After waiting nearly nine years to taste success, Lostock Hall Memorial Band notched up its second contest victory in a matter of weeks in an enjoyable Fourth Section battle.
Following their recent win playing Rodney Newton's 'World Tour' at the Brass at the Guild Hall event in Preston, they booked their ticket to Cheltenham under MD Joshua Hughes with a reprise performance that was certainly in the 'First Class' compartment according to the judges Paul Holland and Brian Rostron.
They will be joined there by another form band, as a super show by Sale Brass led by John Anderson, fresh from their fine return at the Butlins Championship, repelled the spirited challenge of Stacksteads to secure their place at the Finals for what is understood to be the first time in well over half a century or more.
In a contest that saw all the contenders bring plenty of musical endeavour and enthusiasm to the deliberately stereotyped score, the remaining top-six places went to well-led accounts of colourful characterisation from Parr St Helens, Rode Hall Silver and BMP Europe Ltd Goodshaw.
Prior to the results Paul Holland gave an equally first class precis of the action in his summing up — talking not just about the performances, but why the Kapitol Music Panel (on which he sits) chose a work that although originally written as a descriptive concert item, was still a good, and enjoyable competitive test.
Two bands "stood out from the pack" he said, with five "very similar" just behind them. He also praised all the bands for their efforts saying that "nobody let themselves down", although he said that such were the similarities in the basic problems that the duo had "a juggling act" to pick out the minor placings in particular.
And whilst those at the bottom struggled he hoped that they wouldn't be too discouraged, as each of the movements certainly tested different musical disciplines — the slow 'Pacific Paradise' third section in particular.
That was certainly shown throughout the contest, although it was heartening to hear so many MDs look to bring out the character in the music — from the sense of expectancy and excitement of the opening 'The Leaving of Liverpool' (even if the excerpts from 'Punchinello' would have tested the quick step skills of the Ghurkhas let alone the Edwardian bandsmen of Besses o'th' Barn) to the swagger of rag time Chicago and the bravura antipodean chirpiness of the 'Australian Walkabout'.
Cracking solo lines
It was also good to hear plenty of warm ensemble sounds as well as some cracking solo lines with euphoniums, cornets and bass troms all enjoying their moments in the spotlight, whilst some of the early bands were not put off by the crackling feedback from the compere's stage microphone.
The best and most consistent effort though came from Lostock Hall, although MD Joshua Hughes later revealed to 4BR that it was the age old virtues of hard work and commitment that formed the foundation of their victory.
"We enjoyed the victory at Brass at the Guild Hall but we knew we had to improve on that to come close here," he said.
"The players understood and really upped their game, working so hard for me on the basics of good contest playing in the last couple of weeks. I couldn't have asked anything more, so the victory is all down to them as they made my job so enjoyable and easy!"
Such was the quality of both their solo and ensemble work that Lostock also left with the prizes for 'Best Basses' and 'Best Percussion' whilst their hard working band secretary was presented with the Margaret Chadwick Memorial Trophy and Joshua picked up the 'Mary Mather Memorial Trophy' as the winning conductor.
"It's been a memorable few weeks for both me and the band," Josh added. "Now we want to build on this success and hopefully go on and make a real mark at the National Finals in September."
On this world beating form, you wouldn't bet against them doing just that.
I couldn't have asked anything more, so the victory is all down to them as they made my job so enjoyable and easy!Lostock Hall Memorial MD, Joshua Hughes
Adjudicators: Paul Holland and Brian Rostron
1. Lostock Hall Memorial (Joshua Hughes)*
2. Sale Brass (John Anderson)*
3. Stacksteads (Fred Bowker)
4. Parr St. Helens (John Ludden)
5. Rode Hall Silver (Nigel Butler)
6. BMP Europe Ltd. Goodshaw (Alan Seymour)
7. Brindle (Keith Richmond)
8. Blackley (Adrian Smith)
9. Ramsey Town (Robert Quane)
10. Cadishead Public (David Holland)
11. Stockport Silver (Alex Parker)
12. Denton Brass (Jim Hunter)
Best Basses: Lostock Hall Memorial
Best Percussion: Lostock Hall Memorial
*Qualify for National Final at Cheltenham