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2004 North West Regional Championships - Retrospective

Third Section
Sunday 13th March

Test Piece: Vizcaya – Gilbert Vinter
Adjudicator: David Horsfield


The Empress Ballroom resounded to the sound of 32 bands on Sunday, 19 in the Third Section and 13 in the Second Section. The Third Section were first up and ‘Vizcaya’ once more proved a stiff test for the bands with its ‘easier said than done’ cross rhythms, testing upper register writing and exposed scoring. David Horsfield completed a sterling job in the box and gave a very upbeat round up of the performances; furthermore he presented bands with a concentrated set of remarks designed to support them in future performances of the work.

A split draw saw City of Chester take the stage first and following the traditional National Anthem opened the contest returning an 8th place. A little untidy in the opening they moved forward with a very steady tempo and warmth in the sound. Uneasy at pace, the ‘fete’ was really brisk which meant some of the detail was overshadowed.

The next band on, Hazel Grove were very safe and very steady and the ensemble was well balanced until things got out of synch’ later in the work. 12th place was a fair return for them on the day.

Golborne were a disappointing 19th. Another solid opening but it was at a slow tempo whilst things after the ‘fete’ became too untidy and loose, and we think they can play much better than this performance suggested.

Hoover (Bolton) was well schooled by Chris Wormald. The trombone section did amazingly well to hold their nerve when the music stand fell over right at the outset of the piece. Lots of bright playing with rhythmic style and a prize-winning sound that netted them a fine victory. They will mount a stern challenge at the National Finals for sure.

Trinity Girls maintained their upward progress taking 5th place. The piece really came together for them in the build up to the contest and they transferred the hard work to the stage. Strong thematic lines were a real feature and the N.W. Section was beginning to show its strength. This was a performance that surely would have featured in the prizes elsewhere.

Eccleston Brass under Ian Bateson came 7th and produced a clean sound that was let down by a somewhat slow tempo. The overall picture was nicely shaped and it built with brisk style at [Q]. The standard was beginning to lift up again, and this was another that performance that would have done well we thinking in other regions.

Nelson Brass just couldn’t continue the momentum though. John North, finalist in the NABBC Young Conductor Competition chose an expansive reading, but moments of untidy playing and a loss in flow resulted in an 18th place. Section Three in the N.W. is a strong section and this was a step up in class for the band promoted this year, but their time will come.

United Norwest 2000 Brass gained the 2nd place trip to Harrogate and the National Finals. A solid opening with the horns given a lovely colour and balance. It was very safe and nice tuning featured in a good show including a ‘fete’ that was confident with lots of detail. Congratulations to the MD on a performance that was controlled right from the word go.

Boarshurst Silver with Jonathan Webster maintained their form and now probably join Hoover (Bolton) in Section 2 in 2005. Most definite in direction, their clean playing with particularly well-planned euphonium lines supported a strong rhythmic approach. They certainly deserved the third qualifying spot and they too will mount some stiff opposition in the National Finals.

Thornton-Cleveleys had experienced Chris Andrews in charge as the contest reached half way in the draw. An untidy start didn’t help and although the ensemble warmed the music didn’t really settle through the opening themes. The ‘fete’ opened well and was neatly described but the earlier themes must have cost in gaining 14th place.

Eccles Borough finishing 17th and produced a performance the exact opposite of their predecessors Thornton's - letting early good work go by rushing headlong and untidily into the ‘fete basque’ dance. We have heard them play better on a contest stage.

A broad approach lost some of the impact of the writing in the Whitworth Vale and Healey performance. The interpretation didn’t work although they had some nice sounds around the stands. The return – an uncharacteristic 13th lower placing.

Timperley Band once more produced a full ensemble sound that on this occasion didn’t quite fit as a whole. It left the performance overall a little wanting. They could easily have produced a performance 6 or 7 points better but for untidy moments in solo lines from both brass and percussion.

11th place for Pilling Jubilee Silver with Brian Harper directing the band nicely. Playing number 14 in the draw this was a performance which exacted comments very similar to those of Hazel Grove Band, so unsurprisingly they were very close in the final results.

Rainford Silver Band were next on under a change of direction with Andrew Jones conducting and their resident conductor Neil Samuel on solo trombone. There was nice tempi all through the performance and a nicely plotted ‘fete’ compensated for some blemishes in the solo lines. The whole was rewarded with a 6th place and a return to prize winning form for the band. Not quite enough to challenge for the top prizes, but a pretty good effort nonetheless.

Middleton will be disappointed that they let early good work slip. The ‘fete’ was untidy and too often the band just didn’t play to their true potential. 10th place, but in the certain knowledge that this was ‘one that got away’ and could have been so much better.

Three bands to go as Lostock Hall Memorial took the stage. Theirs was an uncluttered performance that just failed to generate the excitement in the music and as a result a 15th place in the final order. The very sure and steady approach perhaps airing too much on the safe side without taking any risks cost them, but it could have deserved higher.

In 4th place in the prize list came Wardle and District Anderson Brass. They produced a good band sound responding well to the direction by Duncan Beckley. So close to taking a qualification spot they certainly held their own following promotion to the Third Section. Next year they will be even closer we feel.

BMP Europe Goodshaw playing last in the draw were disappointing and were awarded 16th place. Splits and splats littered the opening and although the band was at their best in the ensemble work it had too many troubled moments to alter the final placings.

That was it then for a very high quality competition. There is real strength in depth in this region and it was confirmed by the performances from all the bands. (Hoover) Bolton were winners of the section and together with United Norwest 2000 they stung 4BR for leaving them out off what on paper looked like a reasoned set of predictions. Boarshurst did deliver and will, we are sure, do the same again in Harrogate as the North West has once more sent a message to the rest of the country that they are a force to be reckoned with.

Trinty Girls and Wardle lived up to our pre-contest thoughts in taking prizes and Rainford, our dark horses, completed the four prizewinners in our prediction. Timperley could have easily been there and Eccleston were just one place outside the frame. Our other selection, Whitworth Vale and Healey were out of the top ten but we think overall a reasonable job by our resident soothsayer languishing in the 4BarsRest vaults.

As for Harrogate – these three qualifiers could well be the bands to beat.

© 4BarsRest

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