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2017 4BR End of Year Reports
The top 20 pupils at the 4BR School

The return of the Headmaster's 'End of Year' reports on the 20 top ranked pupils in the 4BR sixth form school.

Report
Which pupils got top marks from the 4BR Headmaster for their year's work? 
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After a few years in which we haven’t sent the Ofsted banding inspectors into the hallowed halls of the 4BR comprehensive school, we thought it was about time we returned.  

And at the end of yet another busy year at the contesting exam tables the Headmaster has written his reports on the top 20 world ranked pupils.

Ethnic diversity

Things have changed greatly since the last reports at the end of 2013, with no fewer than six pupils no longer in the top class. The new names on the register do have a bit of an international flavour to them, with all six from abroad – with two Swiss, a Belgian, an American, Norwegian and a French pupil taking up their seats. 

The opening out of the British Open exam paper and some stern tests on subjects as diverse as medieval heraldry, French mining, high flying Biblical apparitions and art appreciation alongside the battle to win the drama class Oscars in the school panto in Gateshead sorted out the best from the rest this year.    

The new names on the register do have a bit of an international flavour to them, with all six from abroad – with two Swiss, a Belgian, an American, Norwegian and a French pupil taking up their seats. 

Add to that the various domestic exams and a few away trips with their parents and it has been a year when perhaps the very best in the 4BR School of Hard Knocks may have just started to become a bit of an elite ‘Fraternity’.

In alphabetical order then, and with a range of marks that equate as follows:

A+ Exceptional 
A Outstanding
A - Excellent
B+ Very Good
B Above Expectations
B - Met Expectations
C+ Below Expectations but improving
C Below Expectations and no real improvement made 
C - Disappointing
D In need of extra tuition


Black Dyke

Black Dyke
Overall Mark: C-
Class Position at end of 2017: 6th (-3)

2017: 6th
2016: 3rd
2015: 2nd
2014: 2nd
2013: 4th

Exams entered:
Regional Championships: 1st (Yorkshire) (‘Pageantry’)
British Open: 17th (‘Fraternity’)
National Finals: 7th (‘Gallery’)

Report Card:
Victory at the Yorkshire Area saw the band retain the title and claim their sixth win under MD Prof Nicholas Childs.  

However, the Queensbury outfit failed to secure a top three finish on the lucrative Whit Friday circuit, posted their lowest finish at the British Open for half a century and failed to claim a top six place at the Albert Hall for the fourth time in their last six appearances.   

Comment: 
A magnificent appraisal of medieval heraldry on their home patch promised so much for the year, but it seems a hectic home life with their extra-circular music activities caught up with the high profile Yorkshire lad.  

Excellent recording home work and yet another family trip to Japan were offset by a total misreading of the exam question on French coalmining history and a somewhat emotional day out visiting a London art gallery.   

You suspect a lot of swatting will be crammed in before the start of next term. 


Brass Band Burgermusik Luzern
Overall Mark: C+
Class Position at end of 2017: 17th (-3)

2017: 17th
2016: 14th
2015: 11th
2014: 10th
2013: 72nd

Exams entered:
Luzerner Kantonal-Musiktag: 1st (March)
Swiss Open: 1st (‘Roman Festivals’ and ‘Metropolis 1927’)
Swiss National Championship: 4th (‘Eden’ and ‘Destination Moon’)

Report Card:
Luzern competed in just three contests during the year under MD Michael Bach - starting with victory in a local  march contest (against 58 other rivals) before regaining the Swiss Open title for the first time since 2011.

However, they failed to claim a podium finish at the Swiss National Championships for the third time in the last four years. 

Comment: 
The excitable Swiss pupil showed glimpses of his exam quality that not so long ago saw them top the European Baccalaureate exam paper.  

Their essays on Roman culture and Fritz Lang’s expressionist sci-fi classic on their home patch were classy reminders of their talents when roused, although the invigilators in Montreux didn’t quite like their interpretations of the Biblical allegories of the Book of Genesis or their picture-book trip to the moon with a Belgian teenage detective. 

Perhaps not the force of old, but with a bit of extra home work they should be able to maintain their place in the elite school class for 2018.


