2014 Welsh Regional Championships — As it happened

All the action from the 2014 Welsh Regional Championships — as it happened.

Wales • Sunday 16, 17:45:12


Championship Section:
Test Piece: 'St Magnus' - Kenneth Downie

Adjudicator: David Read MBE

1. Cory (Philip Harper), 2**
2. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse), 7**
3. Burry Port (Nigel Seaman), 4*
4. Tongwynlais Temperance (Steve Sykes), 6*
5. Tylorstown (Gary Davies), 1
6. Northop (Thomas Wyss), 3
7. City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) (Gareth Ritter), 5

Best Instrumentalist: Martyn Patterson (euphonium) - Cory

** Pre-qualified for National Final
* Qualified for National Final

Wales • Sunday 16, 17:05:45

We are now enjoying the performance of the excellent youngsters of the Manger Folkeshogskule conducted by Tormod. Flaten.

Everyone is still a bit breathless here and waiting for the results.

The top two performances from Cory and Tredegar more than lived up to their billing and reputations as the number 1 and 2 ranked bands in the world today.

Whoever wins deserves it. The audience has enjoyed two very special performances.

The two qualifiers behind them were very good too, but the Welsh giants were both on supreme form today.

Results in about 15 mins

Wales • Sunday 16, 16:55:42

Championship Section: 4BR Editor's Prediction:

We have heard two performances that certainly live up to David Read's 'out of this world' epithet.

Cory was stunning, no doubt about it, but Tredegar may have even topped that today with a performance that simply mastered 'St Magnus'. What a treat both bands gave the audience and David Read in the box.

Tongwynlais showed their quality to comfortably come third, with Burry Port just pipping Northop from City of Cardiff.

What a contest at the top end though.

4BR Prediction:

1. Tredegar
2. Cory
3. Tongwynlais Temperance
4. Burry Port
5. Northop
6. City of Cardiff (Melingriffith)

Wales • Sunday 16, 16:45:28

Championship Section:

7. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)

A beautiful start leads into variations of such detail, precision and clarity. This has been so clearly laid out that it is hard find fault. The inner parts are heard clearly and the dynamic contrast are subtle yet pronounced.

The build to the climax is so well handled and the euph to follow is sublime. My word this is good. Trom and cornet shine so well, but the musical flow is what impresses most. What a lively end.

Bang on the tempo means that all the clarity appears again and then we hear it all at almost double time in the finale. Just the odd little moment but it doesn't tarnish the musical picture which has been supremely laid out by the MD.

What a close - such balance and texture with volume to wake the dead. This was one heck of a performance.

Wales • Sunday 16, 16:07:26

Championship Section:

6. Tongwynlais Temperance (Steve Sykes)

Just a little noticeable blip at the opening stanza, but it recovers so well, with a lovely underlying pulse that enables the detail to sound light and precise. Just the occasional smear but this is so deliberately structured and set out.

The build to the climax is well handled and the euph shines. Once again the MD brings a lovely pulse to the music - letting find a natural flow that is enhanced by quality playing. Just the odd little clip, but it does not rob the musical intent.

Again - spot on tempo by MD and this is quality playing, but something goes awry in the finale - with it rocking for a moment or two. A pity as this was motoring along nicely.

Fine build to the close, which is handled with a touch of musical aplomb, even if the filigree is a bit inconsistent in places. A real fizzy tempo then draws things to a thumping termination.

Wales • Sunday 16, 15:47:16

Championship Section:

5. City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) (Gareth Ritter)

A fine start leads into opening variations that are neatly handled with plenty of detail and dynamic contrast on show. It is scrappy in places and some bits and pieces are lost in places, but the MD has structured this well.

He is not afraid to take a few risks either - will a liberal sprinkling of rubato in places. Decent build to climax and euph does so well to lead after this. Solid soloists play their part too, as the music flows along.

Sensible tempo choices means that things are under control as we head for home, with superb xylo a feature. Just runs away with itself in the high tempo finale, but what a brave attempt at it. Just tires towards the close, but there is just enough left to deliver a bold and balanced close.

Wales • Sunday 16, 15:45:27

Championship Section:

It's turning into an engrossing contest here, although Cory are at present in a class of their own.

What a keen scrap is starting emerge behind them with Burry Port, Northop and now City if Cardiff giving it their all to try and claim what on paper looks to be the one qualification slot, if Tongwynlais really play to form.

Good to see plenty of support in the hall too - although quite a few left after Cory performed to get a drink or two in the bar before the rush later on.

