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Report & Results: 2017 West of England Regional Championships: First Section

SW Comms and Chris Spreadbury do a passable impression of Eddie Jones and his rugby team in keeping up their winning streak to head to the finals alongside Bournemouth Concert Brass.

Riviera Centre
  SW Comms claimed the First Section title to head to Cheltenham as champions

It wasn't just the England rugby team that carried on its 100% winning streak under a new coach on the weekend, as SW Comms led by MD Chris Spreadbury made it three wins out of three since he took over the conducting helm just under a year ago, by winning the First Section Area title.

And whilst the MD was honest enough to tell 4BR that he felt they may have some way to go to emulate Eddie Jones and his players, it wasn't a bad start as they secured victory on 'The Land of The Long White Cloud' ahead of fellow Cheltenham qualifiers Bournemouth Concert Brass, with Hyde in third.


"I'm thrilled that we won on our first attempt after promotion from the Second Section," Chris told 4BR. "I knew we'd played well, but you never quite know how well the others have played. Since I started working with SW Comms we've celebrated a hat-trick of contest victories. I know it won't last forever, but we'll keep enjoying them while they come!"

He added: "It was a great team effort too. We have over 30 brass players in the band, so special thanks goes to those important team members who sat out the contest, but continued to support us and come to rehearsals. I'm very lucky to work with an overflowing band week in week out!"

And as for the secret behind that winning streak? "The music is exciting enough without us giving it a 'full blooded' approach. I even made click tracks for the players to rehearse to at home so that they could practice all the tricky time signature changes! I'm sure their families are glad they won't have to listen to those anymore!"


For judges Paul Norley and Les Neish, the contest proved to be just as demanding work as it was for some Scottish forwards at Twickenham, as they were faced with a pack of performances bedeviled by what Paul called, 'transient' balance and detail from bands of 'a wide range of ability'.

"All the bands brought something from such a very detailed score and finely structured piece," he said in his detailed remarks. "However, not all the MDs allowed that detail to come though and some intrusive percussion didn't help either. There were some very good soloists, but at times the ensemble wasn't measured and the stamina really told at the end."

Les agreed: "We appreciated it wasn't an easy hall to play in, but the conductors had to listen more closely to the grading of dynamics, as many of the inner parts were lost. The word we used most was 'inconsistent' — with just the winners being exempt. That was the difference for us. The best were not perfect but they were the most consistent for us."

Immediate comparison

That for them was SW Comms just before the mid-contest break, as their direct approach and adherence to tempo markings gave them a measure of control that was missing in more excitable, error strewn rivals.

The immediate comparison point for the duo came straight after the break, with a mature sounding Bournemouth Concert continuing to show their resilient streak under Matthew Brown following their top-flight relegation, to secure the second qualification place ahead of a vibrant account from Hyde.

Rather more varied accounts from Chalford, Sherborne and Wotton under Edge secured valuable top-six finishes, whilst there was considerable surprise as the fancied Forest of Dean Brass eventually found themselves placed last after producing a colourful account from the number 1 slot that found favour with many in the hall but not in the box.

Pep talk

No such problems however for the winners — a band sponsored by the rugby loving SW Comms boss Tony Rowe, whose support has done so much to help them develop over the years.

You never know — if this form continues, he may well be persuaded to book a pre-National Final pep talk from Eddie Jones himself.

Since I started working with SW Comms we've celebrated a hat-trick of contest victories. I know it won't last forever, but we'll keep enjoying them while they come!SW Comms MD, Chris Spreadbury


First Section:

Test Piece: 'Land of the Long White Cloud' (Philip Sparke)
Adjudicators: Les Neish and Paul Norley

1. SW Comms (Chris Spreadbury)*
2. Bournemouth Concert Brass (Matthew Brown)*
3. Hyde (Jonathan Lush-Camps)
4. Chalford (Steve Tubb)
5. Sherborne Town (Ian Lowes)
6. Wotton-under-Edge & District (Ian Dickinson)
7. St Keverne (Gareth Churcher)
8. AW Parker (Drybrook) (Josh Ruck)
9. Michelmersh Silver (Wayne Landon)
10. Sidmouth Town (Adrian Harvey)
11. Forest of Dean Brass (Chris Howley)

*Top two bands qualify for National Final at Cheltenham

National trophies

2018 National Finalists confirmed

March 19 • The list of bands who will challenge for National honours in the autumn is now complete following the last round of 2018 Regional contests on the weekend.

Friary Guildford

Result: 2018 London & Southern Counties Regional Championship: Championship Section

March 18 • Frairy Guildford make it four wins in a row as they retain their top-flight title and are joined at the Albert Hall by Thundersley.


Result: 2018 London & Southern Counties Regional Championship: Fourth Section

March 18 • Bradwell Silver strikes gold to take Fourth Section title and head to Cheltenham alongside Regent Community Brass and Great Yarmouth Brass.


Result: 2018 North of England Regional Championship: Championship Section

March 18 • NASUWT Riverside makes it a North of England Area double as they head back to the Albert Hall as champions again with Reg Vardy in tow.

Black Dyke Band - Mirfield Parish Church

Thursday 22 March • Mirfield Parish Church, 38 Church Lane, Mirfield WF14 9HX

The Fairey Band - Ensembles from Bramhall High School

Friday 23 March • Bramhall High School. Seal Road. Stockport SK72JT

Regent Hall Concerts - Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama Brass Band

Friday 23 March • Regent Hall. (The Salvation Army). 275 Oxford Street. London W1C 2DJ (opposite RESERVED) W1C 2DJ

The Brighouse & Rastrick Band - Boobs & Brass at Huddersfield Town Hall

Saturday 24 March • Huddersfield Town Hall. Corporation St,. Huddersfield HD1 2TA

Croydon Citadel Band - The International Staff Band of The Salvation Army

Saturday 24 March • The Salvation Army. Booth Rd. Croydon. CR0 1XY CR0 1XY

Hitchin Band

March 20 • BASS TROMBONE VACANCY - Hitchin Band (promoted to Championship as of 2019) are looking for a bass trombone player to fill our vacancy. We are a friendly and sociable band with a busy and varied concert programme throughout the year.

Milnrow Band

March 20 • 2nd EUPHONIUM and 2 FIRST CLASS CORNET PLAYERS. We have immediate vacancies for a 2nd Euphonium & 2 Cornet players (positions negotiable). We rehearse Mon/Thur 8pm-10pm in our own bandroom in Milnrow, situated just off J21 M62 and accessible via Metrolink.

Amesbury Town Band

March 20 • Players of any standard are always warmly welcomed especially some more solo cornets and a spare percussionists to help out existing players. We don't contest, so feel free to drop in, even if you just fancy a blow or want to try another instrument.

Christopher Houlding

Conductor, Performer, Educator