Willebroek

Brass Band Willebroek
Overall Mark: B+
Class Position at end of 2017: 10th (No change)

2017: 10th
2016: 10th
2015: 13th
2014: 40th
2013: 47th

Exams entered:
European Championship: 4th (‘Where Angels Fly’ and ‘The Turing Test’) 
All England Masters: 2nd (‘The Torchbearer’)
World Music Contest: 1st (‘Tracing Time’ and ‘The Turing Test’)
Belgian National Championship: 1st (‘Metamorphosis’ and ‘Destination Moon’)

Report Card:
Willebroek rounded off a historic year with a 20th National title as well as claiming a first ever World Championship Contest success in Kerkrade under MD Frans Violet. 

Earlier, fourth place at the Europeans (invited as an extra ‘home’ band) maintained their fine record of achievement at the contest, although they were frustrated once again in their bid to add the All England Masters International title to their CV in Kettering.

Comment: 
The ‘back door’ invite to sit the European Baccalaureate was an early indicator that the hard grafting Belgian pupil’s work ethic remains as good as ever - helped by a fine understanding of Biblical high flyers and early war time computer science.  

Their occasional lack of Ball skills at Kettering cost them dear though, although their appreciation of Swiss time keeping and a reprise of their computer homework saw them beat off the worldwide exam takers in Holland. 

A classy précis of Kafkaresque insect change and the tales of the home grown teenage Tintin in outer space rounded off their year as the star pupil on their own patch. 

Like the famous Pitt brothers, Willebroek (and Willebroek the Younger) are schooled by a parent who knows that hard graft and preparation pay dividends. Extra waffles and a glass of well earned Stella Artois for Christmas then.


Brighouse

Brighouse & Rastrick
Overall Mark: B+
Class Position at end of 2017: 2nd (No change)

2017: 2nd
2016: 2nd
2015: 4th
2014: 6th
2013: 5th

Exams entered:
Regional Championships: 4th (Yorkshire) (‘Pageantry’)
European Championship: 8th (‘Where Angels Fly’ & ‘Visitations from Beyond’)
British Open: 4th (‘Fraternity’)
National Finals: 1st (‘Gallery’)
Brass in Concert: 7th (Entertainment)

Report Card:
David Thornton led the band at the Yorkshire Area, where they failed to claim a podium finish for the third year in a row (although pre-qualified for London) and again at Brass in Concert, where they finished outside the top-six for just the second time in ten appearances. 

David King was at the helm at the European where they posted their lowest-ever finish, the British Open (their third consecutive top-six finish) and Nationals, where they maintained their outstanding record under the Australian with their third victory in eight years.    

Comment: 
The understudy may well be getting ready to take over the main role as 4BR School Head Boy in 2018 if they keep up the progress made under their inspirational Australian mentor and his hard working prodigy.  

Occasional lapses in concentration and over-excitement still bedevil them on occasions though - as shown with their appreciation of mediaeval heraldry and their ‘Psychic Sally’ oddity of a paper in Ostende.

However, when they did like the history and art questions posed of them they were splendid - especially on the school trip to London.  Their colourful bit part at the school panto in Gateshead was an enjoyable cameo, and they boosted their pocket money with a day out around the Whit Frday pubs.

2018 could be the year when the West Riding pupil finally tops the 4BR class, but only if they can sip a bit of musical Ritalin to stop the occasional bouts of over-enthusiasm at trying to cram in everything into one exam answer.


Carlton Main Frickley
Overall Mark: C+
Class Position at end of 2017: 14th (-5)

2017: 14th
2016: 9th
2015: 15th
2014: 12th
2013:  9th

Exams entered:
Regional Championships: 7th  (Yorkshire) (‘Pageantry’)
World Music Contest: 3rd (‘Tracing Time’ and ‘Fraternity’)
British Open: 7th (‘Fraternity’)
Brass in Concert: 8th (Entertainment)

Report Card:
The ongoing partnership with Dutch conductor Erik Janssen failed to claim a podium finish at the Yorkshire Area for just the second time in eight years, although they made a welcome return to the World Championship to come a well-deserved third. 

A solid performance at the British Open (their best result since 2011) was followed by Ian McElligott leading them to eighth place at Brass in Concert.        
 
Comment: 

The former ‘Bevin Boy’ continues to be one of the hardest workers at the 4BR School - making up for a lack of financial backing with an insatiable appetite to prove their worth at the exam table.  

