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4BR Review of the Year

Second Section.

Our man John James casts his eye back over the contesting year in the Second Section.


That the National Finals, Pontins and Mineworkers trophies were all won by Yorkshire bands demonstrates that the White Rose is in a pretty healthy state and the music played by the bands at these contests was superb. Kenneth Hesketh’s quirky, witty suite of music ‘Danceries’ inspired by the 17th century tunes and customs of courtly Olde England, Eric Ball’s ‘Sunset Rhapsody’ originally written for the British Open Championships in 1958 and ‘The Essence of Time’ by Peter Graham originally the set test-piece at the European Championships in 1990 were well chosen. ‘Danceries’ was included in the 4BarsRest awards - it demanded lots of skill and thought and the best bands made it sound a real treat.

Hade Edge (J&E Dickinson) took the honours in Torquay with a cracking performance but followed this up with an unlucky 13th at Pontins. That shouldn’t detract from the fact that they sounded a very good outfit indeed during the year. Although they missed out at Tameside they took the Holme Valley Contest title a couple of weeks later and were well placed at Buxton. A deportment prize on Whit Friday came their way during a very good season under the direction of their tremendous MD Simon Wood who penned a wonderful Nationals Diary for our articles & features section. One of the bands up for nomination in the 4BarsRest awards.

Horbury Victoria, just a point behind them at the Regionals, were Yorkshire’s other National representative and their youth band competed well in the community section at the National Youth Championships in February. Elland Silver had a busy year highlights of which was an entry of 75 soloists for their Slow Melody & Quartet contest, five members of their Youth Band, with their MD Samantha Harrison, featuring in an episode of a TV series 'Where The Heart Is.' and their prize winning performance at Denshaw on Whit Friday. The ‘Weaver Building Group Brass Band’ signed a new three-year contract and so changed its name to Strata Brass and under this banner they took the Mineworkers title in Blackpool. Runners-up in the contest were Stanley Newmarket and that went some way to make up for a disappointing Regionals result.

We conclude the year in Yorkshire with Norman Law and his Old Silkstone Band who took a number of trophies back home. Starting in May at Buxton their prize-winning season continued at the Easingwold March and Deportment Contest. They won both Pontins and the Wilkinson Northern Open in fine style and the hard working committee must be congratulated on their splendid efforts when in July the inaugural March and Hymn tune contest took place in the village. Their year was spoiled though when thieves forced the door at the bandroom at Silkstone Lodge in October and stole instruments worth more than £30 000.

Before we move on we should take time out to commend the Officials and Stewards who were involved in the Pontins contest. Buffeted by extraordinarily high winds the wall of the Lunar Bar creaked and groaned all though the Second Section contest. The marquee normally used to help with organisation of the registry was blown down and the extreme weather created problems for contest control, what with the Championship Section running simultaneously, it has to be said that they coped admirably.

Following a number of complaints concerning the facilities on offer at the Belevedere Park Club the Midlands Areas in 2003 will see all sections held at the Burton Upon Trent Town Hall but this year qualifying from Belevedere were the Brackley District, Shirley and Langley Bands. The Midlands bands returned excellent results in Torquay finishing in 2nd, 3rd and 7th places respectively. Brackley District runners-up National Finals performance benefited from some super individual playing from the horn, flugel and bass trombone and they rounded their year with a top ten place at Pontins.

It was an especially important year for one of Shirley Band key players, flugel horn player Robin Mills who celebrated 50 years of continuous membership of the band and he helped them secure 3rd place at the National Finals. September was a good month for the band from the Borough of Solihull as it saw them take runners-up and best soloist prize at the Wychavon Entertainment Contest. Langley Band won the Midlands Regional in a strong twenty-band field having moved into the second section in 2002.

Croy Parish Silver had, for a number of years, been a consistent challenger for a Nationals Final place and this was achieved in 2002 when they won the Scottish Regionals. They were also well placed in the WSBBA contest in May. Kirkintilloch Kelvin Brass had Alan Ramsey to head their challenge in Torquay and gained a top ten place. They took the Carnegie contest prize and were the best second section band at the WSBBA contest making them perhaps the most consistent second section band in the Scottish region this year.

