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2004 Welsh Regional Championships - Retrospective

Third Section
Sunday 13th March

Test Piece: Vizcaya – Gilbert Vinter
Adjudicator: Steve Pritchard -Jones


The Third Section was a bit of a mystery to us. Listening to all the bands, we felt it was going to be a clear cut battle between Beaumaris B and Royal Buckley for the top prize, with Newbridge and Newtown making up the top four places.

We were wrong – but it is nice to report that after listening to what the judge, Steve Pritchard – Jones had to say for himself and his decision from the stage, you understood clearly what his thinking was behind his final placings. Bands and audiences like consistency in their judges, and this was a consistent decision for sure; Steve knew what he was looking for, and subsequently rewarded those bands that gave it to him.

Steve felt that the winning performance was very good – not a great performance he added, but very good nonetheless. He stated he was looking for the basics to have been mastered and for the rhythmic challenges to have been overcome. None of the performances were blemish free, but the winners for sure had the least number of audible mistakes. He praised the solo cornet players who in just about every band did well. Clear and concise eh? – and at this level, a welcome common sense approach to the judging process.

Steve’s approach meant that Newtown Silver under the returning Steve Edwards were declared winners. Theirs was a performance that had real control, and obviously benefited from a very intelligent approach from the MD, but for us it just need a bit more oomph. There were just some minor errors in the ensemble lines but the soloists were very good and although it didn’t quite catch our ear (we had them 4th) it certainly caught the judges, and that’s all that counts.

Newtown have had a couple of difficult years, but the return of Steve Edwards has given them a tremendous boost. Here is a talented MD with an intelligent approach to his performing bands. His success and that of his band is most welcome.

Second place went to Royal Buckley (shows we know something then) who were an experienced band that performed well under the direction of G. Thomas. Again it was compact and controlled and just lacked a little vibrancy for us, but it was more than good enough to deservedly take the second qualification place for the Finals.

Behind them came the two bands who should and who could have qualified.

Beaumaris B gave a tremendous account of the set work for us – full of life, bubbling along with real style and benefiting from some super solo work from a very talented young man on soprano called Graham Bushell (one to look out for in the future) and Aled Evans on solo cornet. Both were the best on the day for us, but their efforts didn’t quite get the reward we thought they deserved. Just a few little nasty clips may have cost them a place in the Finals, but it was for us the most complete picture of “Viscaya” were heard on the day.

Newbridge Celynen were the one band who could have qualified if they played to anything like their true form. This was an error strewn performance that fell from grace from the efforts of both MD and players to try and play far too loud and aggressively. The music just didn’t need it, and although when things went well they sounded a classy band, the mistakes just robbed them of precious points.

After the top four, the standard fell away somewhat and the five remaining bands just didn’t get to grips with either the musical of technical demands of what was a very stern test.

Porthaethwy Menai Bridge very nearly brought out a fine performance, but after starting so well they tailed off as the stamina of the band went. This was though a very musical account from a young band, but perhaps an extra year’s practice and a few more meals with red meat will prove beneficial. They are heading in the right direction.

Trefor perhaps tried too hard and if they took off 20% from the volume they would have featured higher than their eventual sixth place. It had its moments and they certainly had an experienced line up, but it just need a bit more control.

Finally Ebbw Vale and Harlech struggled a little to make an impression as they found the piece perhaps a little too difficult for them. Harlech were minus a soprano player and try valiantly as he did, the solo cornet player couldn’t make himself sound like one. It was a brave effort, but it certainly cost them points. Ebbw Vale meanwhile just found it a tough piece to overcome and would be thankful for some neat bass playing and some nice horn work.

We thought we wouldn’t be far out, and were confident that our top two were set in stone. Not to be. Steve Pritchard – Jones thought differently, and he was the man in the box. We may have disagreed him, but you couldn’t fault him for his methodology.


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