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LIVE.

2017 National Championships
Royal Albert Hall, Kensington
Saturday 14 October

Live comments

Live comments by Chris Thomas & Steven Mead; Malcolm Wood (Twitter); Ian Clowes (Pictures); Iwan Fox & Matthew Ruel (Interviews); John James (Director of Operations).


Saturday 14, 20:10:48

Brighouse make winning musical portrait...

Brighouse & Rastrick takes the spoils on an epic day at the Royal Albert Hall which brings us to an end of our live coverage today.

Congratulations to Professor David King and Brighouse & Rastrick and the other prize winners, but also last but not least, Howard Snell for his tremendous composition, 'Gallery', which has also been a real winner today.

On behalf of everyone, Mr Snell, thank you.

Good night from the Royal Albert Hall — and we are sure supporters of 'Briggus' will enjoy themselves in London tonight more than anyone else.

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Saturday 14, 19:46:57

Results:

Test Piece: Gallery (Howard Snell)
Adjudicators: Phillip McCann, Howard Snell, Luc Vertommen

1. Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof. David King)**
2. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)*
3. Cory (Philip Harper)*
4. Fairey (Garry Cutt)*
5. Foden's (Bramwell Tovey)
6. Whitburn (Michael Fowles)
7. Black Dyke (Prof. Nicholas Childs)
8. Redbridge (Jeremy Wise)
9. City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey)
10. Milnrow (Mark Bentham)
11. Woodfalls (Dr Robert Childs)
12. Friary Guildford (Chris King)
13. Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)
14. Reg Vardy (Russell Gray)
15. Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths)
16. NASUWT Riverside (David Roberts)
17. Thoresby Colliery (Ian McElligott)
18. Tongwynlais Temperance (Ian Holmes)
19. Filton Concert Brass (Tom Davoren)
20. Co-operative Funeralcare (Allan Ramsay)

Best Instrumentalist: Kathleen Gaspoz (cornet) Brighouse & Rastrick

* Top 4 pre-qualified for 2018 National Final
** Denotes qualification for 2019 European Brass Band Championships as highest placed English representative.


Saturday 14, 18:47:17

Contest Conclusion and Final Predictions

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The performance of B&R draws the contest to a conclusion.
The awards ceremony will be followed by a concert by Tubular Brass and the Fanfare Trumpeters of the Band of the Prince of Wales Division will hail the new champion.

Final Predictions:

Chris Thomas
1. Cory (Philip Harper)
2. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)
3. Foden's (Bramwell Tovey)
4. Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof. David King)
5. Whitburn (Michael Fowles)
6. Black Dyke (Prof. Nicholas Childs)

Dark Horses
7. Fairey (Garry Cutt)
8. Redbridge (Jeremy Wise)
9. City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey)

Steven Mead: Final Graded Places
195pts — Cory (Philip Harper)
194pts — Foden's (Bramwell Tovey)
192pts — Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)
191pts — Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof. David King)
186pts — Whitburn (Michael Fowles)
184pts — Fairey (Garry Cutt)
182pts — Black Dyke (Prof. Nicholas Childs)
181pts — City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey)
179pts — Redbridge (Jeremy Wise)
174pts — Woodfalls (Dr Robert Childs)
172pts — Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)
171pts — Filton Concert Brass (Tom Davoren)
170pts — Tongwynlais Temperance (Ian Holmes)
167pts — Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths)
166pts — Milnrow (Mark Bentham)
163pts — Thoresby Colliery (Ian McElligott)
159pts — Reg Vardy (Russell Gray)
158pts — Co-operative Funeralcare (Allan Ramsay)
157pts — Friary Guildford (Chris King)
155pts — NASUWT Riverside (David Roberts)



Saturday 14, 18:14:03

Band 20: Brighouse & Rastrick

Conductor: Prof. David King

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On Stage — Brighouse & Rastrick with conductor Prof. David King

Brighouse opt for standing cornets and a fine flowing Entrance is marked by excellent soprano cornet but immediately undermined by a nasty cornet splash at the opening of Street Market.

It's an uncomfortable moment in an otherwise promising opening as Street Market progresses in spirited and ebullient fashion.

The Skater's Waltz is pliable and so cleverly shaped by David King although the subtlety is not always as pronounced in the playing as we don't quite hear the finest nuances of colour and texture that have marked the top few bands today.

Love Story glows with warmth and there's a passion simmering beneath the surface that is both engaging and touching. Soprano struggles in the exposed solo entry at the close. Such a shame as it detracts from the repose of the closing bars.

Matisse's Cut-outs fly along with agility although that last ounce of detail and precision can't again match the top handful of bands for us. The big band style is good, especially the dance band trombones, but again the detail is not always crystalline to close.

The concluding visions of Loch Lomond are impressively coloured with skies of so many hues and this is grows to an impressive close, capped by a majestic final peroration.

Overall:
Not everything came off for Brighouse today. Some very fine moments indeed but also some costly slips that will surely preclude the band challenging for top honours.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — Brighouse & Rastrick


Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 18
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 19
Control of full dynamic range: 20
Ensemble precision: 19
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: 191

Short Comment:

Some moments of pure magic from Brighouse and Dr. King. Some early cornet splashes and small clips could count against them, but the last half was absolutely sublime, some of the very best playing today.

