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2016 National Championships of Great Britain
Championship Section: As it happened

All the action from the 2016 National Championships of Great Britain — Championship Section — as it happened. Comments by Chris Thomas & Steven Mead.

Saturday 8, 19:39:53

Goodbye from the Royal Albert Hall

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National Champions 2016 — Cory (Philip Harper)

That concludes our live coverage from the Royal Albert Hall. Congratulations to Cory who have written their name once more into the history books.

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News, interviews and further thoughts to come, but for now, its good night from London.


Saturday 8, 19:22:48

Results

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1. Cory (Philip Harper)*
2. Fairey (Garry Cutt)**
3. Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof. David King)*
4. Black Dyke (Prof. Nicholas Childs)*
5. Foden's (Bramwell Tovey)
6. Flowers (Paul Holland)
7. Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)
8. Woodfalls (Dr Robert Childs)
9. Aldbourne (David Johnson)
10. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)
11. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Erik Janssen)
12. Friary Guildford (Chris King)
13. Reg Vardy (Russell Gray)
14. Whitburn (Michael Fowles)
15. Thoresby Colliery (Ian McElligott)
16. Co-operative Funeralcare (Thomas Wyss)
17. Tongwynlais Temperance (David Roberts)
18. Wantage Silver (Craig Patterson)
19. East Yorkshire Motor Services (Stig Maersk)
20. Wingates (Paul Andrews)

Best Instrumentalist: Helen Williams (flugel) — Cory
Youngest Player: Rose Hancock (baritone) — Wantage Silver

* Top 4 pre-qualified for 2017 National Final
** Denotes Qualification for 2018 European Brass Band Championships as highest placed English representative

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Best Instrumentalist: Helen Williams (flugel) — Cory


Saturday 8, 18:32:46

Peace kid delighted at reception for Bartok work

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Composer Simon Dobson has expressed his delight at the reception his test-piece 'Journey of the Lone Wolf' has received from the audience, players and conductors alike.

He told 4BR that he was 'humbled' by the way the bands had both approached and performed the work, and said that although he had just complete another major work, and had one to start this week, he hopes to write more for the brass band. Medium in the future.


Saturday 8, 18:29:39

Bringing culture to Stockport

A very happy Garry Cutt was certainly pleased with the way his band's performed today — so much so that he felt it meant he was finally bringing culture to Stockport.

On this form Fairey should be appointed Cultural Ambassadors then — because he felt they could well be very much in the hunt for the silverware


Saturday 8, 18:28:14

Final Thoughts and Prediction

Well, what a contest it's been.

Simon Dobson's music has made a huge impression in the Royal Albert Hall as well as on the bands who have given us some performances to truly relish. It has all built up to a huge crescendo at the end as both Brighouse and Rastrick and Fairey delivered performances that have drawn rapturous applause from the audience. And deservedly so.

This could be one of the closest finishes we have seen her for some time with Cory, Fairey, Foden's and Brighouse all being talked about in the hall.

Chris Thomas goes for a top six of:

1. Cory
2. Fairey
3. Brighouse & Rastrick
4. Foden's
5. Tredegar
6. Black Dyke

Dark Horses: Virtuosi GUS and Carlton Main Frickley Colliery

Steven Mead Final Positions

1. Cory (Philip Harper) 196
2. Fairey (Garry Cutt) 194
3. Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof. David King) 193
4. Black Dyke (Prof. Nicholas Childs) 188
5. Foden's (Bramwell Tovey) 187
6. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse) 181
7. Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke) 179
8. Woodfalls (Dr Robert Childs) 177
9. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Erik Jannsen) 176
10. Flowers (Paul Holland) 175
11. Whitburn (Michael Fowles) 172
12. Co-operative Funeralcare (Thomas Wyss) 171
13. Wantage Silver (Craig Patterson) 167
14. Tongwynlais Temperance (David Roberts) 161
15. Wingates (Paul Andrews) 160
16. Aldbourne (David Johnson) 156
17. Thoresby Colliery (Ian McElligott) 155
18. Reg Vardy (Russell Gray) 153
19. Friary Guildford (Chris King) 151
20. East Yorkshire Motor Services (Stig Maersk) 150


Saturday 8, 18:13:21

20. Fairey (Garry Cutt)

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Capturing the Peasants Song: It's an arresting opening from Fairey, with fine intensity and power. Fine transition into the Romanian Polka which has just the right lilting style. The Allegretto dances and there's a lightness of touch about this that hasn't always been evident today. And suddenly the atmosphere plunges us into darkness...this is highly effective. The Macabre Dance is pulled off with aplomb as we head into the slow movement.

Night Music: Lucy Cutt rises to her feet and conjures up a lovely atmosphere along with a fine array of band colours as we hear a silkily smooth and laid back trombone solo. Fine baritone also...the soloists are shining here. And there's a real magic about the atmosphere of the euphonium solo, so beautifully still.

Fight or Flight: Right away there is a drive about this. The band clearly senses the power of its own performance here. Big sounds but with clarity and a dark drama that permeates over bar. The Adagio con anime is just beautifully done, it shimmers before and a conclusion of crushing cumulative energy and power. Wow!

Overall: What a fabulous performance from Fairey to finish. Brimming with atmosphere and with exceptional soloists and a glorious range of textures and colours on display. Bravo!!

Chris Thomas

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Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 19
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 19
Control of full dynamic range: 19
Ensemble precision: 19
Tuning/intonation: 20
Band sound quality: 20
Balance/clarity of textures: 19
Quality of soloists: 20
Overall understanding: 20
Total musicality from the band: 19

Total: 194

Oh my goodness Faireys, that was brilliant!! The cleanest of the day. Stylish, elegant, great band playing. So enjoyable. Take a bow!!!


