The celebratory cry, ‘We’ve got our trophy back,’ sang to the tune of ‘La Donna e Mobile’ said it all.
Black Dyke’s win at Bradford late on Sunday night not only claimed the Yorkshire Regional title for the first time since 2008, but gave the Queensbury band one of their most satisfying victories under the baton of Dr Nicholas Childs.
A performance that gave adjudicator’s Frank Renton and Paul Cosh just what they were looking for in terms of ‘an arc of clarity and cohesion from beginning to end’ also saw them deny great rivals Brighouse & Rastrick a historic hat trick of Bradford titles.
Frank Renton told 4BR: "We were listening for somebody to play the piece as it’s written on the part, and play it with clarity and a sense of flow from top left hand corner to the bottom right. And that’s what we got."
Paul added: "I was listening for the arc of the piece, from beginning to end. That end had to make sense in relation to the beginning. That’s what we had with Black Dyke."
In a contest that saw a number of contrasting renditions of ‘The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’ from the heavyweight contenders, Rothwell Temperance, claimed their fifth consecutive Albert Hall qualification with a powerful reminder of their major contest winning potential.
Black Dyke’s Dr Nicholas Childs told 4BR, the victory, his 23rd Area title, gave his ‘new’ band a huge boost of contest winning confidence ahead of their next challenge—to claim back another trophy they once considered their own—the European title in Rotterdam in May.
"I’m really proud of the band today. We’ve 14 new players and they’ve work so hard. It could well be a historic year for the band if we carry on like this. We don’t take anything for granted at Black Dyke, but we will be aiming to recapture that European crown, I can assure you."
Surprisingly for a dyed in the wool Manchester United fan, the MD revealed that he was inspired to victory by the way in which the great Barcelona team play.
"I was very conscious of the need for clarity today. It’s the only time I’ve taken a metronome on stage with me—but I told the band we could either play safe, or be free flowing like Barcelona. The players did just that and more."
There was extra silverware to fill with celebratory champers too, as Richard Marshall became the first recipient of the Bernard Bygrave Memorial Trophy as ‘Best Principal Cornet’, whilst the ‘Best Soloist’ Award went to horn star Sheona White, who took to the stage with her leg in a plaster cast after suffering a break less on the eve of the contest.
"That was a bit of a surprise," the MD added with a hint of understatement. "It was brilliant boost to everyone to see her emerge from the car today to play—and then play so fantastically well."
We were listening for somebody to play the piece as it’s written on the part, and play it with clarity and a sense of flow from top left hand corner to the bottom right. And that’s what we gotFrank Renton
Brighouse & Rastrick gave it everything and more in their bid to create their own bit of Yorkshire Area inspiration.
David King’s ductile interpretation, that at times elongated the melodic line to gossamer proportions, seemed slightly at odds with the pre-results analysis of the judges, who to the surprise of many rivals in the hall rewarded it with second place.
No doubting execution
The judges later told 4BR that there was no doubting the execution though, although the West Riding band will have taken little comfort in missing out on a third victory, despite their outstanding flugel player Lucy Murphy taking the Eddie Noble ‘Best Instrumentalist’ award.
Rothwell’s substantive performance certainly bore the impressive high class hallmarks of consistency and cohesion the judges were looking for as David Roberts added an extra sheen of dynamic contrast to their powerful technical abilities in claiming a well deserved podium finish.
It proved enough to edge out a colourful rendition from Carlton Main in fourth, whilst there will be no London trip for a third successive year for a disappointed Grimethorpe Colliery.
Their legion of fans who packed into St George’s Hall were left frustrated as the results confirmed that their exciting performance never resonated in the box as many expected.
There was real joy for Skelmanthorpe however as they claimed a top six finish for the second time in four years.
There were contrasting emotions for other bands too, with joy for a revitalised Hammonds in seventh and disappointment for the likes Hepworth in tenth.
As expected the pre-contest favourites of Unite the Union (City of Sheffield) and Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel claimed the brace of Cheltenham qualification places on offer in the First Section.
