2005 British Open Championships - Runners and Riders

12-Sep-2005

4BR looks at the 18 contenders from the UK and the USA, who will be trying to put their names on the famous Gold Trophy for all eternity.


ashton under lyneAshton under Lyne
Conductor:
Philip Chalk
4BR Ranking: 28

Principal Cornet: Claire Chalk
Principal Euphonium: Bob Gee
Soprano Cornet: Phil Ramsden
Solo Trombone: Dave Priestley
Solo horn: Garry Ashworth
Flugel horn: Helen Ramsden
Solo Baritone: Danny Catlow
Eb Bass: John Clough

Appearances: None
Debut: 2005

Open Record:
According to our records, Ashton are making their debut at the British Open, although a band by the name of Ashton in Makefield did play in the 1883 contest!

Ashton made it to the contest after coming runners up at the Grand Shield contests in Blackpool. After a few years when they really did struggle, theirs has been a bit of a remarkable turn around and all credit to the players and the MD, Phil Chalk the former second man down at Faireys and someone who has tasted success here as a player on more than one occasion.

Last 12 Years:
Ashton are making their debut this year at the contest.

Open Record:
Ashton qualified for the contest this year after coming second at the Grand Shield contest.
 
2005 Form:
Regionals: 2nd in First Section (North West)
Grand Shield: 2nd
European: N/A
Masters: N/A
Others: Winners at Tameside

A very good year so far for Ashton – more than they could have dreamed off. First they got the hard work of qualification to the Lower Section National Finals out of the way by coming runners up in Blackpool (they will head for Harrogate next week) and in April they also took the honours at the competitive Tameside Open as well.

It was the Grand Shield though that set the season alight, with an underrated performance that caught the ears of the judges and saw them pick up the second qualification place ahead of many more fancied rivals. That has given the band something of a rehearsal nightmare ever since, but what a welcome nightmare it is. Lots of talented players and a fine young conductor, they will be keen to show that they are not out of place here this weekend. 
 
Player to listen out for:
Bob Gee – he showed his class at the Grand Shield on one of the most difficult euph solos, so he will be relishing the chance once again here.  


Black DykeBlack Dyke
Conductor:
Dr. Nicholas Childs
4BR Ranking: 2

Principal Cornet: Roger Webster
Principal Euphonium: David Thornton
Soprano Cornet: Peter Roberts
Solo Trombone: Brett Baker
Solo horn: Leslie Howie
Flugel horn: John Doyle
Solo Baritone: Gareth Brindle
Eb Bass: Phil Goodwin

Appearances: 102nd time
Debut: 1856

Open Record:
27 Wins: 1862, 1863, 1871, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1891, 1895, 1896, 1899, 1902, 1904, 1908, 1914, 1935, 1957, 1968, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1992, 1995
21 Seconds: 1877, 1887, 1888, 1900, 1903, 1905, 1907, 1909, 1917, 1922, 1934, 1938, 1971, 1978, 1984, 1988, 1993, 1994, 1999, 2000, 2001
11 Thirds: 1868, 1873, 1884, 1894, 1916, 1937, 1953, 1958, 1963, 2002, 2003
8 Fourths: 1890, 1912, 1919, 1921, 1936, 1970, 1979, 1989
5 Fifths: 1864, 1920, 1936, 1952, 1966
3 Sixths: 1947, 1962, 2004
25 times unplaced:
1 Disqualification: 1865

Last 12 Years:
Conductor and draw

2004: 6th (Nicholas Childs) (6)
2003: 3rd (Nicholas Childs) (11)
2002: 3rd (Nicholas Childs) (3)
2001: 2nd (Nicholas Childs) (14)
2000: 2nd (Nicholas Childs) (15)
1999: 2nd (James Watson) (22)
1998: 8th (James Watson) (7)
1997: DNC
1996: 14th (James Watson) (1)
1995: Winners (James Watson) (15)
1994: 2nd (James Watson) (16)
1993: 2nd (James Watson) (7)

Open Record:
A record like no other band in the world. This will be the Queensbury bands 102nd appearance at the contest and they can boast a record of 27 wins, 21 second places and 11 third places. That's close on a 60% success rate of getting in the top three since 1856 - although it does include the strange occurrence of a disqualification back in 1865, but does include the rather unfortunate result from last year.

Apart from 12 months ago they haven't been out of the top three since 1999, but it is now ten years since the trophy last resided in the Queensbury bandroom when James Watson steered them to victory on "Revelation".  Surely the time has come again, especially in their 150th anniversary year?

Dr. Nicholas Childs directs for the sixth time, and they will be looking for a decent draw once more (just the one number 1 draw in 1996) and to rid themselves of those early slips that possibly cost them the chance of victory last year.  They will however, be there or thereabouts once more for sure come results time.

2005 Form:
Regionals: 2nd (Yorkshire)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: Winners
Masters: N/A
Others: N/A

Is there a sense of destiny about this years British Open for Black Dyke. They won the title in 1975, 1985 and 1995, so what about 2005?

If the 2005 form is anything to go by then they should be there or thereabouts come the results, as it has only taken a very special performance to beat them so far this year. Runners up in Bradford was a bit of a disappointment given their 150th anniversary celebrations, but that was all put behind them when they simply scorched their way to the European Championships in Holland. There they were in a different league to the rest of a high class field.

All the talent, all the history, and the form to go with it this time around it seems.

Player to listen out for:
Peter Roberts – you just have to don't you, and he very rarely disappoints. 


Central FloridaBrass Band of Central Florida
Conductor:
Michael J. Garasi
4BR Ranking: 71

Principal Cornet: Bob Hinckley
Principal Euphonium: Gail Robertson
Soprano Cornet: Dee McAfee
Solo Trombone: Jim Hinkley
Solo horn: Kevin Cramer
Flugel horn: John Copella
Solo Baritone: Steve Hewitt
Eb Bass: John Parsons

Appearances: Debut
Debut: 2005
Open Record: N/A

Last 12 Years: N/A
Conductor and draw

Open Record:
N/A

2005 Form:
2004 US Open Championships: Winners
2005 North American Brass Band Championships: Winners

Make no mistake, this is a very good brass band indeed, and if they have got to grips with the intricacies of the set work by Bram Tovey then they could very well make a big impression here this year.

