prior to the announcement of the results and was only summoned to the stage after he was “found” by a supporter who told him the great news. “The expectations at Black Dyke are so high and even though we have done so well in recent years this victory means so much to the band organisation, it’s supporters and particularly the players. Three consecutive second places at the Open have been heartbreaking, but this was a performance that really merited the victory. The band has waited such a long time for today and it’s really down to their hard work and commitment that we have finally returned the National trophy back to the bandroom in Queensbury.”

Asked what he felt was the secret of finally winning the National he replied that it was a combination of many things. “It was a truly great test piece and one that I found a challenge musically to break down and develop. The players really liked it and that created an atmosphere that meant we enjoyed the huge amount of hard work we had to put in.”

“Because of the logistics of the piece we had to move out of our bandroom for the fortnight before the contest to rehearse in a local church, but the extra time and expense has been well worth it and I can only thank the players who have gone out of their way to put in 100% commitment to the cause.”

He has also been delighted to see many old Dyke faces return to offer support to the band in the past weeks and offer advice and encouragement. “People such as John Slinger, Geoff Whitham and many others have come to the rehearsals and this has given a huge boost of confidence to the players knowing that former great players are wishing them to success.”

And of “Albion” the test piece he was full of praise. “I’ve always enjoyed Jan Van der Roost’s music and Albion is a superb piece of brass writing. It’s a very precise work, even in the section that develops the “chaos” at the beginning. It rewards detailed rehearsal and the overall music has such excitement and energy. I know the band has enjoyed playing it and I have enjoyed working on it. I hope the composer enjoyed our efforts.”

And a final word about his players? “I couldn’t have asked for more from them. Everyone played they part to the full, and I include all the backroom staff in that, but I would like to single out Michelle Ibbotson on soprano cornet who played superbly in addition to her commitment to the band just after she became a mother. I don’t know how she does it, but I’m a very grateful conductor!”


The Adjudicators:

We managed to catch up with the composer and adjudicator Jan Van der Roost just after the announcement of the results, and this very delightful and talented man took time to explain his feelings on the test piece, judging and the winning performance.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of both writing the test piece and the opportunity to judge at the Finals. There were about six or seven performances of the very highest merit, with the winners quite outstanding. It was a real pleasure to be able to listen my music performed to such a high level by so many of the bands, and with the winning performance being as close to anything I could have wished for.”

Were there any disagreements about choosing the winning performance?

“Absolutely none. We were all in agreement that the winning performance was quite superb and that it was the clear winner. We were unanimous in our verdict on that and the other placings. The standard of performances was very high with the top six or seven bands in particular.”

“We (the judges) were very clear in our approach to what we required from the music and many of the bands performed the technical aspects very well but fell away in other areas. The bands that came towards the bottom we felt did not overcome all the aspects of the music.”

David Read also thoroughly enjoyed his seventh successive appearance in the adjudicator’s box and felt that the overall standard of playing on the day was very high.

“The winning performance was one we felt that would be exceptionally difficult to beat and although Fodens, YBS and Fairey’s gave very fine accounts, the winners gave an overall musical interpretation that was outstanding.”

David Read also enjoyed the challenge of the test piece and the first two and half minutes on “chaos”. “It worked out so much better than I first imagined and the size of the hall certainly helped. It wasn’t too difficult to identify the different lines, especially in the performances that had been given a lot of thought and it became a clear indicator to what we were to hear as each performance developed.”

4BR was unable to talk to Dr Roy Newsome at length but he did comment to us that the reason for such high marks for the prize winning bands was that it was an accurate reflection of the high standard of their performances.


Written Remarks:

We hope to have the full written remarks of the winning band later in the week, but we did manage to get a sneak preview of the main salient points to Black Dyke’s winning performance.

Dr Newsome remarked that “No comment necessary – so close to perfection”

His ending comment was “ this is just poetry. What an apotheosis!” “Thank you so much.”

Jan Van der Roost commented:

“Very big congratulations” (the word congratulations was encircled about five times)

However he did pick up some indiscretions “ppp start well done…. Apart from minor mistakes”

“Some minor imperfections, all the rest is fabulous”

David Read commented:

“This is so thrilling and artistic” and “Difficult to beat” and also stated “the playing is superb”.

The Reactions of the Black Dyke players:

David Thornton (Solo Euphonium): “Can’t really believe it. I knew we had played well from the reaction of the audience, but we had a great reaction to our performance at the Open and we came second. This is a real highlight of my playing career”.

John Doyle (Flugelhorn): “Fantastic! We’ve worked so hard for this and Nick Childs has been superb. We knew we could do it, but it wasn’t until our we came onto the stage and got to hold the cup that I finally believed it.”

Brett Baker (Solo Trombone): “A brilliant feeling! We played so well, but we couldn’t take anything for granted, as we knew there were so many great bands on the day capable of putting in a performance that could pip us. Thankfully it wasn’t going to be anyone else’s day today.”

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