Grand Shield • Saturday 11, 17:25:18
Chris Thomas has been in the Opera House all day and has plumbed for a top six headed by Flowers with Kirkintilloch joining them at Symphony Hall.
3. Rothwell Temperance
4. Tongwynlais Temperance
Grand Shield • Saturday 11, 17:09:49
20. Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel (David Nesbitt)
The band is clearly in a rush to get back over the Pennines to Yorkshire as they set off like a train. The music is surely difficult enough to play at the marked tempo and we lose all of the detail as the band struggles to find clarity.
The opening of the Barcarolle is marred by tuning issues although there is a sense of repose here that was missing previously.
The tempo pulls in all sorts of directions in the fugue as the band struggles to hold things together and although it is a decent close, this was one of many performances today that struggled to get to grips with the challenges of Wilby's score.
Grand Shield • Saturday 11, 16:50:48
19. BTM (Dewi Griffiths)
A bold opening but the inner detail isn't always heard and its all just a tad harsh. Plenty of energy though and there's a driving feeling of momentum that engages and sweeps us along.
As the chill of winter descends there some well conjured sounds and the percussion is so well balanced with the brass sounds.
Beloved sleep is beautifully done with a serene solo trombone leading us into a delicate and subtly coloured Barcarolle with excellent individual entries that are amongst the most secure of the day until solo cornet struggles into the fugue which just loses a touch of focus as the ensemble falters.
It gets progressively more ragged as the band clearly tires on the final leg but this has certainly been one of the more solid accounts of Red Priest we have heard today.
Grand Shield • Saturday 11, 16:30:09
18. Flowers (Paul Holland)
The sound of the band immediately hits between the eyes. It's big and bold but balanced and vividly exciting. Great detail and the cornet fanfares are heard with equal clarity. You can sense the shivers of winter and the balance is again so effective here.
The glacial chill is biting and what great sounds in the basses. The music 'sits' so comfortably and individual entries are of quality. Bravo soprano and solo cornet. Beloved sleep is beautifully done even though the solo trombone is just a touch over prominent and the Barcarolle has such gentle delicacy. We've not heard anything else quite like this today.
The solo entries are so fluent and phrased with elegance whilst Paul Holland finds colours and nuances that have eluded pretty much every band. And as we head into the fugue we get playing of poise that never feels rushed or scrambled. It's a perfect tempo and the voices are balanced with care.
The breathless rush to V for Vivaldi leads us to a majestic re-statement of the opening them and a blazing final flourish.
At last, the performance we have been waiting for.
Grand Shield • Saturday 11, 16:12:35
17. Newstead (Duncan Beckley)
The opening doesn't lack volume but needs greater breadth. We hear good detail in the Allegro but the icy chill doesn't doesn't really grip us as winter falls.
As the teeth start to chatter individual entries are often hacked from the ice although the Barcarolle is so much better as the MD finds the gentle lilt that the music calls for with entries from the soloists that although not always flawless, are well shaped.
The fugue needs more dynamic contrasts and starts to feel somewhat one dimensional as a consequence as well as becoming more ragged as it progresses.
A competent performance but one that needed more variety and colour.
Grand Shield • Saturday 11, 15:53:03
16. Aldbourne (David Johnson)
No half measures from David Johnson and his team as the opening almost brims over with confidence. The tempo is bang on the money and we hear both detail and bags of energy. The glacial wind is a biting one as the momentum flags a touch but there is plenty of detail and enthusiasm on display here.
The opening of the Barcarolle is very nicely shaped and coloured and there is a freedom of line as the horn and flugel weave their duet. Well done soprano and again the band works hard to maintain the delicate atmosphere with the band getting down to the quieter dynamics in impressive fashion.
The opening of the fugue is a genuine pp and the MD keeps everything well under control. Only fleeting issues of clarity are heard as the performance reaches a conclusion that might not be the most thrilling today but caps a very creditable performance following promotion to the Shield last year.