We heard them in Illinios last year when they won the US Open in fine style displaying a real ‘British' band sound – warm and broad, and they have since followed that up with a fine win at the US Nationals themselves in March when they performed ‘Harrison's Dream' as their own choice selection to beat the rest of the field.

Lots and lots of fine brass players around the stands, and a rare MD on the podium in the shape of Michael J. Garasi, who as we have said before has a million dollar smile and a million dollar load of talent. Make sure you take the time to listen to them – they are well worth it.

Player to listen out for: Every one of them. Given what they have had to go trough to get here each one of the players and supporters deserves to be listened to. 


Brighouse logoBrighouse & Rastrick
Conductor:
James Gourlay
4BR Ranking: 10

Principal Cornet: Allan Morrison
Principal Euphonium: Brenden Wheeler
Soprano Cornet: Nigel Fielding
Solo Trombone: James Stockdale
Solo horn: Melvyn Bathgate
Flugel horn: Sam Fisher
Solo Baritone: Leigh Baker
Eb Bass: David Hebb

Appearances: 65th time
Debut: 1890

Open Record:
6 Wins: 1929, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1936, 1978
3 Seconds: 1965, 1977, 1983
5 Thirds: 1939, 1940, 1973, 1976, 1998
7 Fourths: 1942, 1943, 1961, 1964, 1984, 1999, 2002
4 Fifths: 1960, 1971, 1987, 2003
5 Sixths: 1938,1944, 1959, 1986, 1995
34 times unplaced.

Last 12 Years:
Conductor and draw

2004: 11th (James Gourlay) (5)
2003: 5th (Major Ian McElligott) (17)
2002: 4th (Major Ian McElligott) (12)
2001: 8th (Allan Withington) (8)
2000: 12th (Allan Withington) (8)
1999: 4th (Allan Withington) (14)
1998: 3rd (Allan Withington) (15)
1997: 10th (Allan Withington) (4)
1996: 20th (Allan Withington) (18)
1995: 6th (Allan Withington) (4)
1994: 11th (Allan Withington) (22)
1993: 10th (Allan Withington) (N/K)

Open Record:
Even under the late 1990's resurgence with Allan Withington, the British Open hasn't been a great hunting ground for the boys in purple over the last couple of decades with a best of 2nd place in 1983 and 3rd place in 1998 to show for their troubles. They have of course won the title 6 times, but the last occasion the trophy was in West Riding was in 1978 when Geoffrey Brand took them to victory on "Benvenuto Cellini".

They have been very consistent though in the last few years, with five top 6 finishes since 1998, whilst they have been luckier than most with the draw - just two number 4 spots since 1995 and number 5 last time out.
Last year under the direction of James Gourlay they put in a messy performance of ‘Contest Music' that had real moments of hair raising class mixed with sloppy intonation and silly mistakes to come 11th. Can the partnership of the Scotsman and the men only banders click this time though? If they do they could well walk away as champions, but if not they may have to wait yet another year to capture that elusive seventh title. 

2005 Form:
Regionals: 4th (Yorkshire)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: N/A
Masters: N/A
Others: N/A

Things seem to be bubbling up well in West Riding under the combination of James Gourlay and the boys in purple. Not quite at their best at Bradford where they produced one of the most interesting interpretations of ‘Rienzi', but there was enough there to suggest that their time would come.

They have picked up a few talented new faces as well, with Brenden Wheeler on euph a real future star and allied to a backbone of experience in all the major seats they should be ones to listen out for as James Gourlay is due a cracker here. They have shown on the concert stage what they can do when the mood takes them this year, so can that be transferred to Birmingham and the Open stage?
 
Player to listen out for:
Brenden Wheeler – one of the new breed of uber euphs and an Australian with a winning attitude to compliment his fine playing.   


BAYV logoBuy As You View Band
Conductor:
Dr. Robert Childs
4BR Ranking: 1

Principal Cornet: Ian Williams
Principal Euphonium: David Childs
Soprano Cornet: Michelle Ibbotson
Solo Trombone: Chris Thomas
Solo horn: Owen Farr
Flugel horn: Joanne Deane
Solo Baritone: Susan Thomas
Eb Bass: Gavin Saynor

Appearances: 43rd time
Debut: 1922

Open Record:
2 Wins: 2000, 2002
2 Seconds: 1950, 2004
2 Thirds: 1972, 2001
3 Fourths: 1951, 1975, 1976
1 Fifth: 1974
2 Sixths: 1999, 2003
30 times unplaced.

Last 12 Years:
Conductor and draw

2004: 2nd (Robert Childs) (2)
2003: 6th (Robert Childs) (13)
2002: Winners (Robert Childs) (16)
2001: 3rd (Robert Childs) (20)
2000: Winners (Robert Childs) (22)
1999: 6th (Jeremy Wise) (10)
1998: 13th (Jeremy Wise) (19)
1997: 7th (Jeremy Wise) (16)
1996: 19th (Melvin White) (6)
1995: 13th (Michael Antrobus) (21)
1994: 22nd (Michael Antrobus) (6)
1993: DNC

Open Record:
BAYV make their 43rd appearance at the contest this year and since the arrival of Robert Childs they have come of age at the contest with two wins in the past four years and a runners up spot last year.

The band returned to the Open in 1994 after winning the Grand Shield and results moved in the right direction under successive MD's before the arrival of Robert Childs in 2000 and the "Millennium Double". Since then they have yet to come out of the top six.

This year should see them there or thereabouts once more, and it was only perhaps the unlucky number 2 draw last year that denied them the chance of winning the title for a third time in five years. That was some performance, so they will be hoping for a slightly later draw this time around to give them that little extra fighting chance. If the draw is kind and the force is with them, then they should be in with a very good shout.

