John James continues his look back at 2003. March and April was
Regionals time and the highs and lows of trying to get to London
The trend in test piece selection favouring Eric Ball continued
with the announcement that the music for the National Finals would
all be music composed or arranged by him. The test pieces for the
lower sections being; A Kensington Concerto, Sunset Rhapsody, Four
Preludes and the lesser-known Call of the Sea. It was however the
choice of an arrangement of Theme & Variations from the Enigma
(Elgar) that caused some disquiet in some circles questioning whether
it was perhaps the best choice of test-piece for the Albert Hall
The loss of the Band's long-term sponsorship coupled with the expense
of travelling to Norway forced the decision, as anticipated, that
Williams Fairey Band would not be attending the European Brass Band
Championship in Bergen. On top of that came the news that Northern
Ireland Bands Association Champions, the 1st Old Boys (SeaCat) Silver
Band had also been forced to withdraw from the forthcoming EBBA
Championships again due to financial issues.
Following Fairey’s pulling out of the contest the organisers
tried to invite firstly Black Dyke and then Fodens Richardson to
fill their place but they were unable to do so. These two bands
had filled the immediate English places behind Faireys at the Albert
Hall. Brighouse who came 5th were the next band in line that meant
that Brighouse would make a return to the contest for the first
time since May 1999 when they were reigning champions.
The European Brass Band Association (EBBA) and the Norwegian Band
Federation announced that the test piece for the European Championships
as a new work by Torstein Aagaard–Nilsen, “Aubade”
Dawn Songs of the Fabulous Birds and we don’t think anyone
was prepared for the sheer diversity in composition and instrumentation
that this composition would adopt.
Three young musicians from Wales together with four talented English
players were invited to make the trip to the European Championships
being chosen to represent their countries ensuring that our shores
were well represented in the European Youth Brass Band.
Back with our own Federation, as expected, Robert Morgan was elected
to the position of Chairman of the BFBB and the reshuffle in the
executive committee also saw Greta Russell (Secretary West Midlands
BB Assoc’) voted into the position of General Secretary. Soon
after these appointments news reached us that Hayley Granger had
resigned from her post as Development Officer so a number of changes
were undertaken that needed consolidation before the Dundee Finals.
Over a number of months players looking for a city based band within
Norwich prompted professional conductor Alan Broadbent, operating
in conjunction with the School of Music University of East Anglia
where Alan is a teacher of the Trumpet, to create Norwich City Brass.
The formation of this band coincided with anniversaries of some
of our more established units The National Youth Band of Wales reached
the tender age of 20 years whilst Nestle Rowntree reached its Centenary
and Wingates who began life a mere 130 years ago.
Both the Fodens Richardson Band and Brett Baker with the Longridge
Band announced the launch of the inaugural Awards for composition/arrangement.
The awards being open competitions for composers and arrangers of
all ages and levels of experience came as Elland Silver Band informed
the news desk that one of our most prestigious composers Dr Philip
Wilby took over the baton in their bandroom.
The 4BR website was continuing to push forward and bands that had
signed up to the classifieds section were able log into their accounts
and begin adding their concerts to the database.
The Regional Qualifiers really dominated the month and even up
to the last moment 'Prague' with controversy over the number of
errata sheets that seemed to appear in epidemic proportions fuelling
the debate. This then turned to further discussion, as results in
the Championship Sections did not always go according to plan with
some of the pre-contest favourites being ousted on the day by the
underdogs, none more so than in the Yorkshire & North West.
In fact Judith Bingham, the composer of the Championship test piece
"Prague" wrote to 4BR to let us know what she has thought
of the reaction to her work. It seems she was taken aback by a few
of the comments but made the point that she has found it all rather
stimulating - good and bad.
