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Results: 2012 West of England Regional Championship

A full report from Torquay as there are title triumphs for Flowers, Brunel, Lympstone, Bream and Midsomer Norton & Radstock.

Torquay

 

Flowers continued their remarkable run of contesting form in Torquay as they stamped their authority on their local rivals by winning the West of England Area title in commanding fashion.

Third title

It gave the band their third major title of an increasingly impressive 2012 season, taking their prize money haul to close to £10,000 in the process. It was their second win in three year under the baton of MD Paul Holland, to take them back to the Albert Hall for the fourth consecutive year.

With adjudicators Alan Morrison and Jim Davies telling the audience packed into the Riviera Centre that they had enjoyed a ‘interesting, frustrating and stressful afternoon’ in the box, there was a major turnaround in the pre-contest form book as Bournemouth Concert Brass delivered a colourful ‘Devil’ to claim the second qualification place ahead of Sherborne Brass.

Excited cheers

The excited cheers of disbelief told their own story as Sherborne claimed their first ever podium finish at the contest with a well constructed performance under the baton of Paul Cosh. Those screams turned to frenzied celebratory cries though when Bournemouth, promoted back to the elite level this year, was announced in second place.

Dave Barringer’s exciting interpretation led his band back to the Albert Hall for the first time since they won this title in 2005.

Squeaky bum

With the supporters of heavyweight contenders of Flowers, Woodfalls and Mount Charles still left in ‘squeaky bum’ mode, in certain quarters of the hall, contest controller Brian Elliott finally put them out of their misery by announcing the 2012 champion.

Flowers MD Paul Holland told 4BR that the win was perhaps the most satisfying of the trio of major titles they had won so far this year.

"Both Butlins and Yeovil were great, but the Area means so much more. We can now proudly call ourselves West of England Champions once more, but it also gives us another opportunity to show we can compete with the very best from all over the country at the Albert Hall."

Blackpool

Paul also added that work had already started on the Grand Shield test piece, as the band looks to claim its place back at the world’s premier contest, the British Open.

"Getting to London and Birmingham were the two main objectives this year," Paul added.

"The wins have given us the confidence to compete at that level, and I think we showed that today, even though we were not entirely happy with all aspects of the performance. Now comes another huge test at the Grand Shield.

I can’t thank the players enough though. They are doing everything and more that I ask."

Down side

The only down side for the MD was that he is starting to regret his promise to his wife Ellie of expensive winning treats after each Flowers triumph.

"Butlins cost me a trip to New York and Yeovil a great family weekend away, so I may try and say that this win comes with an extra day in Blackpool in May, although I don’t think I’ll get away with it!"

Excellent analysis

Alan Morrison made sure that no one left Torquay not knowing exactly how the 2012 title was decided, after delivering in excellent in-depth pre-results analysis.

"We were expecting a little more than what we got today," he said.

"The piece certainly tested the bands with only one really successfully overcoming the technical and musical problems it posed. It’s difficult music, but not a complicated piece. Too many bands just didn’t do the basics."

He went on to add: "There was a need to maintain consistent tempos, especially throughout the prestissimo and fugues and to keep a coherent fluidity to the lyrical lines. We were very disappointed in the standard of the quartet work."

And although he apologised for not sounding upbeat about the overall standard, it was an analysis that found broad agreement in the hall.

"Bands at this level should be able to do the basics and do them well, but that wasn’t the case today, and that’s why many found themselves in trouble."

We can now proudly call ourselves West of England Champions once more, but it also gives us another opportunity to show we can compete with the very best from all over the country at the Albert HallFlowers MD, Paul Holland

Curse

In their opinion, one was Woodfalls, after Dr Robert Childs became the latest MD to find that he could not break the 16 year West of England ‘curse’ as the defending champion slumped to an unexpected seventh place finish.

There was also disappointment for the fancied Camborne too, as they could only manage sixth, whilst in contrast there was delight for both St Dennis and Aldbourne.

