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Report & Results: 2016 National Championships of Great Britain: Section 2

A commanding Stannington Brass plants the Yorkshire flag on the summit of the Second Section under the direction of Derek Renshaw.

Stannington Band
  Stannington takes the Second Section National honours at Cheltenham.

Yorkshire Area champion Stannington certainly 'nailed' its Second Section National title winning credentials to the winning post in the minds of the adjudicators at Cheltenham on the weekend, as they claimed victory in emphatic fashion under the direction of MD Derek Renshaw.

Cinematic character

Such was the commanding fashion in which they delivered Stephen Bulla's evocative 'Images for Brass' that Alan Fernie and Steve Sykes later revealed they felt they were the only band to have really brought to life the evocative musical retelling of the Pacific battle of Iwo Jima with the essential sense of cinematic character.

'You really nailed it!', Steve wrote at the end of his remarks, whilst Alan added: 'What a fine band. So much positive and musical thought from MD — excellently executed too. Very enjoyable! Well done.'

Resonance

And with Stannington being the last to perform of the 16 contenders, those crucial opinions held the greatest resonance as they overcame the bold challenge of eventual runner-up City of Bristol, who in turn had earlier led into the final furlong from Boarshurst Silver.

The judge's thoughts were revealed before the announcement of the results, with Alan stating: "All the bands played it very well and no one struggled, with 16 fantastic interpretations. The winning band brought us the cinematic effect of the big screen — played in such contrasting style."

Steve also confirmed to 4BR after the prizes were presented, that the winners '...were a clear margin ahead of the rest of the field'.

Just behind the podium finishers came another North-West/West of England duo in Haydock and Sidmouth Town, whilst the final top-six place went to London & Southern Counties Area champion Cawston.

Postponed wedding anniversary

Despite the clear margin of the commanding victory it still came as a bit of a surprise to Stannington Band Secretary Christine Wilson — although her decision to postpone her 50th wedding anniversary holiday to come to Cheltenham had proven well worth it!

"Derek has done a wonderful job," she said. "I'm still a bit shocked, but as we drew last at the Area and won and then drew last here and did it again on a test-piece with a lovely hymn tune in it, perhaps I should have known the omens.

It still hasn't quite sunk in. I'm more concerned about the excitement this will have on our three pregnant players!"

Third MD title

Christine needn't have worried, as the percussion, trombone and horn trio seemed more than happy at this particular end result, whilst Derek added to his impressive CV of National Finals achievements by claiming his third title following his First Section successes with ASDA Stocsbridge and Unite the Union in 2001 and 2012 respectively.

"It's his approach to rehearsals that makes us tick," Christine added. "He's so supportive and encouraging. He makes it very clear to the players what is required and they simply do their best for him. It's been great for the band."

Time for a pint

That was also something the winning MD picked up on as well, despite missing out on the stage celebrations as he opted for a quick pint instead!

"I didn't realise the time to tell you the truth," Derek told 4BR. "But it was great to hear that they had such a brilliant time. They are a wonderful bunch, so close knit and supportive of each other.

It's been a fantastic 10 months since coming here, even though I literally live on the doorstep in the village. Everyone associated with the band deserves the success."

Derek also revealed that the band will show their thanks to the support they receive from the village just outside Sheffield in their forthcoming annual concert. "We rehearse in the local church, and people are always asking about the band, so that concert the day before we take part at the Bolsover contest will be our way to show our thanks."

Entertaining playing

Despite its rather sombre historical inspiration, Stephen Bulla's work, with its readily identifiable themes and motifs (from the Navy Hymn 'Melita' to a touch of Spielberg 'Jurassic Park') brought out plenty of entertaining playing from each of the challengers.

The opening 'Prologue' established intent and precision, whilst the 'Approach by Sea' and 'Chorale Prayer' that followed offered the chance to showcase contrasting emotions and style. The final 'Engagement', full of growing tension and drama, eventually blossomed into a warmly triumphant close.

Early marker

The early marker was provided by Haydock as Mark Quinn's band delivered an effective rendition from the number 3 draw which held its own until Boarshurst led by James Garlick upped the ante with a confident showing just before the mid-point break.

Sidmouth Town's purposeful approach under Adrian Harvey then gave the judge's something to think about as they returned after their cup of tea, with Cawston led by Leigh Sharpe also providing a substantive account that resonated in the box.

One hand

However, it was City of Bristol that seemed to have planted one hand on the National trophy by producing a high-quality performance under Bryn James (who was sporting a bit of a self-inflicted shaving war wound on himself).

A fine all round account aided by their excellent 'Best Instrumentalist' percussion team (who combined neat precision with colour and texture) put them in the clear with many listeners in the hall, but with the finishing tape in sight they were overcome by their unstoppable Yorkshire rivals.

Although not flawless (no performance was on the day) Stannington's rendition certainly engaged the senses with excellent lead lines and a flexible, robust ensemble which responded to the MDs controlled direction.