The bands provisionally qualifying for the renamed ‘Besson’
National Finals were therefore
Championship Section - Brighouse & Rastrick, Asda Stocksbridge
& Black Dyke (pre qualified)
1st Section - Knottingley Silver, Hade Edge (J&E Dickinson)
2nd Section - Old Silkstone, Hatfield Coal Power
3rd Section - Hebden Bridge (Walkley's Clogs), Stanley Newmarket
4th Section - Dinnington Colliery, Grange Moor
Championship Section - Fodens Richardson (pre qualified), Williams
Fairey (pre qualified), Haydock & Leyland
1st Section - United Co-op (Crewe), Norwest Co-op Milnrow
2nd Section - Bollington, Manx Concert Brass
3rd Section - Diggle, Boarshurst, Hoover (Bolton)
4th Section - Trinity Girls, Wardle & District Anderson Brass,
Nelson Brass (who confirmed the appointment of John North as their
Musical Director following their continuing successes.)
Championship Section – Desford Colliery, Ransome Band
1st Section - Kibworth, Riddings
2nd Section - Shirley Band, Darley Dale
3rd Section - Daventry Brass, Carlton Brass, Audley Brass
4th Section – Phoenix West Midlands Brass, Long Eaton Silver,
Championship Section – CWS (Glasgow) Band, Kirkintilloch Band,
1st Section - Bathgate Band, Bon-Accord Silver Band
2nd Section - Newmills and Galston, Arbroath Instrumental Band
3rd Section - Lochgelly, St Ronnan’s Silver Band
4th Section – Dumfries Town Band, Peebles
Championship Section - Buy as you View Cory, Tredegar, Burry Port
1st Section - Treherbert & District, Abergavenny Borough
2nd Section - Llanrug, Penclawdd
3rd Section - Newbridge Celynen, Conwy Town
4th Section - Harlech, Ogmore Valley
North of England
Championship Section - Ever Ready, East Yorkshire Motor Services
1st Section - BHK (UK) Ltd Horden, Barrow Shipyard,
2nd Section - Langbaurgh Brass, Houghton Brass
3rd Section - Wansbeck's Ashington, Stape Silver
4th Section - Lockwood Brass, Ripon City
London & Southern Counties
Championship Section - Redbridge Brass, Alliance Brass
1st Section - Friary Guildford, Zone One Brass
2nd Section - Wantage Silver, Broseley Brass, Brighton Silver
3rd Section - Ware Brass, Fulbourn & Teversham RBL, Sandhurst
4th Section - Thundersley Brass Band, Great Yarmouth Brass, Woodbridge
Unfortunately Thundersley Band was later disqualified from their
winners place in the Fourth Section due to a player infringement
and the title awarded to Great Yarmouth Brass instead. The 4th placed
band, Hilgay Silver was therefore asked to represent the Region
at the Finals.
In competition outside of the Regionals the Cornwall Association
Contest held in Truro which was taken by
JAG Mount Charles. In the other section prizes were awarded to Helston
(S1), St.Dennis (S2), St Stythians(S3), Camborne 'B'(S4), St Dennis
Youth(Youth Sec’) & Camborne Junior (Junior Sec’).
Huddersfield Town Hall hosted the Pogson Bray Trust 17th Annual
Brass Band Contest that proved successful for Skelmanthorpe who
went on to have a most rewarding 2003. Section B went to Oughtibridge
and Horbury Victoria Youth took their section.
At the solo competition held in Newcastle, members of the Lions
Youth Brass Band did themselves proud taking a number of trophies
back to the bandroom and a number of new trophies were awarded at
the inaugural Bill Shaw Memorial Slow Melody Contest in Lochgelly.
Whilst this contest was in its infancy the Dalmellington Cecil Oughton
Slow Melody reached its successful 58th year.
