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Report & Results: 2017 Midlands Championships: Fourth Section

Patience pays off for Corby as they claim a first Area title since 1962 to head a strong trio of Midlands qualifiers to Cheltenham.

Games at Bedworth
  Corby delight as they end 55 years of waiting to claim the Fourth Section title

Generational contesting patience has been rewarded in a number of Areas this year — and it was certainly the case in the Fourth Section in Bedworth as Corby Silver claimed their first Regional title success since 1962.

That win from the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the death of Marilyn Monroe saw them go on and claim the National title, so little wonder some of their players with longer memories were perhaps seeing this long overdue victory as a potential lucky omen.

Not alive

"You never know," their delighted secretary Anne Kane told 4BR. "A few people have mentioned the last time we won, although to be fair I don't think there are too many alive now who played that day!"

Memories of this super win will surely last a long time though, as under the direction of Cathy Fountain they secured victory on 'St Andrew's Variations' (which could well be renamed 'St Job Variations' given the length of time they had to wait between their successes) with an outstanding marker performance from the number 1 draw, that repelled 20 hard- working rivals.

Strong trio

Joining them at the National Finals will be Fairfield (Buxton) and Cleobury Mortimer, as the Midlands sends a very strong looking trio to Cheltenham, whilst just missing out were the solid top-six of Ratby Co-operative Mid, City of Wolverhampton and Shipston Town.

Behind them came a host of well led bands that all tried to bring out the character and compact thematic wit in Alan Fernie's work — one that combined familiar motifs with cleverly structured tests of banding basics. Even those who finished much further down the results table will have enjoyed the contesting day experience.

Consistency

For the judges Dr Chris Davis and Kevin Wadsworth it was a question of consistency of approach in the basic requirements of structuring a contest performance that certainly mattered most — as they rewarded the bands that in their opinion had shown 'understanding and appreciation of the needs of the score'.

And it was Corby Silver who did that from the off — as Cathy Fountain led a confident band in a rendition that for the judges combined technical security with musical nuance and style to a tee.

The victory also rounded off a memorable day for the Fountain family, as a little later Cathy's well known cornet playing son, Thomas, helped Virtuosi GUS to the Championship honours with a wonderful personal contribution of his own.

"We are all thrilled for Cathy and the family," Ann Kayne added. "She has brought the band on in leaps and bounds, and we can now look forward not only to Cheltenham, but also promotion to the Third Section. The victory is such a lovely boost to everyone."

Potential omen

Also enjoying a contesting boost and a potential lucky omen was Fairfield (Buxton) under Charles Kitchen, as they claimed their first Finals appearance since 2014 (when they ended third), and defending champion, Cleobury Mortimer led by Saphran Ali (who came runner-up last year).

Both bands gave an almost immediate opportunity for the judges to compare and contrast renditions in the box, with Cleobury drawn 3 and Fairfield (Buxton) at five, whilst also eventually pushing into the top-six frame came the vibrant early draw accounts from City of Wolverhampton and Shipston Town.

Well established order

That first third of the contest must have whetted the appetite of the judges, but thereafter it wasn't until Ratby Co-operative at 16 that they found a band that produced a performance they felt could disturb the well-established order.

Elsewhere, some bands certainly caught the imagination of the listeners in the hall but not in the box, as the judges opted for security over colourful enthusiasm, although as their pre and post results remarks showed, they were both very clear in what they wanted to hear on the day.

For Corby Silver that day had been a long day coming — as 55 years after they last lifted the regional trophy, they could celebrate a victory, that if history is anything to go by, could well be the harbinger of even greater glory to come.

Cathy has brought the band on in leaps and bounds, and we can now look forward not only to Cheltenham, but also promotion to the Third Section. The victory is such a lovely boost to everyoneCorby Band Secretary, Ann Kane

Results:

Fourth Section:

Test Piece: 'St Andrews Variations' (Alan Fernie)
Adjudicators: Dr Chris Davis and Kevin Wadsworth

1. Corby Silver (Cathy Fountain)*
2. Fairfield (Buxton) (Charles Kitchen)*
3. Cleobury Mortimer Concert (Saphran Ali)*
4. Ratby Co-operative Mid (Geoff Newman)
5. City of Wolverhampton (George Draycott)
6. Shipston Town (Howard Gibbs)
7. Sherwood Forest Brass (Christine Lippeatt)
8. Whitwell Brass (Ryan Stacey)
9. Skegness Silver (Steve Walker)
10. Malvern Hills District (Chris License)
11. WEM Jubilee (Roger Thorne)
12. Newark Town (Rupert Trippett)
13. Bilton Silver (Evolution) (Jack Fisher)
14. Syston (Chris Banks)
15. Croft Silver (Ian Needham)
16. University of Warwick (Simon Hogg)
17. Moulton '77 (Nicholas Garman)
18. Ilkeston Brass (Geoff Hawley)
19. Coventry Festival (Alan Gifford)
=20. Bestwood Welfare Black Diamonds (TBC)
= 20. Porthywaen Silver (Dougie Graham)

*Top three bands qualify for National Final at Cheltenham



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Conductor, piano accompanist and educator