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Post Match Analysis:
Welsh Regional Championships 2002


Championship Section:
Brangwyn Hall, Swansea
Sunday 17th March
Adjudicator: Steve Sykes
Commences: After results of 4th Section

Results:

1. Buy As You View Cory (R. Childs): 8 196
2. Seindorf Beaumaris (G. Evans): 9 194
3. Tredegar (S. Bastable): 4 193
4. Cwmaman Institute (J. Hudson): 2 190
5. Burry Port Town (P. Bailey): 1 189
6. BTM (D. Broadbent): 6 188
7. Northop Silver (C. Roberts): 7 187
8. Parc and Dare (C. Roberts): 5 186
9. Wrexham Brass (W. Rushton): 3 185

Top two qualify


There was a fine climax to the Welsh weekend of banding, when the big boys of the Championship Section took to the stage and provided the half full hall with plenty of entertainment that ranged from the average through to the good and finally to the outstanding.

Steve Sykes delivered his post match address with his usual deadpan comic touch, but he also revealed the exact requirements he was looking for in the piece. He explained that he felt there were three outstanding performances that really revelled in the music, and made it clear that below these three the bands struggled rather and found difficulties with the Michael Ball set work.

The telling point however, was that he felt that the winning performance was perhaps the finest he had ever heard of the piece and that it contained so much excitement, detail and musical shape that it was a truly magnificent contest performance. That marked it out as the clear winner, whilst he stated that there was very little to choose between the bands that came second and third and that he had to look over his notes for a second and third time before reaching his final decision. On another day he stated, the band that came third could have easily come second – it was that close.

That the winners were Buy As You Cory was little of a surprise, but there was a shock wave when Tredegar were placed third and Seindorf Beaumaris took the runners up place and the second qualification spot for London. However, given the detailed explanation that Steve Sykes gave to 4BR it was obvious Beaumaris impressed him mightily and had that little extra on the day that gave them a deserved berth at the Royal Albert Hall.

Burry Port and Philip Bailey took to the stage as first band on, and the current Champion Band of Wales opened well, only to fall foul of the technical challenges placed upon them as the piece wore on. Time and time again thee were costly slips and whilst they produced a fine well balanced sound in the ensemble sections, the little blips and blobs were to prove too costly. A special mention though must go the Ceri John on solo euphonium, who again showed that he is perhaps the top euph player in the Principality at the moment. He was excellent throughout, but not so some of his colleagues and 5th place was affair reflection on their performance.

Cwmaman Institute followed next with John Hudson resplendent in his “Milk Tray” outfit. John knows the ropes though and as befits a man that has won the National and got a runner up spot on his CV he took a very sensible approach to the music that greatly benefited the band. His players responded very well and Richard Davies on solo cornet was the pick of a team that were very good indeed. They had their uncomfortable moments, but overall this was a fine show and the best we have heard from them in a long while. On this form they will be looking forward to the Grand Shield later in the year, when John Hudson takes them again and 4th place was spot on.

Wrexham Brass followed next and the band formally known as Rhos gave a performance that fell short because of too many individual errors and a lack of clarity in the technical passages. It moved along alright and there was plenty of brave attempts to overcome the difficult bits, but they never felt comfortable and towards the end the tiredness crept in and the sound became strained and a little strident. This was a difficult test piece and Wrexham found it a very hard test. It will however give them invaluable experience, which can only benefit them.

Tredegar started well and maintained their form throughout to give a definitive account of themselves that was both technically solid and musically inspired. This was the Tredegar of old, with all the soloists on top class form and a real sense of musicality. Steve Bastable brought some lovely touches to the slower movements and the playing of the flugel cadenza and the solo cornet/euphonium duet were the highlights. By the end, the audience thought they had heard the marker and they were right, but Steve Sykes told 4BR that he felt the band sounded uneasy from the start to figure 4 and it was this that undermined their challenge.

Parc and Dare gave a worthy account of themselves that was solid enough in the ensemble work, but lacked drive and consistency in the technical passages and there were far too many slips and clips for them to make a better impression. Craig Roberts tried manfully to impose a sense of shape to the music, but individual flaws that proved ever so costly undid it time and time again. 8th place was about right.

BTM had been playing really well of late and started confidently under the baton Derek Broadbent. However, it was soon apparent that having such a late replacement meant that the detailed nuances that come with familiarity with the MD were missing (although this was no fault on either party) and so it became a bit pedestrian as it wore on. The slow section contained some excellent playing from the Hutchinson brothers and the flugel cadenza was nicely handled, but it wasn’t a performance that sparkled and they fell away towards the end and they had to be content with 6th place. It will be better for sure next time out.

Northop took the stage minus a flugel, a solo cornet and a back row cornet and had to rely on BTM’s second man (woman) down to help out. It was to prove too much of a handicap and even with Russell Gray piping it out on the end chair and earning his fee in full, the performance was well below what we have come to expect from them over the years. At a point just before figure 3 it very nearly (and we mean very nearly) stopped and Craig Roberts bravely got them through by the skin of their teeth. Russell Gray performed well and had to keep his cornet on his lip throughout (and looked knackered at the end), but we can only hope things look up for this good band in 2002. 7th place was a bonus.

Buy As You View Cory took to the stage and started a little hesitantly with a few minor blips and blobs in the sop and horn lines, but Bob Childs gave them a quick whack on the back of the thighs and they responded brilliantly and from then on it was playing of the very highest class. Some superb cornet work by Ian Williams and some lovely flugel playing by Joanne Deane was augmented by a huge rounded sound that meant vast differences in the dynamic range, whilst Nigel John on euphonium gave a lovely display of lyrical solo playing that was a pleasure to listen to. By the time the tricky corners of the libero cadenzas were overcome it was an amazing ride home with the full gamut of effects on display. It was a magnificent performance and one that was a clear winner from the rest of the field. Steve Sykes liked it and so did the audience and BAYV Cory were deserved winners and representatives to Bergen for the European in 2003.

After this came Seindorf Beaumaris and instead of shying away from the task they responded with a tremendous performance that was full of vigour, colour and seat of your pants excitement. At no point did they lose sight of the verve the technical passages required and they were met with terrific technique, especially from the Eb tubas and the solo trombone (who happened to be one Andrew Berryman). The quieter movements were secure, if a little uninspired and the solo cornet player (who we were told was a Norwegian, but now know it is the 'very Welsh' Paul Hughes) was a model of good tone and solidity. The sop player had a very fine day, as did the flugel and euph and it all came together under the very clear direction of Gwyn Evans. It was loud for sure, but it was loud and very safe and towards the end there was no hint of fatigue and they finished off with a real flourish. It was a performance of note.

The results came after Steve Sykes had did his bit and there was a little groan from the hall when Tredegar were announced third, but that was soon drowned out by the cheers as Beaumaris got the nod and the trip to London. It was so well deserved for a terrific band and one that has made remarkable progress in recent years. They will be strong contenders, and no make weights come the Final. The announcement of BAYV Cory as winners was universally welcomed as the right result and the power house band were rewarded with the trip to Bergen and a shortening on their odds as one of the favourites come October.


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