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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

Foden's Band - BBC Radio 'Young Brass Award Final'

Friday 20 April • RNCM, 124 Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9RD

Crofton Silver Band - Theatre Royal Wakefield

Friday 20 April • Theatre Royal Wakefield. Drury Lane . Wakefield WF1 2TE

Thundersley Brass Band - TBB Quiz Night

Friday 20 April • Richmond Hall, Richmond Avenue, South Benfleet, Essex SS75HA

Black Dyke Band - Conthey - Switzerland

Saturday 21 April • tbc tbc

Gresley Colliery Band - Gresley Colliery Youth and Senior Brass Bands

Saturday 21 April • Gresley Old Hall,. Gresley Wood Road . Swadlincote DE11 9QW

Blidworth Welfare Band

April 20 • Assistant Principal Cornet and Percussionist. Having recently secured 5th place at the Midlands Area Championship Section and a new Principal cornet we are looking for applications for the above positions. The band operate a sensible diary of engagements.

Enderby Band

April 19 • Enderby Band are looking for a SOLO TROMBONE. We are a hard-working and sociable band and are looking for committed players to fill these key seats. The band are current Wychavon and Shirebrook Champions and National finalists.

West Somerset Brass Band

April 19 • West Somerset Brass is looking to strengthen its cornet section, if you are a front or back row player we would be delighted to hear from you, you may even still have a chance of coming along to our French tour later in the year.

Martin Heartfield

Conductor, Adjudicator, Educationalist