2005 Form:
Regionals: Winners (Wales)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: 2nd
Masters: 2nd
Others: N/A 

Will come to Birmingham once more as one of the bands to beat, but also absolutely determined not to come away with yet another runners up place for their efforts. Last year they were possibly undone a little by the draw, so they will be looking to get something a bit later out of the hat this time around.

A very comfortable win at the Welsh Regional Championships (their fourth in a row) led them to Groningen where although they played well they were someway off the pace behind the winners. The Masters also saw them come second again, but once more it wasn't a vintage BAYV performance that gave them the runners up spot and there were a few frailties on show that we are sure have been eradicated for Birmingham. 

All the talent and the backing and supremely well prepared, they may only need a decent draw this time to get their name back on the Shield for a third time this century.
 
Player to listen out for:
Joanne Dean – at a time when players try to blow as loud and hard as they can, BAYV's flugel remains a beacon of delicacy and sweet toned purity. 


Desford Colliery
Conductor:
Major Peter Parkes
4BR Ranking: 24

Principal Cornet: Ben Godfrey
Principal Euphonium: Mike Kilroy
Soprano Cornet: Martin Britt
Solo Trombone: Mark Horton
Solo horn: Murray Borthwick
Flugel horn: Brian Winter
Solo Baritone: Kate Williams
Eb Bass: Ola Ness

Appearances: 32nd time
Debut: 1970

Open Record:
1 Second: 1979
1 Third: 1980
1 Fourth: 1982
2 Fifths: 1984, 1986
2 Sixths: 1983, 1987
25 Unplaced.

Last 12 Years:
Conductor and draw

2004: 7th (Major Peter Parkes) (17)
2003: DNC
2002: DNC
2001: 19th (Major Peter Parkes) (12) (rel)
2000: 20th (Major Peter Parkes) (19)
1999: 13th (Roy Newsome) (3)
1998: 16th (Frank Renton) (2)
1997: 15th (Frank Renton) (6)
1996: 15th (Frank Renton) (16)
1995: 18th (Ray Farr) (5)
1994: 10th (John Clarke) (17)
1993: 13th (Stephen Roberts) (6)

Open Record:
In a way it seems inconceivable that Desford have never won the Open, for during the early 1980's they were head and shoulders above any band in the country. The Open wasn't a happy hunting ground for them though, and even though they came 2nd in 1979 and 3rd in 1980, they never really got close enough to winning the trophy.

A succession of conductors has tried with them since (six between 1993 and 2001), but the best until last year was a 10th place under John Clarke in 1994. Their initial run at the contest ended finally in 2001, but they returned through the Grand Shield qualification process for another bash in 2004 and performed wonderfully well under the Major with a performance of ‘Contest Music' that was out of the top draw and a real throw back to both conductor and band in their prime.

That gave them their best result year since those glory days, but you never quite know with Desford, and they may yet prove all the doubters wrong and finally get an Open to go with their Nationals on the CV. It all depends though on which Desford takes to the stage. So can they do a repeat of 2004 again we wonder?
 
2005 Form:
Regionals: 2nd (Midlands)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: N/A
Masters: N/A
Others: 4th at Butlins Mineworkers Championships

Ah, the mysteries of Desford. Who and what line up they will bring with them to the Open remains a bit of an enigma, but you can be sure – Desford on their day are a band to fear. Last year they certainly showed that when they put in a cracker here, but just when you thought things were on the up, they don't really turn up at the Mineworkers and can only manage fourth place and then put in a pretty average showing at Burton at the Regionals to come runners up.

At least that will mean they will be at London this year (the Masters wasn't on the books again) and if their disparate band of fellow travelers gell once more under the Major then they may well feature highly. Then again…

Player to listen out for:
Ben Godfrey – a real star player and someone who is really making a name for himself in the hard school of professional brass playing in London. Catch a glimpse of a star talent. 


Fairey fp logoFairey FP (Music) Band
Conductor:
Simon Stonehouse
4BR Ranking: 7

Principal Cornet: Steve Wilkinson
Principal Euphonium: Riki McDonnell
Soprano Cornet: Rebecca Crawshaw
Solo Trombone: Kevin Gibbs
Solo horn: Chris Pannell
Flugel horn: Lucy Murphy
Solo Baritone: Rob Richardson
Eb Bass: Richard Evans

Appearances: 62nd time
Debut: 1938

Open Record:
16 Wins: 1941, 1942, 1944, 1945, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1956, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1979, 1987, 1993, 1998
13 Seconds: 1943, 1946, 1948, 1953, 1960, 1967, 1975, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1995, 1997
5 Thirds: 1969, 1977, 1984, 1992, 1999
5 Fourths: 1959, 1971, 1996, 2000, 2003
1 Fifth: 1985
7 Sixths: 1951, 1957, 1970, 1978, 1990, 2001, 2002
14 times unplaced.

Last 12 Years:
Conductor and draw

2004: 12th (Allan Withington (11)
2003: 4th (Allan Withington) (9)
2002: 6th (Allan Withington) (19)
2001: 6th (Howard Snell) (2)
2000: 4th (James Gourlay) (17)
1999: 3rd (James Gourlay) (12)
1998: Winners (James Gourlay) (16)
1997: 2nd (James Gourlay) (10)
1996: 4th (James Gourlay) (10)
1995: 2nd (James Gourlay) (11)
1994: 7th (Peter Parkes) (20)
1993: Winners (Peter Parkes) (16)

Open Record:
Only Black Dyke have more wins at the British Open than Fairey, and the band from Stockport can lay claim to winning at least one Open title in each decade since the 1940's, although they haven't really come close to adding to that so far this millennium.

The list of MD's that have won with the band here reads like a role of the "Greats" in the banding world - Mortimer, Lamb, Hargreaves, Newsome, Parkes and Gourlay, so can the latest, the very talented Simon Stonehouse add his name to them?

The band has an unequalled record of consistency here as well over the past decade or so, but the troubles of late 2003 and 2004 hurt them and it has taken a great deal of fight and character for them to recover so well. They are now looking like a band that can do this business here once more.

