2007 Yorkshire Regional Championship - Second Section retrospective


Helen Perkin's 'Carnival' provd to be a bit of a mystery to many of the all male conducting line up on the weekend. Who can work women out eh?

Yorkshire folk are renowned for their plain speaking. Love it or loath it – and 4BR finds it quite refreshing - behind the bluster there is always a small kernel of well merited truth. However as one gent said about Helen Perkin's "Carnival" on the weekend – "It could have only been written by a bloody woman!"

Forget the misogynist tendencies on display; you have to admit, he was bloody well right.

"Carnival" is one of those pieces that could only have come from a frighteningly female analytical musical mind – it contains close on 100 different markings in the first movement alone, yet still retains a sense of mischief that only a woman could employ for her own desires. It is a clever, almost too clever a piece of brass band chamber writing, yet for all its precision it is amazingly vibrant and witty, full of pathos and emotion, purposefulness and clarity of thinking. No wonder men can never fathom out the opposite sex.

Not many bands worked Miss Perkins out this weekend in Bradford too, with the all male line up of conductors finding her musical mind contained as many closed doors as it did ones to open and explore. Some got close, some tried a different tack altogether, whilst more than a few simply shrugged their shoulders and ploughed on with scant regard to her musical feelings. It was the ones who were in touch with their female side who won through though – not that many of them would own up to it in Bradford on a Sunday night.

David Horsfield and Brian Buckley were spot on with their analysis of the piece; calling it challenging music requiring detail and style. It was a test of musicianship and control and required a great deal of thought both from the conductors and the players. Too right.

In the end there was little to find fault with in their selection of the top six bands with the two qualifiers in particular well worthy of representing the region at Harrogate.

Wakefield Metropolitan under Russell Gary took the honours after delivering a performance rich in nuance, detail and precision – just the qualities Miss Perkins had intended, and just what the two judges were looking for. Russell has long been mistaken for some one else by the same name, but there was no mistaking the fact that he delivered a well thought out reading of a complex little score that others may have felt didn't quite need the same in depth forensic analysis.

Each of the three movements had all these hallmarks and more with a vibrant ‘Cavalcade', subdued ‘Pavane' and ‘Burlesque' that was controlled and detailed yet also had that essential sense of witty but pointed fun.   It was a performance of some quality.

Kippax meanwhile produced the early contest marker off the number 3 draw that had quality stamped right through it from the word go. A bright and confident opening movement gave way to a lovely ‘Pavane' that combined delicacy as well as emotion and a rounded and controlled ‘Burlesque' that was compact and secure in both technique and musicality. It had to take a fine performance to beat Keith Wardle and his band and so it proved, but on this evidence Kippax can look forward to the rest of the 2007 contesting season with real confidence. They are a fine band in the making with some quality players around the stand, including the bands soprano player Andy Fake who deservedly won the Best Instrumentalist award for his excellent contribution.

Just behind Kippax came Strata Brass who many, including ourselves thought a tad unlucky not to have pushed their way into the qualification places. David Hirst set out his reading with intelligent use of his resources and with an emphasis on style and balance. That sense of musicality shone through each of the movements with the ‘Pavane' in particular the best of the day for us. A vivid ‘Burlesque' seemed to set them up for Harrogate but a few too many annoying clips may have been the difference in the minds eye of the judges.

The remaining top six places were taken by Horbury Victoria, Slaithwaite and Meltham & Meltham Mills, although to be fair the bands coming seventh, Frickley/South Elmsall, and eighth, Chapletown Silver, could have forced their way into the prizes on another day.

Horbury Victoria confirmed that they have progressed a great deal in the last 12 months under the astute baton of Bob Walker, who once again showed a fine understanding of a tricky score.  A confident start with careful attention to detail was followed by a musical ‘Pavane' and vibrant ‘Burlesque'. It didn't quite have the quality of ensemble sound of the top three bands perhaps but that may have been a question of personal preference on behalf of the men in the box.   They can be proud of their efforts.

So too can Slaithwaite in fifth place, after Barry Hudson created a fine musical picture despite a rather weak start that took time to settle. It was a perhaps a question of counting the clips thereafter as although not major blemishes were just enough to take the gloss off a performance that had much promise. 

The same could also be said of Meltham & Meltham Mills who produced a steady if rather unspectacular performance that was just in need of a bit of spice and colour in the outer movements and a little more passion in the ‘Pavane'. It was all in its place and they did produce a lovely balanced sound, but it just lacked that sparkle that could have taken it higher.

Frickley/South Elmsall and Chapletown Silver both produced worthy if slightly error strewn performances that just lacked the overall quality of the bands that fiished above them in the prizes, although both could take home with them a great deal of credit.

Frickley under David Nichols was a little bit hit or miss in places, although to be fair it was more hit than total miss, and when they were playing well as in the last movement the signs of a compact and well rehearsed band was evident on the ear. Chapletown meanwhile also hit the target more often than not under the baton of Toby Bannan, but it was a slightly disjointed ‘Pavane' that surely cost them the chance of making more of a mark. It wasn't a bad show though.

After these bands the standard did drop, and in some cases quite noticeably. Wetherby & District opened the contest with  a decent enough show, just let down by a weak ‘Burlesque' that lacked for a bit of fun and games and a ‘Pavane' that although played in the right style just asked for a bit more emotional charge.

Finally, both West Yorkshire Police and Dinnington Colliery found the piece a little hard going and neither really came to terms with either the technical or musical intricacies of the score. That wasn't to say they didn't try but both sounded as if the piece just a touch too much for them at the present time.

West Yorkshire delivered a performance that had its moments but just lacked for general consistency whilst Dinnington also lacked consistency especially with intonation that at times grated and must have cost them valuable points.

Overall though a pretty good contest and a marker for the rest of the regions which we feel will stand up pretty well. The two qualifiers were well worth their trip to Harrogate whilst the third placed band could count themselves a touch unlucky. The rest generally brought something out of the score, although you were left feeling that perhaps Miss Perkins had the last laugh.

Malcolm Wood & Iwan Fox

4BR apologies for not being able to reproduce photos from this section at present.


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