Post Match Analysis:
Midlands Regional Championships 2002
The Championship Section:
Sunday 3rd March, Town Hall.
Adjudicator: Goff Richards
Commences: After 3rd Section
1. Desford Colliery, P. Parkes, 196, 7
2. Travelsphere Holidays, B. Grant, 194, 8
3. Thoresby RJB, S. Lippeatt, 193, 6
4. Newstead Welfare, D. Beckley, 192, 5
5. The Ransome Band, R. Gray, 191, 2
6. Glossop Old, J. Cant, 190, 11
7. Rolls-Royce (Coventry), D. Lea, 189, 10
8. Thorntons Brass, S. Shimwell, 187, 3
9. Ratby Co-operative, K. J. Steward, 185, 9
10. Woolley Pritchard Brass, 184, 1
11. Nottingham City Transport, M. Heartfield, 183, 4
Top 2 bands qualify for the National Finals.
After a long day of contesting a packed hall waited with baited
expectancy as the post-contest formalities were conducted. A speech
from the Mayor, who sat through most of the section (not from choice
- more that he had arrived at the invited time, was therefore early
and learned first hand what a brass band contest is all about.)
filled a bit more time and we didn’t think he was going to impress
anyone by telling them he’d been present for most of the bands and
stated "isn’t it interesting how interpretation changes the
piece" (Doh!), but he seemed genuine in his new found awakening
to the sounds of brass.
Robert Simmons from Boosey & Hawkes delivered the general thanks
and was at pains to say how much brass bands meant to the company.
(What with them being up to their necks in debt, he would wouldn’t
he?) What impressed us though was the fact that he could deliver
the same speech word for word two days running without the use of
cue cards. Mighty impressive - he should be an actor learning lines
The nicest aspect of the proceedings though was Stan Kitchen, representing
the Worshipful Company of Musicians, presented a Diploma of Honour
to an established local bandsman Hayden Cooper in recognition for
his work with youth players. Well done Hayden and congratulations
from 4BR. Following two long service awards and despite the cheeky
calls to get on with it, Goff Richards who adjudicated the contest
quickly gave his summation.
He remarked that he had a splendid day and was totally happy with
his choice of winning band, so that said, what did he have to say
about the piece? Apart from the fact that he felt, quote, "
it sorted the bands out" he noted a few parts that he had been
watching in particular. First was the musicality during the extensive,
romantic solo cornet and euphonium duet, whilst second he watched
for the chord sounds beneath the trombone solo. Thirdly, the observation
of the tenuto marking on the flugel cadenza Top C and the quality
of the other cadenzas, (He mentioned that few bands escaped these
without mishap) as well as convincing playing and tempo at the opening.
He also looked for a controlled well-balanced sound at fff. What
did he praise? Well he liked the effective and dynamic percussion
of the bands, the uniformly good bass trombone playing and lastly
the standard of conducting. Strange that – as he couldn’t actually
see what was going on – or could he?
And so to the contest itself.
A short interlude between the 3rd section and the start
of the Championship section produced a select moment of drama as
the stand holding the draw numbers was knocked over. So much for
a deportment prize! – and to cap that, the two bells used to indicate
that bands were ready sounded like something from a Les Dawson sketch.
The sniggers from the audience and the faces on most conductors
when flat notes were struck were priceless. However these did not
win or lose prizes and the competition opened with Woolley Pritchard
Sovereign Brass under B. Hurdley not Steve Bastable as listed.
This work presents real difficulties in staging an evocative performance
not to mention the number of solos, but most of Sovereign’s soloists
were first rate with the flugel playing very well in the extended
solo. In a performance, which certainly had style and electricity,
it just crackled in the cornets in the technical solos and although
the cornet and euphonium had a lovely understanding in their duet
the individual errors were evident. The band continued its trend
of playing well as a unit but just not getting that extra little
needed to qualify. 10th seemed a bit harsh to say the
The Ransome Band (Russell Gray) produced a performance for the
greater part of point and style and again they drew a very enthusiastic
response from the audience. A fine contribution from the percussion
section and in particular a hymn which was balanced and helped by
free playing, was not supported by the playing just before it, when
they seemed to fall off the preceding phase. Add a few tweeks in
the cornet/euph figure and slight harshness in the alternating chords
and it was enough to keep them out of the prizes. They will be very
disappointed to have come 5th.
