2003 North West Regional Qualifying Championships
Championship Section - Retrospective
If you’ve ever been there then you’ll know that there’s
nothing quite like it. The buzz is terrific as everyone gathers,
and this year Prague has certainly created plenty of talking points,
but also provided a wonderful afternoons entertainment. Like many
we were sceptical, but in reality this music provides excitement,
intensity, deep emotion and plenty of lyricism and like all good
test pieces it’s a real challenge. Mr Roe may not have been
impressed by the standard of playing but on a personal note I would
like to thank all the bands for a superb contest. Every single band
offered something positive and I for one thoroughly enjoyed it.
In first place were Fodens Richardson. This wasn’t the first
shock of the day but it was definitely the biggest. When Mr Roe
said that only one band had played the piece properly then we all
naturally assumed he meant Williams Fairey - after all they seemed
clear winners to all and sundry - we were wrong. Fodens were good,
and very good at that, but too many little mistakes, balance problems
and intonation in the bass trombone solo all took the edge off what
was generally excellent.
In second place came Faireys and we think they’ll be asking
the question, what do we have to do to win? Well, good question.
They were superb. Top class direction and playing throughout and
for us the most complete musical portrait of the day. Second place
In third were Haydock and a good performance from Ian Brownbill’s
team. We have to be honest and say they weren’t in our top
six but they certainly made some nice sounds. For us though, the
colours weren’t quite vivid enough, the percussion lacked
impact throughout and the solo cornet didn’t quite make it.
The slow movement needed more space to have any emotional impact
but, they will go to the finals with our blessing and congratulations.
Well done and it shows that you don’t have to be a big name
band to make it to the Finals – you get there by merit and
not by right.
Fourth were Leyland. A little unlucky perhaps as they had a superb
cornet and sop and were the first band to really play the piece.
They may have suffered from “Loud Bass Trombone Syndrome”
in the opening passages, (there were many who suffered from it on
the day) but we felt it was good enough for second. They too can
count themselves a tad unlucky, but they are at London and that
is all that counts.
Fifth came Dobcross and there best ever position in the top section.
This was a really solid performance from the band but lacked some
shape and style in the slow sections where this music has so much
to offer. The final movement of the piece showed the band at its
best with some real quality and they thoroughly deserved their placing.
In sixth was BT. Though the opening seemed a little light the music
flowed really nicely and this was a pleasure to listen to. As with
so many other cornet sections on the day we heard the odd blip but
nothing major and the slow movement was excellent. Good euph solo
and good percussion helped to make this a super performance and
sixth place was about right.
Freckleton came seventh from last band on and if anyone assumed
that the contest was already over then they were wrong. This was
a super performance, but as with so many others the cornets suffered
a few slips, but the other soloists were super and it was thoroughly
enjoyable. They too had a dose of Loud Bass Trombone Syndrome at
the opening but the slow section captured the mood beautifully and
seventh was no less than they deserved.
Lynda Nicholson and Besses can be pleased with their performance
as it offered a lot of good music and shape but the opening lacked
a little oomph and the basses were a little lumpy in the quiet sections.
Euph and tromb played very well but the slow movement just needed
more space for its sombre tone. Mainly we felt this performance
suffered from the flugel playing straight out into the audience
- very loud at times and causing some concern. Eighth seemed a little
low for us.
Ashton once again played off number one and they obviously enjoyed
the return to the top section as they gave themselves a big cheer
at the end. It wasn’t undeserved. The playing was generally
very clean, very tight and with the days best percussion section
we thought they deserved a little higher. If anything, it was just
a little too safe for us and lacked some intensity, especially in
the bass section who seemed a little light throughout.
Mossley had the worst case of Loud Bass Trombone Syndrome. We believe
it can be cured but it’s a long job. This performance did
work and had some excellent moments with the cornet, trombone and
euph all playing well but it just didn’t capture the imagination
like some of the others. Tenth was about right.
Wingates certainly made there presence felt with a ripsnorter of
a performance. As with other cornet sections there were a few slips
but the music flowed well. Trombone played well, if a little 12/8
in style and the euph was good but generally the loud playing was
a little too much. Lots of excitement but the detail was lost and
that mayhave cost the.
Our top six on the day were then:
Roy Roe didn’t quite agree with us but we think he got three
of the four qualifiers right –if not quite in the right order.
Fodens were champions again – they went all those years under
Howard Snell not winning here and now they can’t stop, whilst
Williams Fairey will be a touch disappointed they didn’t add
the North West title to their National crown. These two heavyweights
will clash again though at Cambridge, The Open and London. It’s
one nil so far this season to Fodens, but Fairey’s will be
keen to equalise in the next few months to lead to a show down at
the Open and London.
With thanks to Simon Wood.