In the North West Moston and Beswick (Manchester), Lancashire Life Morecambe and Bollington Brass were the three bands that probably stood out in this Section. Moston and Beswick (Manchester) became Tameside Open Victors in April, a result they replicated at Buxton in May playing their own choice music for 2002 ‘The Land of the Long White Cloud (Aotearoa)’ by Philip Sparke. By this time they were already North West Regional Champions having conquered at Blackpool in March and MD Rob Taylor steered them to more awards when they finished 4th in National Finals in Torquay and 3rd at Pontins.

They returned to winning ways at the North West Open Championships in October when they also took the Best Cornet Section award. Considering the busy contest schedule they had to meet they could well have figured higher than 6th off the dreaded number 1 draw at the Wilkinson Northern Open. A season & a half and without question one of the best bands in the country in this section in 2002. Lancashire Life Morecambe finished 6th in the National Finals being runners-up in the Regionals and Bollington Brass were well placed in the Areas before taking the runners-up prize at the Buxton Festival. They performed well again in Buxton when another trophy went their way with the runners-up prize in the Buxton Entertainment Contest in September before they rounded out the year on another high when they were 2nd at the Wilkinson Open.

In the Northern Section Langbaurgh Brass took the Regional title and finished in the frame at Torquay (6th). They had a great year in 2001and simply cemented their progress and confirmed their status this year. Cockerton Prize Silver were runners-up at the Regionals after winning the Annual County Durham 62nd Grading Contest in February, under the direction of Graham Catherall securing a victory over Ferryhill Town. Pride Valley Brass were most consistent and picked up a couple of trophies in finishing third at Spennymoor in February and CISWO in November.

Northfleet and Becontree Brass marched forward to Torquay and both came away with mid-table placings. Northfleet matched their talents in a very strong Pontins contest and came away a little disappointed but the London & Southern Counties grading tables showed their promotion for 2003 together with Stonesfield Silver. Becontree Brass celebrated its 21st anniversary in 2002 by reaching their 5th National Finals appearance the last 7 years and when Bill Rumford announced his retirement in the summer he became the band’s first President an acknowledgement in having conducted the band through from 4th section to 2nd Section.

The Welsh Dragon was represented by Penclawdd and Rhyl Silver at the National Finals but they returned without the silverware on this occasion. In South Wales Markham won at both the WWBBA Ammanford Contest, Ebbw Vale and were third in the Treorchy entertainment competition making it a good contesting year. When taken together with their National appearance Rhyl Silver who were runners-up in both the top section and second section at North Wales Brass Band Annual Championships in November, were perhaps the pick of North Wales.

In the West Of England Torbay Brass and Bendix Kingswood took the Regional places and travelled to Torquay. Torbay played with credit at Bugle and picked up a cornet prize and went back to Torquay in November where they were runners-up in the South West Brass Band Association contest. Chalford figured well in contests this year. They competed really well against tough opposition to claim runners-up spot at the Gloucestershire Brass Band Association Contest, took the Weston Super Mare title, finished 4th at Pontins and with only one band entered the 2nd section in Gloucester they continued their winning ways.

One of the highlights of their summer programme was the Youth Band's participation in a Golden Jubilee summer fair at Horsfall House nursing home in Minchinhampton. Guest of hounour was The Princess Royal and she was full of praise for musical director, Steve Tubb and the band. Stourport-on-Severn had David Maplestone, who was also flying high with the Staffordshire Band, at the helm this year and they won the Wychavon Entertainment Contest under his baton. They gave the Weston Super Mare contest a good go and could never have had their performance considered ‘safe’ at Pontins. They read their pieces very individually, taking risks with dynamic and tempo, but it didn’t come off for them all the time in 2002. Stuart Chappel took over the baton of the Lanner and District Silver Band in April 2001 the band has been transformed. Although they were the only entry in the Annual Cornwall Brass Band Contest held in Truro Second Section, they showed their ability at Bugle with a Hymn Tune win and a test-piece prize .

They ended the year on a high note taking 1st place at the Annual Championships of the South West Brass Band Association in Torquay. The Poole Contest held a couple of weeks ago saw Phoenix Brass (Crewkerne) take the award , but to go back almost a year Malcolm Bronwnbill covered the Truro Contest held in March and this started his busy and impressive line of contest adjudication in 2002 the culmination of which was his place in the Albert Hall box.

Before this section is concluded it would be remiss not to note that it welcomed bands from other shores in 2002. BrassBand Gent from Belgium lifted 2nd prize at the SCABA 53rd Autumn Contest in October and Radøy Brass were most impressive and played a blinder under Gareth Pritchard to thoroughly deserve their award at the Pontins Championships.

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