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2004 London and Southern Counties Regional Championships - Retrospective

Fourth Section
Sunday 21st March

Test Piece: Partita – Edward Gregson
Adjudicator: Barry Thompson


Barry Thompson had the unenviable task of judging twenty-one bands in the Fourth Section, and apart from the odd performance, it wasn’t until the final furlong, that the winners emerged from the long list of runners and riders.

Waterbeach Brass, Potters Bar Town and Fulham will all take the road North in buoyant mood having secured qualification, but a bit of sympathy goes to Battle Town Band who missed out and had to be content with fourth place. As with the Third Section, away from the top four, the standard was disappointing with many band struggling to cope with the rigors of Partita.

Waterbeach Brass drew number eighteen and it suited them. The three-movement piece had many hurdles for a number of bands, but Waterbeach coped well with each movement, and in a contest that was waiting for a performance to make everybody sit up, the band did that. The ‘Intrada’ was well within the band’s grasp, and when they arrived at the ‘Chorale & Variations’ excelled and grabbed qualification with both hands. It was good all round playing, balance, tuning and a good sound. As long as the final ‘march’ section was all right then this band would qualify and they did.

Potters Bar Town and Sarah Groake can count themselves unlucky not to have lifted the title. The band was drawn last and the interpretation and understanding of Gregson’s music from the MD really shone through. Sarah Groake gave the music the chance to breathe and be heard and that was something that many bands didn’t do. The acoustic of the sports hall isn’t the best, but even so, the clarity of sound in the overall performance was superb.

Fulham will join their banding colleagues in Harrogate after playing from number eleven. It had a few moments of uncertainty, but consistent throughout to take third place.

Battle Town followed Waterbeach Brass on to the platform, and but for Potters Bar, would have been going to North Yorkshire. It was a good interpretation from the MD who only asked what the band could give him. Sadly though, a few blemishes would prove costly, but they take a lot of confidence from the performance and result.

Away from the top four, a number of bands were very similar in performance. The bands that did well took into account the acoustic of the hall and it paid dividends. At times some bands were very loud, and this was a sports hall, not a concert hall, and it made one huge difference to the overall sound of bands. For a good number of bands, too many performances were not secure enough, mainly due to tuning and balance, and on occasions, not the best ensemble playing.

To everyone’s credit though, everybody had a go, even if it didn’t happen for them and twenty-one bands in this section is a terrific achievement. It will be interesting to see how the qualifiers get on in Harrogate, and all will relish the challenge of becoming Fourth Section National Champions.

Malcolm Wood

© 4BarsRest

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