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2017 All England Masters International
As it happened

All the action from the 2017 All England Masters International — As it happened

Sunday 28, 16:24:53

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Mark and Teddy Bentham celebrate their Masters victory

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All together now — the winners start to celebrate

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All girls together

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Not forgetting the lads

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2017 champion — Milnrow

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Runner-up — Brass Band Willebroek

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Third place — City of Bradford

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Fourth place — Virtuosi GUS

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Best Trombone — Walter Hoeks of Brass Band Willebroek

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4BR Best Soloist — Kevin Van Giel of Brass Band Willebroek

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Wonderful Dedicated Service — George Whittingham

Result:

Test Piece: The Torchbearer (Peter Graham)
Sunday 28th May
Adjudicators: Stan Lippeatt, Mark Wilkinson

1. Milnrow (Mark Bentham)
2. Brass Band Willebroek (Frans Violet)
3. City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey)
4. Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)
5. Thundersley Brass (John Ward)
6. Haverhill (Mark Ager)
7. Roche Brass (Garry Cutt)
8. Llywdcoed (Chris Turner)
9. Wantage Silver (David Hirst)
10. Ratby Co-operative (Mareika Gray)
11. Bilton Silver (David Stowell)
12. Kidlington (Nigel Seaman)
13. Blidworth Welfare (Martin Heartfield)
14. Ware Brass (Phillip Littlemore)

4Barsrest Best Soloist Award: Kevin Van Giel (euphonium) — Brass Band Willebroek
Best Trombone: Walter Hoeks (Brass Band Willebroek)


Sunday 28, 15:28:58

Final round up and prediction:

There have been so many memorable Masters contests over the years, but this one won't live long in the memory banks. What a great pity that a great contest has fallen on such hard times.

It can be rescued to former glory — but it will take a great deal of thought, support and cooperation.

The trophy may well be a heading to Belgium today: Willebroek, although not at their best, were a class apart, although Milnrow showed thier British Open quality to come within a few yards.

Wantage will be delighted at their performance and could well sneak into the podium prizes, pushing an out of sorts Virtuosi GUS down into fourth. The Welsh contender of Llwydcoed also played well and could sneak a top six finish alongside Haverhill with our dark horses of Ratby close behind.

4BR Prediction:

1. Brass Band Willebroek
2. Milnrow
3. Wantage
4. Virtuosi GUS
5. Llwydcoed
6. Haverhill

Dark Horse: Ratby Co-operative


Sunday 28, 15:09:57

14. Roche Brass (Garry Cutt)

Almost as you would have expected — the Marple Maestro produces an interpretation that would have had Eric Ball tickled pink with delight.

The old boy would have furrowed a brow or two at the amount of unforced errors from the word go that took the gloss off though. What a pity — as the musicality seeped through. Lots to enjoy in the intent if not always with the execution and the camouflage work.

The spirit of Ball is maintained all the way to the close — and splendidly so to round off a performance that was frustratingly so near but yet so far.


Sunday 28, 14:47:46

13. Ware Brass (Phillip Littlemore)

A brave effort from all concerned — especially the MD who sympathetically and realistically balanced his musical intentions with that of the obvious limitations of his band (they played with three tubas and no tuned perc). Nerves also played their part.

As a result the playing never mastered the technical challenges posed, but there were still moments when it would have put a smile on Eric Ball's face.

A tired band reached the final summit on what was a very hard trek — led by an MD of admirable considerations.


Sunday 28, 14:23:06

12. Milnrow (Mark Bentham)

There was more than a touch of well-drilled quality about this — and confidently delivered too.

MD used his experience and know-how so well — keeping the lyrical sections malleable without over-egging the emotion, and the quicker sections moving with just the right pacy verve. Little moments of unease and fragility, but it never robbed the integrity of the music.

Some lovely touches from main soloists and that stamp of ensemble quality was maintained through to a passionate close. Right in the prize mix that — right in it.


Sunday 28, 14:05:24

11. Blidworth Welfare (Martin Heartfield)

A hard working account — with the MD drawing on his experience to shape, as well as fit things into place, especially when it got a little over-excited in places.

Individual parts impressed, but they could never quite conjeal into a coherent whole — and there was quite a lot of detail that was submerged in volume.

The lyrical interludes were flowing and refined (lovely baritone and trom stood out), but poor ensemble intonation took the gloss off. A tired band reached the final summit.


Sunday 28, 13:43:14

10. Wantage Silver (David Hirst)

Perhaps the most coherent and persuasive piece of Eric Ball homage we have heard so far today — shaped, phrased and moulded with care and intuitive understanding by the MD.