Wales • Sunday 16, 15:27:46

Championship Section:

4. Burry Port (Nigel Seaman)

A lovely start is followed by solid no nonsense playing in the next could of variations that sets the stall out. The dynamic level is safe and much of the detail is not razor sharp, but it is all there or thereabouts. Some bold sounds from great basses lead the way to an equally well structured climax.

Super euph enhances things - as does a lyrical cornet - although the ensemble is asking them to play at a high dynamic level.

This has been very well shaped by the MD - and the good sense continues in the quicker variations to follow. Tiredness starts to creep in and the raw ensemble sound does grate a little, but a bravura effort in the finale is rewarded with real brio to the playing.

There is a good gallon or two left in the tank for a strong, well enhanced close too, to round off a performance of purpose and passion.

Wales • Sunday 16, 14:56:55

Championship Section:

3. Northop (Thomas Wyss)

Small slip in the opening stanza is quickly rectified by the quality of the playing that follows in the next variations. Its is light in texture, but we do hear a great deal of inner detail and dynamic contrasts.

Some moments of imprecision, but a fine build to the climax where euph take over in fine, lyrical style. MD has moulded this so well.

It just struggles to find its pulse after this and gets a little scrappy - but it holds together to find a quick, but certainly not presto finale tempo. Sensible stuff, but it just starts to tire as we get to the close with noticeable enforced errors. There is just enough left in the tank for a bold close though with a splendid last few bars.

Wales • Sunday 16, 14:36:16

Championship Section:

2. Cory (Philip Harper)

Just the slightest hint of discomfort in the opening stanza but thereafter we are treated to some wonderfully refined technique and controlled dynamic contrast. MD gives time and space for the detail to emerge and is rewarded with such clarity in return.

Euph does a wonderful job and the lyrical interlude is played such musical malleability - there was real rubato on show here.

The MD is asking a great deal of his players to produce such texture and contrast - and you have to say they are giving it to him in spades. Just the odd tiny moment, but the first technical reprise is given such definition, whist the finale is a romp of epic proportions.

The final section fizzes with such intent and purpose all the way to a simply crushing end.

Wales • Sunday 16, 14:10:35

Championship Section:

1. Tylorstown (Gary Davies)

What a baptism of fire for the 2013 National First Section Champions of Great Britain.

This showed just how hard a test piece St Magnus is - a very fine First Section band struggled to overcome the technical challenges - from start to finish. There were moments when it did gel well and the playing of the solo euphonium and cornet was exemplary.

The fragilities and the obvious shortcomings elsewhere were pronounced however - despite the MDs excellent direction that tried to manage limited resources.

Lots to commend with the musical approach, but the sheer size of the technical hurdles proved so, so difficult to overcome.

One heck of a brave effort though.

Wales • Sunday 16, 14:05:26

Championship Section:
Test Piece: 'St Magnus' - Kenneth Downie

Sunday 16th March
Draw: tbc
Commence: after Fourth Section

Adjudicator: David Read MBE

Burry Port (Nigel Seaman), 4
City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) (Gareth Ritter), 5
Cory (Philip Harper), 2
Northop (Thomas Wyss), 3
Tongwynlais Temperance (Steve Sykes), 6
Tredegar (Ian Porthouse), 7
Tylorstown (Gary Davies), 1

Wales • Sunday 16, 13:58:57


Fourth Section:
Test Piece: 'Three Spanish Impressions for Brass Band' - Alan Fernie

Adjudicator: Barry Thompson

1. Northop Brass (David Davies), 12
2. Porthaethwy Menai Bridge (Chris Williams), 8
3. Rhyl (Keith Jones), 6
4. Abertillery Youth (Huw Cole), 1
5. Upper Rhondda (M. Leach), 7
6. Oakeley (John Jones), 2
7. Newport Borough (Robin Hackett), 11
8. Holywell (Aled Williams), 4
9. Usk (Jeff Jones), 10
10. Deeside (John Pemberton), 3
11. Cwmbran (Jake Pritchard), 5
12. Oakdale (Adrian Browning), 9

Best Instrumentalist: Ian Roberts (euphonium) - Northop Brass

Youngest Player: Eleri Kynsey (aged 10) of Upper Rhondda

Wales • Sunday 16, 13:32:26

Section 4:

What a cracking contest this morning - full of some super reading and equally super playing.

Four real top notch renditions - any one of which could win this.

Neck on the line though - so we opt for the following

1. Abertillery
2. Northop
3. Menai Bridge
4. Rhyl
5. Holywell
6. Usk

Wales • Sunday 16, 13:24:18

Section 4:

11. Newport Borough (Robin Hackett)

Colour and excitement splashed in a great effort here - some of it missed the richly painted canvas, but what an enjoyable attempt at capturing the verve and excitement of the writing.