Saturday 8, 17:59:10

Demonic King delighted at performance, Hungarian gypsies and Simon Dobson

Prof David King was certainly on tip top form when we caught up with him after he led Brighouse & Rastrick on Simon Dobson's 'Journey of the Lone Wolf' with a performance that very nearly blew the roof off with its reception from the audience.

He reveals all as only he can...


Saturday 8, 17:46:13

19. Brighouse and Rastrick (Prof. David King)

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Capturing the Peasants Song: There is an immediate intensity of both sound and presence about the opening. Fine Eb bass and lovely atmosphere into a quirky Romanian Polka. There are big dynamic contrasts evident and the Allegretto trips along at a perfect tempo. The Macabre dance has just the right lilting gait about it but we do near one or two niggling little slips also.

Night Music: Flugel solo is safe if not the most atmospheric of the day and solo trombone is perhaps a little too heavy on the vibrato but solidly smooth. David King conjures one lovely colours and textures from the band and solo euphonium is lyrically inspired. This is so still and touching. But suddenly another slip is heard...so frustrating.

Fight or Flight: A good opening but not finding quite the same level of dark foreboding as our front runners. As the movement progresses however there is so much dramatic power in the playing and the change of atmosphere as we reach the Adagio con anime is fabulous and imbued with a real sense of mystery. It leads to an ending of unbridled power and dark drama.

Overall: Such a fine interpretation from Brighouse but as with the band's Open performance there were also slips that could keep the band off the top slot. This could be interesting!

Chris Thomas

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Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 18
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 20
Control of full dynamic range: 19
Ensemble precision: 20
Tuning/intonation: 19
Band sound quality: 19
Balance/clarity of textures: 20
Quality of soloists: 18
Overall understanding: 20
Total musicality from the band: 20

Total: 193

A fabulous performance from Brighouse, a superb reading from Dr King. If it was 100% clean it would pushing Cory to the wire. 5 or 6 tiny moments could rob them of the title, but honestly, they could still win with this.


Saturday 8, 17:28:44

Aldbourne, The Archers and Hot Fuzz

You may not have ever thought it but according to Aldbourne MD, the village band he conducted at their first finals appearance for 35 years is a bit like a cross between The Archers and Hot Fuzz.

Still, whilst you digest that, he also said how proud he was of his great players who really gave everything for the cause today and grabbed their chance with both hands — and how they are planning to return to Kensington many more times in the future, as long as Rob Tichener isn't involved....


Saturday 8, 17:20:31

18. Aldbourne (David Johnson)

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Capturing the Peasants Song: Opens well and subsides impressively into 'calm and with warmth'. The Romanian Polka is well handled and both the MD and players use the dynamics well. Allegretto sets off at a good tempo and although the band doesn't have the sound of some, the MD clearly has his own ideas as to what he wants...even if a touch quirky occasionally!

Night Music: Flugel does well and it's a lovely transition into the trombone solo, which is warm but with a couple of slips. Baritone does well and again, there is a nice atmosphere about this with a musical approach to the score but tuning is not always 100%.

Fight and Flight: The accuracy isn't always consistent but we have to admire the sheets guts of this. There are big dynamic contrasts, not all of which come off and there are also a few inconsistencies but the band has really tried to pull something from the music and give us a dramatic and dynamic approach to the final flourish.

Overall: Some fine touches from Aldbourne. Committed, gritty playing that really grabbed the score by the scruff of its neck.

Chris Thomas

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Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 15
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 17
Control of full dynamic range: 17
Ensemble precision: 16
Tuning/intonation: 14
Band sound quality: 16
Balance/clarity of textures: 15
Quality of soloists: 15
Overall understanding: 16
Total musicality from the band: 15

Total: 156

Overall a good performance with many aspects really well judged. Pressure told in a couple of solo moments and tuning also was a problem towards the end of the middle section. Big sounding band, ending filled the hall!


Saturday 8, 17:01:19

Local rivalry pushes EYMS on for National success

The keen sense of local rivalry between the EYMS Band and Reg Vardy was identified by MD Stig Maersk as one of the driving forces behind his band's determination to do well at the Royal Albert Hall today.

He told us that he was pleased with the way his band played today, but was keen to use it as a platform to do even better — and beat Reg Vardy on a more regular basis!


Saturday 8, 16:56:01

17. EYMS (Stig Maersk)

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Capturing the Peasants Song: The opening is solid enough but ragged ensemble starts to manifest itself not far in. Clips in the Romanian Dance detract from a good approach to the style and the MD tries to use the dynamics to the band's advantage.

Night Music: A good atmosphere is unsettled by one or two uncomfortable moments in the Flugel solo and the solos generally need a little more fluidity and flexibility in the musical line. Nice lyrical solo euphonium but a slip in the upper register then unsettles the picture.

Fight or Flight: We don't hear the darkness and ominous intent of the opening and at times the band simply isn't together. It's a blood and guts approach but as we teach the conclusion it spills over into sheer volume with little of the detail audible.

Overall: An untidy one from EYMS. Brazen and even brash at times but missing the essential Bartokian character of the score.

Chris Thomas

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Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 15
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 15
Control of full dynamic range: 16
Ensemble precision: 15
Tuning/intonation: 15
Band sound quality: 15
Balance/clarity of textures: 15
Quality of soloists: 14
Overall understanding: 15
Total musicality from the band: 15

Total: 150

They have given it their all, and they made a big joyous sound, but quite a few little problems on the way, ensemble was quite loose and a lot of the solo moments weren't as clean as could've been. Tuning suffered towards the end as the fatigue hit. Noble effort one and all.


Saturday 8, 16:40:27

Tempus Fugit for Childs

Dr Robert Childs was well pleased by Woodfalls performance today — especially as a family band continues to make excellent progress on the major contest stage.

Even though he has to catch the 5.10pm train from London back to Cardiff to hear his son David perform with Bryn Terfel at the Millennium Concert Hall in Cardiff he did say that he didn't rack up the tempos in the final few bars just to give him a bit more time to make it to Paddington!!