The young players of St Dennis claimed their third successive top six finish at the contest in ending fifth, whilst Aldborne showed that they had also made the step in class following last year’s First Section National title success, by coming fourth.

First Section:

The seemingly unstoppable rise to Championship Section status of Brunel Brass shows no sign of running out steam after John Winterflood’s remarkable band took the First Section title in emphatic fashion on Saturday evening.

They were a clear winner on Bertrand Moren’s ‘Mountain Views’, which posed a slightly trickier test of qualification aspirations than perhaps many bands may have thought before they took to the Riviera stage.

Brunel will be joined in Cheltenham by a delighted Chalford, conducted by Steve Tubb. They built on their recent good form to finally claim a finals place after eight years of consistent finishes to beat off the solid challenge of a confident Lanner & District, conducted by Stuart Chappell.

Not missed

It was a point not missed by adjudicators Chris Wormald and Jim Davies, who said as much in his humorously accurate pre-results summing up.

"I’m sure many conductors will have been faced with players who felt there wasn’t much in this a couple of weeks ago," he said, before drawing on his own experience of taking Drighlington at the Yorkshire Area contest. "I bet they don’t now — as I know too well.”

"It’s not an easy piece," he added. "There was a need to judge dynamics and tempos, especially in the final Allegro Vivo. Speed doesn’t necessarily make it exciting. There was plenty of music to be found and not just from the directions in the score. The best bands, especially the qualifiers, did that overall."

Stand out

The winners did stand out though, as he later told 4BR. "They were excellent—so well directed. There was some lovely balanced playing on show. They were a clear and well deserved winner."

An almost speechless John Winterflood couldn’t quite believe that his band had managed to win yet another major title. "Unbelievable," he repeated time and time again.

Amaze

"To think how far we have come in such a short time is incredible. It’s all down to the players and just how much they want to succeed. We had one moving from cornet to flugel just two weeks before the contest and we’ve brought in some cracking youngsters to the band too."

"They just continue to amaze me," he added. "We worked hard on the piece, with extra rehearsals and it paid off."

White coats

Brunel has now won an incredible four Area title since they first took part in the Fourth Section in 2007—including the Second Section national title success at Cheltenham last year.

"If someone had told me this would happen when we first started I would have called for the men in the white coats," he laughed. "It’s a good job we won a shield this year as I think filling up another cup with champagne would leave me broke!"

Best retrun

In a contest that saw a number of bands struggle with the transparent score, Michlemersh Silver posted their best return since gaining promotion in 2009 to come fourth, whilst the young players of Camborne Brass showed their qualities in ending fifth.

The final top six place went to the consistent Shrewton Silver.

Second Section:

It would have been difficult to find a happier man in the whole of Torquay than Charles Fleming of Lympstone South West Telecoms on Sunday afternoon, after he led his band to its first Finals appearance since 2006.

They will be joined at Cheltenham by Otterbourne Brass, who bounced back from their relegation from the First Section by providing judges Tony Swainson and Chris Wormald with a rare beacon of technical security and musical flow under the guidance of Gareth Pritchard to claim their first qualification since 2004.

Third place in a contest where, ‘Cross Patonce’ stretched all the competing bands to their limits and beyond was claimed by last year’s runner up Pendennis Brass (Falmouth) directed by Steve Thomas.

Beaming

Beaming with long overdue satisfaction, the winning MD told 4BR that the result was in many ways a personal vindication of his 14 year tenure, as well as for the support the band has received from its telecoms sponsor.

"This means so much," Charles said.

"After so many years without a victory I was beginning to have my own doubts, especially as we have received amazing support from our sponsor Tony Rowe. I’ve just got off the phone to him and he’s delighted.

For someone who lives and breathes this band it means so much to be able to lead them at the National Finals once more."