Lots to commend with the playing too — although it does have its moments when it wavered with tuning and precision. The lyrical interludes were so well presented though — led tastefully by cornet and backed by the ensemble.

This was eminently sensible stuff — with plenty in reserve for a fine finish — all controlled Ball glory to the highest. Praise be.


Sunday 28, 13:26:00

9. Llwydcoed (Chris Turner)

What a confident, well structured and delivered performance. Got a little brash and wayward in places, but the commitment, drive and pulse in the quicker elements contrasted with the reflective lyrical interludes to fine effect.

MD was clear and defined in his musical intentions from the off — and his players responded in kind.

All the soloists did their bit, and despite the occasional moments of ensemble unease it held together without losing its musical integrity. A fine build to a bold close rounded things off with a touch of Ball bravura.


Sunday 28, 13:03:37

8. City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey)

Eric Ball with a makeover. Think of him writing like a rapper from Compton LA. Very different — and very enjoyable too. This was primary colour stuff — vibrant, striking and gutsy.

Not everything came off or quite made sense at times, but the playing was committed and it always engaged the senses. Great tuba and other bravura lead lines helped things along.

Bravo to the MD and for the players for giving him everything he wanted. A touch wayward, but also a little wicked too.


Sunday 28, 12:35:16

Halfway analysis and prediction

It has been an underwhelming contest so far — with just one high quality performance standing out a mile from the rest.

Willebroek were not at their best today — but the class shown in both solo lines and ensemble was still substantive. The interpretation was a touch different shall we say, but that didn't really matter. They were streets ahead.

Virtuosi GUS seems a band in flux. This was a performance that had all the right musical intentions, but the sense of inherent fragility in execution was marked.

Behind them for us comes a clutch led by a confident, enjoyably different Haverhill.

Let's see what the second half brings — but can anyone stop the trophy heading to Belgium?

Just as an interesting aside — bands can borrow up to 6 players for this contest.

4BR Halfway point:
1. Brass Band Willebroek
2. Virtuosi GUS
3. Haverhill


Sunday 28, 12:12:48

7. Kidlington (Nigel Seaman)

A reading of nuance and measured degrees of tempo and dynamic from the MD. It was a pity that the execution didn't quite match it.

There were occasions where it hung in there by its fingertips — but when it came together there was a lyrical flow, contrasting vibrancy and tasteful lead lines. Some old 'Mrs Mop' dusters did the trick to help, but they couldn't wipe away the high error count elsewhere.

The final ascent to the climax was rather tired to round off a performance that never quite captured its musical intentions.


Sunday 28, 11:50:49

6. Haverhill (Mark Ager)

A colourful, slightly wayward, but ultimately engaging account this. No shortage of confidence either — with some fine individual playing on show — led by a tasteful solo cornet and bravura euph.

MD neatly allowed the musical to have a malleability that teetered on indulgence at times, although it still retained its tastefulness. Don't quite know what Eric Ball would have made of some of the moments, but it certainly gave the music a touch of character — with a great fruity bass trom — all to the way to the close.

A bit of a musical hotch-potch that — but a very enjoyable one.


Sunday 28, 11:30:26

5. Brass Band Willebroek (Frans Violet)

A touch idiosyncratic in places for sure, and not without its moments of fragility, but the quality of ensemble timbre and musicality in the lead lines seeped right through — with the MD shaping things with a touch of classy individuality.

The immediacy of the playing (helped by bringing the band closer to the front of the stage) was obvious — with clarity in the quicker sections and confident, artistic soloists brought into the spotlight.

Some of the dynamics were on the bold side, but they had such a wide range on the spectrum that it remained coherent. A superbly constructed close rounded off a performance of high class. So far ahead of the rest that.


Sunday 28, 11:06:27

4. Thundersley Brass (John Ward)

A performance that certainly got over its somewhat unfortunate start — and did so with some fine individual and collective playing — thanks in no small part to the MDs sensible handling of tempos and dynamics.

There was drive and intent about the quicker sections and a refined reflectiveness about the lyrical interludes. The solo cornet was a lovely, confident focal point.

It just lost focus in execution in places in the ensemble, but the pacing of each section was really neatly done — as was the build to the rousing High Peaks close.


Sunday 28, 10:45:41

3. Ratby Co-operative (Mareika Gray)

A well thought out take on a score of hidden traps by the MD — neutral, structured and coherent.

Again, the obvious fragilities were evident and did undermine the musical intentions in places, but the music was framed within the limits of the band's capabilities. Nothing overdone or overplayed — just sensible stuff that let the music speak for itself.

At times it just got a little edgy and harsh, but there was something in the tank for the High Peaks of the ending too — rounding off a performance merit.