Saturday 8, 16:34:13

16. Woodfalls (Dr Robert Childs)

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Capturing the Peasants Song: There's a good presence about the opening and a fine Eb bass solo as we progress through 'calmly and with warmth'. The individual components of the score are well despatched and the Allegretto has just the right feel to it in terms of both tempo and style. The gypsy elements are all there and it's a good transition into the central panel.

Night music: Flugel solo is good and solo trombone is relaxed and understated if just a touch slow. The atmosphere is good and solo baritone demonstrates a quality warm sound but with a couple of obvious slips. Another good transition into the final movement.

Fight or Flight: This really does have the devil in it. The clarity is not always 100% but boy does it pack a punch. It's a driving approach to the conclusion and the contrast as we reach the Adagio con anime is highly effective leading to a dramatically powerful closing flourish. Epic stuff.

Overall: Plenty to commend from Woodfalls. A fine interpretation from Robert Childs and playing of real guts and bravura.

Chris Thomas

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Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 18
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 18
Control of full dynamic range: 18
Ensemble precision: 18
Tuning/intonation: 18
Band sound quality: 17
Balance/clarity of textures: 17
Quality of soloists: 18
Overall understanding: 18
Total musicality from the band: 17

Total: 177

A highly commendable show from Woodfalls. Very consistent and they lift the bar from Birmingham. Real commitment and they give it their all. Outstanding Euph once again. Excellent finale


Saturday 8, 16:15:18

Wantage building for the future

Although delighted and thrilled by the experience of playing at the Albert Hall today, MD Craig Patterson tells 4BR that he wants to ensure his band feature time and time again.

With five bands in the Wantage organisation it seems the prospect of doing just that looks very good indeed.


Saturday 8, 16:10:36

15. Wantage Silver (Craig Patterson)

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Capturing the Peasants Song: A competent opening but as with so many performances today we are not hearing much of the detail that lies beneath the surface. We sense the commitment and the attempt to capture the style but tuning is sometimes wayward (Macabre Dance).

Night Music: Well done Flugel and again we sense the eagerness of both the players and MD to find the atmosphere even though there are errors that count against. Euphonium struggles a little but dynamics are well observed.

Fight or Flight: The band throws caution to the wind (and who can blame them) but the playing is becoming increasingly untidy as the performance progresses and the music takes its toll on tired lips.

Overall: A committed musical effort from Wantage but a performance that was ultimately overcome by the technical demands of the score. Full marks for musical effort though.

Chris Thomas

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Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 17
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 17
Control of full dynamic range: 17
Ensemble precision: 16
Tuning/intonation: 18
Band sound quality: 16
Balance/clarity of textures: 17
Quality of soloists: 16
Overall understanding: 17
Total musicality from the band: 16

Total: 167

Wantage gave it all they had. Very impressive showing, and they look to have enjoyed their Albert Hall moment. Some fine individual performances, and although there was quite a bit of scrappiness as the piece went on, it held together well, and full credit for the gutsy performance.


Saturday 8, 16:01:15

A little touch of Leningrad

Thomas Wyss from Co-operative Funeralcare Band talks about his band's performance today whilst tenor horn player Chris Davies reveals a little bit more inside knowledge about Bartok and why he disliked Shostakovich's 'Leningrad Symphony'.

That's what a first class honours degree from Oxbridge gives you.....


Saturday 8, 15:42:23

Thriller time for Black Dyke

Star soloists Zoe Hancock and Katrina Marzella of Black Dyke tell 4BR about their thoughts on Geir performance of Simon Dobson's 'thrilling' work.

Both talk about the amount of work they had to put in and about the two main solo spots that they had to deliver — one with a touch of mischievousness...

Interview to follow


Saturday 8, 15:35:08

14. Co-operative Funeralcare (Thomas Wyss)

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Capturing the Peasants Song: The opening hits us between the eyes, perhaps a little too much so but it's certainly bold stuff...as the movement progresses the playing is solid but we don't always hear the underlying detail with clarity. There's a moment of indecision in the Macabre Dance but it recovers immediately.

Night Music: Flugel solo is despatched with confidence if not the greatest degree of subtlety. Good solo trombone and there is a very clear attempt to create the atmosphere...we don't quite sense the magic but dynamics are well observed and solo euphonium and cornet shine through.

Fight or Flight: There's a danger that this is about aggression rather than character and subtlety. As with the opening its brazen stuff but so much of the detail is inaudible beneath the wall of sound.

Overall: Great sounds and a bold approach to the score but an account that lacked transparency and magic.

Chris Thomas

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Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 16
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 18
Control of full dynamic range: 18
Ensemble precision: 18
Tuning/intonation: 16
Band sound quality: 17
Balance/clarity of textures: 17
Quality of soloists: 17
Overall understanding: 17
Total musicality from the band: 17

Total: 171

Good all-round show but with roughness and some persistent intonation trouble. Excellent euphonium, and great contributions from around the stand. Didn't quite have the X factor, but a first class effort from all concerned.


Saturday 8, 15:25:14

13. Black Dyke (Prof. Nicholas Childs)

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Capturing the Peasants Song: Terrific sound to open and although the tempo is a tad steady we hear the detail with clarity. The Romanian Polka is so stylishly done and again we hear so much detail as we progress through the Allegretto. Terrific solo cornet work..it sounds so easy. This is fine playing although perhaps not with the level of intensity that we have heard from a couple of bands so far. There are a couple of noticeable slips in the Macabre dance but it's a fine transition into the central movement.

Night Music: Flugel solo is not always comfortable in its intonation and there are also a couple of small but noticeable clips. Lovely baritone solo but we are just missing the magic......we really want this to cast a spell. Again there are tiny clips (solo euphonium) and the atmosphere is not drawing us into its intimate sound world.

Fight or Flight: The opening lacks the ominous foreboding that the music demands and although there is some fabulous ensemble playing (cornets in the Piu Mosso) the is still a feeling that the performance is not taking off. The approach to the final bars is crushingly powerful but somehow it has all come a little too late.