Support

Charles revealed that Tony’s company support had amounted to well over £400,000 in the past ten years, with a wonderful bandroom, uniforms, instruments and yearly sponsorship provided by the man behind the ambitious Exeter Chiefs rugby team.

"That level of support deserves to be rewarded in this way. I really did feel this was going to be our day though, and told the band before we went on stage that I felt we were going to win.

Now I know I can feel the same again at Cheltenham. This a great band with great people playing in it. I’m a very happy man today."

Less happy

Perhaps less happy were the two men in the box, as Tony Swainson later told 4BR that overall all the bands found difficulties with Goff Richards fine work.

"This is a fun piece, but not too many had fun on it today," he said. "Every bar has something in it to test bands and all of them tripped up at some point today—even in the empty bars."

He added: "The winner’s nearly blew it with the tempo in the first movement, but got things back on track with some fine playing in the middle section and a real exuberance in the third movement."

Step up

Double Third Section champions Sidmouth Town showed that they had made the step up a level with a confident display to end fourth, whilst Phoenix Brass (Crewkerne) claimed fifth place with their best result since 207.

Sympathy

Weston Brass was an encouraging sixth following their promotion from the Third Section, whilst there was a great deal of sympathy for the solo euphonium player of St Pinnock, whose fine individual contribution was hampered by her instrument’s trigger mechanism literally falling apart in her hands.

Third Section:

Philip Harper’s colourful Olympic inspired test piece proved an unexpectedly stern test of medal winning aspirations on Saturday afternoon.

However, a finely structured performance by Bream Silver conducted by Bryn James claimed the victor’s laurels and the People Challenge Shield to book their place at Cheltenham.

It also gave the band their first Area title since 2001 with the added bonus of promotion to the Second Section for 2013.

They will be joined at the Finals by a delighted AW Parker (Drybrook) after they rounded off the contest with a rousing performance under Steve Ruck to gain a deserved qualification following their promotion from the Fourth Section.

Their strong rendition denied a resurgent Bodmin conducted Gary Lannie, who had provided the contest with a confident pacesetter off the number 1 draw.

Ponder

Adjudicators Jim Davies and Chris Wormald had plenty to ponder in the box, with Jim delivering a realistic appraisal of the overall standard, that didn’t pull any punches.

He revealed that they felt not one band came through ‘Olympus’ unscathed.

"This is not an easy piece," he said. "I’m sure every band had a better performance in them today—including the qualifiers. Even they will need to tighten things up for Cheltenham, although they produced two very solid performances."

Although the technical issues were well dealt with it was the age old contesting concerns that caused difficulties.

"Tuning and intonation was a very big problem today," Jim added.

"Some was pretty bad. We have been constructive in our criticism, but we wrote it as we heard it. There was some fine solo playing but even some of that was spoilt by poor accompanying ensemble tuning."

More to offer

The winning MD Bryn James acknowledged that perhaps his band still had more to offer—although he felt that should come to fruition by the time of the Finals.

He told 4BR: "We worked hard on the piece and enjoyed it, but we all felt we could have perhaps just played a bit better. It’s all about qualifying though, so to do that and claim the first Area title for well over a decade is something to be proud off."

Tribute

Bryn also paid tribute to the work of their former MD Huw Cole.

"I came into a very good, well trained band, so a great deal of credit for this win goes to Huw and the players. It’s been great to be able to work with such a responsive band.

I’m sure they can improve further and make a real impression at the Finals later this year."

In a keenly fought contest, the remaining top six places went to Denmead Brass, who claimed their best ever Area result in fourth, whilst the consistent St Stythians took fifth. Last year’s runner up Downton Brass came sixth.

Fourth Section:

There was a wonderful atmosphere in a highly competitive the Fourth Section, where adjudicators Alan Morrison and Tony Swainson enjoyed a host of fine performances of ‘English Folk Song Suite’, from the massive 25 band field.

