2008 Yorkshire Regional Championship - Introduction


Yorkshire provides brass band contesting in its most elemental form so what a cracking way to start this years Regional Championships by coming to Bradford.

St Georges HallWhere better than to start the 2008 journey to the Royal Albert Hall in London and the International Conference Centre at Harrogate, than St George’s Hall, Bradford. This is brass band contesting in its most elemental form. 

Peggy Tomlinson and her team put on a great weekend of banding here – slick and welcoming and always on the look out for something new and innovative! This year there are 57 bands (1 down from last year) and the Yorkshire Committee has given the green light to try out a Children’s Adjudication Panel for the Third Section. 

Details can be found on 4BR http://www.4barsrest.com/news/detail.asp?id=7270, but the overall aim is to try and unravel some of the mysteries of contest adjudication whilst doing it amid a friendly family atmosphere. Let’s hope it works – and keeps the judges on their toes!

Championship Section:

All eyes and ears will of course be on the Championship Section on the Sunday where perhaps the strongest regional line up of elite bands takes to the stage. David Read and Peter Bassano will have a veritable feast to enjoy – although this year there is no Sellers International.

In a strange way that may be good news for the two bands who will try and join reigning national champion Grimethorpe and Black Dyke, both of whom are pre-qualified for Kensington in October.

It promises to be a great climax to the weekend with at least six contenders in with a real chance of getting to London. Last year the region sent five bands to the capital and saw four come in the top six, so you get an idea of what the standard is going to be like.

There were some people who thought that ‘Festival Music’ might not have been a stern enough test piece this year (although just listen out for the 5th bar of the piece to see how many bass ends can play their part cleanly). It may well be a piece well within the technical boundaries of these bands, but stylistically and musically it is another matter.

Subtlety, control and finesse may not be three words to describe the average bandsman, but they will be three of the most important virtues that will have to be displayed if their bands are to make the trip to London later in the year.  

First Section:

For the second time in the last three years a Yorkshire band won the First Section National title at Harrogate in September when Pennine Brass conducted by Ian Porthouse were triumphant.
Whoever gets the nod this time from judges James Scott and Robert Childs will have a tough act to follow. 

However, this has the look of a very strong section with a number of quality outfits all champing at the bit to try and push themselves into the Championship Section at the earliest possible opportunity.
James Cook – Circumnavigator will provide a fine test for them to overcome – a colourful old piece that in the wrong hands may well make some seasick on the journey to Harrogate.

It shouldn’t be underestimated – especially for solo cornet players and trombonists who have trouble triple tonguing, and once again the key may not be in just playing the notes (hopefully the bands have pinpointed the mistakes and errors in the score by the time they take to the stage) but understanding the inspiration behind the nautically inspired music. 

Those who do may well find themselves making arrangements for B&B, whilst those who don’t may well be walking the plank. 

Second Section:

There were encouraging signs at Harrogate last year where the two qualifiers came 4th and 5th that the Second Section was once again producing competitive bands at this level after a couple of fallow years.  

That sense of improving strength seems to be enhanced this year – on paper at least – with a strong looking line-up of 11 contenders for the title.

The experienced judging duo of Barry Thompson and Alan Hope will have plenty to study and ponder in Kenneth Downie’s finely structured ‘Three Part Invention’, which musically may well be the trickiest piece of the whole weekend for bands to master.

Last year Helen Perkin’s ‘Carnival’ became a bit of a fun fair of differing styles as the dated score left too much open to interpretation. This year the instructions are very clearly marked out, so the bands that can just add a touch of classy sheen to the composer’s intentions may well find themselves booking a place at the finals in September.  

Third Section:

It’s now well over a decade since a Yorkshire band left Bradford and went on to claim the national title and for only the second time since the turn of the Millennium the region managed to get one band into the top six at Harrogate last year.

Those qualifiers came 6th and 11th – OK, but nothing to shout home about across the dales. So can either of the two qualifiers this time do any better come September?

The 10 bands should certainly enjoy the challenge of Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s blast into space  and his composition, ‘The Dark Side of the Moon,’ but they will have to wary of not trying to make too much of a bang too early and risk fizzling out before the end.  

Robert Childs and Philip Harper are difficult men to impress unless the bands have really done their homework, but if they have, then a slightly shorter journey into the unknown may by on the cards come September with the reward of a trip to Harrogate.   

Fourth Section:

Yorkshire has an excellent record in the Fourth Section come the national finals themselves, with eight of the last ten bands to make it there, coming in the top six.

Last year the qualifiers came 3rd and 5th and on paper at least a couple of the 10 contenders will fancy their chances of bettering that if they get the nod from adjudicators Philip Harper and Rodney Newton.

Rodney is of course the composer of ‘Four Cities Symphony’ and his clever and enjoyable work should test the basics of good brass band playing to the full whilst still allowing the better bands to add that little bit of extra sheen to their performances.

It should prove to be a great way to start the regional merry-go-round this year, and all with the added bonus of a new band to the line up as well, as Deepcar under Gavin Somerset make a welcome debut appearance. 


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