Not quite at the same level as last year though, with the drop towards the back end of the class due to a hit and miss take on Yorkshire heraldry and a rather uninspired bit of play acting at the school panto in Gateshead.

Their appreciation of their mining heritage brought the best out of them on a rare away-day trip to Europe as well as closer to home to show their classmates that there is no substitute for honest hard graft, even if the rich kids keep snatching their choicest sweeties with their cash. 

A year of hard work that perhaps deserved better reward - although it may be the same story in 2018.


Co-operative Funeralcare
Overall Mark: C-
Class Position at end of 2017: 15th (+2)

2017: 15th
2016: 17th
2015: 12th
2014: 11th
2013: 8th

Exams entered:
Regional Championships: 2nd (Scotland) (‘Pageantry’)
British Open: 16th (‘Fraternity’)
Dr Martin Trust Wainstone Cup: 2nd (‘Fraternity’ plus own choice programme)
National Finals: 20th (‘Gallery’)
Scottish Open: 2nd (‘Harrison’s Dream’)

Report Card:
2017 proved to be the swansong for Co-op’s MD Allan Ramsay - starting and finish off the year with two near misses at the Scottish Championship and Scottish Open behind their great rivals Whitburn.  

However, their lowest finish at the British Open since 2002 leaves potential relegation danger back to the Grand Shield, whilst last place at the Nationals equalled their lowest finish there. Runner-up at the Wainstone’s Cup contest gave some respite between the two major contest disappointments.      

Comment: 
Despite moving up a couple of chairs in the 4BR class, the Scottish bairn’s parents will surely have been hoping for a better dividend payment for their investment in his musical education as they prepare for the family’s 100th anniversary celebrations.

Perhaps the wee lad was missing the glens and kilts of home, as he performed admirably on the questions posed by Clan heraldry and seafaring watch making in Perth.

However, his first essay on mining history failed to muster even a small coalscuttle full of marks, whilst his art appreciation was sadly lacking too – despite his tutor proudly bearing a fine Scottish artist’s name.  

The photocopied ‘Coals to Newcastle’ Wainstone essay bagged cash on the way home from the Open, but didn’t disguise the need for serious improvement if he is to remain in the top class with the big boys next year.   


Cory

Cory
Overall Mark: A-
Class Position at end of 2017: 1st (No change)

2017: 1st
2016: 1st
2015: 1st
2014: 1st
2013: 1st

Exams entered:
Regional Championships: 1st (Wales) (‘Pageantry’)
European Championships: 3rd (‘Where Angels Fly’ and ‘Destination Moon’)
British Open: 3rd (‘Fraternity’)
National Finals: 3rd (‘Gallery’)
Brass in Concert: 4th (Entertainment)

Report Card:
Cory reclaimed the Welsh Area title at the start of the year (their third success in four years under Philip Harper) but failed to retain their European, British Open, National Championship and Brass in Concert titles.

However, they maintained a remarkable record: 15 consecutive top-six finishes at the European; 19 at the British Open; 18 at the National Finals and 6 at Brass in Concert. They ended the year as the number 1 ranked band in the world – a position they have held since 2007.

Comment: 
After 2016 when the prodigious Welsh exam talent was lavished with well-deserved accolades in recognition of a set of remarkable results, perhaps some less ostentatious family gifts will be found bedecking the Christmas tree in Treorchy this year.    

That said, they were still close to topping the honours boards – coming up against some brilliant swots from Norway and Switzerland that beat them in Brum and Ostend (despite the surprise last paragraph to their own-choice essay), and the Welsh honour coming with an invigilator’s barbed mark or two about the quality of their heraldry work.

The sprained ankle walking up the steps to the London art exhibition proved costly, with the usual star role at the school panto just a bit too ‘hammy’ for some of the drama critics.

Not even the school’s long term Head Boy could repeat himself this year, and with rivals eyeing up a potential ‘coup d’etat’ in the sixth form common room for the major bragging rights, Master Cory will need to be on the top of his game in 2018 to repel them.  


