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2012 Midlands Regional Championship — First Section retrospective

Chris Thomas looks back at the First Section Area contest at Bedworth.

Ratvbt
Top of the mountain for Ratby

It would be completely unjust to infer that it wasn’t the quality of the playing that won Ratby Co-operative the title of Midland champion.

However, if there was one overriding influence who could be singled out more than any other in terms of their contribution to winning on ‘Mountain Views’ it was the man in the middle, Michael Fowles.

Depressing

For a work that has been claimed by some as too easy for the First Section, the overall standard of playing amongst the substantial field of 18 competitors proved to be nothing short of depressing.

Band after band produced bland, error strewn performances that failed to inspire anything other than uncomfortable incoherence.

Analogy

It’s true that the only mountain to be seen in Bedworth is the decidedly modest promontory on which sits the recently opened Tesco Metro store, but even this would be a more appropriate pictorial analogy to apply to Bertrand Moren’s composition.  

Despite the evocative title, too many performances simply failed to bring any sense of grandeur to the music; a feat that was ultimately pulled off only by Mike Fowles and a very select band of MD’s on the day.

Summing up

Succinct and constructive in his summing up, adjudicator Derek Broadbent told the audience in no uncertain terms that falling into the basic traps of poor rhythmic playing, inaccurate tuning and basic banding errors meant that bands were hardly fit to be possibly facing the prospect of the Championship Section - a point echoed, albeit in somewhat less trenchant terms, by his colleague, Peter Bassano.   

Thankfully, Ratby’s evocative opening representation of a mist shrouded dawn set the scene for a reading that displayed a breadth and understanding borne of those basic top section values.

The storm was unleashed with devastating power, derived from balanced ensemble volume rather than forced sound, whilst the excellent contribution from solo cornet Ian Dickman contributed significantly to a decisive victory.

fowles
Top man - Michael Fowles of Ratby Co-operative

Trio


Reigning champion Phoenix West Midlands will join them in Cheltenham and the Championship Section, after the flamboyant Trevor Jones led a colourful, if somewhat error prone account marked by impressive detail and ensemble warmth.

Making up the qualification trio was Foresters Brass 2000, under Virtuosi GUS principal cornet Peter Collins.

A rapidly improving band with a healthy mix of youth and experience, it was immediately clear that the MD had paid close attention to detail, the shaping of the melodic lines and phrasing.

It came as something of a relief during what was a disappointing second half of the draw.

Carefully contrasted dynamics, a tender Andante and a majestic close summed up an intelligent interpretation.

Atmospheric

Hathern’s second place last year proved to be no flash in the pan with fourth this time round, with a performance that emerged gradually from a mistily atmospheric opening to develop into a solid, confident account.

In fifth, Kibworth provided a decent pace setting rendition off the number 4 draw that couldn’t quite hold its own as the contest developed, suffering to some degree from the lack of a second Bb bass, that hampered a clear headed interpretation by MD Iain Rayner.

Solid

Home team Bedworth Brass was sixth thanks to a technically solid, if musically unspectacular reading under Jason Glynn that gathered momentum following an uncomfortable opening.

Behind them, Brackley & District’s seventh place was illuminated by thunderous storm, although a lugubrious and uninvolving Andante may have cost them a higher place or two.

Talking point

Staffordshire’s
eighth place under Nigel Seaman was undoubtedly the talking point of the day.

Last to play and as one of the hot pre-contest favourites, they delivered a bold, confident reading that although not blemish free drew notable drama from the score.

The men in the box didn’t like it as much as the punters in the hall, that’s for certain.

They could count themselves more than a tad unlucky.

Rue

Enderby
too may rue their contest day after tuning issues detracted from an otherwise cultured approach under Jonathan Mott, whilst, Blidworth Welfare struggled with consistency in 10th, and Harborough failed to inject any real dynamism into the music in 11th.

Sarah Groarke battled admirably to steer Tintwistle through a rocky account that ultimately limped to 12th, whilst Carlton Brass was unable to build on a promising opening movement.

Solace

Newly promoted Leicestershire Co-op will take some solace from their debuts after they nervously ended in 14th, whilst there was plenty to build on for the youthful Wellington (Telford), who ended 15th, who had within their ranks some notable solo line talents.           

Neither Shirley, Langley or Shirland Welfare were able to make any impact, although for Marie Smith and Shirland, credit is due for a brave attempt that had its customary sprinkling of young faces around the stands.

Difficult slopes


As the contesting mists settled on Bertrand Moren’s mountainous visions in Bedworth, Ratby and Phoenix West Midlands booked their place at Cheltenham for a second consecutive year, with high hopes that they will both finish higher up the difficult slopes of the results table than last year.

Forresters too should be confident of making more than just an appearance at base camp.

Chris Thomas



Regent Hall Concerts - Trafalgar Brass

Friday 6 August • Charlton House. Charlton Road. London SE7 8RE


Epping Forest Band - Proms on the Green

Sunday 8 August • On the green outside the Epping Forest District Council Civic Offices CM16 4BZ


Regent Hall Concerts - Arc Brass

Friday 13 August • Charlton House. Charlton Road. London . SE7 8RE


Regent Hall Concerts - The Wind Ensemble of the Band of the RAF Regiment

Friday 20 August • Charlton House. Charlton Road. London . SE7 8RE


Regent Hall Concerts - The Brass Ensemble of the Central Band of the RAF

Friday 27 August • Charlton House. Charlton Road. London . SE7 8RE


Deepcar Brass Band

August 2 • Musical Director required from September onwards who will help to continue developing and motivating the band.4th section band next year we are keen to regain 3rd section status. We are open to discussions with conductors of varying ranges of experience.


Chapeltown Silver Prize Band

August 2 • MUSICAL DIRECTOR, we invite applications from enthusiastic, hardworking, motivated individuals, who will challenge and further develop the success of the band. Based North Sheffield, 5 mins from M1 jct 35/36, with a sensible balance of concerts/contests.


Lydney Band

August 1 • Vacancies exist for a TROMBONE and an Eb BASS to strengthen the team. We are a 3rd section band (West of England), based in the Forest of Dean, Glos. Rehearsal - Friday evenings. Good travel links from Gloucester, South Wales and South Gloucestershire.


Alan Fernie

DRSAM, Dip.NCOS
Arranger, composer, adjudicator, conductor


               

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