2016 All England Masters International
As it happened

All the action from the 2016 All England Masters International — as it happened.

Sunday 29, 16:51:16

Test Piece: Cambridge Variations (Philip Sparke)

Adjudicators: Stephen Roberts & Stan Lippeatt

1. Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)
2. Brass Band Willebroek (Frans Violet)
3. Ratby Co-operative (Mareika Gray)
4. Milnrow (Mark Bentham)
5. Diggle (Phil Goodwin)
6. Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths)
7. City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey)
8. Kidlington Concert Brass (David Hirst)
9. St. Austell Town (Steve Sykes)
10. Medway Band (Melvin White)
11. Shirley Band (Dave Bishop Rowe)
12. Shepherd Group (Richard Wilton)
13. Regent Brass (Paul Archibald)

4Barsrest Best Soloist Award: Lode Violet (cornet) - Brass Band Willebroek
Best Trombone: Chris Jeans (Virtuosi GUS)

Sunday 29, 15:29:34

We have a short concert by the Guards Brass Ensemble of Excellence before the announcement of the results in about 30 minutes.

Keep your eyes peeled....

Sunday 29, 15:28:29

4BR Editor's opinion and prediction

Well - a contest that panned out very much as we thought it would before a note, during a note and when the last note was blown.

Willebroek showed their quality here - and although by no means perfect, could well take the title back to Belgium ahead of a slightly misfiring Virtuosi GUS. They were good, but lacked that extra edge of precision that they certainly displayed at the Midlands Area.

A bit of a personal choice for the podium place for St Austell for us - we really enjoyed the approach, whilst the bravura Milnrow may just edge out the error prone Hammonds and the more considered Ratby. Our dark horse is City of Bradford.

4BR Prediction:

1. Brass Band Willebroek
2. Virtuosi GUS
3. St Austell
4. Milnrow
5. Hammonds Saltaire
6. Ratby Co-operative

Dark Horse: City of Bradford

Sunday 29, 15:00:04

13. Regent Brass (Paul Archibald)

An idiosyncratic one to close from the Londoners - a real heart on sleeve interpretation from the MD that was elasticated like a recalcitrant teenager chewing bubble gum in places.

That said it had its moments that caught the ear, even if the execution was variable and uneven in both the solo lines and ensemble. It was curious to the point of being abstract in both concept and execution.

To their credit the band gave it their all - but they never sounded at ease and the last knockings sounded tired and a little incoherent.

Sunday 29, 14:40:20

12. Kidlington Concert Brass (David Hirst)

MD used all his years of experience to structure this performance within the limitations of his band.

He was rewarded with a performance of merit in return - even if it was blighted by a high error count and some noticeable discomfort. It did flow though - and the depth of the ensemble sound ensured balance and a warm tonality.

The final quarter was cleverly paced, but just lacked precision and stamina - although it came to a fine close.

Sunday 29, 14:18:02

11. Shirley (Dave Bishop Rowe)

A battling effort from the Midlanders, but this was just beyond them today.

MD did a fine job in marshalling his resources and kept the music flowing, but the precarious nature of much of the delivery showed that the band was at its very limit.

Plenty of brave efforts throughout the ranks (esp fine trom, solid euph and tuned perc) but the lack of ensemble contrast and balance was marked as the lactic acid hit the lips in the final quarter. Never beaten - but that was a hard contest shift.

Sunday 29, 13:52:34

10. Brass Band Willebroek (Frans Violet)

There was a deep richness about this performance from first note until last - although it was not flawless. The flow of the music was broad and lyrical whilst the soloists were solid and classy. Some fine ensemble playing added a level of sparkling veneer. Great depth of sound and balance were such a feature,

It did occasional meander and lack precision, but these were moments only in what was a performance of substantive class, led by such an intuitive musician at the helm. The leader for us. Could the title be heading to Belgium?

Sunday 29, 13:33:47

9. Hammonds Saltaire

Heart on sleeve and heart in mouth at times with this high impact, high energy rendition from a slightly misfiring Hammonds.

When it clicked they sounded like a true top flight band with their depth of sound and pulsating drive, but when it didn't it wobbled and wavered and rather lived on its wits. A highly enjoyable approach from the MD that took risks - but on this occasion they didn't always come off.

The final section was the best of the day so far - throbbing with energy, excitement and boldness, but it may have been all a little too late. A missed chance that?

Sunday 29, 13:10:02

8. St. Austell (Steve Sykes)

An admirable performance - both in approach and execution. Not everything was totally comfortable or precise, but the musical shape and flow was excellent, and the balance and dynamic contrasts made so much sense.

Bravo MD for this - and to his players who really delivered on his intentions. Not over blown and brash - but warm and detailed throughout. We did get the odd precarious moment or two - but it always recovered and the final section had a touch of poise. An enjoyable one this that could more than hold its own.

Sunday 29, 12:56:28

Half way opinion and prediction:

Much as we suspected and expected here at Kettering so far - with a difficult test piece finding out the true top flight credentials of all the bands. Hats off to the MDs for all trying to give the music a sense of flow and purpose, even if the fragilities have been marked.

Virtuosi GUS were solid but by no means at the very top of their game today - but lead by a comfortable margin from a bravura Milnrow and a more considered Ratby and confident Bradford.

Can anyone beat them in the remaining six contenders...

1. Virtuosi GUS
2. Milnrow
3. Ratby Co-operative
4. City of Bradford

Sunday 29, 12:25:13

7. Milnrow (Mark Bentham)

Sturdy, focussed and a little uncompromising, but played with a real sense of purpose and commitment from start to finish.

Not the most subtle, but the MD knew exactly what his bands strengths were and were not. As a result we had some lovely individual contributions (notably sop, cornet and horn) and some rather more prosaic ensemble work - but it was all arc-welded together with a robust sense of style.