Last year they gave a very mediocre performance of ‘Contest Music' under Allan Withington, but you sense they are looking forward to the contest so much more this time around and a return to the top prizes could well be within their reach..

2005 Form:
Regionals: 2nd (North West)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: N/A
Masters: N/A
Others: N/A

Just the one outing for Fairey's this year at Blackpool, but what a good one that was. They went into that contest with the detractors ready and willing to write the obituaries for one of the movements most famous bands, but after a performance of real character and skill they won a place at London and gave themselves a massive boost as they set about rebuilding.

Since then they have brought in a number of keen and talented young players and a few old heads and with the very competent MD Simon Stonehouse at the helm they could well feature highly. People made the mistake of writing them off before and they proved everyone wrong – so how about them doing it again here.

Player to listen out for:
Rebecca Crawshaw – a player with a brilliant future ahead of her and currently performing as well as any in the rough and tumble of the Championship section on the hardest instrument of all.   


Fodens RichardsonFodens Richardson
Conductor:
Garry Cutt
4BR Ranking: 4

Principal Cornet: Mark Wilkinson
Principal Euphonium: Glyn Williams
Soprano Cornet: Alan Wycherley
Solo Trombone: John Barber
Solo horn: Rob Fulcher
Flugel horn: Helen Fox
Solo Baritone: Helen Tyler
Eb Bass: Phil Green

Appearances: 66th time
Debut: 1909

Open Record:
10 Wins: 1909, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1915, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1964, 2004
6 Seconds: 1911, 1916, 1952, 1987, 1998, 2002
6 Thirds: 1914, 1925, 1957, 1970, 1981, 1985
4 Fourths: 1958, 1965, 1986, 1991
8 Fifths: 1918, 1953, 1968, 1972, 1988, 1996, 1999, 2000
3 Sixths: 1917, 1984, 1994
28 times unplaced.

Last 12 Years:
Conductor and draw

2004: Winners (Garry Cutt) (12)
2003: 7th (Thomas Wyss) (3)
2002: 2nd (Bramwell Tovey) (8)
2001: 7th (Bramwell Tovey) (3)
2000: 5th (Bramwell Tovey) (9)
1999: 5th (Nicholas Childs) (4)
1998: 2nd (Nicholas Childs) (18)
1997: 9th (Nicholas Childs) (13)
1996: 5th (Phillip McCann) (3)
1995: 8th (Howard Snell) (22)
1994: 6th (Howard Snell) (4)
1993: 11th (Howard Snell) (N/K)

Open Record:
The reigning champions are another band with an amazing pedigree at the contest since they first took part in 1909, when they won on their debut under the legendary William Rimmer. Since then they have notched up a further 9 wins, including last year's amazing victory under Garry Cutt after a forty year period of close calls and hard luck stories.

Last year they seemed to produce their best form for many a year under the excellent stewardship of Garry Cutt - a conductor who they should have engaged years before in many peoples opinion, and if his detailed musical approach is once more adopted this time round they can be counted as one of the favourites to win again for sure.

On their day, Fodens are almost unbeatable and with the experience of playing works by the composer himself, as well as understanding the musical intentions of what he writes, they will travel with real confidence of making it two in a row for the first time since 1927. 

2005 Form:
Regionals: 3rd (North West)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: N/A
Masters: 3rd
Others: N/A

The reigning champions may be having a bit of a problem with qualification for the National Finals, but that won't worry them if they can once again repeat last year's performance and take the title here.

The Regionals was a massive disappointment for sure (they didn't play well though), but they put in a fine account at Cambridge and could count themselves a little unlucky not to have come away as winners. Since then they have produced a number of very fine concert performances and have been working hard integrating the new faces into the ranks. Under Garry Cutt they will be formidable contenders, with all the star performers in the major seats and an excellent ensemble to back them up. Add to that a real understanding of the composers musical ideals and you have a combination that should be there or thereabouts come the announcement of the results. 

Player to listen out for:
Mark Wilkinson – year in year out, Wilky has been doing the business and is still playing as well as ever. A class act.   


Grimethorpe CollieryGrimethorpe Colliery (UK Coal)
Conductor:
Allan Withington
4BR Ranking: 6

Principal Cornet: Richard Marshall
Principal Euphonium: Michael Dodd
Soprano Cornet: Kevin Crockford
Solo Trombone: Richard Brown
Solo horn: Sandy Smith
Flugel horn: Ian Shires
Solo Baritone: Robert Archer
Eb Bass: Shaun Crowther

Appearances: 59th time
Debut: 1935

Open Record:
4 Wins: 1967, 1969, 1984, 1991
3 Seconds: 1945, 1963, 1973
10 Thirds: 1960, 1961, 1968, 1971, 1979, 1983, 1987, 1990, 1994, 2000
3 Fourths: 1972, 1998, 2001
6 Fifths: 1976, 1981, 1989, 1992, 1995, 1997
3 Sixths: 1946, 1980, 1985
29 Unplaced.

Last 12 Years:
Conductor and draw

2004: 9th (Frank Renton) (9)
2003: DNC
2002: 14th (James Gourlay) (10)
2001: 4th (Garry Cutt) (13)
2000: 3rd (Garry Cutt) (20)
1999: 18th (Andreas Sporri) (7)
1998: 4th (Major Peter Parkes) (17)
1997: 5th (Major Peter Parkes) (7)
1996: 7th (Major Peter Parkes) (20)
1995: 5th (Major Peter Parkes) (19)
1994: 3rd (Garry Cutt) (14)
1993: 9th (Frank Renton) (18)

Open Record:
Four wins for the lads of Grimethorpe, but nothing since 1991 when Frank Renton took them to one of the most memorable Open victories in modern times. Since then though, it has been a litany of unfulfilled promise, with a couple of near misses under Garry Cutt, but a sense of disappointment the rest of the time – including last year when their ‘Contest Music' never really got off the ground from the word go.

Their first win at the contest came in 1967 under the great George Thompson, whilst they did it again in 1969. Geoffrey Brand emulated that 1967 win in 1984 on "Comedy" before Frank Renton claimed the last triumph with them on "Paganini Variations".