Grand Shield • Saturday 11, 15:31:54
15. Kirkintilloch (Philip McCann)
It's been a long time in coming but at last we hear an accurate, clean opening two bars and the opening has real presence and authority. It's certainly hiding in the shadows is this but one of the few performances so far that has demonstrated real confidence.
There are big dynamic contrasts on display and although the approach isn't subtle the ensemble is tight and always under control.
Beloved sleep is a beautifully serene introduction to the Barcarolle, with Phil McCann keeping the tempo moving along and although there are little slips noted, the style is carefully found with nuances of colour and texture that really add to the overall picture.
The atmosphere is again palatable in the Adagio into the fugue, which is dynamically so well controlled and measured. The reprise of the introduction is effective and there is a sense of building excitement that we badly need leading to a blazing final flourish.
A performance that stands out proudly from a second half that has been very disappointing.
Grand Shield • Saturday 11, 15:12:28
14. Mount Charles (Simon Dobson)
An opening that hits between the eyes. It just needs a touch more dynamic contrast for us but it's bold and exciting and the execution is certainly amongst the better bands we have heard so far today. There is just that nagging feeling that it needs a greater variety of colour and tone.
The atmosphere is nicely created in the Barcarolle although individual entries are a touch cautious and we feel that it needs a touch more pliability in the solo lines. Hard luck soprano but cracks are now starting to take a serious toll.
The fugue starts well but maintains the tempo and clarity of the individual voices has been so problematic today and this is no exception as the band tries to compensate with strident sounds to close.
Grand Shield • Saturday 11, 14:53:50
13. Pemberton Old Wigan MW
Lacks focus in the opening bars and there are balance problems as we progress through the Allegro. Yet the band is finding something different in the music that we haven't heard so far. Technically its causing problems but the MD is pulling nuances out of the score that are intriguing.
Pemberton is the first band today to have kept the horn and flugel seated in the Barcarolle but it's losing its way and although the dynamics are verging on the inaudible we still need to hear the music flow.
The fugue tends to rush and descends into a scramble for the end as the the band reaches a somewhat tired sounding final chord.
A performance with some interesting little touches but as with so many today, scrappy ensemble proved to be a distraction.
Grand Shield • Saturday 11, 14:35:53
12. Marsden Silver Prize (Glyn Williams)
An uncomfortable opening with so few bands having really got off to a good start today. The tempo motors along and we lose some of the detail. Hesitant entries 'in winter' take their toll on the flow of the music and we are sensing that heads are starting to go down.
The Barcarolle is not without clips but this is a nicely shaped approach and some of the individual playing is very well done (soprano and euphonium). This seems to be finding its way again and the adagio into the fugue has a stillness that enables the ear.
The fugue is not always rhythmically focused but the ending is effective.
A strange one this. The band seemed to find another gear as we progress towards the conclusion but early damage is likely to count against the band we feel.
Grand Shield • Saturday 11, 14:12:55
11. Northop Silver (Thomas Wyss)
A purposeful opening tends to the strident in sound and although there is no shortage of enthusiasm, its all a touch one dimensional dynamically. We really want to hear more contrast and colour.
Slips creep into the quieter music and the Barcarole doesn't t have the gentle rocking motion that the music calls for with the minor error count continuing to mount. The MD takes the dynamic level right down in the Adagio transition into the fugue which is one of the high points of the performance so far and although the tempo of the fugue is well judged it's a battle to keep it under control.
A brave battle with Wilby's score but one which was ultimately lost today.
Grand Shield • Saturday 11, 13:43:15
10. Co-Operative Funeralcare Band North East (Jef Sparkes)
An untidy opening and the MD has a real lick on. It all feels a touch rushed and odd entries stick through the texture when we want to hear balanced sounds.
The ensemble gets progressively more ragged as we head towards Beloved Sleep and we really need to hear more subtlety and atmosphere. Solo horn does well at the opening of the Barcarolle and this is better playing with the band getting down to the quieter dynamics well but the overall musical picture is never entirely convincing.
The voices in the fugue are not well balanced and the ensemble is often untidy and lacking in focus.
