2004 North West Regional Championships - Retrospective
The Championship Section:
Sunday 14th March
Adjudicator: Dr. Roy Newsome
Test Piece: Tristan Encounters - Martin Ellerby
thoughts [WAV 1.33mb]
- Roy Newsome [WAV 2.46mb]
Tristan Encounters, a piece described as a Prelude
and 14 Transfigurations was sure to sort out the men from the
boys, and after hearing 10 good performances at the Yorkshire Regional
Championships the week before it was going to be interesting to
hear how the North West bands fared on this very difficult piece
Dr Roy Newsome created quite a stir with his results at this year's
contest. His decision of Leyland 1st, Fairey FP [Music] 2nd, Wingates
3rd , and the reigning North West Champions Fodens Richardson
4th , had many in the bars afterwards in deep conversation over
the placings. In our opinion though, it was a very, very fair
result. This means that along with Fairey and Leyland, Wingates
will be in London in October for the first time since 1995, with
missing out - but more about that later.
The adjudicator remarked at the draw, that it was a superb piece
of music and a great venue to play it in, and for the bands to go
out and enjoy it.
Playing off the No1 draw were Besses o' th'
by Steve Sykes and after an insecure opening the music flowed
quite well with plenty of detail, but they suffered with some
loose playing in the cadenzas and seemed to lose a little confidence
towards the end. 8th place was fair enough.
Following them on were Haydock under Linda Nicholson, and they
put in a performance of great merit - the music was well shaped
and plenty of contrast was evident and 6th place was well deserved.
Two years in a row this band has shown that it has ore than enough
about them to challenge at the top level. As they mature, they will
challenge more strongly.
Dobcross Silver conducted by Denis Hadfield are a band on the up
but after a good opening some of the detail got lost, although the
sound of the band was solid and with decent cadenzas they recovered
to take 7th place. Again – a band moving in the right direction,
although we hope they do not over reach themselves. 7th place is
a fine result when compared to the standard around the rest of the
Wingates playing off number 4 had a very confident
start and the performance was full of commitment, and all in all
they gave a very good band performance of the test piece. Roy
Curran had them really fired up for this one and a fine ending
to the piece clinched them 3rd place and a trip to the finals
- well done and no real complaints. The return of Wingates to
the big time has long been overdue, and if they continue to perform
with this kind of spirit we'll hear a lot more about them in the
coming months .
Freckleton followed with a performance, which at times promised
much. The band have a nice clear sound but the playing lacked conviction
at times and 9th was about right for us.
This was followed by Longridge Band and again
like some before them they faded after a decent opening and generally
found the music too much for them despite some sensible tempo’s.
Tenth place was all they could have expected.
After 6 bands we were still waiting for a band to really take the
piece by the scruff of the neck and in Leyland we got just that.
Conducted by Garry Cutt, the band gave what turned out to be the
winning performance – a superb winning performance it was.
Some fine flugel horn playing followed an excellent opening and
the band was in complete control of the music all through the piece,
with the shape and style of the playing first class. Dave King
was playing third man down and along with the other soloists,
was outstanding. The playing of the cornet cadenza and the opening
of the last transfiguration XIV was stunning, with Garry Cutt
letting the music just build and build with some super sounds
all through to a tremendous ending. Even with a couple of big
names still to come this was going to take some beating. As it
turned out it was the winning performance – and it was very
Having to follow a performance like that is not easy and United
Co-op Crewe gave it their best shot, but the tempos
were too quick so the performance was lacking in clarity,
but they recovered towards the end but not enough to make
any impact. Eleventh place was right for us.
Fairey FP (Music) Band who had already booked
a place in the Final, as National Champions were next on and they
too gave a very polished show. They were very well directed by
Alan Withington and although some intonation problems arose in
the horn section this was very fine playing indeed. The cadenzas
were well played and well shaped, and all through the piece the
detail was allowed to show in what was a first class show. At the
end of the day, 2nd place was the decision – no complaints
British Telecom under MD Michael Fowles followed, and they too
gave a very musical reading, but too many clipped notes spoiled
what could have been even higher than the 5th place they were awarded.
They will have been pleased by their showing though and there is
a very good band here in the making.
So to the last band on, and the current North West Champions the
Fodens Richardson Band. This performance was at
times to us lacking in imagination, and although the band sound
was top class we felt not enough was made of the music despite
some super flugel horn playing from Helen Fox and some excellent
bass sounds. We know many will disagree with us, but this was
not the most musical showing of the day and 4th place was the right
decision. With all their obvious strengths, this was a terrifically
disappointing result for them, but their performance was one that
had a safety first aspect to it and on the day was not good enough
to impress the judge against a high-class field.
In his summing up of the performances Dr Newsome said he had to
think long and hard about 1st and 2nd place, but felt the winner
just produced the cleaner show. No band had come out of it unscathed
he said, but the soloists had on the whole had done very
On reflection this had been a good contest and Garry Cutt told
4BR that he was delighted with the band and that it was a good
start for him in his new role. The general playing was good but
the overall standard was not as high as we expected from what was
on paper was a high class field. Too many bands fell foul of the
technical demands, both with the solo and ensemble lines, but it
was pleasing to see so many people in the audience all through
Leyland though were tremendous winners – the great days of
Richard Evans may have seemed to be an eon ago, but with Garry
Cutt at the helm this is a band that is as good as any on this
form. 2004 is a very important year for this band, but with an
MD with obvious class, Leyland will be a band to watch out for.
This could be the start of something very special indeed.