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2011 London & Southern Counties Regional Championship — Postcard from Stevenage

London may be last in declaring its champions, but that may be about the only thing that it is now lagging behind with...

In all sorts of ways, London & the Southern Counties is catching up and even overtaking other banding regions.

Optimism

The sense of optimism that has been shown through the improvement in the playing standards over the past few years, was certainly confirmed in many of the sections on an enjoyable weekend in Stevenage  – notably the Championship Section.

Now there are at least three rising contenders tugging on the coat tails of Redbridge, the impressive leaders of the pack.

Greater depth

For the first time in a long while, there was a greater depth in quality to the top section here than in at least a couple of other regions.  

After Friary Guilford’s win in the First Section at Harrogate last year, the region will also send more than just single each way bets to Cheltenham too.

Good odds

It may be asking a great deal to hope for victory at the Albert Hall, but the Lower Section Finals should be a different matter – there are good odds on at least a brace or more of potential podium finishers.

Not only was there a great deal of good playing to enjoy, but the standard of conducting at the various contests was a bit of revelation too.

Elegant path


Jeremy Wise continues to beat an elegant path to the Albert Hall, but elsewhere there was real talent to enjoy in action from Richard Ward at Zone One, to the likes of Mark Ager and Jayne Murrill in the First Section, the experienced musical sense of Stephen Tighe and Melvin White in the Second, the energetic Kevin Woodger in the Third and Ian Stewart’s bravura enthusiasm in the Fourth.

They were not alone either.

Must visit

Away from the music, Dave Hobbs and his team have turned the rather nondescript surroundings of the Arts & Leisure Centre at Stevenage into a ‘must visit’ brass band contest that is slickly run and very welcoming.

The backroom support is excellent, with bands ushered on and off stage with the minimum of fuss. Even the provision of the results is now so speedy that it is posted up on the regional website before 4BR could get a sniff!

It’s a splendid effort from a splendid, hard working team.  

Noggins

And although the acoustic in the Main Hall remains a problem, the bands have become accustomed to it and the successful MDs use their noggins to take edge of the extremes of the dynamic range. If only some other MDs at other regional venues would have done the same this year.     

Perfect

The Gordon Craig Theatre continues to offer a compact, dry sounding auditorium that although not ideal for the bands themselves, is almost perfect for the man in the box.

Class apart

Dennis Wilby for one didn’t miss a thing - good, bad or indifferent – and there was plenty of good individual playing on show, especially from the masterful Martin Britt on soprano with Redbridge, who really was a class part on the weekend.

Things have certainly changed in London, and although they may still be the last region to declare its champions, it certainly isn’t the region that brings up the rear in any other way.

Chris Thomas



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


Perth Festival of the Arts - Cross Trust Artists of the Year

Thursday 26 May • St Matthew's Church, Tay Street, Perth PH1 5LQ


Garforth Brass

May 24 • Garforth Brass, a traditional brass band organisation, currently including a friendly 3rd section contesting band, concert band, and training band invites interested players to come along and see what we have to offer at your level.


Garforth Brass

May 24 • Garforth Brass, a traditional brass band organisation, currently including friendly 3rd section contesting band, concert band and learners band has vacancies for cornet players (position negotiable) to complete the team for contesting and concerts.


Freckleton Band

May 24 • Freckleton Band invite expressions of interest for the position of Musical Director. This aspirational 1st section band is looking to appoint a talented, enthusiastic and forward-thinking individual to lead the band on to the next level of performance.


Sarah Groarke-Booth

BA (Hons) MA
Conductor, Adjudicator, Compere, Actor


               

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