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2018 National Championships of Great Britain
The Centaur, Cheltenham Racecourse
15-16 September 2018


Comments: Malcolm Wood, Chris Thomas, Thomas Dunne
Images and social media: Iwan Fox and Ben Stratford

Section 1

Sunday 16, 22:17:51

Good night from Cheltenham

What a weekend

Oldham Band (Lees) victory brings to an end a terrific weekend here in Cheltenham.

Congratulations to Oldham Band (Lees), Middleton, Barnsley Brass and Stamford Brass on their National title victories and indeed to all the other prize winners.

We hope you've enjoyed our coverage this weekend. News reports will appear in the days ahead, but we bid you farewell from Cheltenham for another year.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 21:54:40

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Second place: Staffordshire

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Third place: Johnstone

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Fourth place: Amersham

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Fifth place: Dunaskin Doon

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Sixth place: Ebbw Valley

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Best Soloist: Helen Mitchell (soprano) — Johnstone (presented to the band rep)


Sunday 16th September
Test Piece: King Arthur — Scenes from a Radio Drama (Benjamin Britten arr. Paul Hindmarsh)
Adjudicators: Alan Bourne, David Hirst, John Maines

1. Oldham Band (Lees) (John Collins)
2. Staffordshire (Leigh Baker)
3. Johnstone (Martin Ramsay)
4. Amersham (Paul Fisher)
5. Dunaskin Doon (Chris Bradley)
6. Ebbw Valley (Gareth Ritter)
7. Chalford (Steve Tubb)
8. Sandhurst Silver (David Johnson)
9. Enderby (Simon Oates)
10. Freckleton (Paul Dalton)
11. Bournemouth Concert Brass (Howard J Evans)
12. Skelmanthorpe (Martin Heartfield)
13. Harrogate (Dean Jones)
14. Foresters Brass (John Davis)
15. Burry Port Town (Gareth Robinson)
16. Houghton Brass (Lee Morris)
17. Strata Brass (Jonathan Bates)

Best Instrumentalist: Helen Mitchell (soprano) — Johnstone

Section 1

Sunday 16, 21:18:12

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Chris Thomas's Final Prediction

What an intriguing test piece Paul Hindmarsh has given us with his skilful adaptation and transcription of Britten's dramatic music.

The exposed nature of the scoring and the myriad challenges of the score have proved challenging indeed to many of the bands today, but the handful that really got to grips with the music were able to overcome its technical challenges to the point that the musical pictures flowed freely in the mind.

Chris Thomas goes for a top six of:

1. Oldham Band (Lees)
2. Staffordshire
3. Ebbw Valley
4. Sandhurst
5. Foresters
6. Amersham

Dark Horse Bournemouth Concert and Burry Port Town

Section 1

Sunday 16, 21:08:24

17. Amersham (Paul Fisher) London and SC

The opening fanfares are not totally comfortable but the dynamics are well controlled and there is some fine timp playing heard.

There is a good presence about the opening movement and it progresses into a Wild Dance that although slightly restrained in its tempo, allows the ensemble to be kept on the end of the leash. It just lacks that last ounce of excitement.

Galahad and the Holy Grail atmospheric in its sense of mystery but the playing is secure and relatively error free in comparison to many performances that we have heard today.

The battle commences in tight fashion but we just lack that last ounce of drama and the clash of steel. It's a majestic ending however and crowns a very solid, well executed account.


An exceptionally well put together account from Amersham. Not the most vivid in its picture painting perhaps but technically secure and with quality contributions from the band's soloists.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 20:39:42

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16. Oldham Band (Lees) (John Collins) North West

What a fine opening. The fanfares are so tight and this immediately emanates both character and drama.

The Wild Dance is just that; wild and driving in its momentum but also played with precision and with a level of detail that impresses and excites.

The slow movement simply oozes character and there are gloriously atmospheric sounds. Any slips do not ruffle the musical picture and the haunting atmosphere permeates the music to the end of the movement where battle proceeds with a real clash of steel. This is vivid, powerful playing with so much detail and dramatic potency.

It's paced to perfection and in the final bars as the battle turns to an aura of mourning, we hear lovely sounds from solo tuba leading to a close of genuine majesty and pathos.


A performance of fabulous atmosphere, character and musical potency from Oldham (Lees). With just one band to go this has really thrown down the Arthurian gauntlet.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 20:32:53

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15. Strata Brass (Jonathan Bates) Yorkshire

The opening fanfare is effective although the ensemble is not always as tight as it could be.

