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CD Review: The Nationals 2017

Highlights of the National Championships of Great Britain
Featuring: Brighouse & Rastrick, Pemberton Old Wigan DW, Boarshurst Silver, BD1 Brass, Newmains & District, Tubular Brass
Doyen Recordings: DOY CD379


There was a time when the Kapitol Music Panel used to rely on a wing and prayer with their choice of test-pieces for the National Finals. Not anymore. 

The last couple of years has seen a welcome transfusion of informed imagination pepper the selections; the results of which have not only made for much more engaging contesting at both Cheltenham and London, but have also been of lasting benefit to UK banding. 

Take a bow

So take a bow Brian Buckley, John Maines, Paul Holland, Michael Fowles and Richard Evans for a quintet every bit as worthy as Brighouse & Rastrick, Pemberton Old Wigan DW, Boarshurst Silver, BD1 Brass and Newmains & District - the 2017 Champion Bands.   

Expertly recorded and engineered by Daniel Lock and Richard Scott (especially given acoustics that make Palanga Concert Hall sound like the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam) this release is reminder of fine music very well played.

Sumptious Brighouse

Brighouse lead with their sumptuous account of Snell’s elegiac ‘Gallery’; a superb work that amply rewarded technical inspiration and interpretive insight - with none better than Prof David King and his charges. It was like following the loquacious Andrew Graham-Dixon around the Tate Modern for 20 minutes.

There was a Vermeer like quality to Eric Ball’s ‘Tournament for Brass’ - a chamber piece of exquisite detail and delicacy that wrecked havoc on those with primitive contest winning intentions in Cheltenham. 

Not so Pemberton Old - aided by a sympathetic reading by Ben Dixon and matched by players (especially the sublime Joanne Johnson on principal cornet) who responded in kind.

There was a Vermeer like quality to Eric Ball’s ‘Tournament for Brass’ - a chamber piece of exquisite detail and delicacy that wrecked havoc on those with primitive contest winning intentions in Cheltenham.  

Heart warming

Boarshurst Silver’s heart-warming success on the challenging ‘Music of a Legacy’ was a fine example of a conductor in James Garlick allowing the score to speak for itself instead of mimicking artifice, whilst BD1 Brass and Lee Skipsey brought the evocative story of ‘Hinemoa’ to life with a truly wonderful sense narrative colour and excitement.

All that and Newmains & District’s success marked a welcome, if overdue return to winning ways at National level for Scottish banding, thanks to a performance of ‘Petite Suite de Ballet’ that would even have had Eric Ball celebrating with a tipple of a single malt.

It’s a pity the release finishes with a reminder of the usually excellent Tubular Brass trying to find their musical way through the smoke and general disinterest of the pre-results audience at the Albert Hall. 

Like the bad old ‘hit and miss’ days of the Kapitol Music Panel, the musical intentions never quite lived up to expectations.  

Iwan Fox



Play List:

1. Gallery (Howard Snell) - (17.17)
Brighouse & Rastrick 
Conductor: Prof David King

2. Tournament for Brass (Eric Ball) - (12.48)
Pemberton Old Wigan DW
Conductor: Ben Dixon

3. Music for a Legacy (Stephen Ponsford) - (9.40)
Boarshurst Silver
Conductor: James Garlick

4. Hinemoa (Greth Wood) - (11.27)
BD1 Brass 
Conductor: Lee Skipsey

5. Petite Suite de Ballet (Eric Ball) - (8.43)
Newmains & District
Conductor: Michael Marzella

6. Tubular Bells: Part 1 (Mike Oldfield arr. Sandy Smith) - (7.59)
Conductor: Sandy Smith
i) Introduction
ii) Fast Guitars
iii) Basses

Regent Hall Concerts - RAF Wind Soloists

Friday 19 January • Charlton House. Charlton Road. London. SE7 8RE SE7 8RE

The Brighouse & Rastrick Band - EYMS Brass Band at Hull City Hall

Saturday 20 January • Hull City Hall. 67 Carr Lane,. Kingston upon Hull HU1 3RQ

Black Dyke Band - Morley Town Hall

Saturday 20 January • Morley Town Hall, Morley, Leeds LS27 8DX

Wantage Silver - Gary Curtin

Saturday 20 January • Reading Central Salvation Army RG1 7JR

The Hepworth Band - Soprano Sarah Ogden

Sunday 21 January • Christ Church, Sude Hill, New Mill, Holmfirth HD9 7BL

Frampton on Severn Silver Band

January 19 • We are a friendly non-contesting band in Gloucestershire looking for players, in particular cornets, baritone and basses. We play at many local events and bandstand jobs, and practice on Tuesday evenings just off Junction 13 of the M5.

Shipston Town band

January 18 • We currently need a Kit percussionist, horn and Bb Bass as we prepare for the forthcoming Midlands Area at Bedworth in March. We are graded Section 4

The Corsham Band

January 18 • Having now been promoted to the 2nd Section for the forthcoming Contest season, the band are now looking for a back row cornet player, 2nd or 3rd, to join our team

Ian Holmes

BA (hons), PGDip (RCM), ARCM, ALCM
Conductor, piano accompanist and educator