Eikanger

Eikanger Bjorsvik 
Overall Mark: A+
Class Position at end of 2017: 3rd (+8)

2017: 3rd
2016: 11th
2015: 9th
2014: 9th
2013: 11th

Exams entered:
Norwegian Nationals: 1st  (‘Variations on a Theme of Michael Tippett’ and ‘Fraternity’)
European Championship: 1st (‘Where Angels Fly’ and ‘Fraternity’)
Siddis: 1st (Entertainment)
Brass in Concert: 1st (Entertainment)

Report Card:
After skirting about the 4BR top 10 for a number of years, a remarkable, almost two year unbeaten stretch of victories (the last time they lost was at the 2015 Siddis contest) sees Eikanger firmly established in the top three of the world rankings.

The band retained its Norwegian title (their sixth win in the last seven years), before regaining the European title last won in 1989, both under the direction of Ingar Bergby.  Led by Reid Gilje they retained the Siddis title (their ninth win together) before becoming the first non-British band to win Brass in Concert. 

Comment: 
There had been rumours at the 4BR school about just how talented at exams the slow walking Bergen born pupil was - and this year he showed it. By heck he did. 

Aided by two master tutors in subjects as diverse as English homage,  French coal mining history, the migratory flight paths of Biblical heavenly bodies and how to make a show and dance at the school panto by writing your own lines and choreography, young Eikanger blew away the rest of the field to come top of the class - time, after time, after time.  It was essay work of PhD standard. 

Others pupils may envy the family finances, but the work ethic and commitment to the common cause could have come out of a Comrade Lenin manifesto. 

Even the 4BR Headmaster is brushing up his Norwegian for further prize day presentations in 2018. 


Fairey
Overall Mark: C+
Class Position at end of 2017: 11th (-6)

2017: 11th
2016: 5th
2015: 8th
2014: 7th
2013: 5th

Exams entered:
Regional Championships: 3rd (North West) (‘Pageantry’)
British Open: 11th (‘Fraternity’)
National Finals: 4th (‘Gallery’)

Report Card:
Fairey came third at the North West Area for the second year in a row, although they were already pre-qualified for the Nationals.

11th at the British Open was the second time in three years they have failed to finish in the top-ten, although in contrast, their fourth place (pre-qualification) finish at the Albert Hall was the eighth time in their last nine appearances that they have gained a top-six result.     

Comment: 
A drop away in terms of the seat position in class reflected a slightly disappointing set of exam results for the child from a famous aviation family tutored by the Marple Maestro.  

A classic essay take on heraldry seemed authentically factual in Blackpool, even if the invigilators felt it a bit ‘Games of Thrones’ to their liking, whilst their literary trip down a French coal mine was a bumpy ride on the musical tramlines.

It was only at London where the MDs keen eye for the artistic brush stroke techniques of some old masters paid rich dividends.

With a need for a little bit of sibling stability in the ranks, perhaps the parents are looking towards the European Baccalaureate in Utrecht to reignite the competitive turbo chargers in 2018. If they do, someone may have to shift from their seat at the top end of the class. 


Fodens

Foden's
Overall Mark: B
Class Position at end of 2017: 8th (No change)

2017: 8th
2016: 8th
2015: 7th
2014: 4th
2013: 3rd

Exams entered:
Regional Championships: 1st (North West) (‘Pageantry’)
British Open: 5th (‘Fraternity’)
National Finals: 5th (‘Gallery’)
Brass in Concert: 3rd (Entertainment)

Report Card:
Foden’s claimed a 20th Area title under Prof Nicholas Childs, followed by a fifth place finish at the British Open led by Bramwell Tovey - their tenth top-six finish at the contest in the past eleven years. 

The Nationals saw a second successive fifth place finish before their return to Brass in Concert saw them come third conducted by Dr Robert Childs.  

Comment: 
Another year of solid achievement for the pupil with a celebrated heritage name. Those Sandbach ancestors would have been proud of their heraldic essay at Blackpool, whilst young Foden showed his mettle with his coal mining facts and figures with the threat of an embarrassing demotion to the British Open detention class hanging over them.   

That seemed to spur ambition to impress further (plus their usual money making endeavours around the local Whit Friday pubs), and their tasteful bit of art appreciation led by their masterful tutor saw them back to their exam best, whilst the fun and games of their Gateshead panto appearance had a clever nod to the future too.

A pupil revived and undertaking a bit of top-class Christmas carolling too to entertain the locals close to home. Could be one of the star school performers in 2018?