The Wild Dance is a touch unhinged at times as it propels itself forward, seemingly of its own accord. It's exciting but it's also right on the edge.

There are moments in the slow movement as tuning and a handful of wayward entries conspire to unsettle the musical picture.

And those flying entries continue during the battle where there are some grinding collisions that remain in evidence to the close.


A challenging test for Strata and a performance that never really got off the starting blocks.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 20:14:56

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14. Houghton Brass (North of England) North of England

The opening fanfares emerge intact although the tempo in The Wild Dance is cautious, perhaps a little too much so as it robs the music of its inner propulsion and wild energy.

There are some uncomfortable moments in the slow movement as the exposed references to Britten's 'Piano Concerto' are all too often tentative.

The cautious approach returns in the battle scene which lacks the venom and sheer drama to draw us in.


An inconsistent account from Houghton that lacked real drama on a piece that posed real challenges to the band.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 19:59:33

13. Foresters Brass (John Davis) Midlands

The opening is almost understated but the cornet fanfares are tidy and the approach pays dividends when the band sound suddenly opens up. Excellent solo euphonium into The Wild Dance and this drives onward in relentless, impressive fashion.

Glowing in 'Galahad and the Holy Grail' and this captures the atmosphere of mystery so well. Quality individual entries and the musical approach is thoughtful and well considered.

The battle drives on in relentless fashion and the drama here is brought through to telling effect. This is thrilling stuff and the ensemble is as taut as any we have heard today leading to a majestic ending.


This has been a performance of high quality from Foresters. Musically intelligent and executed with a comparatively low error count.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 19:44:06

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12. Dunaskin Doon (Chris Bradley) Scotland

The opening cornet fanfares emerge intact and we hear fine sounds from the middle of the band with fine solo euphonium into The Wild Dance.

This has good momentum about it, although the tempo is kept on the leash. As result the level of detail impresses and this is proving to be a finely measured account.

There is a suitably haunting, dream-like atmosphere created in Galahad and Holy Grail and although there are minor clips this is a performance that continues to impress in its consistency and clear preparation.

The battle scene also takes a few musical casualties along the way with a handful of skewed individual entries ringing around the hall, but it remains impossible not to be drawn in by it.


A fine effort from the Scots. Not note perfect but highly musical and engaging in its approach.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 19:27:18

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11. Staffordshire (Leigh Baker) Midlands

Leigh Baker gives us an antiphonal approach to the score with the front row to his right and the horns to his left. It makes for an effective opening and one which immediately grabs our interest.

The Wild Dance is impressively controlled; laced with real energy, yet with levels of detail that few bands have achieved today.

Galahad and the Holy Grail is impressively coloured. This is haunting and sets a fine atmosphere with just the odd moment of intonation detracting.

The battle is dramatic yet never overdone and the MD keeps things on a tight leash. Great sounds and those antiphonal cornets are used to effect. A measured, majestic conclusion caps a quality account from Staffordshire.


A performance of musical insight and quality from Staffordshire. This had real presence about it.

Roberts Bakery Band - Foden's Band, Lions Youth Brass

Sunday 23 September • Northwich Memorial Court CW9 5QJ

Northop youth - Youth workshop

Sunday 23 September • Northop bandroom, Triangle car park, Northop CH7 6BQ

scaba Youth Band - Southern Counties Youth Band

Sunday 23 September • Worth School, Turner's Hill, West Sussex RH10 4SD

Lofthouse Brass Band - Wetherby Bandstand

Sunday 23 September • Wetherby Bandstand, Bridgefoot, Wetherby LS22 6AN LS22 6AN

Black Dyke Band - Batley Town Hall

Thursday 27 September • Market Place, Batley WF17 5DA

Prospect Brass - Skelmanthorpe

September 23 • Under MD Duncan Beckley, Prospect Brass are on the look out for a REPIANO CORNET player. Rehearsals are Mon/Fri 7-9pm in our very own bandroom which is within easy reach of Huddersfield & Wakefield.

Watford Band

September 22 • Watford Band are a friendly bunch! If you are flugelhorn or baritone player or you play the tuned percussion and you want to join a band with a vision, we are aiming for the 3rd section promotion next year.. .

Matlock Band

September 22 • Are you heading to university this year ? Matlock Band welcomes players in all sections. Lifts available from Loughborough, Nottingham, Derby and Chesterfield as well as direct rail link from Derby.

James Chamberlain

BMus (Hons) PGCE
Conductor, Teacher