John James continues his look back at 2003. August and September
were two very busy months as the Open saw YBS add another odd year
victory to their CV and bands from all around the UK made their
way to Dundee for a great weekend.
The summer season in full flow for most of the bands in the country
but still time to take in some competitions. The Brass In The Park
saw overall champions Yorkshire Co-operatives lead home Johnstone
Silver with sectional awards also going to Best 2nd Section Band:
Newmilns & Galston Best 3rd Section Band: Jedforest Instrumental
and Best 4th Section Band: Peebles Burgh Silver.
Staying in Scotland, Kirkintilloch conducted by Craig Anderson
won the Land O’ Burns Entertainment Contest at Troon while
in Wales at the National Eisteddfod the results went with Championship/1st
Section Pontardulais, 2nd Section – Deiniolen : 3rd Section
- Beaumaris “B” : 4th Section - Menai Bridge. The results
were complimented by Peter Jones, the solo trombone player of the
Besses O' th' Barn winning the prestigious composition competition.
A number of main awards were announced with Philip McCann informed
that he would be the recipient of the 2003 Mortimer Medal following
the All England Masters Award he received in May. Bram Tovey was
to be the 2003 recipient of the famous Iles Medal awarded by the
Worshipful Company of Musicians and BAYV Cory's euph player David
Childs was awarded one of the RNCM'S Gold Medals for 2003.
Not many weeks went by without a conductor and a band parting company
and this month it was to be Ransome Band from the Midlands who were
the latest to seek new conducting pastures as they announced the
departure of Brian Grant.
Remaining with the top section Foden’s Richardson accepted
an invitation to compete in the inaugural US Open Brass Band Championships
to be held in Chicago in November 2003 and this coincided with the
news that they together with Fairey's, Dyke and Household Troops
would all feature major works in forthcoming Northern Festival.
John Maines became the new MD at Versatile Brass as Roy Curran
departed and the Longridge Band appointed David Thornton as associate
Musical Director to Brett Baker with the band.
Bands all across were forging ties on the continent. Jackfield
Elcock Reisen Band from Shropshire hosted guest band 'Stadtmusik
Mellingen' from Switzerland, SWT Woodfalls Band toured Switzerland
and Ratby Co-operative Band returned from a very enjoyable trip
to France, Luxembourg, Germany and Austria. Members of the Killamarsh
Silver Band and Dronfield Band arranged performances at a series
of prestigious including Brussels, Bruges and Ghent and the North
Powys Youth Band returned form a successful tour to Barcelona
Celebrations were held as The City of Chester Band reached 150
years and they decided to revive an earlier tradition of walking
the famous Roman Walls and this news reached us at the same time
as UDI Aberdeen City Band's name bit the dust and out of the ashes
the Granite City Brass emerged.
The National Finals were only days away but the fund raising continued
as the members of Sandhurst Band got saddle sore cycling 25 miles
in order to raise funds for their trip.
A truly busy month indeed matching May for its volume of news and
The 4th Exmouth Festival of Brass best overall performance and
entertainment prize went to Soundhouse Brass (Plymouth) whilst Wetherby
& District Silver took top honours at Hardraw Scar Contest.
The 2nd United Co-op Brass Band Entertainment Contest held in Buxton
saw Vernon BS Poynton take 1st Prize with Easington Colliery ‘easing’
into second place.
Wingates Band conducted by Roy Curran took the Entertainment Contest
Prize from Flowers on offer at Wychavon and in the process took
home the £2000 top prize as well. The best in Section prizes
went to First Section - Bedworth Brass : Second Section - Wire Brass
: Third Section - Beaumaris B : Fourth Section - Trinity Girls.
Flowers also took the runners-up place in Porthcawl contest to the
BTM Band conducted by David Stowell who were crowned the South Wales
Miners Eistedfod Champions.
September is the preserve of two massive contests The Lower Section
National Finals and, of course, the British Open.
In Birmingham YBS landed the big shield while Whitburn storm to
second place and Dyke filled the third spot. Described by one of
the adjudicators as "One of the great contest performances"
YBS won back the Open title and in the process carried on a sequence
of "odd year" victories that stretch back to their first
win in 1997.
Unfortunately we were not lucky enough to have the powers at the
BBC behind us to broadcasting highlights of the British Open contest
this year. Thanks mainly to Paul Hindmarsh we have in the past had
support but not his year alas.
Yorkshire Building Society’s great victory took them back
to the top of the 4BR rankings table but with a gap that was quite
small. Whitburn's fabulous 2nd place, the finest Scottish result
at the Open in its 151 year history, took them to 7th place with
other significant movers being Ever Ready, Yorkshire Imps Urquhart
Travel and Illinois Brass Band.
The 2003 Lower Section National Finals were excellent value for
money and much of the credit for the success must go to the organisational
abilities of the BFBB who now hand over the reins to Kapitol Promotions.
