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Report & Results: 2018 UniBrass Trophy

The students of the Royal Northern College of Music retain their hold on the UniBrass Trophy

  The RNCM students celebrate their victory at the UniBrass Championships

On a day when a fantastically focussed Lizzie Yarnold retained her Winter Olympic title in Pyeongchang, the equally brilliant student musicians of the Royal Northern College of Music did likewise in York with a performance that also reflected a very British sense of determination.

Their 'Manchester' themed programme led by 'Best Student Conductor' award winner Alexander Webb saw them draw inspiration from the elements of collective response that has hallmarked their home city's history — from celebration and commerce as well as despair and reconciliation, to once again lift the quirky UniBrass Trophy in triumph.

Clear victory

It gave them a clear-cut six point victory over an impressive set of rivals — led by the excellent Royal Birmingham Conservatoire under Ian Porthouse, who came runner-up for the third year in succession, with the University of Huddersfield led by Jonathan Beatty ending third for the second time in a row.

The final top-six slots went to the solid trio of the University of Manchester, University of Birmingham and University of Nottingham, although seventh placed University of Warwick missed out of a potential fifth place ater incurring four time penalty points.


The RNCM opened with the march 'ORB' before euphonium star Adam Bokarias gave a splendid account of Jinjun Lee's 'Cottonopolis'. The moving hymn tune setting of 'Manchester', which reflected on the loss of lives from the horrific bombing in the city in 2017 led into the spirited finale of Andy Duncan's 'A Manchester Tale'.

It was a commanding display of articulate brass band music making that deservedly took the overall honours as well as the prizes for 'Best Soloist', 'Most Entertaining Band', 'Best March' and 'Best Student Conductor'.

Adjudicators Sandy Smith and Alexandra Kenyon later stated that they were impressed by the 'sound, style and professionalism' that the RNCM showcased throughout their set to the large and appreciative audience. Few who heard them would have disagreed.

Fine rendition

Behind them, the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire also provided further evidence that it is producing musicians of the very highest quality.

A fine rendition of 'A London Overture' featured a raft of cadenzas that Sandy Smith later admitted made him feel his years, such was the confidence displayed by soloists that were not even born when he played it at the European Championships with Black Dyke in 1991.

Aided by a fine 'Miss Blue Bonnet' cornet solo by Wilson Taylor and the pulsating opener 'Activate', Birmingham secured second place in some comfort.

The final podium slot went to the University of Huddersfield with a traditionally tailored set that opened with a fizzing 'Los Hermanos de Bop' a cultured, 'Prelude on Lavernham' and a barn-storming finisher in 'Glorifico Aeternum'.


There was a great deal to savour from each of the ten well-led competitors with a wide variety of music performed — from the serious test piece items such as 'Blitz' (played with considerable aplomb by the University of Manchester) to 'Birdland' and 'It's Raining Men' (delivered with equal spirit by Durham and Nottingham).

In the end though none came better than the students of the RNCM who just like the splendid Lizzy Yarnold once again showed that winning a major title once is not enough...

Steve Jack

It was a commanding display of articulate brass band music making that deservedly took the overall honours as well as the prizes for 'Best Soloist', 'Most Entertaining Band', 'Best March' and 'Best Student Conductor'4BR


Adjudicators: Sandy Smith & Alex Kenyon

1. Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) (Alexander Webb) -146
2. Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (Ian Porthouse) — 140
3. University of Huddersfield (Jonathan Beatty) — 137
4. University of Manchester (James Heathcote) — 131
5. University of Birmingham — 127
6. University of Nottingham (George Newbould & Tom Peterken) — 126
7. University of Warwick (Paul McGrath) — 126*
8. Durham University (Jonathan Fenwick) — 124
9. University of Sheffield (Lee Dunkley) — 120**
10. Bangor University (Elspeth Malcolm) — 120

* Deducted 4 points due to time infringement
** Deducted 1 point due to time infringement

Best Soloist: Adam Bokaris (euphonium) — RNCM ('Cottonopolis' — Jinjun Lee)
Most Entertaining: RNCM
Best March: RNCM — 'ORB'
Best Percussion: Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
Student Conductor: RNCM

Where scores are tied, music points take precedent


Result: 2018 Welsh Regional Championship: Championship Section

March 18 • Cory delivers an emotional Odyssey that takes them to London and to Montreux in Swansea. Tredegar comes runner-up, with Tongwynlais and City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) also booking their places in Kensington.


Result: London & Southern Counties Regional Championship: Third Section

March 18 • LGB Brass leads the way back to another National Final appearance alongside St Sebastian Wokingham and Milton Keynes Brass.


Result: 2018 North of England Regional Championship: Third Section

March 18 • Barton Community heads to Cheltenham with Knaresborough Silver at their side after a cracking Third Section battle in Durham.

Upper Rhondda

Result: 2018 Welsh Regional Championship: Fourth Section

March 18 • Upper Rhondda beat the snow and the opposition to head to Cheltenham with the youngsters of Cwmtawe Youth

Black Dyke Band - The Hawth, Crawley

Sunday 18 March • The Hawth, Hawth Ave, Crawley RH10 6YZ

Contest: Welsh Regional Championships

Sunday 18 March • Brangwyn Hall, The Guildhall, Swansea SA1 4PE

Contest: London & SC REgional Championships

Sunday 18 March • Stevenage Arts & Leisure Centre, Lytton Way, Stevenage SG1 1LZ

Contest: North of England Regional Championships

Sunday 18 March • The Gala Theatre, 1 Millennium Place, Durham DH1 1WA

Black Dyke Band - Mirfield Parish Church

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

Clifton and Lightcliffe Band

March 18 • Our third section B Band are looking for Cornet and Trombone players. Rehearsals Friday's 7.00 - 8.15pm and Sunday mornings 10.00 - 12.15pm Based at Bailiff Bridge Brighouse. Our Saturday morning training band is also looking for players. All abilities.

Clifton and Lightcliffe Band

March 18 • Second Section band we are looking for a 2nd Trombone and back row cornet. We have a busy concert calendar and a trip to Italy planned for August 2018.. Based at Bailiff Bridge Brighouse.

Wakefield Metropolitan Brass Band

March 17 • Musical Director due to work commitments, the Wakefield Metropolitan Band seeks applications for this position. 1st section band with a 5th place at the areas. We require someone with the drive and ambition to take us to the next level is this you ?

Stan Lippeatt

Conductor, adjudicator, tutor