Encouragingly, two of the four qualifiers heading to Cheltenham only returned to competitive action here last year, with eventual winners Midsomer Norton & Radstock Silver making just their second appearance since 2006.

Second place was claimed by the rapidly improving Andover Town conducted by Steve Large, who only returned in 2011.

The two remaining qualification places were taken by a delighted Launceston Town, directed by Dave Dobson, who celebrated in exuberant fashion with his players.

There was just as much cause for celebration for Wilton & District as they headed to the National Finals after posting their best Area result for over 15 years under the direction of Colin Herbert.

Revitalise

Speaking to 4BR, Winning MD Joanne Sykes told how much she had enjoyed helping revitalise the small mining community band of Midsomer Norton & Radstock, leading them from 14th last year to victory this.

"It’s an amazing achievement for them," she said.

"We’ve been working hard to improve over the past year and were really encouraged by coming runner up at the Torquay contest. It’s a great band to be part of with everyone giving 100% to the cause.

To come back after such a time away and build to this win is amazing. Now the hard works starts to raise the funds to enjoy our trip to Cheltenham."

Bragging rights

Jo was delighted to be able to enjoy first grasp of the Sykes family Area contest bragging rights this year too—even if she was also rooting for further success for her husband Steve and sons Stephen and Carlton.

"Steve will be conducting in Scotland, and the lads will be playing in Wales next week, so I’m going to enjoy this for just a little while I hope!" she laughed.

Thoughtful

Adjudicator Alan Morrison gave a thoughtfully constructed analysis of what he and Tony Swainson had heard in the box throughout the day.

"It’s a fantastic piece for this level," he said.

"It gets right to the heart of brass band basics. Each movement challenged the bands. No one got through completely unscathed, and all had various problems, but the winners constructed a very coherent musical performance and the qualifiers all gave performances of merit."

Problems

Alan also highlighted the problems faced with such a large field of competitors.

"There were three distinct levels of performances," he said. "We were able to place the bands in a clear order and I can assure you all we gave each a great deal of thought. There was so much to enjoy but the piece made it fairly easy for us to sort things out."

Just missing out on a trip to Cheltenham was Spinnaker Brass, who came fifth on their return to the contest, whilst an encouraging sixth place finish was claimed by Weymouth Concert Brass.

Full results:

Additional comments and thoughts on our twitter site:
http:/­/­twitter.com/­4barsrest

Championship Section:

Test Piece: 'The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea' — Derek Bourgeois

Sunday 11th March
The Forum
Adjudicators: Jim Davies & Alan Morrison

1. Flowers (Paul Holland), 7*
2. Bournemouth Concert Brass (Captain David Barringer), 4*
3. Sherborne Town (Paul Cosh), 11
4. Aldbourne (David Johnson), 6
5. St Dennis (Darrin Hawken), 3
6. Camborne Town (Garry Cutt), 9
7. Woodfalls (Dr Robert Childs), 5
8. Mount Charles (Philip Harper), 2
9. Lydbrook (Ian Holmes), 1
10. St Austell Town (Richard Evans), 8
11. Portishead Town (Andrew White), 10

* Top two bands qualify for National Finals

First Section:

Test Piece: 'Mountain Views' — Bertrand Moren

Saturday 10th March
The Forum
Adjudicators: Jim Davies & Chris Wormald

1. Brunel Brass (John Winterflood), 13
2. Chalford (Steve Tubb), 2
3. Lanner & District Silver (Stuart Chappell), 7
4. Michelmersh Silver (Melvin White), 12
5. Camborne Brass (Alan Pope), 3
6. Shrewton Silver (Michael Dunford), 1
7. Filton Concert Brass (Tom Davoron), 9
8. St Keverne (Gareth Churcher), 6
9. Yeovil Town (Ian McElligott), 5
10. Hyde (Helen Kinder), 8
11. Helston Town (John Hitchens), 4
12. Verwood Concert Brass (Kevin Smith), 11
13. Poole Borough (Phil Wood), 10
14. Forest of Dean Brass (Martyn Ford), 14