The West of England Regionals were held in the Riviera International
Conference Centre, Torquay and these completed the line-up for the
Nationals Finals. Camborne Town and a resurgent Flowers qualified
from the Championship section so taking the places up for grabs
to complete the Finals were -
Championship Section - Camborne Town, Flowers
1st Section - City of Bristol, Test Valley Brass,
2nd Section - Lanner & District Silver, Lympstone South West
3rd Section - Michelmersh Silver, St Dennis, Filton Concert Brass,
4th Section - Hayle Town and Downton
Yorkshire band Skelmanthorpe was quickly emerging as a true contender
for Band of the Year as they once again took a first prize winning
the 7th Tameside Open Brass Band Contest Championship Section from
Ashton-under-Lyne. Whilst Skelmanthorpe themselves were riding high
this contest also gave opportunity for some other bands to lay down
early markers as top bands as well. Second Section outfit Old Silkstone
with Norman Law set out their stall again leading Blackpool Brass
in the trophy stakes. The third section went to a most impressive
Diggle followed closely by Boarshurst Silver who once again would
be in the hunt all through the year. The fourth section saw Nelson
Brass and Lockwood Brass in the top places. Here we certainly had
some of the real cream of the country on show all of whom could,
by the end of the year, be in the reckoning for our annual award.
The rankings which followed the Regionals proved most interesting
and there was no doubt about it the round of regional contests had
produced the biggest shake-up in rankings history with thirteen
new entries into the top 100. Eleven bands climbed ten or more places
but Black Dyke, YBS, Grimethorpe and Whitburn were licking their
wounds following disappointing results.
The fact that a good few bands in Yorkshire were in sparkling form
it was disappointing that the Area Brass Band Association Contest
had to be cancelled after a 44 year history due to a lack of entries
when only nine bands applied which left the event just not viable.
Further down the country the SCABA Contest in Hove had a successful
visitor from abroad when Brass Band Des Pays De La Loire (Jean Claude
Baulin) took second prize in the Second Section behind Sussex Brass
(Hastings). Across the other sections the Youth/Third Section went
to Godalming, First Section - BAE Systems and Championship Section
to Broseley Brass.
On the International front the final details for the forthcoming
European Championships in Bergen, just around the corner, were announced.
The judges had some familiar faces amongst them as well as one or
two that had less familiar ring to them. The Set Test Piece Section
of the Championship and 1st Sections were to be judged by Torgny
Hanson of Sweden, Goff Richards of England and Jan Van der Roost
of Belgium with the Own Choice Section then judged by Jens T. Larsen
of Norway, Isabelle Ruf of Switzerland and Thomas Wyss of England.
The European Conductors competition was to be judged by Jappie Dijkstra
of the Netherlands, Isabelle Ruf of Switzerland and Karl Ole Mitbo
of Norway with Derek Bourgois of England joining the panel for the
On the subject of adjudication David Read, William Relton and Geoffrey
Whitham were also nominated as the three men who would be charged
with picking the winners at the National Finals at the Royal Albert
Hall in October.
Moving to the Youth Section it again came in for some interesting
Following on from the news that both the Welsh and English would
be sending youngsters to represent their country at the 2nd European
Youth Brass Band in Bergen, the Scots informed everyone that they
too would have three representatives there as well. Congratulations
went to the players assigned as Principals for the NYBBGB namely,
Philip Cobb - Cornet & Leader, Rebecca Crawshaw & Billy
Parkinson - (Co-Soprano), Alison Tinsley - Flugel Horn, Christopher
Pannell - Tenor Horn, Katrina Marzella – Baritone, Ryan Gray
– Euphonium, Steven Haynes - Tenor Trombone, Louise Godfrey
- Bass Trombone, Wilfred Driscoll - Eb Bass, Nicholas Hurst - Bb
Bass & Russell Abraham – Percussion.
The 56 strong award-winning Smithills School Senior Brass Band,
led by conductor Chris Wormald, flew back safely into Manchester
Airport from Singapore after touring, to much-acclaim, the North
Island of New Zealand. They were to learn with the rest of us almost
simultaneously that Pontins Brass Band Committee would be supporting
a new and Youth Festival in 2004 to take place at the Brean Sands
Holiday Centre in Somerset probably in the July.
