Flock to Cheltenham for the victorious Shepherd Group
Picture: Steve Jack
The North of England First Section was all about quality as opposed to quantity.
Just five bands had made it to the starting line to give their performances of 'Mountain Views', but the end result was a contest of an impressive standard.
Adjudicator, Mike Kilroy was looking for the bands to paint descriptive musical pictures, and the well matched quintet certainly did that and more on the day.
Shepherd Group's winning interpretation was one of energy, drive and purpose under MD Richard Wilton.
It was also complimented by very fine individual contributions too – notably from the prize winning bass and percussion sections, which complimented a quite outstanding trombone trio.
It was mighty fine stuff – which consolidated together delivered a performance that was as good as any heard at the Regional Championships.
Richard Wilton’s direction was neat and precise, his interpretation broad and colourful. They will be a band to fear come Cheltenham on this form.
Westoe claimed the second qualification place on offer with a performance of real merit. It bubbled with the type of energy that seemed to fizz through the veins of MD Jason Smith.
At one point he lifted himself off the floor as if hit by the type of punch George Foreman once elevated Joe Frazier with.
You couldn’t fault the desire and you couldn’t fault the approach. It was seat of the pants stuff at times, but it never for a moment did anything other than keep you fully engaged.
With two such fine qualifiers, it was a case of commiseration for Catterick Brass.
Brenden Wheeler's band can consider themselves a touch unfortunate not to be heading to the finals after a fine performance that was based on control and consideration of dynamics and tempo.
It perhaps just lacked the vibrancy of its rivals, but it was still a very fine effort.
Both Harrogate and GT Group Peterlee will have headed home proud of their efforts – even if they were a little way off the pace of the top three.
These were robust accounts, that at times just lacked that extra degree of finesses, although MDs Craig Ratcliffe and Jo Cook kept the music flowing.
Two emerging bands with two emerging conducting talents showed a great deal of potential.
Quality not quantity
It may have been a short contest, but it was certainly one where it was the quality and not the quantity that won though.
Two excellent qualifiers will head to Cheltenham with high hopes of claiming further glory – even if they may be up against quite few more rivals.