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Report & Results: 2017 Merthyr Tydfil Welsh League Contest

The various Welsh League titles were decided in an exciting climax to the season in Merthyr Tydfil.

Welsh League
  The 2017 Welsh League titles were decided in Merthyr Tydfil

The various 2017 League titles were decided on an exciting day of competition Merthyr Tydfil as the domestic season in Wales came to an end.

The Championship Section honours on the day went to Tongwynlais Temperance (above) as they gave a well crafted account of the set-work, Gilbert Vinter's 'Variations on a Ninth' under Ian Holmes to secure a clear two-point margin of success over rivals Llwydcoed, with Ebbw Valley in third.

Although victory and a clean sweep of the individual awards was celebrated by Tongwynlais, the year's Welsh League honours were secured for the third year running by Llwydcoed, who retained the magnificent Miners Gala Trophy ahead of runner-up Ebbw Valley.

Honest appraisals

Adjudicators Paul Holland and Tom Davoren gave very honest appraisals about the standard of performances they had heard throughout the day.

Welsh banding may be enjoying a sustained period of contesting success, but the remarks about the need to master the basics of warm ensemble sound, balance and texture, before trying to emphasise the ear-catching flourishes of dynamics and tempos were very well made.

Those issues were certainly heard and remarked upon by Paul Holland in the Championship Section battle (the lack of lyrical playing and low level dynamics were also noted), although the overall ensemble quality and mature experience of Tongwynlais's soloists in the famous cadenza section of Vinter's classic work certainly contributed to their victory.

Solid foundation

Band spokesperson Iestyn Davis later told 4BR: "We were keen to support the final contest of the Welsh League season and to come away with a win and some soloist silverware was an added bonus. This gives the band another solid foundation stone on which to build on for what promises to be an exciting Welsh Area contest in March."

He added; "The hard work and dedication of the Association's volunteers made for another fine event and it was encouraging to see the support given to it form bands at all levels and from both sides of the River Severn."

Section winners

Earlier, regular visitors AW Parker (Drybrook) from the Forest of Dean secured a clear-cut victory in the First Section, as led by Joshua Ruck they gave an appropriately colourful rendition of the demanding set-work 'Spectrum'.

Lewis Merthyr was second — a result that saw them secure the Welsh League title ahead of Briton Ferry, who also came runner-up for the year.

Working out

There was plenty of working out to be done by SEWBBA officials in the Second Section to decide the ultimate destination of the Welsh League trophy.

Newport Borough rounded off their fine year by securing the Western Mail Trophy on the day, with their neatly delivered performance of the set-work, 'Purcell Variations'. Another form band in Abertillery Town was second, with Crwbin in third.

However, despite coming fifth, it meant that Mid Rhondda shared the homing rights of the T.J. Powell Welsh League trophy with Newport, with Crwbin as runner-up.

Little easier

Things were a little easier to add up in the joint Third & Fourth Sections, as Usk took the day's honours ahead of Severn Tunnel and Upper Rhondda, thanks to an excellent performance of 'Dimensions' under MD Jeff Jones, aided by his prize winning son Jamie on euphonium. However it was Upper Rhondda who claimed the Welsh League title ahead of Usk.

In the Fourth Section, one of Welsh banding's most famous names enjoyed victory, as Gwaun Cae Gurwen's well delivered 'Anglian Dances' finished ahead of Oakdale Silver, although it was Oakdale that ultimately took the Welsh League title ahead of their west Wales rivals.

Encouraging signs

Meanwhile, the encouraging signs of grass roots development were further shown with the performances of the four bands in the Youth Section — led by Melingriffith Youth ahead of Rhondda Fach Youth, Melingriffith Beginners and BTM Learners.

The work undertaken by conductors Carol Flannery Davies, Angela Westcott, Becky Cale and Lloyd Barnaby is really showing signs of blossoming, with the hope that more bands will follow their inspirational lead.

It was also wonderful to see so many proud parents and family on hand to offer their support to the youngsters on a day when individual prizes were picked up by Noah Davies, Katie Hill, Ned Falloon and the Melingriffith Youth percussion team.

