2007 North of England Regional Championship - Third Section retrospective


Just seven bands to tackle Darrol Barry's test piece, but it proved to be a cracking contest with Barton Town coming out on tops again.

Just the seven bands contested this fine and difficult music from the pen of Darrol Barry, all of course hoping to claim one of the two qualification places to send them through to the finals in Harrogate in September.
We've won! Barton celebrate the moment of triumph

As throughout the country this year the opening few bars of the test piece caused all the bands problems, but in its way contributed greatly to an interesting and enjoyable contest. Having said that, there was two bands who were a clear cut above the rest, with the winners Barton Town in particular getting the detail out of the music alongside some fine ensemble and solo playing.
First band on was Stape Silver and they set a very decent standard to beat with some nice bass sounds evident along side fine work from sop and horns, especially in the difficult ‘Prelude'.

Looking for the notes? Stape's prinicpal plays it all

The music seemed to die a bit towards the end as tiredness crept in, but 4th place come the announcement of the results was pretty fair given the quality on show from the bands that beat them. It was a good performance though and well directed too.
Billingham Silver followed them onto the stage and produced a strong account of the music with plenty of detail shining through alongside some committed playing which was enough to secure them 3rd place. Intonation problems in the opening ‘Prelude' could well have cost them a place in the finals as the playing in the ‘Jubilate' in particular was full of life and with plenty of well balanced detail and precision right to the very end. It was another very encouraging performance and another so well directed.
Carlisle St Stephens had a famous name playing in the percussion section, with young Matthew Howard, who is the great, great nephew of the truly great Jack Mackintosh. Carlisle though lacked the sense of confidence that he used to display ever time he set foot on the contest stage and that lack of conviction just took the edge off some well shaped and very musical playing.

The solo cornet did very well though throughout (and the great man would have been proud), although 6th place was fair enough. There were plenty of encouraging signs though that a bit more self belief will pay huge dividends.
Ripon City followed and once again the MD allowed a lovely sense of flow to the music even if it did have the occasional little blip or two.  The playing was well controlled and balanced with some fine dynamic contrasts in the opening ‘Prelude' and a neat sense of style and approach to the vibrant ‘Jubilate'. In the end it deservedly got its reward with the runners up spot and a trip to Harrogate.

Barton Town, newly promoted to the Third Section followed and after a shaky opening gave a performance that in our eyes, and that of the adjudicator (and we suspect all those in the hall) was a clear winner.

Serious intent: MD Mark Bentham keeps the smiles at a minimum

All the detail was there, with the lead into the ‘Jubilate' particularly good. They produced a lovely well balanced band sound with conductor Mark Bentham getting every ounce of music out of the piece. His considerable experience must have helped the band enormously, but it was the players under his command who must take a huge deal of credit as they performed admirably from start to finish. This is a band who can justifiably look forward to Harrogate confident of doing well if they perform like this again.
Barrow Concert also had some nice moments in their performance, but seemed to lack the confidence to push on when they just in sight of producing something of real consistent merit. It was always there or thereabouts, but a bit more self belief in what they were doing (and doing well) may have pushed the up the prize table a tad more. The encouraging signs of progress are there though to be heard. 
The final band to take to the stage, Five Rivers Brass gave a performance we can only put down to being ‘one of those days' when just about everything they tried didn't quite come off.  They did try and try again, but nothing quite gelled. Duncan Beckley tried his very best to help them on their way, but it wasn't to be on this occasion. Back to the drawing board perhaps, but there is a decent band here if it can just gell together a bit more. 
In his summing up to the audience David Lancaster said he had been looking for consistency in performance and that two bands had given him that. He did make the point that all the bands had made a contribution to the music. We couldn't disagree.
For ourselves we would like to thank Alan Hope and his excellent committee for their hospitality on the Saturday (and we are sure on the Sunday too) and help in getting the full results within minutes of the results being announced.  The newly refurbished Dolphin Centre was a joy to be in and once again congratulations to the winners and runners up. We are sure they will do the North of England proud in the finals.

David Tinker


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