15 bands took part in the recent BBLNI 'Brass in Concert' Championships in Fivemiletown, County Tyrone.
Held at the local Valley Hotel, the day got off to a great start with some excellent performances in the Fourth Section, which were much appreciated by the supportive audience, and where Letterbreen's 'American' theme secured victory along with the 'Most Entertaining Band' award.
A fine rendition of Edwin Firth's 'Kenilworth' saw Poyntzpass take the 'Best March' prize, whilst Warrenpoint's Mervyn Smyth took the 'Best Soloist' accolade his superb rendition of 'Maids of the Mourne Shore'.
Wellington Memorial secured a clean sweep in the Third Section under the baton of Gary Proctor — making it a hat-trick for them over their last three contest appearances.
They also claimed the 'Best March' prize with their breezy rendition of 'The Cobblers', with their own rising star Lauren Stewart taking the 'Best Soloist' prize for her stunning performance of 'Concierto de Aranjuez'.
A tightly fought Second Section saw defending champion Roughan reclaim their title by securing first place in both music and entertainment, as well as taking the 'Best March' prize for the appropriately named 'The Champions'. Ballyduff's Jenny Hill provide a wonderful account of Willie Nelson's 'Crazy' to claim the 'Best Soloist' prize.
Battle of the Bands
The day was rounded off by a cracking top section battle, with outstanding performances from the top three bands in particular, which really impressed adjudicators Andrew Porter and Rachel Bingham.
A sparkling rendition of 'Live & Let Die' by Murley's James Cooke secured the 'Best Soloist' prize, with the band also taking the 'Best March' prize for 'The Cossack'.
Downshire meanwhile were awarded the 'Most Entertaining Band' accolade for their 70s/80s pop music inspired programme, but it was 1st Old Boys under Stephen Cairns who took the overall honours, with their score for music taking precedence. It was the sixth time 1st Old Boys had won the 'Brass in Concert' title since the event was revived in 2010.
The band opened their programme with the cornet feature 'Brass Machine', before showcasing their emerging playing talent with 13 year old Andrew Milligan on Eb Bass in 'The Bare Necessities' (complete with bear suit and a little help from his friends).
George Allan's march 'The Wizard' was performed with purposeful intent before 14 year old Louise Bell delivered a sublime rendition of the cornet solo 'I'd Rather Have Jesus' by William Himes.
The band finished off with the Mnozil Brass version of the 'Florentiner March' with all sorts of choreography — including dancing trombones and deliberately 'wayward' euphonium playing!
An event spokesperson told 4BR: "The Brass Band league would like to congratulate all prizewinners, and all competing bands for a fantastic day of music making and entertainment.
We also thank Greg Williamson and his team at the Valley Hotel for all their support, without which the event would not have been possible."
Adjudicators: Andrew Porter (Music) & Rachel Bingham (Entertainment)
1. 1st Old Boys Association Silver Band (Stephen Cairns): 9/9=18*
2. Downshire Brass (Michael Alcorn): 8/10=18
3. Murley Silver Band (William Hill): 10/7=17
4. Laganvale (Metal Technology) Band (Stephen Crooks): 7/8=15
5. Third Carrickfergus Band (Brian Connolly): 6/6=12
*Music mark takes precedence
Most Entertaining Band: Downshire Brass
Best March: Murley Silver Band (The Cossack)
Best Soloist: James Cooke (Murley Silver Band)
1. Roughan Silver Band (Keith Anderson): 10/10=20
2. Ballyduff Silver Band (William Hill): 9/8=17
3. Comber Silver Band (Wesley Thompson): 8/9=17
Most Entertaining Band: Roughan Silver Band
Best March: Roughan Silver Band (The Champions)
Best Soloist: Jenny Hill (Ballyduff Silver Band)
1. Wellington Memorial Silver Band (Gary Proctor): 10/10=20
2. Dungannon Silver Band (Boris Pinto): 9/9=18
3. St Mark's Silver Band (Ryan Parks): 8/8=16
Most Entertaining Band: Wellington Memorial Silver Band
Best March: Wellington Memorial Silver Band (The Cobblers)
Best Soloist: Lauren Stewart (Wellington Memorial Silver Band)
1. Letterbreen Silver Band (Stephen Crooks): 9/10=19
2. Warrenpoint Silver Band (Mark Newman): 8/9=17
3. Poyntzpass Silver Band (Bobby Davidson): 9/7=16
4. Dynamic Brass (Harold Whan): 7/8=15
Most Entertaining Band: Letterbreen Silver Band
Best March: Poyntzpass Silver Band (Kenilworth)
Best Soloist: Mervyn Smyth (Warrenpoint Silver Band)