2009 Midlands Regional Championship - Postcard from Bedworth

19-Mar-2009

As transitions go, the move to Bedworth is proving to have been close to something spiritual...


With the transition of the Midlands Regional having been safely negotiated to Bedworth last year, it is to the credit of all concerned that the Civic Hall and Nicholas Chamberlaine Technology College already feel like the spiritual homes of the contest.

Safe hands

In the safe hands of Mick Veasey and John Slater, all five sections ran like well oiled valves over the Saturday and Sunday - from registration, through the on stage change-overs, to the slick and well organised prize presentations.

Perhaps it was always going to be inevitable then, that the contests themselves were to throw up rather more in the way of debate.

Championship

The Championship Section proved to be one of the most disappointing in many a year, with band after band failing to conquer or overcome the challenges cunningly set by Gilbert Vinter.

Let’s face it, it’s a tricky piece of music, but there is no doubt that there should be a greater level of consistency amongst our elite section bands than was the case in Bedworth.

If the audience was pulling its collective hair out then so must have been Brian Buckley and Derek Broadbent in the box, as they presided over thirteen performances that unfolded like a catalogue of errors.

Shoes

We wouldn’t have wanted to have been in their shoes on this one and Brian Buckley’s remark that the challenges of the piece were ‘formidable’ could either have been taken as a vote of sympathy, or diplomatic code for the fact that no band truly played it.

Either way, the Championship Section contenders should have taken away a good deal to think about on Sunday evening.

Degree

Graham Cole’s ‘Pentacle’ beat just about all of the First Section bands to some degree, although of the worthy winner there was no doubt. Phoenix West Midlands was ultimately in a class of its own.

There was no lack of effort though as many bands battled with gallantry that would have been welcomed at Rourke’s Drift to get to grips with a highly demanding piece of writing. It made for a few grim faces and furrowed brows on stage and we certainly didn’t envy the task of the official photographer. Getting the bands to smile with feigned contentment at the end of each performance was possibly the toughest challenge of all.                     

Great time

The Second Section bands had a great time with ‘New World Sketches’, and even amongst those that struggled there was a sense of enjoyment on the stage that radiated warmth. Dan Price’s tuneful piece clearly inspired, and it was all borne out by a hall that was considerably fuller than had been the case for much of the First Section contest the previous day.  

Up and coming

With Andrew Baker’s ‘The Once and Future King’ completing the trio of works by up and coming composers at this year’s Regional events, the Third Section witnessed one of the most remarkable turn rounds of recent years as Leamington Spa based Cubbington Silver turned a disastrous section debut in 2008 into deserved victory.

This is a band willing to take on ‘Labour and Love’ in the West Midlands Association Contest back in November though, so there were few faint hearts on display. Most heartening of all was the competition in depth in this section and with a full hall throughout the day, the piece proved to be as much of a winner as the bands.

Battle

21 Fourth Section hopefuls battled it out on Frank Hughes’ ‘The Talisman’, with four emerging as clear front runners. Despite the much discussed difficulties of the piece, it was the soloists that shone in the Fourth Section, a beacon of hope for the future of Midlands banding, and a positive to take away from what proved to be a very mixed weekend of Regional competition.

It might just be a pretty good job then that by this time next year, we will have forgotten about the trials and tribulations to the point that we will be well and truly up for it all again.

Christopher Thomas  

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