2007 Midlands Regional Championship - Introduction

6-Mar-2007

The Midlands can offer no less than eighty four band across the sections - all competing for that ultimate goal of National glory. As always, the region will be closely fought so expect thrills, spills and surprises galore.


BurtonChampionship Section:

The Championship Section contest at Burton has long been one of the most open of any of the regional competitions and this year looks like being no exception to the rule. The midlands might not boast the household name bands of Yorkshire and the North West but with strength in depth it remains a fascinating battle, with a good eight of the bands in serious contention for the qualification places.

On one level it should have come as no surprise that Newstead Welfare picked up the title for the first time last year. They had, after all, been steadily growing in stature for some time, as the band's previous results testify. Newstead's performance on the day was a strong one but for an audience whose expectations of the title winners principally lay with Desford, it did not stop the gasp from around the hall upon the announcement of the results. More incredulous though was the fact that Desford ultimately ended up in sixth position.

There is no doubt therefore that Desford, going into this year's contest on the back of a rich seam of recent form, will have fire in their bellies and a renewed desire to get back to the RAH; a venue that still retains special memories of former glories for the band.

But this is where the intrigue of this contest really kicks in. Virtuosi GUS also experienced a disappointing result last year and will be out for revenge, whilst Newstead and Jaguar have a huge amount to live up to after their unexpected if not entirely undeserved occupation of the top two places.

Sovereign, Staffordshire and Ransome, all Royal Albert Hall participants in the past, will also have something to say and have serious points to prove. And all of this on a piece that will potentially prove a considerably greater challenge to the bands than last year's test.
So sit back, strap yourself in and relax (if you can!). It should be quite a ride.                    

First Section:

Musicality will be the name of the game in the First Section. In Eric Ball's The Wayfarer we have a work that might not test the bands to their absolute technical limits, but will sure as eggs test their musical abilities in the truest sense of the word; and with David Read and Alan Morrison in the box, they will know what they want to hear from the word go.

Perhaps even more so than in the Championship Section, an outright potential winner here is by no means easy to pick and with a huge field of nineteen bands it's going to be one heck of a scrap for a place in the finals.       

A good handful of the bands have previous and recent Championship Section experience and will be keen to get themselves back into the elite division, amongst them Jackfield, Riddings, Derwent Brass, Glossop Old and Towcester Studio. Others, including Bedworth Brass, Enderby and Shirley, have been pretty close to promotion prospects in the past and will be out to capitalise and gain further ground.

The ultimate qualifiers will have something to live up to in carrying the Midlands torch to Harrogate in the wake of Kibworth emerging victorious with the National title last year. No pressure then!     

Second Section: 

Last year's Second Section contest was a cracking battle but not all of the fancied bands quite cut the mustard on the day. Images of the Millennium was a tough ask though and whilst Helen Perkin's somewhat dated sounding Carnival is by no means a techno fest, as with Eric Ball's The Wayfarer, it does place ample demands on musicianship, particularly in the extended central movement.

It's back to basics then, to quote a certain equally somewhat dated former Prime Minister!
There are some serious contenders fighting it out here, so much so that even beyond our chosen prospective top six, a number of bands could easily figure. Carlton Brass has been knocking at the door for a couple of years now and go into the contest as our favourites but there are no easy predictions and the atmosphere in the hall will surely be tense come results time.  
   
Third Section:


As in the First Section, the Third Section qualifiers will journey to Harrogate in the wake of a Midlands victor last year in the shape of Long Eaton Silver. There is no doubt that the bands will enjoy getting to grips with Darrol Barry's melodious Prelude and Jubilate although there may well be a few nerves on display in the quiet opening bars.

For our money Leicestershire Co-op Snibston Charnwood are the fairly clear favourites here but there is a long line of bands that are both ambitious and determined to book the bus for the trip to Harrogate. David Horsfield and Steve Pritchard-Jones are the men they are going to have to convince and the adjudicators will certainly need their thinking caps on to sort out the best of a large seventeen band field.      

Fourth Section:

With a huge field of twenty four bands we wouldn't want to be in David Horsfield and Steve Pritchard-Jones' shoes in sorting out the winners and the losers from this section.

Last year the Fourth Section bands tackled a fine test piece in Alan Fernie's Anglian Dances. This year it's another cracker of a test in The Seasons, from no other than Professor Philip Wilby. It's another piece that should appeal to both bands and audience alike, but as you would expect from a canny composer like Wilby there is plenty in there to test every aspect of the band's abilities.

As is often the case in the Fourth Section there are numerous bands taking the stage that have little contest form since last year's Regional or are making a return to the contest after a period of absence. Sure, there are front runners but there is also the strong possibility of surprises; just one of the reasons why the Fourth Section should prove to be one of the most entertaining of the sections at Burton on Trent.    

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David HirstDavid Hirst
MA, B.Ed (Hons), LTCL

Conductor, adjudicator and arranger