Flowers 
Overall Mark: C
Class Position at end of 2017: 13th (-7)

2017: 13th 
2016: 6th
2015: 6th
2014: 7th
2013: 19th

Exams entered:
Butlins Championship: 2nd (‘Spiriti’ and entertainments)
Regional Championships: 4th (West of England) (‘Pageantry’)
British Open: 14th (‘Fraternity’)
Brass in Concert: 11th (Entertainment)

Report Card:
After winning the Butlins Championship three years in a row, Flowers’ run finally came to a ‘spirited’ end, whilst their five successive victories at Torquay also stopped short of a double hat-trick when they failed to qualify for the Albert Hall for the first time since 2008.

Paul Holland subsequently left his role as MD with David Childs coming in to direct a much changed band at the British Open and Brass in Concert, where they had to contend with drawing number 1 at both events. 

Comment:
Serious parental troubles could have sent young Flowers spiralling out of the 4BR school in the first half of the 2017 term, so it said a great deal about the sense of propriety and commitment from those that took over their welfare that they kept things on track despite the drop down the class seating register.

The usual financial boost from their Miners exam work wasn’t quite forthcoming, whilst their paper on heraldry was a touch scrappy although luck was also in short supply.  After all the troubles, the essay on historic French coal mining was a brave effort, especially off Kelly’s Eye, as was the ‘grin and make the most of it’ effort as first act on in the school panto in Gateshead.    

What 2018 holds for young Flowers we will have to wait and see - but if they can find a new home address and life becomes more settled, they may be able to secure their place at school with their usual well structured exam performances.  


Fountain

Fountain City
Overall Mark: B
Class Position at end of 2017: 12th (+29)

2017: 12th
2016: 41st
2015: 41st
2014: 36th
2013: 39th

Exams entered:
North American National Championship: 2nd (‘Harrison’s Dream’ and ‘Perihelion – Closer to the Sun’)
Brass in Concert: 2nd (Entertainment)
Scottish Open 3rd (‘Metropolis 1927’)

Report Card:
Although Fountain City failed to make it a hat-trick of victories at the North American Championships under MD Dr Joseph Parisi, they certainly made a huge impression on critics and rivals alike on their second tour to the UK later in the year.

They equalled the best ever finish achieved by an American band at Brass in Concert and then just failed in their attempt to regain the Scottish Open title they won back in 2009. 

Comment:
The school thought they had perhaps seen the back of the brash, but highly entertaining kid from Kansas a few years back, but nearly a decade after his last fleeting visit to the school he now appears hell bent on staying in the top class for quite a while longer. 

Their papers on the trigonometry and transits of the sea and the sun didn’t quite tickle the fancy of domestic exam markers, but their Broadway homage at the school panto was a bit of a showstopper.

All that and they showed that there was substance beneath the high hoofing greasepaint with an appreciation of Fritz Lang’s Marxist allegory of the inter-war Weimar Republic in Germany that would have sent Donald Trump into a fit of apoplexy. 

For that alone they deserved to be welcomed into the 4BR top class to the end of his Presidency. 


Grimethorpe Colliery
Overall Mark: C-
Class Position at end of 2017: 9th (-5)

2017: 9th 
2016: 4th
2015: 3rd
2014: 5th
2013: 10th

Exams entered:
Regional Championships: 6th (Yorkshire) (‘Pageantry’)
British Open: 6th (‘Fraternity’)
Brass in Concert: 10th (Entertainment)

Report Card:
Led by Philip McCann they failed to qualify for the Nationals for the second successive year, whilst the return of former MD Allan Withington saw them come sixth at the British Open, their third consecutive top-six finish.  

Brought in Sam Hairsine to lead at Brass in Concert, but posted their worst result at the competition in coming tenth. 

Comment:
The blunt and somewhat headstrong miner’s son was as chaotic and frustrating as ever during a school year when the family celebrated the 100th anniversary of finding a home in a pit village in Yorkshire. 

That perhaps distracted the lad from his exam studies; with an odd old take on the heraldry of the ‘War of the Roses’ that led to yet another tutor leaving the family employment.

There was a glimpse of the emerging talent of the young siblings as a favourite teacher returned to steer them through French coal mining history, but their role in the school panto was a rehash of old lines and tired gestures. 