The Concert Hall, Dundee's Caird Hall was a delightful venue which
to both to perform and listen to the Championships. The Fourth section
test piece, Call of the Sea by Eric Ball was first up and the winning
performance came from Wardle and District Anderson Brass. In the
prizes came Long Eaton Silver, Grange Moor Brass, Trinity Girls,
Lockwood and Harlech.
Diggle played in sparkling style to win the Nationals Third section
title with Four Preludes (Eric Ball). Roy Newsome and Duncan Beckley
awarded the other places to Hoover (Bolton), Carlton Brass, St.
Dennis, Sandhurst Silver and Conwy Town.
The Nationals, Second section played Sunset Rhapsody (Eric Ball)
and to be truthful, the Second Section was the one contest of the
Finals that caused us the most head scratching but at the end of
the day Hatfield Coal Power took the title with Bollington Brass,
Lanner & District Silver, Langbaurgh Brass, Arbroath Instrumental
and Houghton Brass taking the places.
And so to the First Section and once again there were some fine
performances, especially from the winners BHK (UK) Horden. James
Scott and Roy Newsome adjudicated on A Kensington Concerto (Eric
Ball) where the Nationals First section unfolded as BHK (UK) Ltd
Horden, United Norwest Co-op Milnrow, United Co-op (Crewe), Knottingley
Silver, Zone One Brass and Barrow Shipyard.
As with tradition the Regional 2004 test pieces were announced
- The Championship set work being “Tristan Encounters”
by Martin Ellerby The First Section will get to perform Bramwell
Tovey’s “Coventry Variations” which was written
in 1986 by the composer for the GUS band. Second Section bands have
the very interesting choice of “Kaleidoscope” by Philip
Sparke, which is a piece based upon five variations on the Brugg
Song, a traditional song of the Swiss town of the same name. Third
Section sees the bands having to get to grips with Gilbert Vinter’s
“Vizcaya”, which was written in 1967. Finally, the Fourth
Section bands will have to play Edward Gregson’s “Partita”
- his three movement work which takes its inspiration from the 13th
century plain song “Dies Irae”. The movements are entitled,
“Intrada”, “Chorale and Variations” and
The 4BR rankings saw no movement in the top 50 but the first publication
of the top 150 showed that some of the bands that did well in Dundee
climbed into the rankings. BHK UK Ltd. Horden's victory took them
to 76th position with the Hatfield Coal Power 2nd section victory
lifting them to 109th position. 3rd and 4th section winners Diggle
and Wardle respectively were still just outside the top 150.
The Great Northern Brass Arts Festival at Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
again a huge success featured an exhibition about Belle Vue and
its years as the venue for brass band championship and this important
event came at a similar time to the Thoresby Colliery Band engaged
by the Government to perform at the opening ceremony of the memorial
garden for the victims of the tragic events in America two years
The Llanrug Band from Wales were to be featured in a BBC Wales
two part television programme and this "fly on the bandroom
wall" is due to be screened in the near future.
The National Champions of Great Britain, the Fairey Band had better
news as they secured a 4 year sponsorship deal that would mean that
they would now be called the Fairey FP (Music) Band and this sponsorship
also came at a time when Pemberton Old Wigan Bands celebrated a
sponsorship deal with JJB Sports.
The steady movement of MD’s saw Richard Grantham has announced
his departure after 12 successful years as Musical Director of the
Cottingham Band and Kevin Steward has resign from Ratby Cooperative
after 10 years at the helm
It had been a busy time for Foresters Friendly Society Brass who
took part in the World Music Festival in the South of France and
the following week the Guernsey annual “Battle of the Flowers”
event. Great Yarmouth Brass celebrated their 30th Anniversary and
the The Salvation Army’s Star Lake music camp held in Bloomingdale
New Jersey attracted some huge names in the world of brass
The Scottish Brass Band Association announced that the adjudicators
for the Scottish Open Championships would be Ian Brownbill, Robert
Childs and Stephen Roberts and they would be overseeing performances
of Philip Wilby's "Paganini Variations" as the set work
for the contest.
Brisbane Excelsior from Queensland, Australia, under the musical
direction of Howard Taylor won the A Grade NSW Championships for
2003. Runners-up this year was St Mary’s Band Club with in
third place Willoughby (winners of the Own Choice section).
SP&S released a DVD/Video of the European 2003 which is unquestionably
a stunning product in the world of brass recordings whilst we at
4BR following on from the phenomenal success of last years "Guess
the Top 6" launched a brand new competition for this years
National Finals at the Royal Albert Hall when the winner would receive
a brand new Yamaha Maestro cornet.
To round out the month the Bands in the Park Contest (Quickstep
March/hymn/contest march),Borders Slow Melody Contest and Corsham
Band Solo, Quartet and Ensemble Contest were completed. Overseas
the Prestige des Cuivres (International Philip Jones competition
for tuba, euphonium and brass ensembles), 5th European Open Championships
and 14th Swiss Open Contest kept our European brass contemporaries
busy as well. Major Peter Parkes added yet another "Major"
National Championship to his amazing CV, when he directed Brass
Band Treize Etoiles to the Swiss Open Championship. Runners up were
Brass Band Bürgermusik Luzern.
back to top