*
banner

2023 National Championships of Great Britain
Fourth Section preview

A jaunty celebration of the historic links between England and Australia will test the contesting health of bands on Saturday morning.


Whose name will be on the trophy this year?

The resilient health of banding is reflected in many guises. 

At the recent British Open it was tested in the literal heat of elite level contesting. At Cheltenham this weekend it is more a reflection of how grass roots banding continues to battle for survival in an environment every bit as sapping as that of Symphony Hall.

Earlier this year 88 Fourth Section ensembles of different strengths took to the various ‘Area’ stages to qualify for the National Final (15 in the North West; 7 in Yorkshire; 15 in the Midlands; 14 in the West of England; 11 in Scotland; 7 in the North of England; 4 in Wales and 15 in London & SC).

Testament

In its way it is a remarkable testament to the resilient nature of organisations still recovering from the lingering after-effects of Covid-19 that so many performed.  That 20 will take to the stage at Cheltenham on Saturday morning to play ‘A Saddleworth Festival Overture’  after raising thousands of pounds to get here, is even more impressive still. 

Heartening as that is though, help is still needed to feed the very banding soil that these bands battle with such commitment to grow in – from entry fees and rule changes to player registration. 

Heartening as that is though, help is still needed to feed the very banding soil that these bands battle with such commitment to grow in – from entry fees and rule changes to player registration. 

It costs just as much to hire a bus or pay the electricity bill, to signing a player or buying the music to be able to perform at the Fourth Section National Final as it does to take to the stage at the British Open at Symphony Hall.

Experienced judges

Potential answers to those questions may have to wait until a future date (although not too distant we hope), but for the immediate time being, the answer to who will become the 2023 Fourth Section National Champion of Great Britain will be in the hands of the experienced trio of Gary Davies, Martin Heartfield and Sheona White.

Both they and the bands will certainly enjoy Goff Richards’ playful Anglo-Australian test-piece.

Anglo Australian

'A Saddleworth Festival Overture'  was commissioned in 1983 by the Saddleworth Arts Festival, and subsequently used at the 1985 Fourth Section National Finals (held the Royal Albert Hall) it is inspired by the historical relationship forged over the years between the Saddleworth regions found in each country.

The South Australian township (below) was laid out by a former local Englishman called James Masters, who arrived in 1836.  Today it has a population of around 500 people and is a  popular stop-off point for tourists who can take on a 3 kilometre ‘Heritage Walk’ – although there is no record of it ever hosting a Whit Friday march contest.

The South Australian township (below) was laid out by a former local Englishman called James Masters, who arrived in 1836.

It's not known either if Goff Richards ever visited it either, although he certainly brought his usual insightful flair for melody, rhythm (the 2/3 player percussion team are kept busy throughout), clear balances and transparency to every bars of the nine and a half minute score.  

Musical references

It contains plenty of musical references to each geographic area; with the tunes to ‘Pratty Flowers’, ‘Hail Smiling Morn’,  the ‘Mowin Match Song’  and ‘John of England’  representing the northern hemisphere.

Meanwhile, the ubiquitous ‘Waltzing Matilda’  (described by many Aussies as their unofficial National Anthem) and first published in 1903, and ‘Advance Australia Fair’  (which is actually older – written in 1878 by a Scotsman called Peter Dodds McCormick) and only officially becoming the National Anthem in 1974, colour the Antipodean themes. 

Smiling morn

It’s as bright as a smiling morn in Oz (although perhaps not Oldham) from the start – with a 144-152 marked tempo providing a jaunty, lilting energy to the writing.  

The composer’s clever transitions into new source material are a mini masterclass in the art of arranging technique (very much in the mould of Gordon Langford) so that the music never sounds contrived – just a quick slow down and off again. Moving between sections with sounding as if a band is rattling through a gearbox of an outback pick-up truck will take some doing. 

The composer’s clever transitions into new source material are a mini masterclass in the art of arranging technique (very much in the mould of Gordon Langford) so that the music never sounds contrived

The flow of the music is never lost though, even when it gets a little more sentimental and pastoral, with subtle little nuances in pacing keeping things moving. In contrast, the ‘urgency’ of the music in other sections is never frenetic.

Cwm Rhondda?

