2008 Midlands Regional Championship - Postcard from Bedworth

13-Mar-2008

Things are looking up in the Midlands - great new venues and great new performances. Just bear a thought for the bloke who used to run the burger van at Burton...


Desford take the silverware
Desford take the silverware

Of all the regional’s this year, the organisers of the Midlands contest have every right to feel particularly pleased with themselves. 

Chairman John Slater and his team have successfully negotiated the smooth transition of the event from the woefully inadequate surroundings of Burton Town Hall (will anyone seriously miss the tea tent and burger van in the car park?) and the less than salubrious setting of the Belvedere Club, to the princely new venues of Bedworth Civic Hall and Nicholas Chamberlaine Technology College; and they have done it in some style.

Lucky

We did not need to spend long at the venues to witness that the change was more than welcomed by the scores of happy band’s people enjoying the facilities in the bar and cafeterias, not to mention the playing facilities themselves, with both halls offering excellent acoustics in comparison to Burton. It was clearly not lost on the adjudicator’s neither – “Aren’t you lucky to have such an excellent hall?” commented Kevin Wadsworth on the Civic Hall.

The committee themselves were rather too modest about their achievement, apologising to the Civic Hall audience for any slight teething problems that might have been experienced. Frankly, we saw no teething problems at all. Registration and the changeovers between bands were as slick and well oiled as ever and for the first time in a good many years the Midlands Regional has two venues that bands will undoubtedly look forward to coming back to.

Congratulations

Congratulations are due to each and every member of the Midland Regional Committee for making it an event that was a pleasure to attend.

On the playing front the contest came with both its positives and negatives. In the Championship Section Steve Pritchard-Jones and Jim Davies were not impressed with much of what they heard, but there was no doubt at all about the qualifiers. Desford (being the honest folks that they are) will admit themselves that the band’s performance of Festival Music was not a model of consistency, but when it was good, it was very good indeed.            

For Virtuosi GUS, the runner up spot will have come as both a relief and a hopeful sign of better things to come, as the band return to the Royal Albert Hall for the first time since 2004.

Different reasons

For rather different reasons, the standard of playing in the First Section was also something of a disappointment as the bands struggled to get to grips with the challenges of James Cook- Circumnavigator. For Glossop Old though it was a day to remember as they walked away with the title by a three point margin. A mightily impressive Phoenix West Midlands Brass join them in Harrogate and continue their impressive march up the sections with a delighted Hathern clinching the third qualification spot by the skin of its teeth.

The Second Section bands had a slightly easier time with Ken Downie’s Three Part Invention and it made for an enjoyable contest. Glossop’s First Section winning margin might have been a good one but City of Coventry went one better, with Steve Cooper steering his band to a four point victory in emphatic fashion.

Shame

It’s a shame that there were not three qualification spots on offer here as third place Leicestershire Co-op would have made worthy contenders in Harrogate. As it was they were edged out by Harborough who will fly the midland flag alongside Coventry come September.

Down the road from the Civic Hall at Nicholas Chamberlaine College, the Third Section bands had a terrific time with Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s The Dark Side of the Moon in a contest that threw up some high quality performances. Matlock and Wellington (Telford) occupied second and third places in last year’s contest with both bands going one better this year to take the top two qualification spots. Simon Hogg’s University of Warwick Brass grabbed the final place in Harrogate, narrowly pipping Shirebrook at the post by one point.

Mixed

Understandably in a huge field of twenty three bands the standard in the Fourth Section competition was somewhat mixed but it proved to be a great listen for the audience, with models of consistency Amington and Wes Kendrick proving that their runner up spot in Harrogate last year was no fluke by sealing victory in style. The band is sure to be one of the hot favourites in Harrogate this year.

They will be joined in Yorkshire by Croft Silver and Christine Gent’s Thoresby Colliery Youth, the latter securing the terrific feat of gaining qualification of the number one draw, quite something in the field.

In a year that saw the Midland Regional competition enter a new era of rejuvenation in Bedworth resulting in a hugely successful weekend for all, the bands will be hoping that there is no going back; we at 4BR are already looking forward to next year’s event with renewed enthusiasm and expectation.    

Christopher Thomas 

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