Overall: A curious performance from Black Dyke. Uncharacteristic errors and at times a distinct lack of atmosphere detracted from what was a commanding technical account.

Chris Thomas

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Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 19
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 20
Control of full dynamic range: 19
Ensemble precision: 19
Tuning/intonation: 17
Band sound quality: 19
Balance/clarity of textures: 19
Quality of soloists: 19
Overall understanding: 18
Total musicality from the band: 19

Total: 188

A truly excellent performance from Black Dyke but musically, didn't tick all the boxes in the central section. Just a couple of slips and one or two tuning moments. But the glorious band sound shone through, with a spectacular finale.


Saturday 8, 15:05:57

End of an 11 year wait

Wingates performance here today marked the end of an eleven year wait to return to the Albert Hall for one of the most evocative names in the banding world.

MD Paul Andrews told 4BR that he is determined to ensure it will not be another decade or more before they return again either.


Saturday 8, 14:58:47

12. Wingates (Paul Andrews)

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Capturing the Peasants Song: Detail not totally clear in the opening bars and Eb bass solo doesn't quite work as we head through 'calm and with warmth'. Allegretto trips along but the ensemble isn't as tight as it could be and there is a feeling of fragility about it at times. A few nasty moments in the Macabre dance unsettle the musical picture as we head into the central panel.

Night Music: Good attempt from the Flugel but this doesn't always flow naturally. Solo trombone does well and this is nicely languid and fluid. Quality euphonium solo but another nasty slip on solo cornet undermines the MD's thoughtfully created atmosphere.

Fight or Flight: Opening to the final movement is measured rather than dark as the entire cornet section rises to its feet and walks to either side of the band...although there is really no audible gain from the manoeuvre. The band sounds a touch tired as we progress towards the final paragraphs and detail is often masked.

Overall: A performance of good musical intent but one that was also often marred by inconsistency and some noticeable slips.

Chris Thomas

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Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 15
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 16
Control of full dynamic range: 15
Ensemble precision: 16
Tuning/intonation: 15
Band sound quality: 16
Balance/clarity of textures: 16
Quality of soloists: 17
Overall understanding: 17
Total musicality from the band: 16

Total: 160

Overall, this was a little bit uneven,but showed real imagination, drive and feel a spirit. Where it loses marks for fitness, it picks them up for character and serious intent.


Saturday 8, 14:44:27

A quiet band could make an impression today

Well that was certainly the view of Virtuosi GUS MD Adam Cooke as he spoke to 4BR.

A band that has been well known for the promotion of talented young players has really showed that it has lived up to that today he said, although he still made sure he gave a mention to a couple of the older 'veterans', such as Chris Jeans who once again showed his class.


Saturday 8, 14:38:52

11. Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)

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Capturing the Peasants Song: A solid opening and fine Eb bass solo as we approach the Romanian Polka which is stylishly done. The ensemble is impressively tight with no obvious issues and the Allegretto trips along...it's pretty quick but we can hear the detail with clarity. The Macabre Dance is nicely done and again, we hear the detail as we head into the central movement.

Night Music: What a fine Flugel solo. A carefully created atmosphere and this is very nicely done. Chris Jeans demonstrates what a fine sound he still possesses and this is making quite an impression, both in its subtlety and it's beautifully controlled dynamics.

Fight or Flight: There is real energy and drive about this. Detailed and accurate. Fine cornets at the Piu mosso...bravo! It's not the biggest around of the day but the playing has abundant character and style. It's a well measured approach the the conclusion and we can feel the cranking up of the tension and momentum leading to a fine ending.

Overall: A high quality account from the Midlanders. Full of detail and character and with very few slips along the way.

Chris Thomas

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Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 18
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 19
Control of full dynamic range: 18
Ensemble precision: 18
Tuning/intonation: 17
Band sound quality: 18
Balance/clarity of textures: 18
Quality of soloists: 17
Overall understanding: 18
Total musicality from the band: 18

Total: 179

Actually very impressive, and a great cohesive effort by all. Nicely balanced, stylistically aware, soloist delivered, only the occasional slip, and the band had style, power and clarity in abundance.


Saturday 8, 14:30:27

Back stage chatter

The back stage chatter during the break was all about people's own thoughts and opinions on the current state of play.

It's seems a consensus has broken out that it is the trio of Cory, Foden's and Tredegar who lead the way — and by a clear margin. The straw poll edges towards Cory with a close neck and neck fight between the two bands who seem rejuvenated from their British Open disappointments.

We will see....


Saturday 8, 14:27:33

Friary aim for more top flight consistency

A contented Chris King spoke to 4BR about his pleasure that his band continues to make solid progress as a top flight contender at major events — and this contest in particular.

Pleased with his band efforts he is one of the rare breed of MDs who look towards the long term future with his band and not just for the immediate quick fix.


Saturday 8, 14:03:07

Half Time Round Up

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Half time Sid James look a like contest winner — Sir Malcolm Sargeant

The dark drama and atmosphere of Simon Dobson's Bartok inspired Journey of the Lone Wolf is making for a fascinating contest in the Royal Albert Hall.

The technical challenges of the music have certainly been apparent at times but so has the ability of the MD's to navigate a course through a score that is shot through with the influence of Bartok himself and the Hungarian and Romanian gypsy and folk music that is amongst the many subtleties to be found in a kaleidoscopically colourful score.

Cory were simply scintillating but Foden's performance on a different level to the band's recent Open performance in Birmingham with Tredegar also turning in a performance of real stature.

Both Steven Mead and Chris Thomas go for a half time top three of:

1. Cory
2. Foden's
3. Tredegar


Saturday 8, 13:55:04

10. Friary Guildford (Chris King)

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Capturing the Peasants Song: The opening is a little untidy and Eb bass solo doesn't sit comfortably. The MD clearly strives to find the style of the music and there's no shortage of effort from the band but the detail is simply lost within the volume.