Unite set what proved to be an unbeatable marker off the number 1 draw under the baton of Derek Renshaw, with a impressively flexible rendition of ‘Mountain Views’ that repelled the challenges of a host of quality performances —including their rivals powerful effort as last band of the day.
David Nesbitt drew on every last ounce of commitment from Imps to gain its deserved qualification place, whilst the final podium spot went to an atmospheric account from Kippax, conducted by David Lancaster, whose performance was enhanced by the sublime soprano cornet playing of the great Peter Roberts.
According to Unite’s spokesperson, the winner’s victory provided the last foundation stone on which to build as they prepare for life in the Championship Section in 2013.
"It’s going to be a hard ask," they said after the results.
"This shows that we are ready and that we have the players and especially the conductor to succeed at the highest level. We are united in more ways than one as a band, and this has been a victory that has been coming for quite some while."
The judges were certainly convinced of the winner’s quality and their ability to make a successful move up to the top section.
"On the sounds they made today, perhaps so," Alan Morrison said. "They had a distinctive depth of sound that no other band got close to. It was a solid performance that had other musical virtues too."
John Berryman agreed: "It musically struck you straight away, especially with the lovely atmosphere they created in the opening section."
Despite the set work not being the most difficult the bands will encounter this year, Alan believed that a few may have under estimated its challenges.
"There was more than enough in a very descriptive piece to ask questions of basic band playing," he added. "Not everyone did that."
With a number of bands struggling to control their dynamics urges, it was Drighlington, directed by Jim Davies who claimed fourth place, with a performance enhanced by the contribution of their principal cornet, who took the ‘Best Instrumentalist’ prize.
Meanwhile, a solid account from Knottingley Silver came fifth with the final top six spot going to Stannington.
There was another number 1 draw winner in the Second Section, where Clifton & Lightcliffe crowned a memorable weekend by taking the honours under the baton of former Black Dyke principal cornet John Clay.
The organisation which boasts close to 80 players at four different levels provided judges Phillip McCann and Philip Sparke with a high quality rendition of ‘Cross Patonce’ that could not be beaten, despite a number of fine efforts from their rivals.
Three or four nailed it
Philip Sparke told 4BR: "Three or four bands really nailed it today, but the winner’s didn’t sound like a Second Section band in terms of sound and technique. It was clearly defined, had great detail and was very consistent."
He also added that both he and Phillip McCann felt the difficult set work realy did its job: "This was such a good test piece of a band’s anatomy. This really laid it out for us in the box."
For conductor John Clay the win was a huge reward for his amazing commitment and dedication—which also saw him miss the immediate post results celebrations as he prepared to help out the Clifton B Band in the Fourth Section later the same day.
"We are a family band," he said. "We make everyone feel welcome and we want to work hard and enjoy ourselves. We have fans all over the world too, especially in Los Angeles who will be delighted by the victory. We hope to go to America in the future on tour, so this is the first step on the way."
Yorkshire will send a strong brace of qualifiers to Cheltenham, as pre-contest favourites City of Bradford booked their place with a powerful rendition under the baton of the charismatic Lee Skipsey.
Although they couldn’t quite do enough to provide the television cameras with a victory for a programme called ‘Winners’ to be aired later this year, it was certainly enhanced by the contribution of ‘Best Instrumentalist’ winner, principal cornet Tim Pool.
Just missing out was the returning Cornerstrone Brass in third, whilst the remaining top six places went to the consistent Strata Brass followed by Barnsley Chronicle and Lindley.
An outstanding performance by Elland Silver claimed the Third Section honours under the baton of the great James Shepherd.
They provided adjudicators Ewan Easton and Malcolm Brownbill with a performance of ‘Olympus’ that was certainly a deserving gold medal winner, full of control, balance, excellent soloists and flexible ensemble playing.
In a loquacious analysis, every bit as detailed in its approach as the winners, Ewan Easton told the audience that the work had provided an ‘excellent test’—one that both he and Malcolm felt had required, ‘consistency, control and energy’ as well as ‘mystery, refinement, craftsmanship and occasional heroism!’