Sunday 28, 10:24:08

2. Bilton Silver (David Stowell)

A rather uneven performance that was built on a fine interpretation of the music from the MD.

He certainly allowed the music to flow with an understated sense of passion in the lyrical sections and vibrancy in the quicker elements. The excellent perc team added precision and colour.

However, the obvious fragilities in some of the solo lines were evident, and that took the gloss off things, despite the fine intentions. Just got very tired in the final sections, but the musicality still sone through.


Sunday 28, 10:10:24

1. Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)

There was much to savour and much to raise an eyebrow to here from the defending champion — from the word go.

The shaping of the music was cultured by the MD — liberal, passionate and refined, but the execution was not always in the same vein. Some of the lead lines didn't sound at ease, although the ensemble sound was rich, deep and balanced.

The agression that was on show at the Grand Shield was thankfully absent, but the fragilities were still embedded. The dry acoustic highlighted things, but they were noticeable. Lovely bold music making when it was required and luscious to close, but not Virtuosi GUS at their best.

A performance of dichotomies that.


Sunday 28, 09:51:46

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Draw:

Test Piece: 'The Torchbearer' — Peter Graham
Sunday 28th May
Commence: 10.00am
Adjudicators: Stan Lippeatt, Mark Wilkinson

1. Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)
2. Bilton Silver (David Stowell)
3. Ratby Co-operative (Marieka Gray)
4. Thundersley Brass (John Ward)
5. Brass Band Willebroek (Frans Violet)
6. Haverhill (Mark Ager)
7. Kidlington (Nigel Seaman)
8. City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey)
9. Llwydcoed (Chris Turner)
10. Wantage Silver (David Hirst)
11. Blidworth Welfare (Martin Heartfield)
12. Milnrow (Mark Bentham)
13. Ware Brass (Phillip Littlemore)
14. Roche Brass (Garry Cutt)


Sunday 28, 09:40:25

Welcome to Kettering...

The sun is shining here in Kettering and there are 14 bands all wanting to become the 2017 All England Matsers International Champion.

They will have to do it by getting to grips with Peter Graham's affectionate homage to Eric Ball — 'The Torchbearer' — and it will pose quite a few problems for sure — not least the key signatures to open!!

The decision is in the hands of Stan Lippeatt and Mark Wilkinson and it all kicks off at 10.00am.

We will post the draw as soon as the judges are in the box.


Sunday 28, 05:29:04

Competing bands:

Test Piece: 'The Torchbearer' — Peter Graham
Sunday 28th May
Commence: 10.00am

Brass Band Willebroek (Frans Violet)
Bilton Silver (David Stowell)
Blidworth Welfare (Martin Heartfield)
City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey)
Haverhill (Mark Ager)
Kidlington (Nigel Seaman)
Llwydcoed (Chris Turner)
Milnrow (Mark Bentham)
Ratby Co-operative (Marieka Gray)
Roche Brass (Garry Cutt)
Thundersley Brass (John Ward)
Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)
Wantage Silver (David Hirst)
Ware Brass (Phillip Littlemore)



Northop Silver Band - Rhys Meirion & Denbighshire Youth Choir

Monday 11 December • St. Asaph Cathedral LL17 0RD


Strata Brass -

Wednesday 13 December • Rockingham Centre,Sheffield Road,Hoyland Common,Nr Barnsley S74 1DQ


South London Fellowship Band -

Wednesday 13 December • John Lewis Department Store. Bluewater. Kent DA9 9SA


Black Dyke Band - Queensbury Parish Church

Thursday 14 December • Queensbury Parish Church Halifax Road Queensbury BD13


Regent Hall Concerts - Royal Greenwich Brass Band

Thursday 14 December • St Alfege Church. Greenwich Church Street. London. SE10 9BJ SE10 9BJ


Crewe Brass

December 11 • Crewe Brass are welcoming applications for a new MD who could take us to the NW Areas and potentially beyond. The band has recently gained promotion to the 1st section as of Jan 2018, and we are very easy to reach, located near J16 of the M6.


Chelmsford Silver Band

December 11 • Chelmsford Silver Band require a Bb bass, a 2nd Baritone players and a front row Solo Cornet player. A non-contesting band, established for over 50 years and enjoy a good reputation performing at local and regional events plus organizing our own concert


Uppermill Band

December 10 • Cornet players required urgently in preparation for the upcoming Contest season. Positions negotiable on ability. If you are looking for a change or moving into the area come and join us in a rehearsal. We are a friendlly team with ambition to succeed


Craig Roberts

BA (Hons), MA
Conductor / Adjudicator