Night Music: Flugel solo lacks a little fluidity but dynamics are well controlled. Good trombone solo but baritone is a touch nervy and the flow of the music is lost as a result. Solo euphonium recovers the musical picture and we can sense that the band is striving to create the atmosphere though slips intervene.

Fight or Flight: Ensemble is scrappy and whilst the MD drives the performance on that lack of clarity and detail takes its toll on the performance as a whole. There is a better atmosphere found in the Adagio con anime but the ending needs greater breadth and weight of sound.

Overall: Friary Guildford didn't really really get into its stride today on a test piece that pushed the band to its limits.

Chris Thomas

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Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 15
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 15
Control of full dynamic range: 15
Ensemble precision: 16
Tuning/intonation: 13
Band sound quality: 15
Balance/clarity of textures: 15
Quality of soloists: 16
Overall understanding: 16
Total musicality from the band: 15

Total: 151

A brave show from Friary Guildford, some excellent moments and some fine individual playing too, but too many small moments of insecurity to make a big impact today. Still enjoyable and the playing showed great commitment.


Saturday 8, 13:54:14

Talking immortality

The question of banding immortality came up with Philip Harper — although he was quick to point out that it was in the hands of others not his on their performance today.

He was though full of promise for his star flugel player Helen Williams — and it seems she did everything and more her conductor could have wished for today...


Saturday 8, 13:32:35

9. Cory (Philip Harper)

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Capturing the Peasants Song: The opening is searingly intense in its power, dynamics and sheer sound. As we progress through the 'calm and gently' section there are some lovely little inflections and details that we have not heard so far. Romanian Dance has its own lilt and gait and the Allegretto is so transparent with inner detail always evident and so much character. This is unlike anything else we've heard so far today...intense, passionate and with a breathtaking degree of textural awareness and balance that one can only sit back and admire.

Night Music: Flugel is so atmospheric...spellbinding...there's a little clip but it doesn't detract from a truly magical atmosphere. My goodness, this really is casting its own spell. Chris Thomas is back in the fold on solo trombone and his solo is judged to perfection, languid, bluesy and so so smooth. Baritone is again so imbued with style and there's a stillness about this, a desperate sense of loneliness and isolation that is deeply moving.

Fight or Flight: The opening is so eerie and dark, laced with a deep deep sense of foreboding that leads into a Con fuoco that bristles with electricity. This is simply playing on another level......stunning. The sheer cumulative momentum and drive pins us back in our seats...and then the contrast with the Adagio con anime...what mystery...what a haunting atmosphere. And a conclusion of awesome power and intensity.

Overall: We have simply run out of superlatives. A performance that perhaps even eclipses the band's recent Open winning performance. Breathtaking in its scale and power but also its remarkable detail and subtlety. Very special indeed.

Chris Thomas

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Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 19
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 20
Control of full dynamic range: 20
Ensemble precision: 19
Tuning/intonation: 19
Band sound quality: 20
Balance/clarity of textures: 20
Quality of soloists: 19
Overall understanding: 20
Total musicality from the band: 20

Total: 196

An incredible performance from this incredible band. Sublime beauty, incredible sounds, ultimate control directed by a maestro at the top of his game


Saturday 8, 13:19:18

Slowly does it for Flowers

A very satisfied Paul Holland told 4BR that he he felt the slow playing from his band was the key to their performance today.

As part of the Music Panel that chose the piece, no wonder he could allow himself a quiet smile — it seemed to have been an inspired choice for both the contest and his band!


Saturday 8, 13:06:55

8. Flowers (Paul Holland)

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Capturing the Peasants Song: A strong opening although not always entirely tight. Tuning is astray in Eb bass solo and although there's a big band sound evident we miss some of the subtleties of the music through the early stages of the first movement. Excellent style to the Macabre Dance and it's a powerful Con fuoco into the central movement.

Night Music: Flugel style is good but not entirely comfortable with a few niggling little slips. Good languid trombone style and nice baritone sound. Just a hint of strain at the top of the euphonium solo but otherwise sensitively done. Still though we miss those subtleties and inflections of character that have marked out the finest performances so far today.

Fight or Flight: Opening is suitably ominous and there is energy a plenty. There's a stubborn failure to engage us about this though......frustrating as there is some excellent playing around the band. Again the ending is certainly powerful but this was a performance that missed a vital something for us.

Overall: A solid technical display from Flowers that was at times bold and powerful. Lacked a little of the essential Bartok character and style to make it a serious front runner today though.

Chris Thomas

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Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 16
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 18
Control of full dynamic range: 17
Ensemble precision: 17
Tuning/intonation: 18
Band sound quality: 18
Balance/clarity of textures: 18
Quality of soloists: 18
Overall understanding: 18
Total musicality from the band: 17

Total: 175

Everything there from Flowers, but didn't really engage with the audience. Some great individual playing, but stylistically a little flat and small details not always audible. Should hold its own for sure.


Saturday 8, 13:01:05

Tovey on Bartok

4BR managed to catch up with Bramwell Tovey following Foden's performance of 'Journey of the Lone Wolf' and found out a great deal more about the man, the musician and the enigma inspiration of Simon Dobson's test piece.


Saturday 8, 12:45:26

7. Foden's (Bramwell Tovey)

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Capturing the Peasants Song: Bramwell Tovey is a man that knows his Bartok.. this should prove very interesting! It's a big bold opening laced with darkness and power. The Romanian Dance is so beautifully done as the MD walks to his players to direct them... and the clarity and detail is so transparent. A couple of nasty little clips in the Macabre Dance but this style is so well captured.

Night Music: Flugel player stands and delivers a stylish account whilst John Barber is a lush, bluesy trombone soloist but not without a couple of minor slips. There's such a lovely atmosphere about this though and again the textural detail is so thoughtfully observed. What a melting euphonium solo...so sensitive and a moment of magic. Solo cornet adds another layer of quality to a stylish central movement.