A tough ask for the band and a performance that relied more on volume than accuracy.
Grand Shield • Saturday 11, 13:27:20
9. Rothwell Temperance (David Roberts)
Good opening tempo and although the initial two bars aren't bang on there is a sense of purpose about the playing. Technically this is good playing but we would like to hear a touch more variety of colour and timbre.
Beloved sleep is nicely intoned as we head into a Barcarolle which is well executed but we don't get the atmosphere that we would like to hear. The quieter dynamics are admirable but there are times when the music just needs to breathe a little more.
The fugue is handled with precision and the individual voices project with clarity. A little more dynamic contrast would be beneficial but the accuracy of the playing is amongst the best so far without a doubt and the ending is one of triumphant Baroque grandeur.
So much quality and detail on display here in a performance of excellent technical execution. Maybe not the most atmospheric but right up there so far.
Grand Shield • Saturday 11, 13:05:59
8. Jaguar Land Rover (Dave Lea)
A bold and confident opening from the Midland champions has authority and although its muscular stuff the technical execution is of high quality. Intonation issues are noted 'in winter' but the band's teeth chatter with clarity as Beloved Sleep beckons.
Solo horn is nicely controlled at the opening of the Barcarolle which has a nicely judged rocking motion but slips creep into the solo horn and flugel and the flow of the music falters until solo euphonium gets things back on course with excellent support from solo cornet. A real shame that it lost its way here as the opening was so promising.
The fugue just needs a touch more mechanical precision about it as it loses its rhythmic focus and although the balance between the voices is generally good the performance gets scrappier as it progresses.
Such a good opening but a performance that lost its way in the latter stages.
Grand Shield • Saturday 11, 12:45:22
7. Milnrow (Mareika Gray)
The opening two bars don't entirely convince but the tempo is spot on the money and there is precision in the Allegro con Molto. Mareika Gray directs with understated clarity and we hear wide ranging dynamics allied with an underlying sense of energy and motion.
It just loses its way a touch as we move into the music of chattering teeth but the Barcarolle is so well controlled dynamically. If anything the solo entries are almost too quiet but full marks for sticking to the otter of the score. One or two inelegant entries just ruffle surface of the water but the musical intent is clear.
The fugue doesn't have the poise of the best so far today but there is no shortage spirit about the playing and the final reprise lacks the necessary breadth as the band clearly tires.
A performance of potent intent not all of which came off.
Grand Shield • Saturday 11, 12:26:51
6. Wingates (Andrew Berryman)
The opening bars stutter into life and although here is spirit in the playing the detail between the instrumental layers aren't always heard with clarity.
Atmosphere is nicely created 'in winter' but the ensemble becomes very ragged as the band's teeth chatter and there is a nagging feeling that the notes are proving to challenging to allow the music to seep through.
The Barcarolle is the quickest we have head today and it loses its gently rocking lilt that is so vital to this section of the piece as the error count starts to mount alarmingly.
A very ragged fugue caps an untidy performance that will surely struggle today.
5. Whitburn (Ian Porthouse)
The opening has real presence and we hear transparency and balance in abundance. Excellent individual entries and there is an icy chill present in winter allied with such fine dynamic control.
Ian Porthouse is shaping the music to perfection and with such persuasive insight and style.
The dynamic control is so impressive and the Barcarolle has just the right lilt allied with tasteful solo,playing. There are just fleeting issues of intonation but what great sounds from solo cornet and horn.
The fugue is kept on a tight leash as the voices are heard with clarity and the build to the final flourish is so well paced as the excitement builds.
Another fine performance and an interpretation of vision from the Scottish champions.
Grand Shield • Saturday 11, 11:43:38
4. Tongwynlais Temperance (Stephen Sykes)
The most confident and solid opening bars we have heard so far and there is immediately a stamp of authority about the playing even if the dynamic level is a touch heavy at times. This a band with self belief and it shows.
There is an eerie chilliness to 'in winter' and we hear clarity in the Eb bass solo as the glacial wind bites. Nice individual touches from soprano and there is a high level of clarity on display in the ensemble work.