Third up and Thorntons Brass conducted by Stephen Shimwell didn’t
produce the level of performance of which they are capable. With
sounds that were clear and refreshing the band were in control,
playing with a good dynamic range until cracks appeared after the
loud/quiet chords. The timp played well but then this wasn’t matched
by the cornets . Split notes in the flugel cadenza may have been
penalised, as could the introduction to the cornet/euph duet. The
march didn’t come off as it might but they rounded off their performance
well. 8th on this showing was a decent return.
In fairness Nottingham City Transport found the demands of the
piece a little too much. Martin Heartfield brought out some nice
moments; in particular the march really did invoke those Whit Friday
echoes, but unfortunately there were too many individual mistakes
to be in contention. They came bottom of the pack, but the experience
should hold them in good stead.
Duncan Beckley gave Newstead Welfare a few encouraging words before
he brought out a solid sound from the band. In a spaciously atmospheric
opening section they declared their intentions to the other bands.
The quick sections had plenty of attack and rhythmic vitality and
they unquestionably managed to bond the sections together well.
The march was particularly effective and although it wasn’t note
perfect the performance had many good points, which caught the ear.
4th place was an excellent result, and although a little
unexpected in that they topped Ransomes, it was very well deserved.
Stan Lippeatt conducted Thoresby RJB in a performance of wonderful
playing. Given the murmur that went round the hall when the results
were announced we weren’t the only ones who really favoured their
performance. They will be disappointed that they are not playing
in the finals. The flugel cadenza was well played with confidence
and this typified the entire soloist playing. Their sound was superb
and they gave a warm detailed performance. These listeners were
well impressed and they will be mightily disappointed to miss out
on a repeat trip to the finals. Unlucky.
Well you know the usual Peter Parkes pose; stood in front of Desford
Colliery arms outstretched, wrists down turned (We are sure if he
brought his right knee upward to his chest he would do a cracking
impression of an ageing karate kid) and as expected he took the
band in a fine broad landscaped performance in the grand manner
one has come to expect from the conductor. Their playing was deliberate
and they made the dynamics tell. One of best moments was undoubtedly
the sheer wonderful build and climax to the alternating chords in
the middle section of the work. Whilst we personally felt the previous
performance from Thoresby just had the edge there was no denying
the quality of this performance. Goff Richards obviously thought
so and gave them 196 points and the title back once more.
Following two outstanding performances Travelsphere Holidays took
the stage to a great reception. Brian Grant took the band in a performance
with directness and rhythmic style, which had a full and vivid quality.
They didn’t get away without the odd mistake and did the flugel
player just rob the top C in the crescendo given that Goff Richards
singled out the tenuto aspect on the score? They gave the march
a very stately feel and the expression through the various figures
obviously impressed the adjudicator. The quality of the band shone
through, but for us it just wasn’t their very best playing and they
just about did enough to squeeze into the qualification spots.
Ratby Cooperative under the direction of Kevin Steward gave the
performance with the most wide-ranging dynamics, and at times they
did blow very loud indeed. We got the feeling that the conductor
was trying to bring out a performance which gave each different
figure a very individual deliberate feel with shifting moods and
colours and it would be interesting to know if the adjudicator mentioned
this in his remarks, as it was a very different interpretation.
Interesting though, and it could have come off on another day. Not
this time though and 9th spot.
Rolls Royce (Coventry) conducted by David Lea, (who gave the best
facial expression of the day to the bells chorus) set the mood for
their performance with glowing vivid coloration, and the band had
a particularly attractive timbre. This was a good performance played
with a good deal of warmth and assurance but it just wasn’t a winner.
They have had a bit of a lean time of late, but on this form 2002
should bode well. 7th place was about right, but things
are looking up.
Drawn last were James Cant with Glossop Old, and their performance
at the outset was excellent. Absolutely solid, the band opened with
a very musical account, which just confirmed that they were really
up for this contest. Fresh and athletic in the vigorous parts the
band were combining subtlety with the spectacle in the music until
after the flugel solo when disaster unfortunately struck. The band
did a sterling job to try and recreate the atmosphere but it just
wasn’t to be, which was a real shame, and there seemed to be a collective
loss of confidence for the remainder of the piece. A real pity,
and 6th place was the return for a performance that could
have really been challenging for a top spot.