Fight of Flight: Dark opening and as we hit the Piu Mosso the cornets are magnificent...so tight yet with a wild, even manic atmosphere that leaps out at us. The build towards the final paragraphs is so masterfully paced and again we hear so much detail and atmosphere leading to a final chord laced with an epic dramatic darkness. Powerful stuff indeed.

Overall: What a difference a few weeks makes. This was a different Foden's to the band we heard in Birmingham. So musical, so details, so darkly dramatic. Fabulous stuff.

Chris Thomas

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Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 18
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 18
Control of full dynamic range: 18
Ensemble precision: 18
Tuning/intonation: 19
Band sound quality: 19
Balance/clarity of textures: 19
Quality of soloists: 19
Overall understanding: 20
Total musicality from the band: 19

Total: 187

What a superb performance, that had so much line and sense of direction, style in abundance. Fodens stepped up and delivered today.


Saturday 8, 12:25:04

Big heart, big passion, big on music from Tongwynlais

Band Chairman Iestyn Davies and MD Dave Roberts certainly appreciated their mutual efforts both in the build up and on the contest stage today.

The Welsh band may not have the resources of some rivals but as they agreed, that can be more than made up by huge amounts of dedication, commitment and a desire to make high quality music.


Saturday 8, 12:19:24

6. Tongwynlais Temperance (David Roberts)

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Capturing the Peasants Song: Solid opening although as the movement progresses the ensemble isn't always rigid. Allegretto doesn't sit entirely comfortably and we are missing that essential Bartokian spirit that is crucial to the folk inspired elements of the score. There's no shortage of commitment evident but passages such as the Con fuoco just need that greater degree of hackle raising intensity.

Night Music: Nice Flugel solo to open and the dynamics are good. Trombone solo could be a little languid but what we miss more so is the Hungarian/ Romanian atmosphere that will define the leading performances today. Sensitive euphonium solo and effective transition into the final movement.

Fight or Flight: The opening could be darker and but suddenly the Con fuoco finds a more pronounced sense of drive and momentum. The Adagio con anime is almost too quiet and as we enter the final bars this just needs more weight and balance for us.

Overall: Moments of quality from Tongwynlais but inconsistencies will cost and we missed the stylistic core and character that is so vital to this music.

Chris Thomas

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Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 16
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 16
Control of full dynamic range: 17
Ensemble precision: 17
Tuning/intonation: 15
Band sound quality: 17
Balance/clarity of textures: 15
Quality of soloists: 16
Overall understanding: 15
Total musicality from the band: 17

Total: 161

Some very well-controlled and well executed moments, excellent baritone solo. Seemed to lose its way as we went on, and style elements became flattened. Ending was a little weary. We'll see!


Saturday 8, 12:03:53

Janssen takes pleasure in Bartok

Fresh from the stage, Carlton Main Frickley MD, Erik Janssen spoke passionately about his belief that Simon Dobson had produced a wonderful work that captured the many different aspects of the musical and personal character of Bela Bartok.

He was also very complimentary about his band — just a few little clips — but a performance from them that he felt brought out the many textures and details of such an in stressing score.

Interview to follow


Saturday 8, 11:57:34

5. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Erik Jannsen)

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Capturing the Peasants Song: A powerful opening with wide ranging dynamic contrasts. The atmosphere warms well as we head into the Romanian Polka which is expertly handled. Bass voices are a touch unclear in the Allegretto but the tempo is well chosen and this has a nicely relaxed yet rhythmic feel to it. There a venomous feel to the Con fuoco which immediately rallies into the central panel.

Night Music: Flugel plays well but why turn away from the audience? It surely isn't necessary. Silky trombone solo and the lower dynamics are used to telling effect. Well done solo baritone and emporium sings with musical empathy as does solo cornet...this is really beautifully done.

Fight or Flight: There's an ominous sense of foreboding about the opening bars. The MD builds the energy well although a little more intensity could still be extracted from this we fancy. The approach is impressive indeed but we miss the sheer wall of sound that the climax of the final movement needs.

Overall: A fine show from Carlton Main and evidence of the growing bond between the band and it's Dutch conductor. Excellent soloists and a well constructed interpretation. Just lacked a little guts and intensity in the final movement.

Chris Thomas

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Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 17
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 18
Control of full dynamic range: 17
Ensemble precision: 18
Tuning/intonation: 18
Band sound quality: 17
Balance/clarity of textures: 18
Quality of soloists: 18
Overall understanding: 18
Total musicality from the band: 19

Total: 176

Thoroughly enjoyable and consistent performance. Outstanding euphonium and cornet solos, stylistically vibrant and exciting, but the ending lacked the intensity that I think others will find.


Saturday 8, 11:45:55

Power and passion demand and given by Tredegar

The market has perhaps been laid down by Tredegar with a performance that their MD Ian Porthouse felt had the power, passion and precision that he admitted he certainly asked for before they took to the stage.

He looked as if they certainly did that for him.


Saturday 8, 11:43:32

Smiling Scots

Michael Fowles was certainly a happy Englishman in charge of some rampaging Scots here — and paid full tribute to composer Simon Dobson for his excletional composition.

Just a few clips and blips he admitted, but he felt his band had produced a performance of considerable merit, power and passion.


Saturday 8, 11:06:37

4. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)

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Capturing the Peasants Song: The opening really hits us between the eyes. This is big, bold stuff and the tempo is spot on. Both euphonium voices are clear in the Romanian dance and the lilt and gait are excellent. The Allegretto has a great sense of rhythm aided by fine solo cornet work. There is an ease with the style of the music evident that is giving this its own aura and atmosphere. Fine transition the central movement.

