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Retrospective - The Tameside Open Brass Band Championships 2004

Supported by Tameside MBC

Tameside Hippodrome, Ashton-Under-Lyne
Sunday 28th March, 2004


Twenty-five bands did battle across four sections in the eighth Tameside Open and those who won their respective sections were worthy winners. A number of bands played pieces that they had played at the areas, and for some, the extra preparation time paid dividends, whilst others performed different music altogether.

Tameside Council deserves nothing but praise for their commitment to the brass band movement. Through the course of a year they promote a Youth Championships, The British Open Solo & Quartet competitions, as well as Whit Friday. Adjudicator’s Chris Wormald & Malcolm Brownbill both praised Tameside for its commitment to the moment. Each winning band took home £600 (which is a terrific return) and hopefully more bands will consider this own choice event in the future.

Championship Section

Mossley Band and MD, Martyn Evans got some conciliation for narrowly missing out on qualifying for Harrogate (where they came third) by becoming Tameside Open Champions for 2004.

In a smaller than anticipated field of five bands, Mossley put in a great performance of Coventry Variations by Bramwell Tovey. The three soloists beautifully played the opening trio (that has caused headaches for everybody) with the cornet and flugel players, standing behind the trombone. The quality of sound was impressive, balanced, in tune, and very secure. The performance grew from here, and clearly the band enjoyed the music, and it didn’t cause them too many problems. This was a MD who didn’t ask anything from his band that they couldn’t give back. Mossley were worthy winners without a doubt, and this is a band that has been in the top section at Blackpool, gone down to the first again, but appears extremely confident of its future. Sometimes, going down to come back stronger works and for Mossley, they certainly have a positive outlook.

Milnrow finished runners up, and having finished fourth in Blackpool on Coventry Variations, will consider themselves unfortunate for Mossley to have played as well as they did. Milnrow’s performance was also impressive, but it wasn’t as secure in places as Mossley and Malcolm Brownbill got the result spot on.

Moston & Beswick chose Eric Ball’s classic, Resurgam for their challenge, but had to settle for third place. A little uncomfortable at the beginning, the band settled down to give a performance that didn’t come to life as much as they would have wanted.

Ashton and Poulton-le-Fylde both chose test pieces where if they are honest will probably admit they ‘bit off more than they could chew’.

Ashton chose Lloyd’s English Heritage, and its downfall was the overall quality of sound. It was just wasn’t able to match some of the demands of the piece, and come the end, there were quite a number of red cheeks on show, and the band will be disappointed to have played last and come fourth. Poulton on the other hand tackled ‘Year of the Dragon’ and it just didn’t happen for them at all. Again the overall sound suffered, and they never really did justice to the Sparke piece at all.

Second Section

Six bands did battle in the afternoon with Wire Brass and Paul Andrews taking the honours with Ian Craddock’s Hebden Bridge in second place.

Wire Brass is creating a name for themselves on the contest and concert platform. The band chose Martin Ellerby’s ‘Chivalry’ as their test piece, and they produced a cracker of a performance with what Malcolm Brownbill described from the stage as ‘outstanding’. As any competing band who have played Tristan Encounters have found out, Ellerby’s music tests every aspect of the band, and Wire’s interpretation was extremely musical, and well within the band’s capabilities. The blips were minimal but the quality and richness of sound really did stand out from any other competing band on the day and no surprise that they were winners by four clear points.

Hebden Bridge stuck with the regional test piece ‘Kaleidoscope’ and put on a much more authoritative and convincing show than they had three weeks ago in Bradford. The overall sound was good and they seemed more at home with the music than they had at the Yorkshire area.

Blackpool Brass dispersed of the area test and performed the set-test from the 1992 European, Five Blooms in a Welsh Garden by Gareth Wood. The band was perhaps a little over ambitious with the choice, as it looked and sounded as though the band were not totally at home with the music. The hard work though will have been worth it with £300 going in the coffers for third place.

Diggle and Alan Lawton can consider themselves unlucky not to have taken third place with a good performance of Kaleidoscope. Once again, it wasn’t blemish free, but the band had a nice sound to it, with some good playing around the stand, and but for those blips, could have taken third place.

Greenalls and Rainford Silver both had days to forget having chosen the area test pieces from their sections. Greenalls and Kaleidoscope just never happened at all, and it wasn’t the best of performances that the band will ever produce on the contest platform. The same can be said for Rainford Silver and Vizcaya. Sixth in Blackpool, the band’s performance was one to forget. At the end, they knew it had been one of those days, but they will forget it, and move on.

Third Section

This section had as many withdrawals as an International football manager has for friendly matches. The North West Counties Association led by Frank Hodges deserves nothing but praise for their initiative in making this a competition. Bands who had competed in the Fourth Section got the chance for some extra money, and Simon Wood’s band, Uppermill gained most with a bonus £300 going in the bank.

Trinity Girls were declared the winners for an enjoyable and commanding interpretation of Vizcaya. A good sound, good balance, and comfortable with the demands of the Vinter work, from a number one draw, they really did set the standard.

Boarshurst secured runners up and £400 on the set work for the regionals in the Third Section. As with Trinity Girls, it was an extremely competent interpretation and didn’t cause the band too many problems, although Trinity’s performance was worthy of three clear points on the day.

The rest of the bands were made up from the Fourth Section. Brindle, Denton Brass, St John’s (Mossley) and Uppermill did battle once again with Uppermill being awarded third place. A number of association contests have withdrawals, and more often than not, those who do so, withdraw with good reason, but five bands withdrew in this section and with the prize money being exceptionally good, hopefully bands will think twice next time about competing.

Fourth Section

Uppermill were the clear winners as eight bands competed in the first contest of the day. The band conducted by Simon Wood took home £600 (and later another £300 from the third section) for a great performance of Gregson’s Partita. Drawn number three, it was as good a show as this reviewer has heard across the regional competitions with the middle movement standing out. Simon Wood knows his stuff and his conducting style is very clean and precise. Uppermill clearly thrive playing under this fine conductor, and the money from the day will help in preparation for Harrogate in September.

Port Sunlight drew number one, but came second with another good show on Partita. Adjudicator, Chris Wormald was happy that Uppermill & Port Sunlight were head and shoulders above the others on the day, and that he got the order right on the day, and but for Uppermill’s performance, then the band would have won. Nevertheless, they will be really happy to have taken second and £400 back home.

Tameside-based Carrbrook Brass didn’t have the best day in Blackpool at the areas, but two weeks on, put together a performance of Partita that was much more together, and they seemed a lot happier as they left the stage. Clearly, Blackpool was a lesson learnt, and they wanted to show what they could do.

St John’s (Mossley) tackled Lorenzo (Thomas Keighley) and too be honest, it didn’t come off at all for them as they would have wanted. The acoustic of the hall takes some getting used to (and they were a band who had two cracks at it) and it didn’t help them at all.

A touch of symmetry took place with Elmfield Brass and Littleborough being drawn fifth and sixth, and finishing in the same place as they were drawn. Elmfield played some Drake Rimmer whilst Littleborough, were one of two bands to perform Peter Graham’s, ‘Dimensions’.

The standard in the Fourth Section was pretty good with bands paying attention to tuning, but unfortunately for Brindle and Denton Brass, they never challenged the winners in this section. Brindle also performed Dimensions, whereas, Denton chose ‘The Windermere Suite’ for their entry.

Malcolm Wood
Copyright 4BR

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