When the mood is with Grimey they are almost a force of nature, but when the mood is not there they can be infuriatingly inconsistent. Allan Withington though is a great choice, although he hasn't as yet caught the winning bug at the Open in his career. Time for that to change this year then, especially if he can mould the band into the form they showed at Bradford earlier this year.  

2005 Form:
Regionals: Winners (Yorkshire)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: N/A
Masters: N/A
Others: N/A

If ever a band is riding the crest of a wave, then it is Grimethorpe. However, that statement must be tempered by the thought that when Grimey are hot they are almost nuclear (as in Bradford under Richard Evans), whilst when they are not, they can sometimes sound as persuasive as an alternative source of energy.

Much depends on the relationship with new MD Allan Withington – there is sure to be a great deal of professional respect, but even some very well known MDs have found that conducting Grimey when their hearts and minds are not in it can be the equivalent of walking the green mile.

This time though it could well be a combination that will send the mercury through the top of the musical thermometer. Look out to see if the sparks will fly.
 
Player to listen out for:
Kevin Crockford – playing like a man possessed and with a maturity that stands him out as one of the very best.  


Hepworth Persimmon Hepworth (Persimmon Homes)
Conductor:
Mark Bentham
4BR Ranking: 13

Principal Cornet: Robert Westacott
Principal Euphonium: James Fieldhouse
Soprano Cornet: Mark Smedley
Solo Trombone: Yvonne Embury
Solo horn: Rebecca Landon
Flugel horn: Catherine Booth
Solo Baritone: Nicholas Young
Eb Bass: John Pullin

Appearances: None
Debut: 2005

Open Record: Debut this year
 
Last 12 Years: N/A
Conductor and draw

2005 Form:
Regionals: 5th (Yorkshire)
Grand Shield: Winners
European: N/A
Masters: 8th
Others: N/A

The Open sees the culmination of two years of fantastic achievement for Hepworth and they will be making the trip to Birmingham with realistic hopes of making a mark in the top prizes as well.

The confidence is not misplaced as they have shown that they are now a band of the top rank at the big contests- something that was in evidence at Bradford where they were excellent in coming 5th and the Masters where they came a fine 8th off the number 1 draw.

It was Blackpool and the Grand Shield that really saw them stamp their class and that win was fully deserved. Plenty of talented individual players and an MD who has grown both in confidence and stature on each outing. Hepworth are now a seriously good band, and that should mean a seriously good performance could be in the making here.
 
Player to listen out for:
Robert Westacott – the principal cornet, leader and heart beat of the band. All that is good stems from his playing, and his playing is very good indeed. 


Kirkintilloch lgoKirkintilloch
Conductor:
Steve Bastable
4BR Ranking: 14

Principal Cornet: David Prentice
Principal Euphonium: Andy Mclean
Soprano Cornet: Stephen Stewart
Solo Trombone: Marion Brackpool
Solo horn: Allan Wardrope
Flugel horn: Martyn Ramsay
Solo Baritone: Debbie Newby
Eb Bass: Andy McKreel

Appearances: 5th time
Debut: 2001

Open Record:
No Wins:
No Seconds:
No Thirds:
1 Fourth: 2004
No Fifths:
No Sixths:
3 times unplaced

Last 12 Years
Conductor and draw

2004: 4th (Steve Bastable) (16)
2003: 11th (Frank Renton) (16)
2002: 12th (Frank Renton) (6)
2001: 16th (Allan Ramsey) (19)
1993 - 2000: DNC

Open Record:
Kirkintilloch make their fifth appearance at the contest this year after first making their debut in 2001 on ‘Les Preludes' and if their current form guide at the contest is anything to go by (they have improved each year), then there could well be a chance that the Open title itself may well be heading back to Scotland for the first time.

The band qualified for the contest after winning the Grand Shield in some style in 2001, and under Allan Ramsey they put up a solid show in coming home 16th whilst their long-term association with Frank Renton heralded further improvement in both the following years with 12th and 11th. 

The talented Steve Bastable took over last year and they produced a very musical, if not error free performance of ‘Montage' that was the best of the day according to the judges and gained them a tremendous fourth spot. It may be asking a great deal of them to repeat or better that this time around, but with a real star in the middle with the baton and a very solid and commited band to direct, they will be very confident for sure.

2005 Form:
Regionals: 4th (Scotland)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: N/A
Masters: 4th
Others: 3rd Land O' Burns

A bit of a difficult band to quantify at times Kirky. Under Steve Bastable they have been put in a number of outstanding performances - notably here last year and at Cambridge where they were also very good, but have also been more than a touch mediocre as well.

The Regionals in Scotland were a case in point where they were nowhere near winning or even gaining a qualification place for London and at the recent Land O' Burns contest they didn't sparkle at all either.

Come Birmingham though and you feel they will up their game considerably and with quality performers around the stand and a most musical influence in the middle they could well fancy themselves to make a significant mark here once more. 

Player to listen out for:
Alan Wardrope – a superb craftsman on the horn; great sound, fine technique and the temperament to produce the goods on the biggest stages.    


Reg VardyReg Vardy
Conductor:
Ray Farr
4BR Ranking: 11

Principal Cornet: Bryan Tait
Principal Euphonium: Paul Robinson
Soprano Cornet: Tom Glendinning
Solo Trombone: Chris Bentham
Solo horn: Andrew Hall
Flugel horn: Joanne Winspear
Solo Baritone: Jim Thompson
Eb Bass: Steve Malcolm

Appearances: 30th time
Debut: 1966

Open Record:
No Wins:
No Seconds:
No Thirds:
1 Fourth: 1987
2 Fifths: 1977, 1982
No Sixths:
26 times unplaced.

Last 12 Years:
Conductor and draw

2004: 8th (Ray Farr) (19)
2003: 8th (Ray Farr) (4)
2002: 15th (Ray Farr) (11)
2001: 12th (Ray Farr) (11)
2000: DNC
1999: DNC
1998: DNC
1997: DNC
1996: DNC
1995: DNC
1994: DNC
1993: DNC

Open Record:
The band made its first appearance at the Open in 1966 after they had won the Grand Shield contest that year as Craghead Colliery on "Main Street" conducted by late Eric Cunningham.