So much shape and nuance to the music, every level of dynamic crafted and sculptured. And the band nearly delivered it perfectly!

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 17:48:13

Band 19: City of Bradford

Conductor: Lee Skipsey

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On Stage — City of Bradford with conductor Lee Skipsey

City of Bradford takes to the stage of the Royal Albert Hall for the first time and the opening Entrance is generally secure.

The Street Market abounds with spirit although detail and ensemble isn't always quite in sync. This is such a creditable effort for the debutantes though and is certainly holding its own with many a performance today.

The Skater's Waltz displays a few insecurities at times but again the style is good and there is a sense of the MD shaping the melodic lines and nuances of the scoring.

Love Story unfolds well and although not always the most subtle, is laced with warmth and affection. Soprano is a touch heavy handed to close but this has been a love story told with empathy.

Cut-outs is weighty but needs that big band West Side Story element a little more fixed in its delivery and musical persona with detail sometimes sacrificed for volume as it progresses.

The effort takes its toll in the final stages as we don't quite hear the majesty of Loch Lomond in all is natural glory. Such a great overall effort though.

Overall:
A very creditable debut for Lee Skipsey and his team that has held its own today amongst the toughest of competition.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — City of Bradford


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: 19
Balance/clarity of textures: 18
Quality of soloists: 18
Overall understanding: 18
Total musicality from the band: 18

Total: 181

Short Comment:

A thoroughly enjoyable and remarkably consistent performance by City of Bradford. They set out to make good music, and did that from beginning to end.

No histrionics just quality music making and a glorious band sound to finish. Well done all!

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 17:27:10

Band 18: Black Dyke (Prof. Nicholas Childs)

Conductor: Prof. Nicholas Childs

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On Stage — Black Dyke with conductor Prof. Nicholas Childs

Cornets play standing to ether side and Soprano opens flowingly and the initial Entrance is shaped with elegance.

The band launches into Street Market with vigour although the clarity of detail isn't always as crystalline as it could be. The energy and spirit of the playing abounds though and there is an ebullient spirit of activity about this.

The Skater's Waltz could be a little more transparent at times but individual entries are of such high quality and the close is handled with sensitivity displaying the finest of dynamic control.

Love Story is imbued with warmth and an almost bitter-sweet quality that paints a poignant picture of the old couple. Soprano heavy handed in the closing bars which unsettles the atmosphere as the band subsides into silence.

Cut-outs fails to draw us in with little excitement or spirit despite the obvious quality of the playing. This is coming across as something of a technical study rather than jazz infused Matisse with volume often making the abundant inner detail and intricacy of the score.

The final visions of Loch Lomond are broad yet still don't quite engage us and transport us to the place that inspired them despite a triumphant final bar.

Overall:
Another strange one from Dyke. Playing of obvious quality was often undermined by a lack of genuine transparency and musical character.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — Black Dyke


Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

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

Total: 182

Short Comment:

Slightly uncomfortable with this one. After an exciting but overall muscular performance, which sees a lot of things over dynamic and slightly forced, but clearly exciting, we have to witness the spectacle of the conductor imploring the audience to applaud during the last note, facing the audience.

I know this is closed adjudication, but if this is a new aspect of the National finals, I sincerely hope it never catches on!

Steven Mead



Saturday 14, 17:12:51

Band 17. Friary Guildford

Conductor: Chris King

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On Stage — Friary Guildford with conductor Chris King

The opening Entrance is finely shaped and unfolds well into the initial bustle of the Street Market. The detail here is not as pristine as some but the stylistic approach is well handled with wide ranging but controlled dynamics and a thoughtfully created atmosphere.

The Skater's Waltz is a touch more inconsistent, with a handful of entries that don't quite come off and the ensemble isn't always entirely cohesive. Again, the musical approach is effective however.

Warm sounds are heard in Love Story and there's a fine sense of flow to the melodic lines with the band finding the affection and emotional element of the music in fine fashion.

Cut-outs starts off well although cracks appear as the more technical exposed passages take their toll on individual entries and ensemble as the performance starts to lose its early impetus.

Something is held in reserve for the final vision of Loch Lomond however which has a bracing spirit about it. There are minor lapses as tired lips take their toll in the final bars but

Overall: Plenty to enjoy from Friary Guildford. A musical approach that wasn't always backed up in execution however.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — Friary Guildford


Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

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

Total: 157

Short Comment:

Undoubtedly they give it their all, and there is no faulting the commitment with this band.

Just too many lapses in concentration, niggling errors, and some overwhelming power at times, at the expense of clarity. However like I said totally committed, and they gave it their all.

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 16:34:09

Band 16. Tredegar

Ian Porthouse

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On Stage — Tredegar with conductor Ian Porthouse

The opening Entrance flows so well and the hustle and bustle of Street Market is superbly done; detailed, busy and with clarity of texture and balance.