* Top two bands qualify for National Finals

Second Section:

Test Piece: 'Cross Patonce' — Goff Richards

Sunday 11th March
The Forum
Adjudicators: Tony Swainson & Chris Wormald

1. Lympstone South West Telecoms (Charles Fleming), 16*
2. Otterbourne Brass (Gareth Pritchard), 10*
3. Pendennis Brass Falmouth (Steve Thomas), 3
4. Sidmouth Town (Adrian Harvey), 1
5. Phoenix Brass (Crewkerne) (David Hatton), 15
6. Weston Brass (Tony Osborne), 8
7. City of Bristol (Ceri Thomas), 2
8. St Pinnock (Chris Spreadbury), 11
9. Soundhouse Brass (Simon Badge), 12
10. Ocean Brass (Jonathan M Camps), 5
11. Cinderford (Clive Lewis), 4
12. Bugle Silver (Jeremy Willcock), 13
13. Swindon Pegasus Brass (Mike Lock), 9
14. Heyl Town (David Loukes), 7
15. Wotton-under-Edge & District (Ian Dickinson), 6
16. Bath Spa (Martin Perry), 14

* Top two bands qualify for National Finals

Third Section:

Test Piece: 'Olympus' — Philip Harper

Saturday 10th March
The Forum
Adjudicators: Jim Davies & Chris Wormald

1. Bream Silver (Bryn James), 4*
2. A W Parker (Drybrook) (Steve Ruck), 13*
3. Bodmin Town (Gary Lannie), 1
4. Denmead Brass (Estelle Flood), 12
5. St Stythians (James Burns), 11
6. Downton (Roland Wright), 6
7. Test Valley Brass (Calum Gray), 5
8. Tewkesbury Town (Nigel Morgan), 8
9. Gillingham Imperial Silver (Paul Williams), 3
10. Hatherleigh Silver (Brian Minear), 10
11. Bristol East & Kingswood (Martin Rogers), 2
12. Corsham (J.Griffin), 7
13. Pillowell Silver (Ian Whitburn), 9

* Top two bands qualify for National Finals

Fourth Section:

Test Piece: 'English Folk Song Suite' — Ralph Vaughan Williams

Saturday 10th March
The Arena
Adjudicators: Alan Morrison & Tony Swainson

1. Midsomer Norton & Radstock Silver (Joanne Sykes), 19*
2. Andover Town (Steve Large), 14*
3. Launceston Town (Dave Dobson), 5*
4. Wilton & District (Colin Herbert), 8*
5. Spinnaker Brass (Sam Hairsine), 6
6. Weymouth Concert Brass (Adam Glynn), 12
7. Chalford Academy (Steve Tubb), 4
8. Gosport Solent Brass (Simon Nicholls), 25
9. South Molton Town (Gil Taylor), 18
10. New Forest Brass (Ian Luxford), 1
11. Bratton Silver (Simon Carr), 11
12. Lydney Town (Kevin Ford), 22
13. Shanklin Town Brass (Malcolm Lewis), 17
14. Porthleven Town (Francis Ralph), 20
15. Wincanton Silver (David Bertie), 21
16. Swindon Brass (Francis Cowley), 7
17. Totnes (Sid Davis), 16
18. Cheltenham Silver (Angie Shepherd), 15
19. Marshfield (Steve Rocky), 23
20. Verwood Concert Brass 'B' (James Haigh), 9
21. Bideford Town (Roger Ashby), 25
22. Okehampton Excelsior Silver (Des Law), 2
23. Torbay Brass (Dennis Frere-Smith), 13
24. Thornbury Town (Darren Williams), 3
25. Tiverton Town (Andrew Harris), 10

* Top four bands qualify for National Finals



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Alan Duguid

BA (Hons), PGDipMus, PGCE
Conductor, Composer, Adjudicator (ABBA)