They didn't make an immediate mark though (they changed their name to Ever Ready at the 1969 contest) but they registered two fifth places in 1977 and 1982 and a fourth in 1987 under Eric Cunningham again before dropping out after 1990.

The band returned in 2001 after coming runners up at the Grand Shield and under Ray Farr they have since performed solidly at the contest, coming 12th then 15th in 2002 and just missing out on the top six in the last two years. That has been confirmation of the huge upturn in form they have produced in the past two years or so, and they now come to any major contest as real contenders. Last year they gave a solid if slightly uninspiring account of ‘St. Magnus' off a late draw, but if they click you feel they could well feature highly and make it into the frame. 

2005 Form:
Regionals: Winners (North of England)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: N/A
Masters: 6th
Others: 5th World Championships

Not quite playing with the form of 2004 at present, but Reg Vardy set themselves very high standards to emulate after last year, and to be fair they haven't done a bad job so far have they?

They are now a fine band and genuine contenders at the major contests. They started the year in familiar fashion at Darlington when they took the North of England Regional title amid some spin (or should that be turn), but although they played well at Cambridge they didn't quite have the classiness about them to force their way higher than 6th place – about par for their ranking.

The World Championships was a bit of a distraction no more, and in hindsight perhaps not the greatest decision they ever made to attend, but they have a fine ensemble and classy soloists and this piece could well be one that suits their collective strengths.

Player to listen out for:
Paul Robinson – just the man for the job, as he proved at the Masters this year. A fine performer playing at the top of his game. 


Rothwell Temperance
Conductor:
David Roberts
4BR Ranking: 25

Principal Cornet: Tim Hammond
Principal Euphonium: Andy Marsh
Soprano Cornet: Paul Argyle
Solo Trombone: Andrew White
Solo horn: Catherine Roberts
Flugel horn: John Ward
Solo Baritone: Andy Padgett
Eb Bass: Edward Hodkin

Appearances: 11th time
Debut: 1927

Open Record:
No Wins:
No Seconds: 
No Thirds:
No Fourths: 
No Fifths:
1 Sixth: 1928
9 times unplaced

Last 12 Years:
Conductor and draw

2004: 15th (David Roberts) (14)
1993-2003: DNC

Open Record:
An eleventh appearance at the British Open for Rothwell, with their first as long ago as 1927 on "The Merry Wives of Windsor".  The best they have done was in the following year when they came 6th, but subsequent efforts have not led to another mention from the stage. Their last appearance under the Rothwell name was 1947.

They returned though after a very fine performance at the Grand Shield in 2004 when they came runners up on "Les Preludes" to Sellers International and did more than enough last year when they produced a solid account of ‘Contest Music' to suggest they were not out of place at the Open.

David Roberts has done wonders with this band over the past few years since they hit Championship status in 1999, and they quietly go about their business giving well thought out, well rehearsed performances wherever they go. Consistently underrated prior to contests (especially by 4BR in the past) they seem to relish the challenge of major contesting.

2005 Form:
Regionals: 7th (Yorkshire)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: N/A
Masters: 7th
Others: N/A

Don't be put off listening to Rothwell – they have the happy knack of putting in well crafted performances of real merit wherever they go. This year they have shown that to the full, with a very solid showing at Bradford that saw them come seventh, but would have most probably come in the prize list in just about any other area of the country.

Added to that they did it again at Cambridge with another well thought out and very solid showing to come seventh once more. There is no secret to what they do- lots of quality players and a hard working ethos that comes from the talented MD in the middle. They may not set the pulses racing, but they will quietly get what they set out to achieve. If only others had that same knack.

Player to listen out for:
Paul Argyle - one of the new breed of soprano players just about ready to take over the mantle from the established stars. A real talent. 


Selles InternationalSellers International
Conductor:
Philip McCann
4BR Ranking: 8

Principal Cornet: Eliott Darwin
Principal Euphonium: Mark Bousie
Soprano Cornet: Denise Dranfield
Solo Trombone: Rebecca Lundberg
Solo horn: Leah Williams
Flugel horn: Neil Hewson
Solo Baritone: Tim Smith
Eb Bass: Ben Thomson

Appearances: 14th time
Debut: 1998

Open Record:
No Wins:
No Seconds: 
No Thirds:
No Fourths: 
2 Fifths: 1991, 2004
No Sixths:
11 times unplaced

Last 12 Years:
Conductor and draw

2004: 5th (Philip McCann) (13)
2003: DNC
2002: DNC
2001: DNC
2000: DNC
1999: 17th (Peter Parkes) (21) (rel)
1998: 18th (A. Morrison) (14)
1997: 12th (A. Morrison) (9)
1996: 11th (A. Morrison) (2)
1995: 7th (P. McCann) (9)
1994: 14th (P. McCann) (13)
1993: 16th (P.McCann) (20)

Open Record:
What a fantastic return last year for Sellers and Philip McCann at the Open when they produced a very well crafted performance of ‘Montage' to come in 5th.  That equaled their best ever performance at the contest of 1991 on "Paganini Variations" with Philip McCann at the helm as well, and confirmed that they are once again a band to fear at the major contests.

It has been a long haul back as well as their first tenure at the Open finished in 1999 when they could only manage 17th under Peter Parkes on "…Dove Descending" and were relegated.

Since the return of the Scotsman though things have looked up, and although they have lost one or two experienced players in the past few years, they have replaced them with some real talented youngsters, and with the driving force of the MD they will approach this contest full of confidence of doing well once more.

2005 Form:
Regionals: 6th (Yorkshire)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: N/A
Masters: 5th
Others: N/A

Sellers are now definitely back in the big time and once more they will be a band to look out for at the Open.  Last year saw them produce a fine account to come fifth and you sense that Philip McCann and his charges will be determined to even better this time around.