Malcolm agreed, adding that although the piece had, ‘created a few problems’ he was impressed by the way that the best bands had controlled the dynamic contrasts and had given the music a sense of flow when required.
The win gives the superbly organised Elland Band the opportunity to further strengthen their ongoing commitment to gain a home worthy of champions, as principal cornet Sam Harrison told 4BR.
"Our bandroom is falling to bits around us," she said. "The success means we attract more and more youngsters who want to be part of a great set up, but at the moment the one thing we can’t give them is a home to be proud of. Perhaps this will highlight our need to someone who can help."
That’s a problem to be conquered another day though.
"We’ll sort it," she added. "For the moment though it’s great for everyone associated with the band to win here. Jim Shepherd is amazing—such an inspiration to the players young and old. He really is a legend and we are so proud to have been able to give him the success he deserves."
There was an added bonus for Elland as Andrew Whitham drew comparison with his late, great euphonium playing father Geoff as he claimed the ‘Best Instrumentalist’ prize for his outstanding playing.
Elland will be joined in Cheltenham by Emley, who built on their encouraging top six placing at Butlins to claim their first qualification since 2006.
MD Garry Hallas drew a performance of exciting contrasts to repel the strong challenge of podium finishers Worsborough Brass.
The final top six places were claimed by the impressive trio of Skelmanthorpe B, Dinnington Colliery and Dronfield CMW.
There was a host of excellent renditions of ‘English Folk Song Suite’ to enjoy in the Fourth Section, where Linthwaite produced an exemplary performance under the baton of conductor Tony Jaeger-Fozzard to claim their first finals appearance and regional title since 2002.
Understandably the band and their MD were delighted by a long overdue success—although Tony revealed that ‘English Folk Song Suite’ was a work he was confident of doing well on.
"I knew the piece inside out and top to bottom having studied it under the great Roy Newsome, so to win on it makes this very special. We knew we played very well when we came off stage—and even 4BR thought so too, so we felt we were in with a chance!"
Led by the outstanding principal cornet contribution of Matthew Roebuck, who deservedly won the ‘Best Instrumentalist Award’, Linthwaite delivered a performance that certainly captured all the right musical elements the judges Mike Kilroy and Colin Hardy were looking for.
"It was a classy winner," Colin revealed. "The solo cornet playing was excellent and the rest of the band playing wasn’t far behind. It was a quality contest and it had a quality winner."
"All the basics were in place and as a result they could add that extra musicality," Mike added.
"It was an excellent performance, helped by an MD who certainly knew the score and a principal cornet who was outstanding."
Joining Linthwaite at the finals for the first time since 2001 will be Armthorpe Elmfield who produced a performance that drew on the deep well of musical experience of MD Hayden Griffiths MBE to push the eventual winners all the way to the finishing line.
Just missing out though were a series of well constructed accounts from third placed Wilsden, who claimed their first ever podium finish in only their fourth appearance at the Area contest, with Maltby Miners, Clifton & Lightcliffe B and Barnsley Metropolitan filling the remaining top six places.
A full sereies of retrospective articles will appear on 4BR later this week.
