It wasn’t just in Gateshead that there was an eclectic mix of brass band entertainment to be found on the weekend, as the Theatre Royal in St Helens rang out to the sound of a wide variety of own choice test piece selections from the 27 competing bands.
Adjudicators David Horsfield and Stan Lippeatt had plenty of high quality music making to compare and contrast throughout the day, and with the generous podium prizes seeing the winner in each section take home £400, and almost as many individual prizes to be won as there was at The Sage, it led to some keenly fought battles for the honours.
In the Championship event it was Wingates who rounded off a memorable 140th anniversary year with a victory that bodes well for their contesting future under the baton of Paul Andrews.
A solidly portrayed account of Edward Gregson’s recent National Finals set work ‘Of Distant Memories’ secured then the Northern Open Trophy, thanks in part to the excellent ‘Best Soprano’ and ‘Best Euphonium’ contributions of the experienced Clint Miller and recent signing, 18 year old Chris Robertson.
It enabled the Westhoughton band to repel the strong, ‘Red Priest’ challenge from Vernon Building Society Poynton with City of Bradford in third with their rendition of ‘Blazon’.
Defending champion Oldham (Lees) could only manage fourth place despite the outstanding ‘Best Soloist’ efforts of their solo trombonist.
The winning MD was also delighted that Wingates had taken an important step back towards top flight competitiveness.
"Since coming to the band there has been a timely realisation of where we are now as a contesting outfit and where we would like to be in a few years time," Paul told 4BR.
"Everyone is fully committed to building slowly but surely towards the future, and this is a great first step towards that. It’s a wonderful piece to work on and it showed both our progress and potential."
Paul also believes that the future is also looking bright for a band with such a rich history: "The individual awards were thoroughly deserved but more importantly was the collective spirit both on stage and afterwards with a celebration curry.
There are important contests to come in the early part of next season, but we are now realistic as well as ambitious about our chances."
Full blooded Hazel Grove
In the Second Section a full blooded account of ‘The Saga of Haakon the Good’ enabled Hazel Grove to see off the challenge of nine rivals to secure the Northern Open Trophy and £400 first prize under the direction of Nigel Beasley.
It was the band’s first competitive win at Second Section level since they were re-formed in 1992, with their excellent solo euphonium player Gareth Beasley winning the ‘Best Soloist’ award.
In a high quality contest, it was Besses Boys who eventually came runner up thanks to their well worked performance of ‘Three Part Invention’, with Lindley in third with their purposeful rendition of ‘Purcell Variations’ seeing their sterling tuba team take the ‘Best Basses’ award.
Darwen portrait victory
In an entertaining Third Section it was Darwen Brass who claimed the £400 first prize and Northern Trophy thanks to an excellent performance of ‘Portrait of a City’ under the baton of Steve Hartley, with soprano cornet player Mandy Pickles claiming the ‘Best Soloist’ award.
Formby’s descriptive account of ‘The Aeronauts’ pushed them close by setting a high standard off the number 1 draw, with principal cornet Joanne Fogg taking the ‘Best Cornet’ prize for her fine contribution, whilst Trinity Girls ended third with their solid rendition of ‘Purcell Variations’.
Wetherby’s solo trombone player claimed the ‘Best Trombone’ award in their performance of ‘Labour and Love’.
Finally, in a competitive Fourth Section it was Sale Brass conducted by the experienced Grenville Moore who took the honours thanks to a very well portrayed account of ‘Laudate Dominum’ which enabled them to repel the ‘Three Saints’ challenge of rivals Greenfield and Blackley’s ‘Triptych’.
Sale’s excellent soprano player Steve Ash took the ‘Best Soloist’ award with Grenville Moore taking home the Wesley Family Trophy as the wining conductor and the band’s hard working Soo Cook picking up the Tom Wall Trophy as the winning band secretary.
Lancashire Contests were pleased that the event had once again attracted a good turnout of bands, although they were realistic about the need for bands to continue to support local competitions.
Frank Hodges told 4BR: “We are grateful for the continued support of the bands and to the supporters who came to listen. It is becoming increasingly difficult to run local events such as this without ongoing support and assistance, and I hope we can build on this for the Brass at the Guild Hall contest next February.
Anyone who would like to give us a helping hand will be welcomed with open arms.”
Since coming to the band there has been a timely realisation of where we are now as a contesting outfit and where we would like to be in a few years timeWingates MD, Paul Andrews
Adjudicator: David Horsfield
1. Wingates (Paul Andrews)
2. Vernon Building Society Poynton (Neil Samuel)
3. City of Bradford Brass (Lee Skipsey)
4. Oldham (Lees) (John Collins)
5. Longridge (Mark Peacock)
6. GT Group Peterlee (Joe Cook)
Jubilee Trophy to Winning Conductor: Paul Andrews
Best Soprano Cornet: Clint Miller (Wingates)
Best Euphonium: Chris Robertson (Wingates)
Best Soloist: Trombone (Oldham (Lees))
Adjudicator: David Horsfield
1. Hazel Grove (Nigel Beasley)
2. Besses Boys (James Holt)
3. Lindley (Chris Lewis)
4. Hoover Bolton (Trevor Halliwell)
5. Tyldesley (Rob Taylor)
6. Greenall’s (P. Boardman)
7. Besses o’th’ Barn (Alan Wycherley)
8. Old Silkstone (Simon Kerwin)
9. Pemberton Old Wigan DW ‘B’ (Peter Ashley)
10. Farnworth & Walkden (Peter Ashley)
Fairfield Trophy to Winning Conductor: Nigel Beasley
Best Basses: Lindley
Best Soloist: Gareth Beasley — euphonium ( Hazel Grove)
Adjudicator: Stan Lippeatt
1. Darwen Brass (Steve Hartley)
2. Formby (Louise Hough)
3. Trinity Girls (Stuart Barton)
4. Skelmersdale (David Chapman)
5. Parr Band St Helens (John Ludden)
6. Wetherby Silver (Alan Seymour)
7. Littleborough (Adrian Woodhead)
William Lyon Trophy to Winning Conductor: Steve Hartley
Best Trombone: Wetherby
Best Cornet: Mandy Pickles (Formby)
Best Soloist: Joanne Fogg — soprano (Darwen Brass)
Adjudicator: Stan Lippeatt
1. Sale Brass (Grenville Moore)
2. Greenfield (Tom Haslam)
3. Blackley (Daniel Price)
4. City of Chester (Malcolm Peach)
Best Soloist: Steve Ash — soprano (Sale Brass)
Wesley Family Trophy Winning Conductor: Grenville Moore
Tom Wall Senior Trophy to the Secretary of Winning Band: Soo Cook (Sale Brass)