2009 Scottish Regional Championship - Postcard from Dundee

26-Mar-2009

So much to enjoy in Dundee this year as the state of the nation north of the border seems to be on the up...


The Girls
Now that's we call a couple of helping hands -  Carrie Boax and Jennifer Fox
www.brassbandphotography.com

Having not attended the Scottish Championships since 2001, this reporter made the long journey from Manchester to Dundee (via his mother’s house in Glasgow!) with great expectations about the good reports that had been leaking south from the mother country about the state of banding north of the border.

And apart from one minor disappointment with the number of bands in the Fourth Section, these expectations were definitely met.

Well run

It must be said that this contest is fantastically well run. SBBA has a great team of organisers who make sure the event runs like clockwork from registration to taking the stage to perform. Jennifer Fox and Hugh Johnston did a sterling job of arranging the bands’ percussion requirements, and the organisers were extremely helpful to the press contingent in Dundee – providing extremely quick access to draws and results, and keeping everyone fed and watered throughout the weekend.

The initiative of the projector above stage displaying programme and draw numbers, and then the full results table immediately after the winners have been announced is excellent, and should be used at all regions in the UK.

Excellent ideas

Having an announcer speaking between bands is also a fantastic idea, and although it seemed like some comments were being repeated occasionally, announcer Alistair Hutton ensured that the flow of the event was maintained throughout the whole weekend. For their unstinting help and excellent ideas, thanks and praise go to Peter Fraser, Tom Allen and the other members of the SBBA team.

The actual standard of playing in Scotland was also enjoyable, particularly the overall performance level in the First Section, whilst it was encouraging to see so many young players in a majority of lower section bands.

The only worry was the lack of bands and very disappointing standard in the Fourth Section. The choice of piece did not help, but some of the MDs in this section definitely need their heads examining to try and fathom exactly why they made some of the musical decisions they did. It will be very interesting to observe the state of play in the at this level in 2010.

Nice feature

A nice feature of the championships in Dundee was the newly formed ‘Community Section’. This featured two bands that were not quite of Fourth Section standard, playing a short concert programme each. Alan Fernie was present to give a ‘working adjudication’, from which SBBA will be given the opportunity for the bands to work with Alan Fernie to aid their future development.

Dysart Colliery Band, who was founded in 1880, gave an entertaining show that featured, amongst others, music from ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and finished with the rousing Scottish classic ‘Loch Lomond’. The audience has a good clap along to this, and hopefully we will see this band competing at the regionals in the not too distant future!

The brand new Callander Brass under their conductor Ian Milligan was formed only in August 2008, and they started the March from the ‘Second Suite’ by Gustav Holst, and also included the popular ‘Amparito Roca’ in their programme. With a good mix of young and old faces, 4BR hopes to see Callander, like Dysart, playing again soon.

Appreciative

The audience was extremely appreciative of both efforts, and given the amount of non-contesting bands in the country the ‘Community Section’ is an initiative that will hopefully be included in other regional competitions.

The Sunday saw an awards ceremony before the Championship Section results, where Willie Tennant and Hugh Johnston were presented Life Member medals by the Scottish Brass Band Association in recognition of their lifelong service to bands in Scotland.

On a personal note, it was especially pleasing to see Willie Tennant being presented with his award. Willie (or ‘Mr. T’ as he is known at Kirky!) was my first ever teacher and the person who introduced me into brass bands.

Source of support from Mr T

A constant source of support and encouragement (and the occasional stern word!) to myself and hundreds of young people in the Glasgow area and the Kirkintilloch organisation, the standing ovation he received was a testament to his hard work and dedication over the years, something everyone involved with Kirky has benefited from.

The weekend ended with a packed Bon Accord (the Glasgow banding pub), with members from many different bands sharing a drink and a chat all in good spirits.

This is what banding in Scotland is all about – nice people enjoying their hobby in friendly competition, and this is why the movement here will continue in good strength for many generations to come.

Robert Richardson

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