The Skater's Waltz opens with impressive transparency and is laced with colour and detail. A nasty clip on euphonium momentarily ruffles the balance but there is so much to enjoy here with the MD shaping and moulding the lines with thought and skill.

There's a limpid, touching simplicity at play in Love Story, this is so heart warming in its eloquence. Poignant, gentle and delivered with sensitivity by the soloists. The close is so subtle and delicate.

The jazz of Matisse's Cut-outs progresses with such rhythmic drive and vigour; with dynamic levels that allow all of the detail to be heard throughout the band. This really is impressive, big boned stuff with a fabulous final flourish.

The initial tread of the final visions of Loch Lomond has both breadth and grandeur, with rep cornet rising to his feet in the final passage of repose ahead of the radiant final bars; a fine end to a magnificently conceived and executed account.

Overall: Tredegar delivers an absorbing Gallery laced with so many contrasts and bristling with detail and style.

Chris Thomas

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In Performanc — Tredegar


Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 19
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: 19
Quality of soloists: 19
Overall understanding: 19
Total musicality from the band: 19

Total: 192

Short Comment:

A performance of immense stature from Tredegar, hallmarked by superb solo playing, razor sharp decision and attention to detail.

Could come anywhere in the top three right now! Fantastic.

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 16:14:59

Band 15. Fairey

Conductor: Garry Cutt

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On Stage — Fairey with conductor Garry Cutt

Soprano opens well and it's a flowing, nicely shaped Entrance.

Street Market is marked by good dynamic control and this has just the right feeling of busy, bustling activity although not without a couple of uncomfortable moments, notably in terms of tuning.

The Skater's Waltz is beautifully controlled with nothing being forced or out of place. It perhaps just lacks that sparkle of something special that the judges will be looking for but it's elegance and shape are certainly commendable.

Love Story is touchingly done and there is an affectionate sentimentality about this that carries us along. Nice individual touches from soloists and the close is sensitively handled.

The dynamic control of Cut-outs is excellent and the playing is never less than solid but again, we just miss that something special to mark the performance out as a serious contender.

The landscapes of Loch Lomond are well portrayed and there's a breadth of sound evident that lends the vision a crucial degree of majesty ahead of a resounding final climax.

Overall: A performance of quality from Fairey. Technically sound and with so much to commend in its approach and commitment.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — Fairey


Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

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

Total: 184

Short Comment:

Very fine performance indeed from the Fairey Band. Despite a couple of very pronounced errors, this had solidity, class, excellent ensemble playing and precision.

Maybe a touch of the art feeling was missing, but this should hold its own, and muscle its way into the prizes maybe?

Steven Mead



Saturday 14, 15:48:55

Band 14. Milnrow

Conductor: Mark Bentham

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On Stage — Milnrow with conductor Mark Bentham

Entrance opens well although the bustle of Street Market is all a tad heavy and weighty. As with so many performances so far this needs the feel of activity and spirit without the accent on weight of sound.

The Skater's Waltz is pliable in line but needs more focus on colour and detail. We don't hear those crucial nuances that have marked the leaders out today.

The band works hard to inject warmth and tenderness into Love Story and there is certainly a good band sound evident here with this perhaps the best movement of the performance so far.

Cut-outs isn't able to garner the sheer accuracy of detail required to give the performance the necessary energy and rhythmic vigour required through this section, with the final vision of Loch Lomond requiring a greater degree of majestic grandeur to crown the band's brave account.

Overall:
Committed, purposeful playing from Milnrow although the band was unable to display the accuracy and nuance required to steer it towards the top half.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — Milnrow


Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

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

Total: 166

Short Comment:

Another good showing by Milnrow, demonstrating the full range of its sound potential. A few fragile moments, some tuning, and ensemble precision could've been better on several occasions.

However, it was well received in the hall, and enjoyable to listen to.

Steven Mead


Foden's Band - Matt Ford - Lichfield Cathedral

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


Lofthouse Brass Band - Pudsey Churches Together Christmas Concert

Saturday 25 November • Pudsey Parish Church, Church Lane, Pudsey, LS28 7BD LS28 7BD


Lofthouse Brass Band - Lofthouse Christmas Fair

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


Enfield Citadel Band -

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


Newstead Brass -

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


Harrogate Band

November 24 • Join our team - Harrogate band! We are looking for committed front and back row cornet players who are looking for a new challenge to join our thriving, dynamic, fun and exciting 1st Section band. Our cornet section are a friendly bunch!


Strata Brass

November 24 • Bb BASS. The band are currently preparing for Butlins/Area Contests (1st Section). MD Jonathan Bates (Solo Horn - Fodens Band). Rehearsals SUN/WED,bandroom 5 mins from J35/36 M1 (Hoyland)


Olney Brass

November 23 • 2nd Trombones, look no further. We are looking for a 2nd trombone to join our band. We are an ambitious 3rd section band with a new MD, winning the ODBBA winter contest 2017. Any other instruments, we would be interested to talk, please get in touch.


Stuart Black

BA (Hons) Music
Conductor, Teacher, Flugel soloist