12. Northop Brass (D. Davies)

What a cracking show - full of musical character, elegant musicality and that extra touch of Spanish finesse too. A lovely bold opening and a waltz that ached with touching romance. All rounded off with a real fandango of a final. Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole!!!

Wales • Sunday 16, 13:17:24

It looks like the great 'assumption' debate continues here in Wales.

There is a robust defence being out up by the organisers from North Wales - and rightly so - but the bands tell us that they were all under the impression that the contest was to be held in main theatre of Venue Cymru.

That is disputed by the organisers - who say the Regional Council and its representatives were informed, so how did so many many not know? A break down in communication somewhere perhaps?

Wales • Sunday 16, 13:01:45

Section 4:

9. Oakdale (A. Browning)

One of the rare ones that didn't quite manage to control the technical or musical aspects - which was a pity as the MD tied to bring the brooding darkness from the opening, the give and take of the Basque waltz and the pomp of the finale. Plenty to enjoy though.

10. Usk (J. Jones)

A well structured account this - perhaps in need of a touch more spice and fizz, but well put together with an eye and ear on elegance and restraint. A neatly played opening and touching waltz moved neatly into the finale, where they certainly brought a touch of the bull ring drama to the music.

Wales • Sunday 16, 12:17:29

Section 4:

7. Upper Rhondda (Matthew Leach)

What a great effort from a band that was predominately made up of young players. There were scruffy moments and a touch of unease in places, but the MDs excellent approach and the way in which his main soloists rose to the challenge made this a performance of note and substance. Great effort by everyone concerned.

8. Porthaethwy Menai Bridge (Gavin Saynor)

This had bags and bags if Spanish colour and excitement from the word go - all that was missing was a sombrero and stuffed donkey. Great colour, excitement and panache about this - led from the front by Gavin Saynor with splendid authority.

Wales • Sunday 16, 12:07:43

It seems the concerns about the hall have reached the people responsible.

We have just been told about 'bad vibes' from 4BR's reporting about the hall (not the venue) - and that the judges are not complaining.

Strange that - because yesterday David Read wondered if the box should be moved further back in the hall because of the acoustic.

Fair points made and the decision robustly defended by Pedr Roberts to us - especially about assumptions from bands - but this at a time when when one of the organisers had to go to the back of the hall to tell the kitchen staff to keep the noise down.....

Wales • Sunday 16, 11:37:06

Section 4:

5. Cwmbran (Jake Pritchard)

A well managed account this - with the MD knowing what he could and couldn't do with his resources. As a result it was neatly delivered with a keen eye on the basics. Perhaps lacking a touch of colour and flair, but not all Spanish maestros are as flamboyant as Picasso in painting pictures that appeal. Solid stuff.

6. Rhyl (K. Jones)

A touch of the Costa del Sol brought right into the heart of Llandudno by the local Spanish imports from Real Rhyl.

Bags of colour, passion and sangria inspired excitement too, with a bold opening, romantic interlude and a run for home that was like being chased by Pamplona bulls.

Wales • Sunday 16, 11:12:24

We could have a bit of a problem here this afternoon if the hall keeps filling up like this.

There's a great crowd in now for the Fourth Section, so what will it like when the big guns take to the stage we wonder.

Philip Harper has been in to check out that troublesome acoustic once again - and other top section apparatchiks have been sent by their masters to find out what is going on.

Wales • Sunday 16, 11:04:35

Section 4:

3. Deeside (J. Pemberton)

A boldly drawn and colourful one this - not without its scratchy moments or two. Inspired by a free flowing interpretation from the MD and aided by some neat touches in the waltz in particular that had a lovely feel of innocent romance. Needed a touch more toreador bravura to close, but still an enjoyable one.

4. Holywell (Aled Williams)

The MD comes to the stage dressed in black - and directs with the neat baton work of Zorro with an épée in his hand.

Well structured and managed this - nothing overdone or over wrought either. Plenty of good sense and solo contributions that had the snappy precision of a pair of Cuban heels on a Latin flamenco dancer.

Wales • Sunday 16, 10:42:40

Already there are a few more people in the audience here - attracted by a popular and very listenable test piece - or perhaps that it's still drizzling like a Mary Berry lemon sponge outside.

Hopefully more will be tempted in as the playing so far has been great and we could do with a bit more body warmth to help the acoustic.

