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2021 Nationals Championships
Royal Albert Hall, Kensington
Saturday 2 October

Live comments by Iwan Fox

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  • Saturday 2, 19:24:44

    A day for all Banding Heroes....

    What a day it has been at the Royal Albert Hall where Bruce Broughton's 'Heroes' has been a very enjoyable listen with very little for us in it at the top end.

    The real heroes though are every single person who has been involved in today's contest: Kapitol Promotions, players, conductors, officials, adjudicators or volunteers front and back stage along with hall staff that have made the day possible.

    Congratulations to Foden's, Russell Gray and their soloist Gary Curtin (apologies to Glyn Williams for the wrong name in originally publishing) on their victory which will no doubt go on long into the early hours.

    Images from the results ceremony and news report will appear on the live feed and in the news area soon. The 4BR Editor is now driving up to Bolsover for the contest tomorrow which is being streamed live.

    Good night from Kensington.

  • Saturday 2, 19:03:06

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    Foden's Band — 2021 Champion Band of Great Britain

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    We are the Champions

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    Best Instrumentalist winner: Gary Curtin

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    And the cup goes to...

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    Second place: Cory

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    Third place: Tredegar

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    The composer Bruce Broughton gives his address

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    The heroic fanfare heralded the new champion


    Test Piece: Heroes (Bruce Broughton)
    Adjudicators: Dr Robert Childs, Dr Stephen Cobb, Rob Wiffen OBE

    1. Foden's (Russell Gray)*
    2. Cory (Philip Harper)*
    3. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)*,
    4. Black Dyke (Prof Nicholas J. Childs)*
    5. Ratby Co-operative (Mareika Gray)
    6. Brighouse & Rastrick (Arsene Duc)
    7. Camborne (Kevin Mackenzie)
    8. WFEL Fairey (Adam Cooke)
    9. Flowers (Paul Holland)
    10. NASUWT Riverside (Dr David Thornton)
    11. GUS Band (Chris Jeans)
    12. Friary (Chris King)
    13. Zone One Brass (Richard Ward)
    14. Whitburn (Garry Cutt)
    15. Bon Accord (David Roberts)
    16. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Allan Withington)**
    17. Hepworth (Ryan Watkins)
    18. Llwydcoed (Chris Turner)
    19. City of Hull (Stig Maersk)

    Carlton Main Frickley Colliery disqualified pending appeal**

    Best Instrumentalist: Gary Curtin (euphonium) Foden's

    withdrawn: the cooperation Band (Phillip McCann); Desford (Michael Fowles)

    *Top 4 pre-qualify for 2022 National Final

  • Saturday 2, 17:49:25

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    Round up and prediction:

    Steven Mead's scoring system comes up with a top six of....

    1. Foden's — 197
    2. Cory — 196
    3. Brighouse & Rastrick — 195
    4. Black Dyke — 191
    5. Tredegar — 188
    6. Fairey — 186

    7. Friary — 184
    8. GUS — 183
    9. Flowers — 182
    10. Whitburn — 181

    Final Analysis

    Bruce Broughton's exhilarating tribute to the astronauts of the first moon landing has been a hit in the Royal Albert Hall today. The audience has been modest in size it is fair to say, but there was no shortage of enthusiasm for the bands with half a dozen or so performances of real merit at the top of the results table for the judges to debate and juggle with.

    The final result is going to be an intriguing prospect as debate flies in the hall over the merits of Foden's, Cory and possibly Brighouse at the top of the pile.

    Chris Thomas goes for a top six of;

    1. Foden's
    2. Cory
    3. Brighouse & Rastrick
    4. Black Dyke
    5. Tredegar
    6. GUS

    Dark Horses: Fairey, Flowers, Friary and Zone One

  • Saturday 2, 17:30:01

    Backstage images from Steve Jack

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    All smile now its over from Zone One

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    City of Hull get ready

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    19. Zone One Brass (Richard Ward)

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    Technical accuracy: 18
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 18
    Control of full dynamic range: 18
    Ensemble precision: 18
    Tuning/intonation: 19
    Band sound quality: 18
    Balance/clarity of textures: 18
    Quality of soloists: 18
    Overall understanding: 19
    Total musicality from the band: 18

    Total: 182

    Steven Mead

    A fine solid honest performance to close the day. Much to admire, some little aspects of finesse missing, but a thorough and detailed reading with a very fine ending.

