2008 Lower Section National Finals: Second Section - Introduction & Predictions

23-Sep-2008

Malcolm Wood wonders which of the 16 contenders will be able to wax rhapsodic on Sunday to claim the National title on Dean Goffin's stern test of musical character.


HarrogateTest Piece: Rhapsodic Variations - My Strength, My Tower -  Dean Goffin
Adjudicators: Jim Davies and Peter Roberts
Sunday 28th September
Commences at the conclusion of the First Section

If you part with your £10 on Sunday to enjoy the delights of the First and Second Sections then we think you will be in for a great day. 

The Second Section comprises an excellent selection of well matched bands that will have to overcome both a fairly long wait and very difficult test piece if they are to leave Harrogate as Second Section National Champions. .

Stern musical test

For when they do walk on stage they will be faced with perhaps the sternest musical test of the entire weekend, with Dean Goffin's demanding, ‘Rhapsodic Variations, My Strength, My Tower’, which came into prominence for many non Salvation Army people with it's inclusion on the YBS seminal recording, ‘Essays of Brass’ during the mid 1990s.

The popularity of ‘Rhapsody in Brass’, used at the British Open in 1949 led admirers of Goffin's music to ask for more.  The end result was a return to an earlier test piece: ‘My Strength, My Tower’.  As per convention in SA circles, a religious text was added to the original work and Goffin opted for Scheffler's hymn, ‘Thee I love, my strength, my tower.’

The end result is an excellent work, although it's choice may have a surprised a few people. Like ‘On Ratcliff Highway’ last year though, it has the potential to challenge the bands to the full and beyond, and should provide an essential ingredient in what promises to be an intriguing contest.

Scotland

Scotland sends two bands down who will be fancied to do well in the shape of Campbeltown Brass and Johnstone Silver.  Campbletown competed well here in the Third Section last year and won the Scottish title with youthful vigour in March, so the twelve months of added maturity should hold them in good stead. Johnstone meanwhile are led by the vastly experienced Ray Tennant and are a more than capable outfit who could spring a surprise or two.

Wales

Wales meanwhile sends two strong contenders too - the rejuvenated pairing of Point of Ayr and Tylorstown.  Both put in good solid performances in Swansea and have been in improving contesting shape all year. Both will fancy their chances of retaining the National Trophy in Wales after Newbridge’s success twelve months ago.

Yorkshire

The good folk of Yorkshire will of course have something to say about that, and the White Rose county will be represented strongly by champions Slaithwaite and YBS Concert Brass, both led by vastly experienced MDs. 

There wasn't much to choose between them both in Bradford in March, and both bands have good form of late to fall back on. That added experience both in front and behind the players stands may be a vital ingredient. 

Midlands

Contenders from the Midlands have a tendency to be in the mix come the results here over the last few years, as Phoenix West Midlands Brass (this year in the First Section) showed last year in coming third.

Champions, City of Coventry Brass and Harborough will also want to try and repeat Hathern's national title success in 2004, and so both will be giving it their best shot for certain. Given the standard of the overall contest at Bedworth in March, both bands should be confident of doing just that.

London & Southern Counties

It may come as a bit of a surprise if the national title headed south of the Watford Gap this year, but there is a feeling that both London & SC representatives are in with a shout this time around.

The overall standard at Stevenage was pretty good and both bands played very well in securing their qualification, and champions, Alder Valley have one of the most experienced MDs in the business in Roger Burke who had so much success with Sandhurst in the past. 

Epsom and Ewell meanwhile return to Harrogate again this year after coming 15th in the Third Section twelve months ago, and their rise in class shows they could well be a bit of a dark horse this time around.

West of England

Talking of long journeys, its a fair old trek from the West Country, but with a fine record of achievement to uphold from the region, both champions Bristol East and Kingswood and Shrewton Silver should be confident of doing well.

Bristol were great in Torquay under Roy Curran and the experienced campaigner will lead the band's charge once again.  Shrewton meanwhile were not too far behind and their third appearance at Harrogate in the past five years shows just what direction they are heading in.

North West

The strength of lower section banding in the North West is well documented, and the two representatives in champions Wardle and District Anderson Brass and Haslingden and Helmshore are as good as any that have made the trip across the Pennines in recent years.

Both will have their admirers, and with good form to back up their claims too, it could the year when the trophy heads back to the North West again.

North of England

Finally, the North of England and Murton Colliery and champions Barton complete the line up of up and coming bands. 

After listening first hand to the contest in Darlington this year there was real evidence to suggest that these two bands could well provide a worthy challenge for the title. 

Murton have been working tirelessly for the day and in Denis Noble they have a wise old head to direct their assault, whilst Barton will be able to call upon the one and only Richard Evans to lead them to potential glory. They were close to doing just that in the Third Section last year, so watch out this time as they hope to go one better. 

4BR Prediction:

Could be very close this, but we think experience may well prove to be the telling extra ingredient on a test piece that should test the bands to their limits.

With that in mind we opt for a close run fight between Point of Ayr and Barton with the two North West bands of Haslingden & Helmshore and Wardle and District Anderson Brass close behind.  Tylorstown are a band on the up too and should make it into the frame whilst Johnstone Silver and our dark horse of Alder Valley make up the numbers. 

1. Point of Ayr
2. Barton Town
3. Haslingden and Helmshore
4. Wardle and District Anderson Brass
5. Tylorstwon
6. Johnstone Silver

Dark Horses: Alder Valley

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Rath clinician, conductor, teacher, adjudicator, editor