2005 has shown that as well, with a fine fifth place at Bradford with a very powerful performance and they backed that up in Cambridge with the aid of some clever acoustic playing and accurate and detailed direction from the podium. They have had a few changes in personnel of late, but you always know that Philip McCann and his band will come very well prepared. That could stand them in good stead here.

Player to listen out for:
Mark Bousie –  one of the most complete euph players on the circuit. Never puts a foot wrong and always produces the goods.   


Scottish CoopScottish Co-op
Conductor:
Frank Renton
4BR Ranking: 5

Principal Cornet: Jim Hayes
Principal Euphonium: Allison Bonner
Soprano Cornet: Gordon Jenkins
Solo Trombone: Paul Kiernan
Solo horn: Lyndsey Smith
Flugel horn: Caroline Tennant
Solo Baritone: Ryan Gray
Eb Bass: John Gawn

Appearances: 18th time
Debut: 1956

Open Record:
No Wins:
No Seconds:
3 Thirds: 1993, 1997, 2004
No Fourths:
No Fifths:
No Sixths:
14 times unplaced.

Last 12 Years:
Conductor and draw

2004: 3rd (Ian McElligott) (13)
2003: 13th (James Scott) (12)
2002: 16th (John Hinckley) (4) (rel)
2001: 12th (James Gourlay) (4)
2000: 11th (Kazuyoshi Uemura) (16)
1999: 9th (Howard Snell) (9)
1998: 12th (Howard Snell) (20)
1997: 3rd (Howard Snell) (5)
1996: 8th (Howard Snell) (15)
1995: 10th (Frans Violet) (20)
1994: 9th (David King) (21)
1993: 3rd (Frans Violet) (2)

Open Record:
The Scottish Co-op returned to the Open in 2003 after tasting relegation in 2002 after a couple of years at the contest where they certainly played below form. Two early draws in those two years may not have helped but relegated they were and it says a lot about the band that they bounced back first time under the direction of Nicholas Childs at the Grand Shield in 2003.

Since then though they have certainly found their feet here, even though this time around will see the seventh new face to take them at the contest in as many years. Last time out it was Ian McElligott who found favour with the adjudicators with his interpretation of ‘St. Magnus' to gain a superb third place and give the band its third podium in its 17 appearances here.

Overall though not a brilliant record here at the Open since they made their debut back in 1956 as CWS Glasgow under E. Clayton, as they have on more than a few occasions been midfield material. One of the few bands to win the Grand Shield twice, they are a band more than capable of winning a major when the mood and the conducting combination suits them, so it will be interesting to see if Frank Renton can inspire them to better last years result.

2005 Form:
Regionals: 3rd (Scotland)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: N/A
Masters: Winners
Others: 2nd Land O' Burns

Which Scottish Co-op will turn up at Symphony Hall eh? The one that put in a top class show here last year to come third and the one that gave an outstanding performance at Cambridge to take the Masters title, or the shadow Scottish Co-op that performed well under par at the Regional Championships and London last year?

The recent Land O' Burns contest a couple of weeks ago showed that they are moving back in the right direction under the astute direction of resident MD Alan Ramsay and when they are bang on the form button they can be considered as serious candidates for a very placing here. Frank Renton could well be the man to bring them together, so well worth a bob or two at the bookies if you fancy a flutter. 
 
Player to listen out for:
Paul Kiernan - a very high quality performer for the Scots for a very long time. A fine soloist and excellent ensemble leader. 


TredegarTredegar
Conductor:
Thomas Wyss
4BR Ranking: 12

Principal Cornet: Darren Thomas
Principal Euphonium: Darren Morris
Soprano Cornet: Bob Ferryman
Solo Trombone: Jonathan Pippen
Solo horn: Michael Franey
Flugel horn: Alex James
Solo Baritone: Geraint Chamberlain
Eb Bass: David Meredith

Appearances: 15th time
Debut: 1976

Open Record:
No Wins:
1 Second: 1996
No Thirds:
No Fourths:
No Fifths:
1 Sixth: 1997
12 times unplaced

Last 12 Years:
Conductor and draw

2004: 19th (Russell Gray) (15)
2003: 9th (Russell Gray) (18)
2002: 8th (Steve Bastable) (18)
2001: 13th (Steve Bastable) (17)
2000: 8th (Steve Bastable) (12)
1999: 7th (James Scott) (20)
1998: 7th (James Scott) (11)
1997: 6th (James Scott) (3)
1996: 2nd (Nicholas Childs) (9)
1995: 13th (Nicholas Childs) (2)
1994: 16th (Nicholas Childs) (18)
1993: DNC

Open Record:
A 15th appearance for the band from South Wales, and after making their debut back in 1976 by winning the Grand Shield under the direction of the late John Childs on "The Frogs", they could be in real danger of dropping out this year.

They had three years at the contest before dropping out first in 1978, and they had to wait until they qualified in 1994 before they once more appeared at the Open. Since then they have been one of the most consistent bands at the contest, with a high spot of second place on "The Severn Suite" in 1996 under Nicholas Childs. They haven't quite reached those heights since, but top 10 finishes in seven of the past nine years shows that on the day they can be serious challengers.

The draw has been kind to them of late but they did record their last top 6 finish off number 3 in 1997. They will have to work hard though if this is not to be their last appearance here after coming last twelve months ago with a very insecure ‘St. Magnus' that saw them perhaps unluckily come bottom of the pile.

2005 Form:
Regionals: 4th (Wales)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: N/A
Masters: 15th
Others: Winners Ebbw Vale

Tredegar have gone through the wringer a bit in the past twelve months, but there have been encouraging noises of late coming from the bandroom high in the South Wales valleys, and new signings and a return to a former successful partnership with Thomas Wyss promises much (and they have much to do here to retain their place at the Open).

The Regionals saw them be a bit unlucky to miss out on a trip to London, but they put in a shocker at Cambridge to come fifteenth. That was a bit of a mystery as two weeks before they had won in some style at Ebbw Vale. They have a fine record here over the years, and with plenty of character, some classy lead players and solid ensemble they will have worked their socks off to retain their place here for another year.  This will be a real test of their resolve.

