2011 North West Regional Championship — First Section retrospective

There may not have been many bands battling for the qualification places in the Pavilion Theatre, but there was no lack of quality.

Robert's Bakery
Cheltenham bound for Robert's Bakery
Picture: Steve Jack

With all the debate about the suitability of ‘Le Carnival Romain’ as the test piece for the First Section, it was good to report that in the North West a whole batch of bands delivered technically secure, musically coherent accounts of the difficult Frank Wright arrangement.


Admittedly, there were only nine contenders in the contest for David Horsfield to judge, and whilst a couple at the bottom of the results table did struggle to overcome some of the more obvious hurdles, the majority found it playable.

That was certainly the case with the winners and qualifiers for Cheltenham

A well controlled, musically secure performance from Robert’s Bakery took the honours, closely followed by a more power driven, highly charged account by Longridge.


In his summing up David Horsfield praised the bands for their approach to a work that has lost none of its bite since it was first used at the National Finals in 1966.

He also singled out the individual contributions of the main soloists and the percussion, who he felt played a major role in setting the pace and dynamic of the free flowing Allegro of the saltarello.


These were two of the features of both qualifiers, with the experienced Colin Cranson (who must have played this piece and the famous euphonium solo more than a few times when he was at Foden’s) drawing out the inner detail and textures in the lyrical aria section with Robert’s Bakery.

It was followed by a well paced Allegro that had bounce and pulse, but was also played with a neat lightness of touch.


In contrast, the more powerful approach of Longridge was Berlioz in overdrive, but with vibrant colour and high octane emotive lyricism.

Very different and certainly in contrast to the winners, it was a persuasive account that owed much to the MD, Mark Peacock’s musicianship, and his player’s commitment to the cause.

Roberts Bakery
Years of experience. Colin Cranson with his Area trophy

Well worked

Behind them came a set of well worked performances.

Rainford will have been delighted that their purposeful rendition claimed a podium finish on their debut.

Neil Samuel’s free flowing reading was underpinned by a solid percussion foundation, whilst the main solo lines (a great euphonium contribution even outshining Peter Moore on trombone) were secure, the ensemble tight and precise.

It just tired towards the end, but it was a fine effort nonetheless.


too benefited from an intelligent approach to tempi and dynamic from Peter Christian in the middle, and whilst it fell away with stamina issues towards the close, it was a performance of contrasting energy and tasteful lyrical restraint.

Young bands

The two young bands of Wardle Anderson Brass and Oldham (Lees) will be disappointed that their well conceived accounts did not end higher up the results table, but in retrospect David Horsfield certainly pinpointed their undoubted strengths and their more obvious weaknesses.

There was a real flow to Oldham’s performance, with John Collins making sure that the lyrical aria section never meandered or wallowed in misplaced emotion.

Sean Conway was also very businesslike in his direction with Wardle, (especially as they had some re-jigging to do due to health problems with their soprano player) with a tight rein kept on tempi and dynamics

They also produced a wonderful bass led ensemble sound that was balanced and clean edged.

Both bands and MDs emerged with a great deal of credit on what was perhaps the most demanding test of their contesting character yet.

All together now - Longridge head for the finals with Mark Peacock


For pre contest favourites Freckleton, it was one of those days when a usually technically solid band endured a frustrating day at the contesting office.

Theirs was a performance that never quite recovered its poise after a messy start.

The harder they tried to make up lost ground the more unforced errors tarnished a well paced reading from Paul Dalton.

You could see from their faces as they left the stage that they knew that it wasn’t going to be a day of celebration.

Scruff of the neck

Diggle meanwhile seemed a little reluctant to try and grasp the piece by the scruff of the neck in what was a strangely muted account under Jim Shepherd, whilst Manx Concert Brass was also another that opted for a safety first approach under Ian Clague MBE, when a bit more verve would perhaps have paid greater dividends.

Finally, Poulton-le-Fylde under Gareth Westwood, with a performance that although musically coherent, was bedevilled by unforced errors and misplaced enthusiasm.

They could have had no complaint in finishing where they did in a contest that showed that despite the lack of numbers, there was no lack of quality in the North West at First Section level.

Robert’s Bakery and Longridge head to Cheltenham in September as strong contenders for the National title on this form.

Dave Tinker

Perth Festival of the Arts - Tenebrae at Perth Festival of the Arts

Monday 23 May • St John's Kirk of Perth, St John's Place, Perth PH1 5SZ

Perth Festival of the Arts - Tommy Smith

Tuesday 24 May • St Ninian's Cathedral, North Methven Street, Perth PH1 5PP

Grimethorpe Colliery Band - Brassed Off Live at The Royal Albert Hall

Wednesday 25 May • Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, South Kensington, London. SW7 2AP SW7 2AP

Perth Festival of the Arts - BBC Big Band at Perth Festival of the Arts

Wednesday 25 May • Perth Concert Hall, Mill Street, Perth PH1 5HZ

Perth Festival of the Arts - Opera Bohemia - Madama Butterfly

Thursday 26 May • Perth Theatre, Mill Street, Perth PH1 5HZ

Chadderton Band

May 22 • Chadderton Band is a friendly non-contesting band playing at various events throughout the year. We are looking for players of all ages and abilities on all sections of the band. Come to one of our practices and meet the band you'll be very welcome.

Lydney Band

May 22 • Vacancies exist for a PERCUSSIONIST (position negotiable) and Bb BASS player. We are a 3rd section band (West of England), based in the Forest of Dean. Rehearsal: Friday evenings. Good travel links from Gloucester, South Wales and South Gloucestershire

Otley Brass Association

May 22 • Musical Director - Otley Brass Band. . Required:. Our enthusiastic, unregistered band is looking for a new MUSICAL DIRECTOR. Located in Otley to the North West of Leeds we rehearse on Tuesday Evenings from 1930-2145 at the Otley Courthouse

Steve Pritchard-Jones

Conductor, Adjudicator, Teacher


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