Wilkinson Northern Open 2003
Our man John James and his helpers were there at
the contest, and gives his retrospective of the day.
A total of 19 different test pieces were selected by the 39 bands
taking part in the Wilkinson Northern Open for 2003 that paid homage
to Eric Ball - an unusual ‘own choice’ contest reserving
selection to music either composed or arranged by the great man
The front entrance and the fascia of the Theatre Royal St.Helens
may have been undergoing an upgrade but the music was complete and
totally without the need for any facelift. Credit where it’s
due, so congratulations to Malcolm Brownbill Musical Advisor to
the contest for his inspired thinking in recommending this ‘own
choice’ style contest ‘with a difference’ - An
absolute gem of an idea that was without question a resounding success.
Excuse the vernacular but this was bloody belting, well organised
contest that proved to be a most fitting tribute to Eric Ball and
his music yet gave all the bands the opportunity to shine with
repertoire that both tested their musicinaship and gave the audience
music to enjoy.
David Read was quite upbeat in his summation and was certainly
glowing in his overall comments to the bands - particularly praising
the soloists and overall standard of playing in this section.
Glossop Old playing ‘Festival Music’ set out their stall
with a very good opening and this continued with a well delivered
performance with sparkling solo lines. Pennine Brass were so close
to retaining their title. This was great playing, and their performance
of ‘Festival Music’ benefited from flowing style with
lovely dynamic contrast. Haydock meanwhile revisited ‘Enigma’
the Nationals test-piece and certainly took their playing up a notch
on this occasion giving Ian Brownbill a nice parting present with
3rd place. His work with the band has been exemplary and he leaves
them in fine shape for the future.
Skelmanthorpe was the name on many lips but the blemishes in solo
lines perhaps proved costly just overshadowing the sonorous full
band sound and most confident approach. Dalmellington’s ‘Tournament
for Brass’ was most musical and was really superbly shaped
by Richard Evans but not enough to overcome the splits and splats
that littered the performance. The problem for the adjudicator was
that, as he said, on this day it really came down to small variances
separating the bands.
Tyldesley with Rob Taylor in the middle overcame a disappointing
result on ‘Resurgam’ at Pontins this time producing
a flowing and dynamically varied performance to take 6th place.
Barrow Shipyard also chose ‘Resurgam’ producing a very
convincing full band sound which was just let down by untidy exposed
entries. ‘Tournament for Brass’ was steady rather than
inspired for Northop who came 8th, whilst the overall picture painted
by Blackburn & Darwen captured some lovely moments but gained
9th place in the face of some very stiff opposition.
‘Exodus’ the choice of the Harrogate Band took time
to settle and probably just cost the points to finish higher. The
trombone statement though on each occasion was well delivered throughout
the piece. Derwent Brass could have finished a touch higher for
us as the opening really captured the mechanical drive so importantly.
It was perhaps a touch less secure in the slower section and it
must have proved so to finish 11th. Finally, Chapeltown Silver chose
‘Checkmate’ and although playing with lots of spirit
found too many moments on the day a real challenge.
Old Silkstone took this section proving convincingly that ‘Sunset
Rhapsody’ is a piece that suits the band down to the ground.
Their soprano has had better days but in particular the carillon
 and following animando were very special.
Wire Brass had their share of plips and plops in ‘Tournament
for Brass’ but the overall shape compensated to take the runners-up
place. Silk Brass produced a bright clean sound was rewarded for
a performance of ‘Resurgam’ that did take its risks
with interpretation. Hoover (Bolton) played at their very best in
the ‘Tragedy’ in the ‘Four Preludes’ - the
dominant ‘vib’ was unfortunately a little distracting
but overall this was a very clean detailed working.
Greenalls played ‘Resurgam’ with real confidence. The
tenuto bars lost a little style and the piece sounded a touch unfocused
before the euph. cadenza but it did deserved its place at 5th. South
Yorkshire Police chose ‘The Undaunted’ and could have
sneaked a place or two higher with a performance characterised with
lots of clean playing and detail.
'Resurgam' was for
the greater part delivered in a safe and steady style by GT Group
Peterlee whilst behind them came Flixton Band. At times they achieved
a dreamlike quality in the playing of the 2nd movement of ‘Tournament
for Brass’ but a bit of musical chairs between movements
could not compensate for other uncertain aspects of the playing
in the other sections.
‘Main Street’ was convincingly delivered in the final
statement coupled with a flowing opening but intonation problems
were quite noticeable in the middle and hymn theme by Golborne.
Oakley Silver too concluded ‘Kingdom Triumphant’ in
majestic style but the middle section was less secure before the
Boarshurst Silver are a quality band in the North West 3rd Section
and they produced both joy and atmosphere in ‘Four Preludes’
to win in some style and comfort. 2nd came Timperley who overcame
some ‘nervy’ moments but delivered "Main Street"
in fine fashion. Parr Band made the linking parts work to their
advantage in ‘Rhapsody on Negro Spirituals’ and they
well deserved their spot on this occasion.
The sop for Middleton had a good day in a controlled performance
of ‘Sunset Rhapsody’ that had a few ‘edgy’
entries that also affected the Eccleston Band. The trombone section
though was in good form as they claimed 5th place with their interpretation
of ‘Sunset Rhapsody’.
Whitworth Vale & Healey played ‘Petite Suite de Ballet’
with a lilt. The euph had a fine day in a decent show in the main.
Lostock Hall played ‘Four Preludes’ but were undone
perhaps with a few too many ‘cracked’ notes, whilst
the tuning problems in the Leicester Co-op Snibston Charnwood’
performance of Morning Rhapsody’ must have cost. Chris Wormald
particularly highlighted this element of performance in his assessment
of both Sections C & D in his final summation.
Harlech Silver produced a most pleasing performance of ‘Call
of the Sea’ to take this section whilst Port Sunlight produced
their best playing in the middle section of ‘Impromptu’
to capture the runners-up prize, whilst Friendly Band settled after
some cracks in the opening of ‘Petite Suite de Ballet’.
The trombone section of Dobcross Youth 2003 had a good day also
playing ‘Petite Suite de Ballet’ that, band wise, unfortunately
had a few unsteady moments at times.
Standish could have been a little higher up the order we felt with
their performance of ‘Sunset Rhapsody’ that opened and
closed quite effectively. Lydgate, Pemberton ‘B’, Lofthouse
2000 Brass and Kirkby Lonsdale took the remaining four places all
of whom came unstuck with intonation and tuning issues. Each of
these bands did have their more comfortable moments in a section
that was perhaps just a little down on the strength of the playing
in this section of the last couple of years.
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