2006 Scottish Open Brass Band Championships - Scottish Challenge Cup retrospective


John James was on hand to listen to the bands in an enjoyable Cup Contest, which saw victory go to

The Scottish Challenge Cup opened up the day in Glasgow and starting off proceedings was Coalburn Silver under the direction of Gareth Bowmen.

The band didn't let this early draw unduly affect the performance of ‘Dimensions' by Peter Graham. The balance was a little cornet heavy to open and the euphonium solo did struggle a little to come through but from then on things were very confident. With very good percussion throughout and playing with genuine drive and spirit this was a good marker and as it proved the winning performance of the day.

We won the cup! Coalburn take the Challenge Cup honours

It also emphasised what the adjudicators, Steve Pritchard-Jones and Kevin Wadsworth were looking out for, as Kevin himself told an appreciative audience at the Results Ceremony later in the day. "It's not rocket science at this level," remarked. "Stick to the basics, with copious amounts of perspiration to go with the trace elements of inspiration and musicianship. It was great to hear some classic test pieces as well as the wide variety of choices, but it is important that what a band chooses is chosen wisely. Some did and some didn't today with some performances lacking energy and some stamina."

Croy Silver opted for ‘Rhapsody in Brass' in a performance that had some very good moments but just a few too many critical moments of intonation and balance evident in the overall performance. Lots of work had gone into the 'famous' bass line and it was reflected in the style that the band gave James Anderson and the band, fifth place.

A mixed set with perhaps a few too many question marks hanging over it in terms of phrasing and tuning in the lower band just caught the ear with Turriff Silver, in a performance of ‘Anglian Dances' from the pen of Alan Fernie. These problems did relegate the band to the final position but overall the standard of the day was pretty decent which meant any issues would prove costly in the end.

Tullis Russell Mills with Jonathan Corry leading them on this occasion chose
‘Sinfonietta' by Gordon Langford, the piece they took at the National Finals in Harrogate.

After a clean start things just felt a little rushed in opening but there was lots of good playing, and once again in the second movement the music has nice floating feel being very warm and lyrical. With James Gourley leading the basses it would not be an exaggeration to say they were absolutely tremendous in an overall performance that was generally well delivered account with moments of real quality to take sixth place.

Dalkeith and Monktonhall Colliery and their MD James Chamberlain gave a forthright and confident performance of  ‘The Plantagenets' by Edward Gregson. This was a performance really worthy of note and impressed many listening in the hall with its solid ensemble and sensitive solo work. It was no surprise that featured in the frame in third, but so close to taking the top prize that we thought might have been coming their way.

Had Shotts St. Patricks's Brass with Brian Keachie not had quite such a troubled slower section it could have been pushing those above come the results. Well structured outer movements could not lift their performance of ‘Trittico' by  James Curnow to higher than eighth place on the day, and a not too unkind result in the end.

A very rhythmic account of ‘Kaleidoscope' by Philip Sparke did not quite swing the balance enough for Dunfirmline Town where issues with balance in the final outer section attracted attention that meant a place in the lower half of the results.

Penicuik Silver and Terry Johns chose ‘Haslemere Suite' by Peter Graham for their own choice and this was certainly a piece that was technically well within scope of the band.  In the final analysis it was probably the tuning issues that dogged the overall performance that proved very costly and final eleventh place.

With opening and final sections of great effect that had a good presence, Selkirk Silver was slightly less secure in the more exposed central movement of ‘Images of the Millennium' by Howard Snell. Meanwhile, Queensferry Community Brass and MD James Anderson delivered a performance that was hallmarked by a great attention to the rhythmic presentation. This was not as full bodied in delivery as some of the earlier performances and as such it too finished in the lower half but did have some nice moments in reflecting ‘Divertimento' by Bryan Kelly.

Campbeltown Brass and Craig Anderson revisited the test piece ‘Episodes for Brass' by Gareth Churcher, and they too conjured up a most enjoyable performance to take 4th place. There were a few scratches along the way but overall they generated a very musical presentation but we took immense pleasure from the performance of their bass trombonist Kenny Campbell. The opportunities for this instrument to feature in this work were grasped and given wonderful expression and he was certainly the stand out soloist in the section.

Whilst there may have been some forced moments in the Perthshire Brass performance of ‘Hollywood' by Goff Richards, the whole was infused with unbridled enthusiasm that was quite infectious and this gave them the runners-up place at the end of the day.

A section that unusually had twelve bands all playing totally different pieces that made the contest move along most interestingly and enjoyably.

The decent standard set by all the bands did allow the adjudicators to look a little deeper than just the mere basics such as tuning and note values to separate the bands at this contest and whilst perhaps the top six did set themselves a little apart from the others when it came to results time the bands in the frame were not really unexpected or not rewarded.

John James


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