2005 National Youth Championships - Retrospective: Schools Championships

14-Apr-2005

Smithills and Chris Wormald do it again - this time by a short head from Abraham Darby and Wardle High in the Schools Section.


Chris Wormald
Chris Wormald: Winning MD

You've just got to give it to Smithills.  Once again, the band from Bolton under the precise direction of Chris Wormald took home another title with a performance that was typical of what the banding world has witnessed from this amazing partnership in recent years.

With Chris it doesn't seem to matter whether it's Smithills or Hoover Band, the approach is the same: meticulous and thorough preparation with nothing left to chance (he is quite happy to place music on the stands of his players before they take to the stage - how often do you see an MD do that?).  Chris's persona though relaxes the band and whether he is happy or not, he always projects the right body language, to bring the best out of his band.

For anybody to peak when they need to perform isn't easy, but this is an art, Chris Wormald appears to have mastered.  It doesn't always work, but Smithills' continued success shows that his approach and methods clearly benefit the musicians.

Smithills: Celebrating their win
Smithills: Celebrating their win

Alan Morrison, adjudicating in the County Championship spoke of the importance of bands choosing the right pieces to play to their strengths in competition - and this is exactly what Smithills did here in the Schools Section.

Throughout the whole of its programme the band performed to a very high standard and producing a lovely warm sound, whilst the technical obstacles were overcome with a well rehearsed ease and the individual contributions from all the main players was very good indeed. 

A fine example of this was in the opening ‘The King of Love My Shepherd Is' and later on in ‘I have never been in love before'.  The final offering, music by Mahler and ‘The Resurrection' was another example of the band adapting to different styles of music.  Chris Wormald has arranged music by Mahler for the band previously, and it certainly met with the approval of the judges Colin Hardy and David Horsfield.

The set work was ‘Music for Greenwich' by Professor Edward Gregson and it was perhaps the difference on the day between themselves and Abraham Darby School in taking the title as the shape and overall sound of the music for us just had that little bit more than the Telford-based band.

Principal Cornetist, Rachel Fenton took the award for ‘Best Instrumentalist' within the section and her contribution not just in the Gregson work, but throughout the band's programme cannot be underestimated. The £100 bursary will be well used we are sure.

Overall it was enough just to win by a short head and they took home yet another first prize of £350 and the trophy plus the additional cup awarded by the Worshipful Company of Musicians.

Abraham Darby School
Abraham Darby School

Runners Abraham Darby School were directed in determined fashion by the excellent Wayne Ruston who played from the number one draw in the three band field.  They opened up with ‘Mexican Holiday' sitting down, having strangely had players standing either side of the band beforehand, before giving a fine account of ‘Music For Greenwich'

The hymn tune, ‘Deep Harmony' had a nice warm feel to it as did ‘Adventures in Brass', and what it possibly came down to in the end was the judges' preference.  The bands soprano player, Melanie Wile was in splendid form throughout and it was good to see her playing with the band again.

Both bands were given Gold Certificates of merit for their performance and both fully deserved them for the standard was top notch and a credit not only to the MDs but the players themselves. There must have been a heck of a lot of proud parents here on Sunday after these two had played.

Third place went to Wardle High School and Stuart Marshall.  Without taking anything away from the band, the difference in the quality of sound compared to Abraham Darby and Smithills was noticeable, but they also seemed to be slightly younger than their rivals.

The band's programme had plenty of quality within it, and they certainly seemed at ease in ‘Death or Glory', ‘All Through the Night' and ‘Lightwalk', and in even in Gregson's test piece, but on the day they were the slightest notch behind their two rivals with the award of a Silver Certificate.

Smithills' achievements continue to make you wonder just what the band will do next and in the National Youth Championships in particular, how they would rate in a higher section. Perhaps next year we may find out, and nothing is really beyond them it seems.

Malcolm Wood

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