Wales • Sunday 16, 10:40:31

Section 4:

1. Abertillery Youth (Huw Cole)

Wow - what a cracking start to the contest day! A real humdinger from the band - with great little solo spots and a tremendous free flowing interpretation from the man in the middle. He directed this like Pep Guardiola - the give and take of the waltz like little Iniesta and Xavi playing tiki taka. Rousing close brings a gem of a performance to a close.

2. Oakeley (J. Jones)

Another well managed one this - from a band that used to have the Royal/Real prefix to their name in years gone by.

Plenty to admire too - with a bold opening, give and take waltz and that robust toreador ending full of brio. Colourful stuff.

Wales • Sunday 16, 10:26:53

At least its a bit warmer in the hall this morning and the acoustic is a little better as a result.

It seems the North Wales Association booked the venue but chose to hold it in this hall as they felt they would not fill the main theatre. That's what we are hearing from well placed sources. They were uncertain that they could cover the hire cost of the main theatre which we are told was around £3,000 for a day.

No one informed the bands that the contest was then to be held in this conference room - but crucially it seems, no one asked after the decision was made either. It was all left rather in the air. Typically Welsh.

It is important to add that This has not been officially confirmed and there are slightly different takes on the story - but the finger of blame seems to be firmly pointed not at the Regional council who were also in the dark, but the North Wales Association who took responsibility for hosting the event.

What a let down this has been for the bands.

Thankfully, it has been confirmed that the contest will return to Swansea in 2015.

Wales • Sunday 16, 09:52:40

Fourth Section:
Test Piece: 'Three Spanish Impressions for Brass Band' - Alan Fernie

Sunday 16th March
Draw: 9.00am
Commence: 10.00am

Adjudicator: Barry Thompson

Abertillery Youth (Huw Cole), 1
Cwmbran (Jake Pritchard), 5
Deeside (John Pemberton), 3
Holywell (Aled Williams), 4
Newport Borough (Robin Hackett), 11
Northop Brass (David Davies), 12
Oakdale (Adrian Browning), 9
Oakeley (John Jones), 2
Porthaethwy Menai Bridge (Chris Williams), 8
Rhyl (Keith Jones), 6
Upper Rhondda (M. Leach), 7
Usk (Jeff Jones), 10

Wales • Sunday 16, 09:48:54

Its a cold and dreary morning here in Llandudno but the welcome inside Venue Cymru is warm.

It's the Fourth Section here this morning followed by the Championship straight after. Plenty to look forward to then as we kick off in about 15 minutes.

Wales • Saturday 15, 20:11:37

That's it from Venue Cymru for tonight on a day when Welsh banding was faced with great musical possibilities for the bands it will send to Cheltenham, but great misgivings for having to come here and play.

The venue is fantastic - but the hall itself is terrible. The acoustic is shocking - its on the same par as a leisure centre function room with carpet on the floor.

There are still questions to be asked about this - as all the band reps we spoke to were under the impression that they would be playing in the main theatre - which happened to be filled with a great bunch of farmers enjoying their biggest bash of the year.

Assumptions count for nothing in Wales though - although someone has to finally answer the question of just how the premier contest in Welsh banding ended up in auditorium that was not fit for purpose.

Wales • Saturday 15, 19:45:01


First Section:
Test Piece: 'Cry of the Mountain' - Howard Lorriman

Adjudicator: David Read MBE

1. Llwydcoed (David Childs), 7
2. Goodwick (Matthew Jenkins), 2
3. Lewis Merthyr (Gavin Pritchard), 8
4. Markham (Gareth Pritchard), 1
5. Pontardulais (Paul Jenkins), 9
6. Rogerstone (Jeff Hutcherson), 4
7. Deiniolen (Lois Eifion), 6
8. Abergavenny Borough (Craig Roberts), 5
9. Llanrug (Paul Hughes), 3

Best Instrumentalist: Matthew Fletcher (euphonium) - Pontardulais

Wales • Saturday 15, 19:13:12

Section 1: 4BR Editor's choice:

The obvious strength in depth of the Welsh First section was gown here with a highly enjoyable contest that featured a wide variety of interesting interpretations.

Some went for drama, excitement and passion, others more controlled purpose, drive and pathos. All good stuff though.

We go for Llwydcoed's finely controlled account from Goodwicks verve and vitality with Markham's fine effort close behind.

Pontardulais very nearly gave it their all, with Deiniolen and Lewis Merthyr just behind for us.

