2004 Scottish Regional Championships - Retrospective
Sunday: 14th March
Test Piece: Kaleidoscope – Philip
Adjudicator: Andrew Duncan and Richard Evans
The first contest of the weekend and one that set the tone for
the whole event, with pre-contest favourites Barrhead Burgh and
Brian Keachie doing everything required to make a quick return to
the First Section.
It was Dalkeith & Monktonhall Colliery that
had the honour of opening the contest and a fairly good start it
was. Iain Davey’s band opened very securely, although would
have liked a bit more space in the theme and they did have a few
intonation problems in the early variations. The tempos were well
managed once it got going though and but for a couple of minor moments,
it was all pretty secure. A healthy sounding ending was lacking
only in a little detail, but it was a good marker for us. 4th from
the judges was a fair return for them. Star player – Solo
Annan Town had a well-controlled opening although
a bit more dynamic contrast would have added an extra dimension
to their performance. The tempos were pretty steady throughout but
some of the rhythms lacked accuracy. Soloists were a bit on edge
in Variation 2 but sounded pretty settled later in the
piece. A strong ending followed but again the dynamic contrast was
lacking. The judges placed them 7th, which was just a couple of
places higher than we had them. Star player – Solo cornet.
We tipped Croy for a top 6 place and they finished
5th, which was slightly unfortunate for them as there was so much
to commend their performance from a musical point of view. Chris
Bradley’s band had a nice opening and the shape of the music
was well thought out throughout. Ensemble was pretty tight too,
but there were a couple of shaky moments for their soloists in Variation
2. The Scherzo was just in the right style for us
but the major criticism was the lack of overall band sound in the
louder passages. Good euphonium and soprano playing followed and
there was good detail towards the end. The balance was always good
too despite the lack of a really big sound. Star player –
Renfrew Burgh have been quite consistent in recent
years but they would be slightly disappointed with this performance,
despite being one of the strongest sounding bands in the contest.
They did open quite well and the back row cornets did very well
in the theme, but there were tuning problems in the early variations
and a number of slips started creeping in. The end sounded a bit
tired despite some good detailed playing. 11th place was a bit harsh
for us but they know they can do better. Star player – Solo
Clydebank Burgh continued the run of good openings
to the piece, but intonation wasn’t always good and we were
concerned about the rhythms in the 1st Variation, despite
the steady tempo. The slow playing was quite secure if just lacking
in a bit of expression, but the soloists were all on form. The steady
tempo throughout the piece possibly detracted from the overall impact
of the performance and it sounded laboured at times. 12th from Messrs
Duncan and Evans was possibly lower than we expected, but it wasn’t
going to be a contender. Star player – Flugel.
Selkirk Silver opened confidently but immediately
we were aware of intonation and balance problems. Once it got going
though it was energetic stuff and we did hear plenty of detail.
Variation 2 had some messy moments but they recovered well
in the scherzo. Towards the end it did get a bit messy again but
the band did sound pretty strong in the climax. Musically the piece
was well handled by the conductor and most of the band, but intonation
was a problem for them. 10th from the judges wasn’t far away
from where we had them. Star players – Back row cornets.
Our tip for a top-3 finish, Lochgelly and Raymond
Tennant, opened like they meant business with a healthy well-balanced
sound. Slightly more space for the theme would have served them
well but it was still very well played. The opening of Variation
1 was calamitous for them and chaos ruled for a few bars. They
did recover well but this had really damaged their prospects. Good
solo cornet and soprano playing followed and stylistically it was
very good overall. The finale was really tidy from the full ensemble
and there was plenty of excitement being generated. We wondered
if they might have done enough to recover from the early disaster
but 6th place from the judges was understandable. There was so much
to admire about their playing though. Star player – Soprano.
St. Ronan’s were another of our pre-match
favourites and they didn’t let us down. Another good opening
and we could hear a good band sound, just a slight hint of poor
intonation. We lost some of the detail in the middle of the band
once it got going but the tempo was well chosen by the conductor.
The solo cornet player sounded very tasty and he was supported by
a strong section. Some of the ensemble became slightly messy in
Variation 4 and we lost detail in Variation 5.
Some more sound from the middle of the band would have served them
well, but perhaps this was more apparent because of the strength
of sound in the cornets. A good show though and 3rd was about right
for us. Star player – Solo cornet.
One that we failed to forecast in the prizes was Kilmarnock
and that was a big mistake. From the start they sounded
impressive and we heard real dynamic contrast for the first time.
Good tempos throughout the piece gave the music breathing space
but generated excitement where required. A couple of slips in Variation
2 took a little away but generally the soloists were very good.
They really went for it in the last variation, but in spite of some
tiredness and intonation problems, it was still a good end to a
fine performance. Leaders at this stage for us and their eventual
2nd place was well deserved. Star player – Solo Euphonium.
Shotts St. Patrick’s had to endure some
difficult circumstances in the build up to the contest and these
resulted in them requiring to recruit 2 players from the previous
band. They had a healthy sound to open but dynamics and intonation
were an obvious problem from the outset. They set a good tempo in
Variation 1 but there was some rushing within the tempo.
A bit more space in the slow movement would have allowed them to
show their soloists to more advantage. There were nice sounds throughout
the band though and the trombone section was excellent. They gave
a spirited ending, but we lost detail again and dynamic contrast
was still lacking. 9th from the judges was about right for us. Star
player – Solo trombone.
City of Discovery Brass were considerably under
full strength. The 22 players that they did have did very well although
balance was a major problem for them. The basics of ensemble and
intonation were generally good and most soloists handled the difficulties
in the piece. The tempos were very steady though and this combined
with the lack of overall sound combined to make it slightly dull
overall. We heard good detail in the cornet section, especially
in the last movement, but despite many good individuals in the band,
they were always going to find it difficult as a unit. 8th from
the judges was towards the high end of our expectations. Star player
– Bass Trombone.
Our pre-match favourite was drawn last. Barrhead Burgh
conducted by Brian Keachie (who’s brother Andrew conducts
runners-up, Kilmarnock) demonstrated an impressive sound from the
start, with good balance and no sign of the intonation problems
that had blighted so many of the other performances. Variation
1 was very tight and well controlled and we heard good work
from all the soloists in the middle movements. Clarity was the main
feature of so much of this performance and it was in the final variation
that they really showed their superiority. It was well sustained
to finish too and there wasn’t much doubt for us that this
was the winner. Andy Duncan and Dick Evans shared our opinion. Star
player – Solo Euphonium.
A fine victory for Barrhead. Both them and Kilmarnock will have
a good chance of success in the finals and with the strength of
sound that they have, they should be able to establish themselves
well in the 1st section.
How did we do? Well once again we forecast the winners and got
4 of the top 6. We were well off the mark with Kilmarnock beforehand
but it still wasn’t a bad effort by our standards.