The good news is that it seems a new century has brought fresh ideas and thinking to the parental household. Not before time though if the lad is to remain a potent major exam force, as even their proudest aunties and uncles are getting tired of rehashed film star musical memories of a past that never quite existed. 


Leyland
Overall Mark: C-
Class Position at end of 2017: 20th (-4)

2017: 20th
2016: 16th
2015: 10th
2014: 13th
2013: 6th

Exams entered:
Regional Championships: 7th (North West) (‘Pageantry’)
British Open: 10th (‘Fraternity’)
Brass in Concert: 12th (Entertainment)

Report Card:
The band failed to qualify for the Nationals for the fourth consecutive year, posting their lowest finish at the Area since 2009. 

In contrast, they claimed a third consecutive top-ten finish at the British Open under Thomas Wyss, but rounded off the year with their lowest finish at Brass in Concert.      
 
Comment: 

It seems that young Leyland continues to slip towards the exit door from the 4BR School (they are now occupying the last seat in the class), having failed again to impress the local examiners in Blackpool - this time with their heraldic knowledge of the lineage line of the House of Plantagenet.  

There was a much better effort when it came to French coalmining facts and figures, but having once been a star turn at the school panto, this year’s bit part was a shadow of former glories, completely upstaged by others in the class. 

Don’t quite know what to make of the future prospects for young Master Leyland. If they can find a bit of mojo then happier days may be on the horizon – if not, the rest of the class could be chipping in with pocket money for a leaving present.


Paris

Paris Brass Band
Overall Mark: B-
Class Position at end of 2017: 18th (+6)

2017: 18th
2016: 24th
2015: 32nd
2014: 38th
2013: 45th

Exams entered:
European Championship: 7th (‘Where Angels Fly’ and ‘HorrorShow’)
Brass in Concert: 6th (Entertainment)

Report Card:
No appearance at the French National Championship (won for the past five years) in 2017, as the band and MD Florent Didier were committed to a high profile concert appearance in their home city. 

Already qualified for the European Championship, they came seventh - failing narrowly to make it two top-six finishes in a row, whilst their debut appearance at Brass in Concert saw them finish sixth.   

Comment:
A first appearance in the classroom for the elegant, left bank Parisian student with a penchant for doing things their own way - as shown in not taking their domestic baccalaurean National exam in Lyon earlier in the year. 

The esoteric delights of their essay on heavenly celestial beings had wings for many critics, although their emotional response to personal loss close to home didn’t quite resonate as much. 

Their performance in the school panto raised a few eyebrows too - more John Paul Sartre than John, Paul, George and Ringo; although the philosophical subtext saw the examiners who knew their Camus from the elbows gave them the benefit of the doubt.

A post Brexit future holds promise for the young garcon with a taste for English traditions. It may be a fleeting class visit for now, but in future we could be hearing a lot more from this particular, very well educated pupil.


Stavanger
Overall Mark: B
Class Position at end of 2017: 19th (No change)

2017: 19th
2016: 20th
2015: 20th 
2014: 22nd
2013: 25th

Exams entered:
Norwegian National Championship: 2nd (‘Variations on a Theme of Michael Tippett’ and ‘The Turing Test’)
Siddis: 3rd (Entertainment)

Report Card:
Stavanger came runner-up at the Norwegian national Championships in Bergen, their fourth consecutive podium finish at the event, whilst also coming third at the Siddis Entertainment contest, both directed by Allan Withington.  

Comment:
Another year marked by invention for the Norwegian kid with the oil rich parents.

There was a maturity about their appreciation of English homage on their National exam (even beating their Bergen rivals), only to be pipped on the second paper when their exploration of early computing genius just failed by a microchip pulse to snatch victory.    
 
Meanwhile, their desire to keep breaking boundaries kept the school’s Norwegian based Head of Performing Arts happy, even if the examiners didn’t quite know what to make of their Brexit allegory, ‘Fear and Loathing at the Stavanger Konserthus’ - complete with satirical references to ‘Scatman’ Nigel Farage and Theresa May’s wheat allergy.

The pupil with the most fertile imagination in the class - but one that also shows rare musical insight: We hope young Master Stavanger can continue to blossom in his own particular way for another year or two at the 4BR School.      