4BR Prediction:

1. Llwydcoed
2. Goodwick
3. Markham
4. Pontardulais
5. Deiniolen
6. Lewis Merthyr

Wales • Saturday 15, 19:03:06

Section 1:

9. Pontardulais (Paul Jenkins)

What a little fizzer to round off a highly enjoyable contest, as the MD opts to gain colour, drama and excitement from the score and bags all three.

It's not without its scrappy moments and edge of the seat thrills and spills, but by heck they went for it and very nearly pulled it off. Like shooting up K2 with a jet pack on the back.

Wales • Saturday 15, 18:46:33

Section 1:

7. Llwydcoed (David Childs)

A very impressive overall performance this - from start to finish. MD kept a tight control of dynamics excesses and tempo grading sand was rewarded with some splendid playing in return - led by a solo euph who sent a shiver down the spine. Not without its moments of discomfort, but by the thumping close we had heard a very refined interpretation.

8. Lewis Merthyr (Gavin Pritchard)

A performance that very nearly had it all - after the best start to the piece heard all day (and perhaps at any area we have covered) .

Just little clips and scrappy edges took the gloss of an intelligent reading and management of resources, but there was always something about this that musically drew you in.

Wales • Saturday 15, 18:22:29

Section 1:

5. Abergavenny Borough (Craig Roberts)

A fine interpretation that was blighted by a high error count. MD took risks - many of which came off splendidly, but a few which didn't - the very, very quite opening being a case in point. Liked the approach, but the inconsistencies in execution may just cost them today.

6. Deiniolen (Lois Eifion)

A lovely lyrical approach this - and one that continues even in the quickest of sections. There was a lovely flow to this despite the obvious minor and some major slips and clips. Just got a little overwrought with vibrato in places too when it wasn't really required to emphasis the sense if pathos. An interesting one this - may not feature but certainly stayed in the mind.

Wales • Saturday 15, 17:55:53

The audience here has been boosted by quite a few Championship Section MDs who are taking the opportunity to try and work out how to master this very peculiar acoustic.

Phil Harper and Ian Porthouse of Cory and Tredegar are just two who have been sitting and listening. The sound from the stage highlights individual players but somehow seems to muddle up ensemble sound. Its a bit like playing in a very dead sounding band room, except this one sits 600 people.

The percussion (especially the timps) just cuts through and obliterates if played anywhere a decent forte. The biggest sounding bands will have to consider turning down the turbo chargers tomorrow afternoon.

Wales • Saturday 15, 17:39:59

Section 1:

3. Llanrug (Paul Hughes)

A brave attempt this by everyone concerned, but nerves and poor intonation will cost them we feel. The musical picture was intelligently set out by the MD with a persuasive lyrical intent, but the execution was too inconsistent to perhaps just make it Spring from the pages of the score.

4. Rogerstone (Jeff Hutcherson)

A bold one that aimed to bring the excitement and colour out of the score. At times it managed it so well, but on other occasions it was over excitable and just lost focus and precision. The drive in the final section had real pulse - but it was undermined by a high minor error count. A pity that, as this certainly captured the imposing drama of the music.

Wales • Saturday 15, 17:05:30

Section 1:

1. Markham & District (Gareth Pritchard)

What a fine marker to lay down off the number 1 draw against a very strong field of rivals. Bold and dramatic, but also with a clear idea of the musical picture that was to be created. There was a great deal of purpose and understanding about this - with just a few uncomfortable moments.

2. Goodwick (Matthew Jenkins)

And what a fine one to follow too. At its very best when the lid was kept on the dynamics and the compact ensemble was able to showcase its balance and precision. Wow - then it was great.

Just got a little raw and overblown in places when they tried too hard to give extra dynamism, but the flow, drive and passion on show was top notch. The final avalanche came at you at terminal velocity.

Wales • Saturday 15, 16:44:29

First Section:
Test Piece: 'Cry of the Mountain' - Howard Lorriman

Saturday 15th March
Draw: tbc
Commence: at the conclusion of Second Section

Adjudicator: David Read MBE

Abergavenny Borough (Craig Roberts), 5
Deiniolen (Lois Eifion), 6
Goodwick (Matthew Jenkins), 2
Lewis Merthyr (Gavin Pritchard), 8
Llanrug (Paul Hughes), 3
Llwydcoed (David Childs), 7
Markham (Gareth Pritchard), 1
Pontardulais (Paul Jenkins), 9
Rogerstone (Jeff Hutcherson), 4

Wales • Saturday 15, 16:39:05


Second Section:
Test Piece: 'Chaucer's Tunes' - Dr Michael Ball

Adjudicator: Barry Thompson

1. Blaenavon Town (Jamie Jones), 5
2. Parc & Dare (Andrew Jones), 4
3. Royal Buckley (Scott Lloyd), 3
4. City of Cardiff (Melingriffith 2) (Robin Hackett), 7
5. Crwbin (Colin Hogg), 2
6. Newtown (Steve Edwards), 6
7. Severn Tunnel (Christopher Bond), 1

Best Instrumentalist: Lucinda Gough (cornet) - Blaenavon Town

Wales • Saturday 15, 16:18:55

Section 2: 4BR Editors Prediction

An enjoyable contest with much better quality playing on show.

