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Welsh domination at the 2013 National Finals in Cheltenham was sealed late on Sunday evening with Tylorstown’s success in the First Section.
Under the baton of Gary Davies, a performance of bold emotional impact of the Gavin Higgins set work, ‘Fanfare & Love Songs’, saw the Rhondda valley band claim the title, and give Wales possession of a hat-trick of gleaming National trophies.
It was a second National win in just four years for Tylorstown and their talented MD, following their Second Section success in Harrogate in 2010.
According to the judges, Paul Holland and Dr Robert Childs, on this occasion there was a quartet of bands battling for their place in the winner’s enclosure at the famous racecourse venue.
Tylorstown eventually beat the early marker set by Staffordshire, the midpoint challenge of Kidlington and the late surge of Foresters Brass 2000, as the last band of the day.
A little way behind came Yorkshire representative Drighlington and West of England favourites Filton Concert Brass.
For the winners, with promotion to the Championship Section and a cheque for £1000 comes the prospect of locking horns with the top two ranked bands in the world at the Welsh Regional contest in Llandudno in 2014.
Cory and Tredegar beckon on the horizon along with Masters winner Beaumaris and reigning Welsh Area champion Tongwynlais at what promises to be a mouth watering top section Area battle.
An emotional MD was already looking forward to that imposing domestic challenge after he led Tylorstown in repelling 15 UK rivals (Catterick Brass had withdrawn) in what was an absorbing, if rather inconsistent contest.
"We can’t wait," Gary Davies said.
"It’s been a great achievement for the band, and we want to build on it now by competing against the very best in the world—that just happen to be Welsh! We put in so much work on a great piece that really tested us musically to the full.
As a result I now believe we are ready for the even bigger challenges ahead."
Expensive trip home
For the moment though, Gary was left to ponder the possibility of an expensive trip back to South Wales with a large National Trophy to fill with celebratory champagne.
"I’m sure we can get some in the bar before we leave," he said with a wry smile. "Although I think it may cost a bit more than our usual winning tipple of beer and lager!"
Judges Dr Robert Childs and Paul Holland certainly know what it takes to win major championship titles, and were clear in the pre-results analysis that the destination of the National Trophy lay between the four closely matched contenders.
"Bands needed more than just the basic in the right place on this wonderful piece," Dr Childs told the audience.
"There was a need to master the detail, play with refinement, elegance, emotion and power. MDs really needed to do more today, and all bands suffered somewhat with intonation problems."
He added: "Four really good bands floated to the top with performances of quality. The winners though had that little extra control and musicality."
Paul Holland was certainly in agreement after giving a detailed analysis of just what the pair had hoped to hear in the box.
"It’s a perfect test piece, full of traps and pits falls—which nearly all the bands fell into today," he said.
"We wanted balance and style in the first movement combined with inner ensemble detail and a well judged ending. The second movement needed control and an appreciation of rubato—a difficult thing to do, but something the winners did so well.
The final section was full of great effects and the top four bands really went to town in delivering them today."
Midlands early marker
It was Midlands champion Staffordshire under Leigh Baker who posted the early marker off the number 2 draw, which was eventually only beaten by their Welsh rivals.
With balanced ensemble topped by excellent solo contributions, most notably from ‘Best Instrumentalist’ winner Andy Jennings on soprano, they led almost from start to finish.
Meanwhile, a well structured account from Kidlington also impressed in the box as well as with many neutrals in the hall, as MD Duncan Wilson drew some of the most cultured playing of the day from the London champion to end third.
With Tylorstown delivering their bold account to surge ahead as the penultimate band, Foresters Brass 2000 directed by Peter Collins almost immediately caught them on the line as the final contender of the contest.
It wasn’t to be though, as their finely worked performance didn’t quite find favour with the judges as much as it did some critics, including the press, in the hall.
Drighlington’s thoughtful musical performance under Jim Davies eventually finished fifth, with Filton Concert’s equally engaging rendition under Tom Davoren just having a few too many little errors to end sixth.
As had been the case just about all weekend, the Scots were short of contesting luck in all four sections as their band’s returned north without registering a single top six finish.
In that respect Newtongrange may feel a little hard done by after their colourful account directed by Lee Skipsey failed to come higher than seventh, whilst solid renditions from Harrogate, Alder Valley and Lanner & District filled the remaining top ten places.
No such disappointments for Tylorstown though, as despite road works on the M50 motorway meaning a lengthy detour, their journey would have been one to cherish into the wee dark hours of Monday morning.
As Gary Davies added as he raised the First Section National Trophy high in the air for one last round of photos: "I think there will be a few sore heads in the morning, although I don’t think anyone will mind too much!"
Tylorstown are declared the winners of the 2013 Championship — First Section http://vimeo.com/75163972 4BR editor Iwan Fox with a jubilant Tylorstown Band following the announcement of the results http://vimeo.com/75164568
A full retrospective will appear on 4BR.
It’s been a great achievement for the band, and we want to build on it now by competing against the very best in the world—that just happen to be Welsh! Gary Davies Results:
Sunday 22nd September
Test Piece: 'Fanfares and Love Songs' — Gavin Hggins
Adjudicators: Dr Robert Childs & Paul Holland
1. Tylorstown (Gary Davies), 15
2. Staffordshire (Leigh Baker), 2 3. Kidlington Concert Brass (Duncan Wilson), 9 4. Foresters Brass 2000 (Peter Collins), 16 5. Drighlington (Jim Davies), 12 6. Filton Concert Brass (Tom Davoren), 3 7. Newtongrange Silver (Lee Skipsey), 7 8. Harrogate (Craig Ratcliffe), 8 9. Alder Valley Brass (Roger Burke), 13 10. Lanner & District Silver (Stuart Chappell), 14 11. Freckleton (Paul Dalton), 6 12. Penclawdd Brass (Tony Small), 10 13. Hebden Bridge (Alan Hobbins), 5 14. Johnstone (Paul Kiernan), 4 15. Morecambe (Andrew Warriner), 11 16. Blidworth Welfare (Martin Heartfield), 1
Withdrawn: Catterick Brass
Best Instrumentalist: Andy Jennings (Soprano) — Staffordshire