We do wonder if any proud Aussie will stand to attention come the full blown rendition of their anthem towards the end, and with the Rugby World Cup on at the moment with a crucial match between Australia and Wales on the horizon, we are sure Goff Richards’ has sneaked in a couple of bars of ‘Cwm Rhondda’  in there before the final drive for home and the uplifting maestoso ending. 

Plenty of super bands on show from each ‘region’ of the country with the usual mix of youth and experience, enthusiasm, endeavour and bags of talent. 

Title winners

Last year it was Dobcross Silver (above) that took the title back to the North West for the first time since 2010. 

Since then it has headed to Wales on five occasions (2011/2013/2014/2015/2016), as well as London & SC (2012), Scotland (2017), Midlands (2018), North of England (2019) and the West of England (2021), so only Yorkshire (who last had a winner in 2006) who hasn’t triumphed in the last decade.

Lots to look forward to then in what is invariably a contest full of great playing (especially from fearless youngsters). 

That’s a highly encouraging indicator that all around the country there are bands determined to succeed against at times, challenging odds.

Lots to look forward to then in what is invariably a contest full of great playing (especially from fearless youngsters). 

We just hope that the temperature in the Centaur auditorium is more inclined to northern England at this time of year rather than South Australia, so that the hall will be full of supporters and listeners.

Iwan Fox


Fourth Section:
Saturday 16th September
Starts: 9.00am
Test piece: A Saddleworth Festival Overture (Goff Richards)
Adjudicators: Gary Davies, Martin Heartfield and Sheona White

Billingham Silver
Brunel Brass Academy
City of Cardiff Melingriffith M2
Golborne Brass
Highland Brass
Newhall
North Lakes Brass
Oughtibridge
Penicuik Silver
Putney & Wimbledon
Ramsey Town
Rivington & Adlington
Seindorf yr Oakeley
Saltash Town
St Stythians
Tadley Concert Brass
Thrapston Town
Thurcroft Welfare
Watford
Wem Jubilee Band

Support us for less than a cup of coffee...

4BR wants to ensure that the brass band movement remains vibrant and relevant. We also want to be able to question, challenge and critically examine those who run and play in it, producing high quality journalism that informs as well as entertains our readers.

So if like us you value a strong, independent perspective on the brass band world - then why not consider becoming a supporter and help make our future and that of a burgeoning brass band movement more secure.

So one less cappuccino then?

Support us    



Reading Spring Gardens Brass Band - Reading Festival of Brass: Open Workshop Rehearsal

Saturday 27 April • St Laurence Church, Reading RG1 3EJ


London Central Fellowship Band - Hemel Hempstead Salvation Army

Saturday 27 April • Waterhouse St, Hemel Hempstead HP1 1ES


Haverhill Silver Band - Friends' Requests

Sunday 28 April • Haverhill Arts Centre, High Street, Haverhill, Suffolk CB9 8AR


Boarshurst Silver Band - Sunday Brass Concert - Stockport Silver Band

Sunday 28 April • Boarshurst Band Club, Greenbridge Lane OL3 7EW


Contest: European Brass Band Championshiips

Friday 3 May • Palanga Konsortu, Vytauta st. 43, LT-00135, Palanga 43, LT-00135


Regent Brass

April 23 • Looking for an exciting new musical challenge? . . Regent Brass (MD Alan Duguid) are a friendly and progressive 1st Section band based in central London with vacancies for;. . - Eb or Bb Bass. - Tenor Horn. - Percussion. . All other players are also very welcome.


Wotton-under-Edge Silver Band

April 22 • With an exciting 130th anniversary year ahead - Wotton Silver Band is currently looking for players to join our team on Solo Cornet, Solo Euphonium, Bb Bass and Percussion. We rehearse Tue & Thu near our home town, just a short distance from M5 Jcn14.


Brunel Brass Organisation

April 22 • BRUNEL BRASS are looking for 3 talented individuals to join our senior band: Back-row Cornet Player, Eb Bass . & Percussion.. We are a friendly and ambitious band located in Swindon. Weekly rehearsals on Thursday 19:45-21:45 at Pegasus Hall (SN3 4RH).


Kevin Wadsworth


Conductor, adjudicator, teacher (ABBA)


               

 © 2024 4barsrest.com Ltd