Lots to enjoy with Parc & Dare out choice from City of Cardiff and Blaenavon.

Its close then to Royal Buckley, Severn Tunnel and Crwbin.

1. Parc & Dare
2. City of Cardiff
3. Blaenavon
4. Royal Buckley
5. Severn Tunnel
6. Crwbin

Wales • Saturday 15, 16:13:31

Section 2:

7. City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) 2 (Robin Hackett)

A bold one to close that had plenty of youthful vigour and spirit about it from the word go. some lovely touches in each of the movements, but also some scruffy moments too. MD has kept the music flowing and the final chase to home is so well played.

Wales • Saturday 15, 16:10:21

Section 2:

5. Blaenavon Town (Julian Jones)

A performance that grew in stature this - from a slightly messy opening. A fine lyrical interlude played with grace and elegance and aided by a fine solo cornet lead. A neat touch of wit and a bravura ride for home gave this real character.

6. Newtown (Steve Edwards)

The missing cornet player didn't help this one - even though he came bounding in half way through the first movement. The band seemed frazzled by the experience and it never settled. A brave effort - especially from the MD, but this was a performance that may not live in the memory for the right reasons.

Wales • Saturday 15, 15:22:22

Section 2:

3. Royal Buckley (S. Lloyd)

Four very well movements here - not without their little niggles and the odd blemish, but so well laid out by the MD and played with great style. Lots of contrast, and musical flow all the way to bold run for home chase. Good stuff that.

4. Parc & Dare (Andrew Jones)

Another quartet of well constructed, sharply delivered movements, each showing character, style and control.

Lots of good individual playing displayed too - from sop and cornet to flugel and euph. MD has neatly brought all the important bits to the fore here without it sounding false. Just the odd nasty noticeable error, but overall a leader by a margin so far.

Wales • Saturday 15, 14:57:04

There is a rumour that the box may well be placed further back in the hall to help the adjudicators with the bigger sounding Championship bands.

David Read revealed that he found the acoustic a little odd to get used to this morning and although he could clearly hear individual players, much of the ensemble sound was unfocused and didn't travel with clarity.

He wasn't talking about the standard or quality of the playing here - more the aural experience in the box.

A bit like the scene in the film Tootsie though - when the director was trying to make Dustin Hoffman look better under the harsh camera gaze not knowing him to be a man in drag.

He asks the cameraman, 'How far back can you go to make her look better?', to which the reply comes, 'What about Cleveland?'

Wales • Saturday 15, 14:52:44

Section 2:

1. Severn Tunnel (Christopher Bond)

Lots of bold playing to open which is contrasted neatly with the lyrical interludes and the warm touch of wit. Not everyone quite stands focused or in tune, but the MD has allowed this to flow so nicely, and there is a great chase sequence to close.

2. Crwbin (Colin Hogg)

MD uses his experience to draw things under control after a messy start, and after this there is some fine vibrant playing on show. The lyrical interludes are not so well handled however and the tuning is wayward, but it recovers with a neat sense of wit and a full blown chase that sends a few supporters loopy in the hall.

Wales • Saturday 15, 14:46:22

Section 3:

Not one of the most difficult decisions David Read MBE has ever had to make in the Third Section today.

Ebbw Valley 'won with ease' he said and that was written in his remarks too - 'you overcame this with ease' he penned.

Their fine solo horn player Tracy Walkerdine took the best instrumentalist prize for her classy contribution.

Ebbw Valley were a mile in front today - a fine Third Section band that will be one of the short priced favourites at Cheltenham for sure.

Ammanford join them there after Tom Davoren used his nous and experience to bring out all the right things from the score - and expertly covering up the wrong ones.

David Read added that he did have a little difficulty in picking between second and third, so a little hard luck for Thomas Coaches who came third.