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Test Piece: 'The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea' (Derek Bourgeois)
Sunday 4th March
Adjudicators: Paul Cosh & Frank Renton
1. Black Dyke (Dr. Nicholas J. Childs), 9*
2. Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof. David King), 13**
3. Rothwell Temperance (David Roberts), 4*
4. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Phillip McCann), 5
5. Grimethorpe Colliery (Garry Cutt), 6
6. Skelmanthorpe (John Roberts), 10
7. Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths), 12
8. Marsden Silver Prize (Glyn Williams), 7
9. Wakefield Metropolitan (Michael Howley), 8
10. Hepworth (Russell Gray), 2
11. Meltham & Meltham Mills (Norman Law), 11
12. Hebden Bridge (Sandy Smith), 1
13. Hade Edge (Simon Wood), 3
*Qualifiers for National Final: Black Dyke, Rothwell Temperance
** Pre-Qualified: Brighouse & Rastrick
Best Instrumentalist: Lucy Murphy (Brighouse & Rastrick)
Best Soloist: Sheona White (Black Dyke)
Best Principal Cornet: Richard Marshall (Black Dyke)
Test Piece: 'Mountain Views' (Bertrand Moren)
Sunday 4th March
Commence: 12.45pm at the conclusion of Third Section
Adjudicators: John Berryman & Alan Morrison
1. Unite the Union (City of Sheffield) (Derek Renshaw), 1*
2. Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel (David Nesbitt), 10*
3. Kippax (David Lancaster), 8
4. Drighlington (Jim Davies), 5
5. Knottingley (Dr Owen Wedgewood), 9
6. Stannington (Miles Davison), 2
7. South Yorkshire Police (Leigh Baker), 3
8. Hatfield (Graham O’Connor), 6
9. Frickley South Elmsall (Frank Hoyland), 4
10. Old Silkstone (Simon Kerwin), 7
Best Soloist: Nicholas Payne, Principal Cornet, Drighlington
*Qualify for Finals
Test Piece: 'Cross Patonce' (Goff Richards)
Saturday 3rd March
Adjudicators: Phillip McCann & Philip Sparke
1. Clifton & Lightcliffe (John Clay), 1*
2. City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey), 9*
3. Cornerstone (Damian Wileman), 7
4. Strata (David Holling), 6
5. Barnsley Chronicle (Rob Straw), 12
6. Lindley (Jason M Smith), 8
7. Chapeltown (Andrew Dennis), 2
8. Horbury Victoria (Duncan Beckley), 4
9. Crofton Silver (Kevin Belcher), 10
10. Dodworth Colliery M.W. (Eliot J. Darwin), 11
11. Slaithwaite (Tabby Clegg),
12. Wetherby & District Silver (Alan Seymour), 3
Best Soloist: Tim Pool (principal cornet) — City of Bradford
*Qualifiers for National Finals
Test Piece: 'Olympus' (Philip Harper)
Sunday 4th March
Adjudicators: Ewan Easton & Malcolm Brownbill
1. Elland (James Shepherd), 6*
2. Emley (Garry Hallas), 7*
3. Worsbrough Brass (John Hopkinson), 5
4. Skelmanthorpe ‘B’ (Phil Garlick), 8
5. Dinnington Colliery (Jonathan Beatty), 2
6. Dronfield CMW (John Davis), 9
7. Lofthouse 2000 (Andrew Whitaker), 3
8. Gawthorpe Brass ‘85’(John Edward), 1
9. Huddersfield & Ripponden (Alan Coe), 4
10. Rockingham (Roland Spencer), 11
11. Thurcroft Welfare (Rob Deakin), 10
Best Soloist: Andrew Whitham (euphonium) — Elland Silver
*Qualifiers for National finals
Test Piece: 'English Folk Song Suite' (Ralph Vaughan Williams)
Saturday 3rd March
Adjudicators: Colin Hardy & Mike Kilroy
1. Linthwaite (Tony Jaegar-Fozzard), 2
2. Armthorpe Elmfield (Haydn Griffiths MBE), 7
3. Wilsden (Stuart Derrick), 10
4. Maltby Miners MW (Terry Clifford), 3
5. Clifton & Lightcliffe ‘B’ (William Rushworth), 11
6. Barnsley Metropolitan (Alex Francis), 9
7. Friendly Band (Sowerby Bridge) (Carol Caton), 1
8. Yorkshire Traction Honley (Wayne Bostwick), 8
9. Deepcar (Lindon Bolt), 6
10. Golcar (Michael J. Cox), 12
11.Markham Main Colliery (Robert Woffinden), 5
12. Oughtibridge (Gavin Somerset), 4
Best Soloist: Matthew Roebuck (principal cornet) — Linthwaite
Youngest Player: Freya Mallinson (10) — Wilsden