Tredegar
Overall Mark: B
Class Position at end of 2017: 5th (+2)

2017: 5th
2016: 7th
2015: 5th
2014: 3rd
2013: 2nd

Exams entered:
Regional Championships: 2nd (Wales) (‘Pageantry)
European Championship: 5th (‘Where Angels Fly’ and ‘Prophecies’)
British Open: 8th (‘Fraternity’)
National Finals: 2nd (‘Gallery’)
Brass in Concert: 5th (Entertainment)

Report Card:
Failed to retain their Welsh Area title, although they qualified for the Nationals for an eleventh consecutive year.  

Made their tenth appearance at the Europeans, posting a sixth top-five finish before securing their British Open spot with eighth place in Birmingham. Came runner-up for a fourth time at London before returning to Brass in Concert where they maintained their fine record by coming in the prizes for a sixth consecutive time. 

Comment: 
The entrepreneurial valley boy continued to make his mark amid the higher echelons of the 4BR classroom with a series of well swotted exam papers. Their take on ancient Welsh heraldry did give rise to a few pointed remarks from the examiner, but the European Baccalaureate saw engaging essays on celestial flying hosts and the bonkers quatrains of an old French soothsayer.  

They dug deep into their coalmining heritage to ward off any threat of expulsion after last year’s poor Open exam test, and revelled in their art appreciation class in London - coming very close to picking up the silver cup as star painter. 

Rounded off a revitalised year with a scene-stealing last act at the school panto to win over the audience. 

The 4BR comprehensive school ethos continues to appeal to Tredegar, allowing them to shine thanks to a Stakhanovite work ethic and an eye for a high profile chance to shine.   


GUS

Virtuosi GUS
Overall Mark: C
Class Position at end of 2017: 16th (-4)

2017: 16th
2016: 12th
2015: 14th
2014: 21st
2013: 16th

Exams entered:
Butlins Mineworkers: 1st (‘Journey of the Lone Wolf’ and entertainment’)
Regional Championships: 1st (Midlands) (‘Pageantry’)
Grand Shield: 5th (‘Reflections on Swan Lake’)
Masters: 4th (‘The Torchbearer’)
National Finals: 13th (‘Gallery’)
Brass in Concert: 9th (Entertainment)

Report Card:
Virtuosi GUS under MD Adam Cooke reclaimed the Butlins Mineworkers title for the first time since 2013, winning the biggest monetary prize in UK banding, and followed it up with a comprehensive victory, their fourth in a row, at the Midlands Area. 

However, they failed to qualify for the British Open for a third successive year and lost their grip on the Masters Trophy as they looked to make it a hat-trick of wins at Kettering.  Their fourth midfield finish at the Nationals was followed by ninth place at Brass in Concert. 

Comment: 
What a curious year at school for the Midlands lad who on occasions certainly lived up to his name and on others certainly didn’t.

The fine exam paper on a lycanthropic composer and a neat bit of Miners panto work was followed by an equally impressive heraldic analysis. However, a hobnailed ballet exam and a torch than never lit as brightly as it should have in the school physics lab seemed to sap the exam confidence. 

Having to give the examiners the first set of answers on art appreciation didn’t help on their trip to London, although their oriental take-away menu tickled a few tastebuds at the school panto.  

Just when we thought their fragile confidence had been overcome, the young virtuosi slipped back into self doubt to end a year full of initial promise on a little bit of a downer. A better pupil than the second half of term exam results may initially suggest.


Valaisia

Valaisia Brass Band
Overall Mark: A
Class Position at end of 2017: 5th (+8)

2017: 5th
2016: 13th
2015: 49th
2014: 53rd
2013: 57th

Exams entered:
European Championship: 2nd (‘Where Angels Fly’ and ‘Goldberg 2012’)
British Open: 1st (‘Fraternity’)
Swiss National Championship: 1st (‘Eden’ and ‘The Turing Test’)

Report Card:
Rounded off the year with their hat-trick victory at the Swiss Nationals – the first time it has been achieved since 1992 – and another historic achievement in a year that saw them also become the first European band to claim the British Open -oldest major title in the banding world.

They will return in 2018 to defend that title and will hope to go one better at the European after coming runner-up in Ostende.   

