2010 Yorkshire Regional Championship - Second Section retrospective

11-Mar-2010

Knottingley enjoy their bit of Dragon slaying to gain a trip to Harrogate with a Police escort in tow...


knottingley
Knottingley head for Harrogate as Paddy Draper holds the Second Section Trophy

The start button to the 2010 Regional Championship was pushed on the stroke of 10.30am at St George’s Hall on Saturday morning.

After a few wheezy coughs, a shuffling of feet and a poor excuse for a vocal rendition of the National Anthem, it was down to the first serious business of the weekend and the ten bands that were to battle it out in the Second Section on Philip Harper’s ‘The Kingdom of Dragons’.

Note of anger

C. Brian Buckley and Steve Pritchard- Jones were safely ensconced in the box, and the honour of being the first band to play a note in anger at the 2010 Areas fell to Barnsley Building Society under the baton of Rob Straw.

A few hours later and the first two qualifiers to win through to Harrogate were announced: Knottingley Silver and South Yorkshire Police.

It was a pretty good start to the weekend too – plenty of decent solid playing, interesting interpretations and a result to chew over in the bar.

Consistency


The adjudicator’s delivered detailed explanations to why they made the decisions they did from the stage, and to 4BR after the results were announced. It was clear that it was consistency, or the lack of it in balance, rhythm and tonality, that separated the best from the rest: At times it ranged from the viscous musicality of the qualifiers to the somewhat lumpy gloop of the also rans.

Just about every band brought out the excitement and vibrancy of the detailed score, but not all had the ability to either control nerves in the more exposed passages, or the cool heads to keep a lid on the dynamics, which at times was louder than the volume on a pensioners television set, in the final fugue section.

Opening bar

South Yorkshire
Looking up not down for Leigh Baker and South Yorkshire Police

The opening bar in fact caused no end of headaches, as conductors seemed unsure what beat pattern to use to bring their bands in together.  In a couple of cases it was a form of semaphore for the shortsighted.

However, once everyone had found their bearings the opening movement depicting the ruined splendour of the castles of Monmouthshire was well handled, as was the descent into the bowels of Blaenau Gwent with the rhythmic mechanics and metallic attack of the mines and steelworks.

Problems invariably arose when a more tranquil musical picture was needed to be created in the Torfaen ‘Park’ section, as individual fragilities and poor ensemble tuning robbed many bands of their chances of claiming a Harrogate berth, whilst the finale and the ‘Spitfire’ Newport fugue just saw the less experienced bands losing valuable composure as the adrenaline surged through the veins.

Much to enjoy

Overall though there was much to enjoy, with the top three bands standing apart from the rest, and for the judges, the winners, a good length clear of the field.

Knottingley in their Rothwell look-alike maroon shirts and black waistcoats delivered a telling performance under the direction of Dr Owen Wedgwood that was a model of consistent values for the men in the box.

Boldly coloured, detailed (with a cracking flugel horn who took the ‘Best Soloist’ Award) and intelligently directed, it ticked all the right boxes, even if it could have done with just a touch more Welsh ‘hywl’ at its close.

On a day when passion did get the better of other rivals, the cool heads meant that after an extended period of rebuilding this promising band took the title and will head to Harrogate for the first time as Second Section champion since 2001.

Grange Moor
Lovely smile from Grange Moor's young sop player as they come 3rd

Confident


South Yorkshire Police came to the contest as one of the favourites to gain a qualification place, and they certainly delivered a confident performance under the baton of former Brighouse baritone star, Leigh Baker. Bold and assured it set a commanding marker from the number 2 draw that was only just beaten.

On another day Grange Moor would have possibly won through after Mark Bentham drew a classy show from his band that was just marred by a few too many nasty little errors to enjoy that level of overall consistency that would have found qualification appeal in the box.

Plenty to enjoy

These three bands were a length or two ahead of the rest of the field, but there was plenty to enjoy in each of the remaining seven performances.

Rockingham’s solid effort benefited from an excellent percussion section (as did many bands on the day) and some tasty individual contributions to come 4th, whilst Garforth rounded off the contest with an exciting rendition under to Steve Bailey to end up in 5th.

Frickley/South Elmsall produced a solid, uncomplicated account claim 6th place, courtesy of a performance that just needed a touch more daring to go with the solidity of the execution.

Best Soloist
Best Soloist: Knottingley's flugel picks up his award

Hit and miss


Thereafter it got a bit hit and miss, with the likes of Barnsley Building Society, Strata, Dodworth and Emley producing two movements (although not all the same) that were as good or if not better than those above them – although at least one also went a little awry in some way or another.

Emley for instance seemed set for a little cracker after a great opening section, but lost their dynamic bearings, whilst Dodworth recovered from a poor start to finish with real aplomb.

Strata (who also had to endure one heck of a long wait before they played a note) also improved as they went along, whilst Barnsley (with hopping bass trom player) opened the contest with a performance that had the potential to becoming something more than just the sum of some solid individual parts.

For the winners though, a cool headed performance of merit and musical intelligence (befitting a proper Doctor at the helm too) that took the honours and the trip to Harrogate with a Police escort.

Both bands should do well there on this form

Iwan Fox

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