Player to listen out for:
Jonathan Pippen – a fine exponent of the trombone playing art. All the talent and all the skills.  


Whitburn logoWhitburn
Conductor:
Andrew Duncan
4BR Ranking: 9

Principal Cornet: Eleanor Ferguson
Principal Euphonium: Evelyn Bradley
Soprano Cornet: Scott Forest
Solo Trombone: Mark Boyd
Solo horn: Iain Fleming
Flugel horn: Jim Chamberlain
Solo Baritone: Katrina Marzella
Eb Bass: Graham Frazer

Appearances: 14th time
Debut: 1971

Open Record:
No Wins:
1 Second: 2003
No Thirds:
No Fourths:
1 Fifth: 2001
No Sixths:
11 times unplaced.

Last 12 Years:
Conductor and draw

2004: 13th (Andrew Duncan) (10)
2003: 2nd (Andrew Duncan) (8)
2002: 10th (Philip McCann) (7)
2001: 5th (Philip McCann) (9)
2000: 17th (Philip McCann) (4)
1999: 11th (Philip McCann) (18)
1998: 20th (Archie Hutchison) (3)
1997: 13th (Richard Adams) (8)
1996: 17th (Chris Houlding) (7)
1995: 12th (Chris Houlding) (16)
1994: DNC
1993: DNC

Open Record:
Whitburn first made an appearance at the British Open back in 1971 as Whitburn Burgh directed by A. Fleming, and they appeared sporadically after then up to winning the Grand Shield on "Le Carnival Romain" in 1991 - although they only lasted a year at the contest.
 
1995 saw them regain their place at the Open after coming runners up to YBS on "Pageantry" and since that time they have performed solidly under four different MD's. The highlight would have been the fifth spot on "Les Preludes" under Philip McCann but that was topped by a magnificent performance on "The Planets" that saw them push YBS for top spot and gave their soprano player Gordon Jenkins the soloist prize in 2003.

Andrew Duncan continues at the helm for a third year, and he will be hoping for a better return than the 13th place of last year when they just didn't play to form on ‘Contest Music'. They have the talent and the direction to do well here and they should be more than capable of making a real mark once again.

2005 Form:
Regionals: 2nd (Scotland)
Grand Shield: N/A
European: 8th
Masters: N/A
Others: Winners Land O' Burns
 
Whitburn have all the ingredients in place for them to be one of the leading contenders here; plenty of classy principal players, a fine broad ensemble sound and an excellent MD at the helm. They just haven't quite come together as one would have expected after their superb runners up spot here in 2003, and that is starting to be a bit of an Achilles heel.

The Regionals saw them qualify once more for the Albert Hall, but still not do enough to win, whilst at the Europeans they perhaps tried too hard to force their into the reckoning and an over ambitious own choice selection rather scupperred them as they came a lowly eighth. Back to form at the Land O' Burns contest though signaled their intent, and they could be a real dark horse come Saturday.

Player to listen out for:
Eleanor Ferguson – a very talented player who in the past couple of years has produced some wonderful performances at the major contests. 


YBS lgoYBS Band
Conductor:
Prof. David King
4BR Ranking: 3

Principal Cornet: Stuart Lingard
Principal Euphonium: Morgan Griffiths
Soprano Cornet: Alan Hobbins
Solo Trombone: Jonathan Beatty
Solo horn: Sheona White
Flugel horn: Iwan Williams
Solo Baritone: Mike Howley
Eb Bass: Ken Ferguson

Appearances: 30th time
Debut: 1970

Open Record:
4 Wins: 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003
1 Second: 1989
1 Third: 1995
3 Fourths: 1977, 1981, 1990
1 Fifth: 1973
2 Sixths: 1996, 2000
17 times unplaced.

Last 12 Years:
Conductor and draw

2004: 14th (David King) (8)
2003: Winners (David King) (10)
2002: 9th (David King) (9)
2001: Winners (David King) (10)
2000: 6th (David King) (3)
1999: Winners (David King) (16)
1998: 10th (David King) (8)
1997: Winners (David King) (11)
1996: 6th (David King) (19)
1995: 3rd (David King) (18)
1994: DNC
1993: 14th (David Marshall) (3) (rel)

Open Record:
Many people may only think of this band under their present title, but under the old name of Hammonds Sauce the band made its debut at the contest as far back as 1970 under the direction of that great character, Geoffrey Whitham. The band came fifth in 1973, fourth in 1977 on "Diadem of Gold" and fourth again in 1981 on "Variations on a Ninth".

The last hurrah for Hammonds was in 1989 when they came runners up to Kennedy's Swinton on "Diversions on a Bass Theme". After that things went downhill somewhat and they lost their place at the Open after coming 14th under their new name of Yorkshire Building Society in 1993.

They returned after winning the Grand Shield in 1995 and since then they have been the band to beat here. Each of the four wins though have been followed by disappointing defences of their titles including last year when they produced a decent effort only on ‘Contest Music', but which sounded like a piece that didn't really suit the band as perhaps the other two choices would have.

14th was their worse performance at the contest since 1993, and they certainly wouldn't want a repeat of that this time around. Given their recent record here though, a win wouldn't be out of the question either under their new name of YBS.

2005 Form:
Regionals: 3rd
Grand Shield: N/A
European: N/A
Masters: N/A
Others: N/A

If the record books are anything to go by then YBS will be declared winners of the 2005 British Open come Saturday evening.  However the record books for 2005 also clearly state that YBS has only competed in the one contest this year and then they were some way off the pace at Bradford where they came third.

Thankfully they had already booked their place at London, and having decided not to compete at the Europeans or the Masters they have had a quite extended period away from the contest stage (a stage they are usually very comfortable on) and have gone off on their travels. They return though refreshed and determined to reclaim the Open for a fifth time and you sense that they will be champing at the bit to show that they are still the preeminent contest band in the world. So what will the record books record come Saturday night? 

Player to listen out for:
Iwan Williams – the best flugel player in the banding world? Listen to his playing and you may find it hard to disagree. 

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