Wales • Saturday 15, 14:25:26

Second Section:
Test Piece: 'Chaucer's Tunes' - Dr Michael Ball

Saturday 15th March
Draw: tbc
Commence: at the conclusion of Third Section

Adjudicator: Barry Thompson

Blaenavon Town (Jamie Jones), 5
City of Cardiff (Melingriffith 2) (Robin Hackett), 7
Crwbin (Colin Hogg), 2
Newtown (Steve Edwards), 6
Parc & Dare (Andrew Jones), 4
Royal Buckley (Scott Lloyd), 3
Severn Tunnel (Christopher Bond), 1

Wales • Saturday 15, 14:19:05


Third Section:
Test Piece: 'Partita for Band' (Postcards from Home) - Professor Philip Wilby

Adjudicator: David Read MBE

1. Ebbw Valley (Gareth Ritter), 7
2. Ammanford (Tom Davoren), 3
3. Thomas Coaches Mid Rhondda (Alan Gibbs), 4
4. Briton Ferry (J. Pearce), 2
5. Crosskeys Silver (Kerry Bowden), 8
6. Ogmore Valley (Alice Jones), 1
7. Gwaun Cau Gurwen (Malcolm Read), 5
8. R.A.F. St. Athan Voluntary (Alan Bourne), 6
9. Ynyshir (Gary Davies), 9

Best Instrumentalist: Tracy Walkerdine (horn) - Ebbw Valley

Wales • Saturday 15, 13:47:53

Section 3:

You have to admit, the Welsh bands certainly didn't live up to their reputations here on Philip Wilby's test piece.

One outstanding performance from Ebbw Valley has won this by a country mile, with a solid enough one from Ammanford joining them at Cheltenham.

The rest were someway behind - and really struggled at times, especially in the third movement that was anything but a lyrical pastorale interlude.

Ebbw Valley for us then, with Ammanford just pipping Ynyshir, Crosskeys, Briton Ferry and Gwaun Cae Gurwen.

4BR Prediction:

1. Ebbw Valley
2. Ammanford
3. Ynyshir
4. Cross keys
5. Briton Ferry
6. Gwaun Cae Gurwen

Wales • Saturday 15, 13:41:44

Section 3:

9. Ynyshir (Gary Davies)

A bold one to close the contest with a fine opening statement, followed by a fleet footed Dance, despite the nasty trip to start.

MD kept the flow in a troublesome 'Pastorale' and just enough juice in the tank for the robust close.

Wales • Saturday 15, 13:22:31

Section 3:

7. Ebbw Valley (Gareth Ritter)

At last you can sit back and enjoy a performance that not only has control of the basics but has the quality to add some very persuasive musicality on top too.

Lots of fine playing on show on each movement. Some tiny niggles, but overall a class apart.

8. Cross Keys Silver (Keri Bowden)

An interesting one this - at time very good in the opening two sections, but on occasions it was very poor too. The differences were stark - with great vitality and brio in the opening and Dance, but so many errors and scrappiness in the others.

Wales • Saturday 15, 13:07:17

Section 3:

5. Gwaun Cae Gurwen (M. Read)

Another band opens well but can't keep the focus as the piece progresses. The Dance was jaunty and bright, but the 'Pastorale' struggled through nerves and lack of flow. The band recovered for a robust close, but this was another inconsistent one.

6. RAF St Athan (Alan Bourne)

The effort to produce a solid start is displayed so well, and the Dance to follow skips to a neat Evangelical beat. Then things grind to a halt, with a very nervous and fractured 'Pastrorale' followed by a tired finale that didn't exactly get the bunting out. A pity this as it just didn't live up to fine initial promise.

Wales • Saturday 15, 12:39:09

Section 3:

The Welsh bands are not exactly living up to their reputations so far in the Third Section.

Philip Wilby's fine work has been given a couple of OK performances but nothing more than that, with the opening played solidly enough and the Dance skipping along brightly. However, the nostalgic 'Pastorale' has created havoc - flowing like lead and as nervous as hell.

Where has all that lovely Welsh lyricism gone? The Coronation finale has sounded so tired and lifeless too.

David Read is having a testing time sorting out some pretty average stuff here.

Hopefully there is better to come.

Wales • Saturday 15, 12:09:03

Section 3:

3. Ammanford (Tom Davoren)

A bold start is followed by the the Lordy dancing it away at a rate only Usain Bolt could keep up with, but it was played with such verve. The 'Pastorale' flows nicely and is aided by excellent solo lines - esp horn, with a bold close rounding over a pretty solid account.

4. Thomas Coaches Mid Rhondda (Alan Gibbs)

A good start and opening movement played with a neat style is followed by a very methodical (even Methodist) sounding Dance - very proper. The 'Pastorale' struggles though, despite a very fine euph, whilst a tired band sounds scratchy in the finale. Just faded away this after a promising start.