The Barcorolle is beautifully done. This playing that has style, poise and a flowing sense of melodic line without compromising on the dynamic levels and individual entries are generally secure with only minor fluffs.
The tempo is rigidly maintained through the fugue and the voices are well balanced. Fine trombone work as we head into the reprise of the opening and V for Vivaldi is majestic but controlled.
A performance of real quality and a clear leader for us at this stage.
Grand Shield • Saturday 11, 11:23:26
3. Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths)
Another shaky opening few bars but the MD kicks off at a lively tempo and there is a spirit about the playing that is engaging. We don't hear all of the parts with equal clarity in the cornet trio fanfare.
There is a nicely chilled atmosphere created 'in winter' and good use of dynamic range and the clarity of detail as the band's teeth chatter is the best we have heard so far. A nicely poised Beloved Sleep leads into a gentle Barcarolle; almost too gentle at times but there is a delicacy about this that holds the attention and the band is prepared to take risks with the quieter dynamics.
There is a real sense of stillness to the Adagio as we head into the fugue which is bang on the marked tempo. Good attention to balance between the voices and there is composure about the playing that is impressive as the band builds to a quality final statement although tuning is questionable on the final chord.
So much to admire here from a very young band.
Grand Shield • Saturday 11, 11:05:19
2. Thoresby Coliery (Brian Grant)
The opening flourish lacks rhythmic solidity and the balance is very much weighted towards the bottom end of the band. It settles but there is an element of panic to a good deal of the rhythmic detail and the musical line loses its poise as a result.
The Barcarolle needs more freedom in the melodic lines which impacts on the atmosphere that is created. Niggling little individual slips also get in the way of the flow of the music and the MD eyeballs his players in an attempt to keep things together.
The fugue is just a touch under tempo but still we would like to hear more precision of ensemble. The closing paragraphs recover but this was a performance that never quite ignited for us.
Grand Shield • Saturday 11, 10:48:09
1. Redbridge (Jeremy Wise)
The opening has drama and energy and we hear good rhythmic detail. Ensemble loses a touch of its tautness in the cornet fanfares and there is the odd individual slip (flugel). A shame as there is so much good playing and the flow is momentarily lost.
Dynamics are well kept under control and the Barcarolle has a nice lilt although there are again little slips that detract. Lovely solo euphonium though and there is an atmospheric stillness to the adagio transition into the fugue.
We hear the voices clearly in the fugue and the pacing of the dynamics is well handled. The reprise of the opening is majestic as the performance draws to an exciting final flourish.
Some quality playing but a few early morning cobwebs could well count against.
Grand Shield • Saturday 11, 08:56:21
Sorting out the bands playing Red Priest (Wilby) in the Shield are Allan Ramsay & Frank Renton.
First band on stage at 10.30am. Once again - a split draw - 9.30am & 1.00pm
Grand Shield • Friday 10, 11:45:05
Test Piece: Red Priest - Concerto after Vivaldi (Philip Wilby)
Adjudicators: Frank Renton & Alan Ramsay
The Opera House
Live comments by Chris Thomas
Aldbourne (David Johnson), 16
BTM (Dewi Griffiths), 19
Co-operative Funeralcare Band North West (Jef Sparkes), 10
Flowers (Paul Holland), 18
Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths), 3
Jaguar Land Rover (Dave Lea), 8
Kirkintilloch (Phillip McCann), 13
Marsden Silver Prize (Glyn Williams), 12
Milnrow (Mareika Gray),7
Mount Charles (Simon Dobson), 14
Newstead Brass (Duncan Beckley), 17
Northop Silver (Thomas Wyss), 11
Pemberton Old Wigan DW (Mark Bentham), 13
Redbridge (Jeremy Wise),1
Rothwell Temperance (David Roberts), 9
Thorseby Colliery (Brian Grant), 2
Tongwynlais Temperance (Steve Sykes), 4
Whitburn (Ian Porthouse), 5
Wingates (Andrew Berryman), 6
Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel (David Nesbitt), 20