The final section certainly fizzed and popped with untidy energy - right to the thumping, bravura close.

Sunday 29, 12:01:45

6. Shepherd Group (Richard Wilton)

The latest in a line of hard worked, sensibly led renditions from the welterweight sounding north east band.

Some lovely little touches and moments (esp cornet and baritone) whilst the MD put in a shift to keep the music flowing in both the lyrical as well as faster paced sections. It was a little precarious and edge of the seat stuff in places, whilst it cried out for more dynamic contrast, but it had that essential verve and spirit that kept things alive to the ear.

Stamina and precision waned to close - but it kept its form and focus right to the close.

Sunday 29, 11:39:38

5. Medway (Melvin White)

A performance hewn from the musical quarry of the MDs mind this. Building blokes of experience and common sense put in place from the word go (including the wandering flugel)

The end result may not have had the beauty of a Henry Moore, but it was no cubist abstract either as the sensibility gave rise of a rendition that knew its limits and confines.

It got a little brazen, uneven and a bit precarious, but it never lost its flow or musicality. Just a few too many hard edged chips and flaky errors - but overall this one kept you interested right to the end.

Sunday 29, 11:11:09

4. Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)

A significant step up in class this - aided by some super solo leads right from the word go with a very classy flugel.

There were moments when the ensemble wasn't quite touching the same heights throughout though - but the depth of sound and dynamic contrasts showcased the underlying quality. Could just have done with a little more lyrical malleability perhaps, but it was safely in the comfort zone.

The final drive for home was so well handled - technically proficient and delivered with a classy sheen, but the little loses of focus in tuning just pockmarked things.

Not a stunner by any means - but a hard marker to beat here you feel today.

Sunday 29, 10:53:33

3. Ratby Co-operative (Mareika Gray)

A no frills, confident approach paid off for both the MD and the band here.

Not perhaps the most lyrical or dynamically defined performance - but one that had a great deal of musical security of purpose about it from start to finish. A pity about some moments when nerves and lose of focus just took the gloss off, but it had a ballsyness that paid dividends.

Just got a little messy and brazen in the final quarter and the ride for home, but it held form and drive all the way to the close, despite an almost very last bar hitch.

Sunday 29, 10:33:06

2. Diggle (Phil Goodwin)

A purposeful one from Diggle - a no nonsense approach from the MD that was a sum of his and many of his player's accumulated experience.

Great to hear David Pogson on flugel still playing with such an easy purity of tone - and it also inspired the soloists around him too. Not everything came off - and it did get a little precarious in places, but the MD kept the music flowing and didn't over-extend things in terms of pace and power.

Just got a little tired and scratchy to close - but another spirited effort.

Sunday 29, 10:14:24

1. City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey)

A rousing rendition of the National Anthem - sung with the type of gusto only 35 self conscious Brexit/Remain Brits in a room can muster tells us a great deal. A quartet from the band could have drowned them out.

Bradford deliver a hit and miss one to open the contest - with some lovely moments interspersed with a few too many unforced errors, technical limitations and some nerves.

The lyrical intent though was so nicely shaped - and the main soloists did the MD proud - even the neat bit of cornet dovetailing in the opening flugel solo.

Lots of drive and purpose about the playing and the MD kept a lid on the day dynamics too - which worked in the dead acoustic of this hall. An enjoyable rendition that - spirited and vibrant if a little fragile.

Sunday 29, 09:47:50

Commence: 10:00am
Test Piece: Cambridge Variations (Philip Sparke)

Adjudicators: Stephen Roberts & Stan Lippeatt

1. City of Bradfortd (Lee Skipsey)
2. Diggle (Phil Goodwin)
3. Ratby Co-operative (Mareika Gray)
4. Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)
5. Medway Band (Melvin White)
6. Shepherd Group (Richard Wilton)
7. Milnrow (Mark Bentham)
8. St. Austell Town (Steve Sykes)
9. Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths)
10. Brass Band Willebroek (Frans Violet)
11. Shirley Band (Dave Bishop Rowe)
12. Kidlington Concert Brass (David Hirst)
13. Regent Brass (Paul Archibald)

Contest: Whit Friday March Contests

Friday 24 May • Saddleworth & Tameside OL3

Boarshurst Silver Band - Canning City Brass and Boarshurst Silver Band

Sunday 26 May • Boarshurst Band Club, Greenbridge Lane, OL3 7EW OL3 7EW

Boarshurst Silver Band - Sunday Brass Concert - Thurlston Band

Sunday 2 June • Boarshurst Band Club, Greenbridge Lane OL3 7EW


Friday 7 June • St. Michaels Church. Duke street. Wigan WN1 2BJ

Bellshill Salvation Army Band - Guest Soloist Tom Hutchinson (The Cory Band)

Saturday 8 June • Uddington Old Parish Church, Old Glasgow Road Uddington. G71 7HF

Olney Brass

May 23 • Friendly & ambitious 2nd section L&SC area brass band, based in Newport Pagnell (near Milton Keynes) currently seeking a SOLO CORNET player to complete our line-up. We have a good variety of contests, concerts & community events throughout the year.

Olney Brass

May 23 • Friendly & ambitious 2nd section L&SC area brass band, based in Newport Pagnell (near Milton Keynes) currently seeking a REPIANO CORNET player to complete our line-up. We have a good variety of contests, concerts & community events throughout the year.

Olney Brass

May 23 • Friendly & ambitious 2nd section L&SC area brass band, based in Newport Pagnell (near Milton Keynes) currently seeking a Eb BASS player to complete our line-up. We have a good variety of contests, concerts & community events throughout the year.

David A. Stowell

Conductor and composer


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