Night Music : Such a nice atmosphere. Just a little more fluidity needed from Flugel perhaps but again, the atmosphere is so well found and the trombone solo is suitably laid back and languid. The lower dynamics is are beautiful and solo euphonium players with sensitivity and lyrical grace as does solo cornet who is so secure in upper register.

Fight or Flight: This is so darkly brooding as we approach the Con fuoco and cornets are superb at the Piu Mosso...this is flying! So much cumulative energy and momentum heard and it is fuelling a sheer adrenalin rush to the end but with a wonderfully mysterious and atmospheric Adagio con anima along the way. And what an ending it is...crushingly powerful and laced with so much drama and darkness.

Overall: Playing of character, style and huge drive and energy from Tredegar and the performance of the contest so far.

Chris Thomas

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Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 18
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 18
Control of full dynamic range: 18
Ensemble precision: 19
Tuning/intonation: 17
Band sound quality: 18
Balance/clarity of textures: 19
Quality of soloists: 17
Overall understanding*: 19
Total musicality from the band**: 18

Total: 181

Super performance, with a true feeling for style. Precise ensemble, dynamics so well shaded and some real differentiation of moods. Tremendous finale, raw power but so well controlled. Bravo!


Saturday 8, 11:02:44

So pleased for a great band

Thoresby Colliery MD has told 4BR that he was so pleased for his band by the way they responded on stage today.

He acknowledged that they were going to uo against some 'big boys' later in the contest, but he couldn't have asked for anything more from his players, who have responded so well to his direction all year.

All that and they presented him with a tailored shirt and three bottles of top quality red wine!

His interview will follow shortly...


Saturday 8, 11:02:34

Can anyone beat these guys today!

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Detail from the exhibition of film posters hung around the Albert Hall at present


Saturday 8, 10:46:13

3. Whitburn (Michael Fowles)

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Capturing the Peasants Song: A bold, brazen opening and the the Romanian Polka has a great size of style about it. MD is using the dynamics also well and we sense that he knows his Bartok. The gypsy music is all played with a sultry, character imbued style and it's an excellent transition into the central movement that finds the Presto con fuoco with driving momentum.

Night Music: Flugel rises to her feet and delivers a confident, stylish solo which is echoed by solo trombone...not without a few clips but the languid style is effective. Lovely baritone sound but what a shame about the clips. The atmosphere is unsettled as a result...a great pity as the band is finding such heart and soul in the music. Hint of strain at the top of the cornet solo but again, there is a carefully created atmosphere evident here.

Fight or Flight: The Piu Mosso has both edge and spirit and the band is throwing everything at this and full credit to the players for doing so. We sense the cold, loneliness of the fleeting Adagio and it's a fine build to the conclusion, capping a finely measured account that displayed both the commitment of the players and the musical insight of the MD.

Overall: A thoughtfully put together account from Whitburn. Brimming with atmosphere although the central movement did expose some fragilities.

Chris Thomas

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Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 16
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 17
Control of full dynamic range: 18
Ensemble precision: 18
Tuning/intonation: 17
Band sound quality: 18
Balance/clarity of textures: 18
Quality of soloists: 15
Overall understanding*: 18
Total musicality from the band**: 17

Total: 172

Highly committed performance from Whitburn, Great start and end, fine clarity and energy, great colours. Just a few quite serious insecurities in the central section. Highly enjoyable.


Saturday 8, 10:45:43

2. Thoresby Colliery (Ian McElligott)

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Capturing the Peasants Song: Opening tempo is a touch cautious and we don't sense the Con fuoco marking of the score. At this tempo the music builds little early momentum. The Romanian Polka has character and the band seems to settle although we still miss a degree of clarity. The faster tempi remain on the steady side and we find ourselves raving more energy. Macabre Dance doesn't sit comfortably and again the Con fuoco transition is underwhelming.

Night Music: Flugel solo is nervy and there is a lack of atmosphere that doesn't allow the 'calm and languid' style of the music to predominate. This needs more of Bartok's spirit which is noticeably lacking so far. Solo cornet does well as we head into the final movement.

Fight or Flight: The clarity is once again missing in the Con Fuoco and cornets not entirely as one in the Piu Mosso. We miss the weight of sound that is so vital to this piece as the movement progresses and although there is a sense of the caution now having been lifted the conclusion it can't make up for the lack of death and Hungarian char after that permeates are the score.

Overall: A cautious, at times nervy account from Thoresby that needed to display a few more of those wolf's hackles.

Chris Thomas

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Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 16
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 15
Control of full dynamic range: 15
Ensemble precision: 16
Tuning/intonation: 16
Band sound quality: 15
Balance/clarity of textures: 15
Quality of soloists: 15
Overall understanding*: 16
Total musicality from the band**: 16

Total: 155

Definitely more clarity heard in this performance, but stylistically not quite on the button, and one or two of the faster tempo seems a little steady. A touch of hesitancy in a couple of solos. But we heard more, and some exciting sounds.


Saturday 8, 10:35:35

Best they have played...

We have just interviewed a very pleased Russell Gray of Reg Vardy who felt his band had 'never played better' for him at the Albert Hall — despite being drawn number 1.

He admitted that they were a little sleepy before they heard the draw, but a run through the National Anthem woke them up and got them ready for action.


Saturday 8, 10:21:40

1. Reg Vardy (Russell Gray)

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Capturing the Peasants Song: Bold opening has presence although not all detail absolutely clear. Euphoniums capture the peasant style well. Needs a little more of the 'manic' during the Presto dance but there is a good sense of style about this...Russell Gray is getting to the Bartokian heart of the score. Energy builds well and the 'macabre' interlude is well handled.

Night Music: Flugel chooses not to stand (despite marking in the score). Well played though and now solo trombone does stand for solo which is despatched in suitably languid style. Baritone is good, just a hint of strain in euphonium but the atmosphere is carefully created.

Fight or Flight:. Cornets scrappy in Piu Mosso and now the demands of the piece start to manifest themselves all too clearly. Again the atmosphere is well found in the Adagio con anime but as we approach the conclusion we need to hear more bass end depth to the sound as the clarity and ensemble becomes increasingly untidy.