They also left in their wake a well-beaten field of rivals — with few having cause for complaint about their eventual placing from the judges.

Unknown

Ibstock Brick Brass delivered an admirably solid performance off the number 1 draw at 9.30am to eventually finish seventh, whilst unknown to them at the time, a frustratingly minor error-strewn Dunaskin Doon became the highest placed Scottish band of the whole weekend in eighth.

The remaining midfield and lower places were filled by bands that in the opinion the judges found it hard to deliver with consistency (and nerves certainly played a part with sweaty hands leading to a clattering amount of dropped mutes), although Glossop Old and Houghton Brass may wonder if it was perhaps more a question of musical taste with their brace of colourful, exciting accounts.

Stern challenge

As Alan Fernie stated in his pre-results remarks, the role of the adjudicator was to help bands improve, although on this occasion the test-piece certainly did that too. That will come in handy for many, as an even sterner challenge awaits with 'Land of the Long White Cloud' in the First Section next March.

However, for Stannington and Derek Renshaw, promotion to Section One as National Champion is surely something they will relish.

Although there was no planting of the Yorkshire flag on a nearby mountain top, the musical assault on the Second Section summit in Cheltenham had proven to be a mission accomplished in triumph.

'You really nailed it!', Steve wrote at the end of his remarks, whilst Alan added: 'What a fine band. So much positive and musical thought from MD — excellently executed too. Very enjoyable! Well done.'4BR

Results;

Test Piece: Images for Brass (Stephen Bulla)
Adjudicators: Alan Fernie and Steve Sykes

1. Stannington (Derek Renshaw)
2. City of Bristol (Bryn James)
3. Boarshurst Silver (James Garlick)
4. Haydock (Mark Quinn)
5. Sidmouth Town (Adrian Harvey)
6. Cawston (Leigh Sharpe)
7. Ibstock Brick Brass (Simon Willis)
8. Dunaskin Doon (Chris Bradley)
9. St Sebastian Wokingham (Lee Woodward)
10. Thomas Coaches Mid Rhondda (Alan Gibbs)
11. Deiniolen (Lois Eifion Jones)
12. Coalburn Silver (Gareth Bowman)
13. Old Silkstone (Sam Fisher)
14. Glossop Old (Les Webb)
15. Cheshire Constabulary (David Wollam)
16. Houghton Brass (Tom Gibson)

Best Instrumentalist: Percussion Section (City of Bristol)



Cheltenham

Result: 2017 National Championships of Great Britain: First Section

September 17 • Pemberton takes Section One spoils in Cheltenham


Cheltenham

Report & Results: 2017 National Championships of Great Britain: Third Section

September 17 • BD1 emulate their siblings to become National Champions with a clear cut Maori love story triumph under inspirational MD Lee Skipsey.


Cheltenham

Report & Results: 2017 National Championships of Great Britain: Fourth Section

September 16 • Mary Shelley may well be inspired by the title winning story of Newmains & District as they claimed the first Scottish Fourth Section title successes since 1973 under Mike Marzella.


Cheltenham Centaur

Report & Results: 2017 National Championships of Great Britain: Second Section

September 16 • A performance inspired by untimely loss as well as timely good fortune saw Boarshurst Silver claim the Second Section National title


Regent Hall Concerts - RAF Symphonic Brass

Friday 22 September • Regent Hall (The Salvation Army). 275 Oxford Street. opp. Reserved. London. W1C 2DJ W1C 2DJ


Concert - Grimethorpe Colliery: Wakefield Cathedral

Saturday 23 September • Westmorland St, Wakefield WF1 1PJ


Black Dyke Band - Lucerne Switzerland

Saturday 23 September • KKL, Europaplatz 1, 6005 Luzern, Switzerland 6002


East Anglian Brass Band Association - Fodens

Sunday 24 September • Hewett Academy, Norwich NR1 2PL


Regent Hall Concerts - Philip Cobb & Guards Brass Ensemble

Friday 29 September • Regent Hall (The Salvation Army). 275 Oxford Street. opp. Reserved. London. W1C 2DJ


Stannington Brass Band

September 19 • Stannington Brass Band, Sheffield. 1st section. . . Ambitious and sociable band. MD Derek Renshaw.. . Due to our current player leaving for music college we now require a Solo EEb bass player


Glossop Old Band

September 19 • Needed Tenor Trombone, to join the Band following our 2nd place at the National Finals - Top Chair is available for the right applicant.. The Band will be looking to start their work in the First Section with a full strong team in place..


Glossop Old Band

September 19 • Wanted Strong Cornet Player, to join our Front Row Team following our 2nd place at the National Finals - End chair is available for the right applicant.. The Band will be looking to start their work in the First Section with a strong team in place..


Dr. Stephen Arthur Allen

D. Phil. (Oxon) [Ph.D Oxford University], GBSM, LTCL, ABSM, ALCM, Cert. Ed.