The continuing strength of our younger players was epitomized,
in particular, when Pennine Brass announced that the talented “JJ
Lees” (age 16) had been appointed to the band’s principal
cornet position and in the Leicestershire Solo and Quartet Results
when once again the talents nurtured in the Shirland Training Band
were most successful. This was not the only Slow Melody, Aire Varie,
Duet and Quartet Competition held as the North West Counties Brass
Band Association Annual Slow Melody + Stan Winter Music Scholarships,
Standish Brass Band Slow Melody Contest and Northop Festival Competition
all attracted good entries with quality young players.
A "Royal Welsh College Of Music & Drama Brass Band"
weekend of music making for players of all ages & ability typified
the strong educational themes adopted by the Cornwall Brass Band
Association. With the support of the Trevada Music and the Cornwall
Music Service the development of banding in the South West continued
to impress. An educational bias was again noted in Southern Counties
as a joint British Trombone Society and Clifton & Lightcliffe
Band ‘Trombone Day’ including masterclass, workshops
and concerts also took place in May and speaking of trombones congratulations
went to Don Lusher received an OBE from the Queen for his life-long
service to music.
Knowledge of a different kind though was evident ‘Up North’
when a quiz, with questions wholly on brass bands, was revived by
the Diggle Band. Held regularly in the past at the Navigation (Dobcross)
this time it was by Fairey's who became "Brains of Brass 2004”.
The North of Ireland Brass Band Spring Festival was completed and
The National Championships of the Irish Association for Brass and
Concert Bands was held in the Wesley College, Dublin as further
away the Swiss solo and quartet contest was held in Eglisau and
results from Norway, Australia and North America reached our pages.
The Grenland Brass Festival in Norway contested over 4 sections
saw wins for Elite Section - Eikanger-Bjørsvik, Oslofjord
Brass, First Section - Askøy Brass Band, Oster Brass, Second
Division - Laksevåg Musikkforening, Krapfoss Hornorkester
& Third Section - Fagernes Musikkorps.
Waitakere City "Trusts" Brass directed by Andy Snell
became the 2003 Australian National Champions ahead of second placed
Waratah Brass whilst on the other continent Stavanger Brass Band,
the Norwegian Champion band won the North American Brass Band Association
(NABBA) Championships held in Little Rock, Arkansas during a tour
that took in 6 states and over 2000 miles in just over a week.
The results of the North American Brass Band Association (NABBA)
Championship Section - Stavanger Brass Band (David King), Honors
Section - Cincinnati Brass Band, Challenge Section - Spires Brass
Band & Open Section - James Madison University Brass Band
Back home the Liverpool Playhouse and Birmingham Rep presented
a stage version of the mining drama ‘Brassed Off’ in
a production that featured bands from the North West and Midlands
areas. Another Midlands band Newstead Welfare Band won over audiences
with a weekend visit to Northern France playing in Lille designated
the European capital of culture for 2004.
On a business front SP&S Ltd, home of the Doyen, Egon and SP&S
recording labels announced a 'change of management' as Managing
Director Lieut-Colonel Michael Williams was succeeded by Trevor
Caffull, who for the past 4 years had headed up SP&S's marketing
activity. Easter 2003 also saw the visit of Blackburn Salvation
Army Band and Songsters (choir) to Berlin, the band's 5th venture
overseas but the songsters' first
As the year was progressing so the 4BarsRest site again saw further
development as shopping service expanded and many took the opportunity
to get a bargain when we offered our first and successful CD promotion.
We conclude the month North of the Border with the Scottish Borders
Brass Band Association who organised a Brass and Percussion Workshop
for school-aged children where the players were organized into three
bands and tutored by a team of experienced teachers, including Archie
Hutchison, one of Scotland's top cornet players and conductors
This though was just the first in a series of events building to
2004. A message from Alan P. McLaren (President Scottish Brass Band
Association) extended an invitation to visit Scotland and attend
the 2004 European Brass Band Championships. In addition to staging
the Championships themselves their aim, he explained, is to arrange
an extensive programme of fringe events in Glasgow and perhaps also
in other parts of Scotland with something to offer bands of all
grades with opportunities for visiting bands which are not taking
part in the Championships themselves to link up with Scottish bands
and play a part in the fringe programme.
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