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Report & Results: 2017 West of England Regional Championships: First Section

SW Comms and Chris Spreadbury do a passable impression of Eddie Jones and his rugby team in keeping up their winning streak to head to the finals alongside Bournemouth Concert Brass.

Riviera Centre
  SW Comms claimed the First Section title to head to Cheltenham as champions

It wasn't just the England rugby team that carried on its 100% winning streak under a new coach on the weekend, as SW Comms led by MD Chris Spreadbury made it three wins out of three since he took over the conducting helm just under a year ago, by winning the First Section Area title.

And whilst the MD was honest enough to tell 4BR that he felt they may have some way to go to emulate Eddie Jones and his players, it wasn't a bad start as they secured victory on 'The Land of The Long White Cloud' ahead of fellow Cheltenham qualifiers Bournemouth Concert Brass, with Hyde in third.


"I'm thrilled that we won on our first attempt after promotion from the Second Section," Chris told 4BR. "I knew we'd played well, but you never quite know how well the others have played. Since I started working with SW Comms we've celebrated a hat-trick of contest victories. I know it won't last forever, but we'll keep enjoying them while they come!"

He added: "It was a great team effort too. We have over 30 brass players in the band, so special thanks goes to those important team members who sat out the contest, but continued to support us and come to rehearsals. I'm very lucky to work with an overflowing band week in week out!"

And as for the secret behind that winning streak? "The music is exciting enough without us giving it a 'full blooded' approach. I even made click tracks for the players to rehearse to at home so that they could practice all the tricky time signature changes! I'm sure their families are glad they won't have to listen to those anymore!"


For judges Paul Norley and Les Neish, the contest proved to be just as demanding work as it was for some Scottish forwards at Twickenham, as they were faced with a pack of performances bedeviled by what Paul called, 'transient' balance and detail from bands of 'a wide range of ability'.

"All the bands brought something from such a very detailed score and finely structured piece," he said in his detailed remarks. "However, not all the MDs allowed that detail to come though and some intrusive percussion didn't help either. There were some very good soloists, but at times the ensemble wasn't measured and the stamina really told at the end."

Les agreed: "We appreciated it wasn't an easy hall to play in, but the conductors had to listen more closely to the grading of dynamics, as many of the inner parts were lost. The word we used most was 'inconsistent' — with just the winners being exempt. That was the difference for us. The best were not perfect but they were the most consistent for us."

Immediate comparison

That for them was SW Comms just before the mid-contest break, as their direct approach and adherence to tempo markings gave them a measure of control that was missing in more excitable, error strewn rivals.

The immediate comparison point for the duo came straight after the break, with a mature sounding Bournemouth Concert continuing to show their resilient streak under Matthew Brown following their top-flight relegation, to secure the second qualification place ahead of a vibrant account from Hyde.

Rather more varied accounts from Chalford, Sherborne and Wotton under Edge secured valuable top-six finishes, whilst there was considerable surprise as the fancied Forest of Dean Brass eventually found themselves placed last after producing a colourful account from the number 1 slot that found favour with many in the hall but not in the box.

Pep talk

No such problems however for the winners — a band sponsored by the rugby loving SW Comms boss Tony Rowe, whose support has done so much to help them develop over the years.

You never know — if this form continues, he may well be persuaded to book a pre-National Final pep talk from Eddie Jones himself.

Since I started working with SW Comms we've celebrated a hat-trick of contest victories. I know it won't last forever, but we'll keep enjoying them while they come!SW Comms MD, Chris Spreadbury


First Section:

Test Piece: 'Land of the Long White Cloud' (Philip Sparke)
Adjudicators: Les Neish and Paul Norley

1. SW Comms (Chris Spreadbury)*
2. Bournemouth Concert Brass (Matthew Brown)*
3. Hyde (Jonathan Lush-Camps)
4. Chalford (Steve Tubb)
5. Sherborne Town (Ian Lowes)
6. Wotton-under-Edge & District (Ian Dickinson)
7. St Keverne (Gareth Churcher)
8. AW Parker (Drybrook) (Josh Ruck)
9. Michelmersh Silver (Wayne Landon)
10. Sidmouth Town (Adrian Harvey)
11. Forest of Dean Brass (Chris Howley)

*Top two bands qualify for National Final at Cheltenham

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March 24 • 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.

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March 23 • REPIANO CORNET are you the right person for this seat, we have a sensible mix of concerts and contests with a Germany trip in 2019. Also a 5th place at the yorkshire areas in the 1st section we are looking to build on this for the future.

Jack Capstaff

Bmus (Hons)
Conductor | Composer