Comment:
The highly polished product of an elite level Swiss finishing school that is seemingly producing an inexhaustible line of exam exports every bit as accurate with time and place as an Omega watch. 

The esoteric appreciation of heavenly celestial beings was matched by a thumping mix of Bach and the Brekker Brothers at the European Baccalaureate, whilst their superb exam answers on French mining history sent shock waves through the dark arteries traditionalists in Brum.

After that they added a bit more precious metal to their well-stocked local bank vaults by rounding their year off with an apocalyptically brilliant bit of work in the Garden of Eden and some algorithmic computer wizardry that even IBM’s Deep Blue couldn’t have bettered.

The well mannered Swiss child has arrived at school in style - backed by a high class tutor who makes sure every ounce of his pupil’s potential is utilised in full. They are a musical multi-linguist who had a prodigious talent for exam work, even the Norwegian kids in class envy. 


Whitburn

Whitburn
Overall Mark: B+
Class Position at end of 2017: 7th (+8)

2017: 7th
2016: 15th
2015: 16th
2014: 14th
2013: 15th

Exams entered:
Regional Championships: 1st (Scotland) (‘Pageantry’)
Grand Shield: 1st (Reflections on Swan Lake’)
British Open: 2nd (‘Fraternity’)
National Finals: 6th (‘Gallery’)
Scottish Open: 1st (‘Metropolis 1927’)

Report Card:
Whitburn kick-started a historic year under three conductors (Nicholas Childs, Florent Didier and Michael Fowles) by regaining the Scottish Championship title (their 18th success), before ending their stay in the Grand Shield at their seventh attempt - claiming their second victory at the event. 

They very nearly equalled Tredegar’s 2010 feat of making it a ‘double’ at the British Open (narrowly coming second) and posted their best result at London since 1990. They rounded off the season by winning the Scottish Open for a fourth consecutive year.  

Comment: 
After a few terms of treading water in the midfield seats of the top class, the parent’s decision to bring in the banding equivalent of a Welsh/French/English Miss Jean Brodie as tutor paid off splendidly, as Master Whitburn revealed hitherto hidden exam talents.

A classy bit of heraldic Clan history in Perth was bettered by a lovely balletic exam appreciation of an avian arabesque and pirouette in Blackpool, before their evocative ‘old alliance’ partnership in Brum almost had former Scottish miners singing ‘La Marseillaise’ in triumph.

A cultured bit of art appreciation and a neat bit of Marxist sci-fi allegory ended the year on an amazing ranking high.   

Extra haggis and deep fried Mars Bars for Whitburn for Christmas dinner before the hard work starts again in 2018 to show the big boys in the school that this wasn’t a flash in the pan ‘one-off’. You suspect not though.   



The Brighouse & Rastrick Band - EYMS Brass Band at Hull City Hall

Saturday 20 January • Hull City Hall. 67 Carr Lane,. Kingston upon Hull HU1 3RQ


Black Dyke Band - Morley Town Hall

Saturday 20 January • Morley Town Hall, Morley, Leeds LS27 8DX


Wantage Silver - Gary Curtin

Saturday 20 January • Reading Central Salvation Army RG1 7JR


The Hepworth Band - Soprano Sarah Ogden

Sunday 21 January • Christ Church, Sude Hill, New Mill, Holmfirth HD9 7BL


The Fairey Band -

Sunday 21 January • The Hawth Theatre. Hawth Avenue. Crawley. RH10 6YZ RH106YZ


Ilkeston Brass

January 20 • We are looking for a Tenor and Bass Trombone plus 1st Baritone. All other positions are always welcome.. Under MD Geoff Hawley we have a sensible mix of concerts and a few contests per year. . Rehearsals Thursday and Sunday evenings just off M1 J25/26.


Frampton on Severn Silver Band

January 19 • We are a friendly non-contesting band in Gloucestershire looking for players, in particular cornets, baritone and basses. We play at many local events and bandstand jobs, and practice on Tuesday evenings just off Junction 13 of the M5.


Shipston Town band

January 18 • We currently need a Kit percussionist, horn and Bb Bass as we prepare for the forthcoming Midlands Area at Bedworth in March. We are graded Section 4


Craig Roberts

BA (Hons), MA
Conductor / Adjudicator