Overall. A reasonable show from the number one draw from Reg Vardy. Solid soloists but that lacking detail at times and that taxing last movement really took its toll.

Chris Thomas

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Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 15
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 13
Control of full dynamic range: 15
Ensemble precision: 16
Tuning/intonation: 16
Band sound quality: 15
Balance/clarity of textures: 14
Quality of soloists: 17
Overall understanding: 17
Total musicality from the band: 15

Total: 153

A nice opening performance, but clarity is going to be the watchword in this hall, so many details sadly not clear from my seated position. Soloist do well, and conductor Russell Gray as always shapes the piece beautifully. If we can't hear the details, we can't hear the details.


Saturday 8, 10:12:41

Backstage buzz

There is already a hive of sweaty anticipation behind stage — and we have only just started. Thoresby, Whitburn and Tredegar are already changed and warmed up ready for action with those nervous smiles and yards of aimless pacing up and down the corridors already on show...


Saturday 8, 09:50:54

Wolf Sounds!

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One of the more individual percussion instruments for today's work.


Saturday 8, 09:30:49

Comments and Analysis

Chris Thomas

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Good morning from Chris Thomas! Thanks for following our live comments today. As at the British Open, my live comments will appear alongside Steven Mead's Criteria based adjudication marks giving a comparison between the two. Simon Dobson's Journey of the Lone Wolf promises to be a fascinating test piece and with the draw adding a touch more spice it promises to be a great day... keep an eye out for all of our updates and comments!

Steven Mead

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Hi everyone, this is Steven Mead and thanks for following us today. I hope you find this mark system interesting, whether you're in the hall, following from home or on the road.

I've updated the criteria a little from the British Open. People seem to like the system and lets see how it works today.

Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: out of 20
Rhythmic precision and clarity: out of 20
Control of full dynamic range: out of 20
Ensemble precision: out of 20
Tuning/intonation: out of 20
Band sound quality: out of 20
Balance/clarity of textures: out of 20
Quality of soloists: out of 20
Overall understanding*: out of 20
Total musicality from the band**: out of 20

Total: out of 200

Comments

* direction and shaping of the entire work, phrasing, appropriate tempi and articulation
of the music
** style, commitment, elegance, beauty, control of all moods


Saturday 8, 09:15:26

Draw

Test Piece: 'Journey of the Lone Wolf ' — Simon Dobson
Commence: 10.00am
Adjudicators: Phillip McCann, Luc Vertommen, Allan Withington

1. Reg Vardy (Russell Gray)
2. Thoresby Colliery (Ian McElligott)
3. Whitburn (Michael Fowles)
4. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)
5. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Erik Jannsen)
6. Tongwynlais Temperance (David Roberts)
7. Foden's (Bramwell Tovey)
8. Flowers (Paul Holland)
9. Cory (Philip Harper)
10. Friary Guildford (Chris King)
11. Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)
12. Wingates (Paul Andrews)
13. Black Dyke (Prof. Nicholas Childs)
14. Co-operative Funeralcare (Thomas Wyss)
15. Wantage Silver (Craig Patterson)
16. Woodfalls (Dr Robert Childs)
17. East Yorkshire Motor Services (Stig Maersk)
18. Aldbourne (David Johnson)
19. Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof. David King)
20. Fairey (Garry Cutt)


Saturday 8, 08:41:05

At the hall and waiting for the start

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There is already a buzz about the old cake tin here in Kensington Gore — with the draw taking place at the moment in the bowels of the old hall.

Some bands will emerge with smiles on their face whilst one or two will be wearing the type of grimaces that were last seen on the pall bearers at Bela Bartok's funeral.

We will let you know what fate has decreed as soon as the official announcement has been made.


Saturday 8, 06:41:44

Wakey, Wakey

Good morning from the heart of London where 20 bands awaken to the prospect of one of them ending the day crowned as 2016 Champion Band of Great Britain.

It's dry and overcast in the capital, although a little later it will surely be hot and humid on the stage of the Albert Hall as each band tackles Simon Dobson's wonderful set work, 'Journey of the Lone Wolf'.

So much to look forward to then — so follow the action as it unfolds with us here and through Twitter as we find out who will be crowned champion.



Foden's Band - Matt Ford - Lichfield Cathedral

Friday 24 November • 19A The Close, Lichfield WS13 7LD


Enfield Citadel Band -

Saturday 25 November • The Salvation Army. 42 Clarence Road. Southend. SS1 1AN SS1 1AN


Contest: Swiss National Championships

Saturday 25 November • Stravinski Hall, Montreaux. Claude-Nobs 5, 1820 Montreaux, Switzerland 1820


Newstead Brass -

Saturday 25 November • John Godber Centre. Ogle Street. Hucknall. Nottingham NG15 7FQ


Lofthouse Brass Band - Lofthouse Christmas Fair

Saturday 25 November • Lofthouse Methodist Church, Leeds Road, Lofthouse, Wakefield WF3 3NE


Hitchin Band

November 21 • Due to a re-shuffle in our cornet section we are now looking for a REPIANO or FRONT ROW cornet player. We are a busy band currently at the top of the 1st section in the London and Southern Counties area. We rehearse Mon + Thurs - 7.45-9.45pm.


Blidworth Welfare Band

November 21 • The Blidworth Welfare band, Midlands Championship section, require a 2nd cornet player to join our friendly but ambitious and hardworking band. A good programme of concerts, recordings and contests will provide an enjoyable challenge.


Blidworth Welfare Band

November 21 • The Blidworth Welfare band, Midlands Championship section, require a principal cornet player to join our friendly but ambitious and hardworking band. . A good programme of concerts, recordings and contests will provide an enjoyable challenge.


Kevin Wadsworth


Conductor, adjudicator, teacher (ABBA)