Wales • Saturday 15, 11:50:17

We could be having a few more problems with the acoustic here at Venue Cymru, as it appears that the kitchens for the place are situated at the back of the hall.

All you can hear at the moment in the quiet moments are the barked instructions for Beef Wellington and Apple Pie through a closed door at the rear of the hall.

Wales • Saturday 15, 11:36:56

Section 3:

1. Ogmore Valley (Alice Jones)
The band takes a little while to settle into the opening, but finds its Lordy, Lordy feet to follow. It's the third movement that causes problems though, despite a robust recovery in the Coronation Close.

2. Briton Ferry (J. Pearce)
Its a pity the good start isn't maintained as the band produce a warm ensemble sound. The Dance is neatly handled but the 'Pastorale' lacks flow and the band sounds tired to close, despite the bold delivery.

Wales • Saturday 15, 11:26:52

Conductors may well have to rethink their dynamic strategies here this weekend as the hall has an acoustic that is as lively as an unwanted Oscar Pistorius house guest.

Dead ain't the word for it - this could be used in a Monty Python sketch. The big blowers in the top section could take the faded lilac paint off the walls here if they are not careful.

Memories of contests in school halls come flooding back.

Wales • Saturday 15, 11:11:12

There are a few puzzled faces and the beginnings of some grumbling in Wales this morning, after the bands realise that the contest is taking place not in the lovely theatre of Venue Cymru, but one of the smaller function auditoriums.

Typically Welsh this - no one seems to know why? Everyone assumed it would be in the theatre but nobody can recall being told that it was or wasn't from the Regional Committee.

The hall here is functional, dead and has as much atmosphere as happy hour in a Crimean bar. Not a lot of happy bandsmen and women here.

Wales • Saturday 15, 10:36:57

Third Section:
Test Piece: 'Partita for Band' (Postcards from Home) - Professor Philip Wilby

Saturday 15th March
Draw: tbc
Commence: 11.00am

Adjudicator: David Read MBE

Ammanford (Tom Davoren), 3
Briton Ferry (Jeff Pearce), 2
Crosskeys Silver (Kerry Bowden), 8
Ebbw Valley (Gareth Ritter), 7
Gwaun Cau Gurwen (Malcolm Read), 5
Ogmore Valley (Andrew Jones), 1
R.A.F. St. Athan Voluntary (Alan Bourne), 6
Thomas Coaches Mid Rhondda (Alan Gibbs), 4
Ynyshir (Gary Davies), 9

Wales • Saturday 15, 10:04:28

The action in Wakes today starts off with the Third Section at 11.00am, followed by the Second Section and then the First.

Nine bands will tackle Philip Wilby's 'Partita' this morning, followed by seven on 'Chaucer's Tunes' and another nine on 'Cry of the Mountain', which is perhaps as challenging as the slopes of The Great Orme (which is not named after the former Scotland football manager) which overlooks this splendid town of Llandudno.

The hall should be pretty full this weekend, especially as Wales only have pride to play for in the rugby and not another Grand Slam.

Wales • Saturday 15, 09:58:14

The 4BR Editor has enjoyed a lovely old drive up through Mid Wales at the crack of dawn to make it to the impressive looking Venue Cymru in Llandudno.

Its a huge place - with a theatre and at least two other halls, although inside it does come from the planning office of the local authority when it comes to looks and decor: Walls the colour of a day care centre and seats that would make even Robbie Savage and Alan Shearer wince in pain to sit on for too long.

Its plain and functional with an acoustic that is as dead as Cardiff City's hopes of staying in the Premiership.

Perfect for a brass band contest then....

Wales • Thursday 13, 12:10:06

For preview & predictions go to:

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Mereside Brass

April 23 • MERESIDE BRASS (Rudheath,Northwich) are looking for a FRONT ROW CORNET & a 2nd EUPH to complete our line up. We are a friendly 4th Section band with a sensible calendar of jobs and band social events and enjoy occasional contests. Come and give us a try!

Bilton Silver Rugby Band

April 23 • Applications are invited for a Euphonium player to join our Rugby based band. Bilton Silver (Rugby) band are currently contesting in the Championship section and has a varied programme of events spread throughout the year.

Chinnor Silver

April 23 • We are looking to strengthen our team ready for 2025 and require Bass (Bb or Eb), Bass trombone, Soprano and percussion players. We are a very friendly, progressive 2nd section band who will start next year at the top of their regional rankings table.

Duncan A. Beckley

Conductor, adjudicator, band trainer and teacher


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