The Eric James Memorial Award to the Welsh Conductor of the Year was presented to Chris Turner of Llwydcoed.

Although victory and a clean sweep of the individual awards was celebrated by Tongwynlais, the year's Welsh League honours were secured once again by Llwydcoed, who retained the magnificent Miners Gala Trophy ahead of runner-up Ebbw Valley4BR


Championship Section:

Adjudicator: Paul Holland
Set Work: Variations on a Ninth (Gilbert Vinter)

1. Tongwynlais Temperance (Ian Holmes) — 190
2. Llwydcoed (Chris Turner) — 188
3. Ebbw Valley Brass (Gareth Ritter) — 187
4. City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) (Nigel Seaman) — 186
5. Tylorstown (Gary Davies) — 185
6. Markham & District (Matt Rowe) — 184

Best Instrumentalist: Matt Rowe (euphonium) — Tongwynlais Temperance
Best Bass Section: Tongwynlais Temperance
Best Trombone: Nils Everett Richards (Tongwynlais Temperance)

First Section:

Adjudicator: Paul Holland
Set Work: Spectrum (Gilbert Vinter)

1. AW Parker (Drybrook) (Joshua Ruck) — 185
2. Lewis Merthyr (Craig Roberts) — 182
3. Briton Ferry (Jeff Pearce) — 181

Best Instrumentalist: Mandy Hamer (euphonium) — AW Parker (Drybrook)

Second Section:

Adjudicator: Tom Davoren
Set Work: Purcell Variations (Kenneth Downie)

1. Newport Borough (Robin Hackett) — 184
2. Abertillery Town (Joshua Ruck) — 182
3. Crwbin (Craig Roberts) — 180
4. Bream Silver (Phil Turner) — 179
5. Mid Rhondda (Thomas Coaches) (Alan Gibbs) — 176
6. Penclawdd Brass (Tony Small) — 175
7. RAF St Athan Voluntary (Alan Bourne) — 174

Best Instrumentalist: Claire Bourne (corent) — RAF St Athan
Most Accomplished Trombone Section: Penclawdd Brass

Third Section:

Adjudicator: Paul Holland
Own Choice

1. Usk (Jeff Jones) — 182
2. Severn Tunnel (Daniel Hall) — 180
3. Upper Rhondda (Jayne Thomas) — 179
4. Ynyshir (Gary Davies) — 178

Best Instrumentalist: Jamie Jones (euphonium) — Usk
Best Horn Section: Usk
Youngest Player in Sections Three & Four: Noah Davies (aged 7) — Ynyshir

Fourth Section:

Adjudicator: Paul Holland
Own Choice

1. Gwaun Cae Gurwen (Jeff Hutcherson) — 177
2. Oakdale Silver (Kerry Bowden) — 176

Youth Section:

Adjudicator: Tom Davoren
Entertainment set

Gold Award: Melingriffith Youth (Carol Flannery Davies)
Gold Award: Rhondda Fach Youth (Angela Westacott)
Silver Award: Melingriffith Beginners (Becky Cale)
Silver Award: BTM Learners (Lloyd Barnaby)

Best Instrumentalist: Noah Davies (kit percussion)
Best Cornet: Katie Hill (cornet) — Rhondda Fach Youth
Best Percussion: Melingriffith Youth
Youngest Bass Player: Ned Falloon (aged 10) — BTM Learners
Youngest Player: Gwenllian Williams (aged 6) — Melingriffith Beginners

2017 Welsh League Champions:

Championship Section:
Champion: Llywdcoed
Runner-Up: Ebbw Valley

First Section:
Champion: Lewis Merthyr
Runner-Up: Briton Ferry

Second Section:
Joint Champion: Mid Rhondda (Thomas Coaches) & Newport Borough
Runner-Up: Crwbin

Third Section:
Champion: Upper Rhondda
Runner-Up: Usk

Fourth Section:
Champion: Oakdale
Runner-Up: Gwaun Cae Gurwen

Conductor of the Year: Chris Turner (Llwydcoed)

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