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    The most local of all of the competing bands has had a long wait to to take the stage as the last band of the day…and Zone One is always an intriguing prospect!

    The opening movement certainly bristles and crackles with energy but it also has a tendency to run onwards as the MD tries to keep a steady hand on the controls. As a consequence, Zone One's rocket has the feeling that it is hurtling onwards out of control at times.

    The cornet solo into the central movement certainly lacks nothing in confidence and is a tad heavy handed as a result but the MD allows the music that follows to flow freely. There are some touching moments but overall it lacks the magical aura that is so crucial to that elusive feeling of utter tranquility.

    Good dynamics to open the band's descent to earth and although the band doesn't have the range of dynamics of the very best here today, it's again bold, exciting and bracing in its delivery and reading.

    Overall: A performance that was high on excitement from Zone One. Error free it wasn't but this could find itself well up the table today we fancy.

  • Saturday 2, 17:02:44

    18. City of Hull (Stig Maersk)

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    Technical accuracy: 14
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 15
    Control of full dynamic range: 14
    Ensemble precision: 15
    Tuning/intonation: 15
    Band sound quality: 15
    Balance/clarity of textures: 14
    Quality of soloists: 14
    Overall understanding: 16
    Total musicality from the band: 16

    Total: 148

    Steven Mead

    They gave it their all, but sadly not as consistent as they would've hoped. Some sparkling sounds, but lots of detail to be saved for another day.

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    In terms of energy and momentum there is plenty to admire as Hull's rocket ignites. But it's that elusive consistency of execution that appears here and there that will see the judges picking through both this and many other performances today, tallying error counts.

    The MD does his best to shape the slow movement but the band finds it challenging to create a compelling musical picture as the individual and collective errors continue to mount.

    The descent to earth becomes increasingly ragged as it progresses and one can sense the band's frustration as the players struggle to maintain any real consistency although it's an ending that perhaps spells relief as much as jubilation.

    Overall: City of Hull's was one of several performances today that struggled to create a cohesive musical picture as a result of high error counts.

  • Saturday 2, 16:46:50

    17. NASUWT Riverside (Dr David Thornton)

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    Technical accuracy: 16
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 17
    Control of full dynamic range: 16
    Ensemble precision: 17
    Tuning/intonation: 17
    Band sound quality: 16
    Balance/clarity of textures: 16
    Quality of soloists: 14
    Overall understanding: 18
    Total musicality from the band: 17

    Total: 164

    Steven Mead

    A highly spirited performance, at times very impressive, but some individual frailties took off the gloss.

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    There's a good deal to commend about the opening movement although percussion sometimes has a tendency to dominate the textures and obscure some of the detail. It's an exciting musical picture though and the band paints a very clear picture of the MD's intentions.

    The MD allows the music to flow freely and although there are clips and some passing issues with tuning, there are also some lovely musical moments with the band's soloists delivering finely shaped, if not always totally secure individual contributions.

    A well paced descent is certainly exciting and keeps up the momentum until the very end.

    Overall: This has been a creditable show from Riverside with a borrowed bass player to boot. The execution has not always been consistent but the musical picture was brought across with clarity and purpose.

    Chris Thomas

  • Saturday 2, 16:19:03

    Backstage images from Steve Jack

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    Last minute prep

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    The Scots of Bon Accord get ready

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    Make sure I don't miss this bit...

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    Porthouse family outing at the Albert

    16. Cory (Philip Harper)

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    Technical accuracy: 20
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 19
    Control of full dynamic range: 20
    Ensemble precision: 19
    Tuning/intonation: 20
    Band sound quality: 20
    Balance/clarity of textures: 19
    Quality of soloists: 20
    Overall understanding: 19
    Total musicality from the band: 20

    Total: 196

    Steven Mead

    Another sublime performance, stunning in its execution. Soloists all excel! Small question for me about balance with the percussion in the louder sections. What to say, we've heard two incredible performances today, and it really could go either way!

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    The opening hits between the eyes and this is a journey into space that bristles with both velocity and crackling energy. We can feel every movement of the space craft as it hurtles on its journey with a propulsion that takes the breath away. Stunning detail and such amazing use of the dynamics.

    Tom Hutchinson's cornet solo into the slow movement is simply stunning and Cory's tranquility has a shimmering halo of sound around it that seems to float magically. The distant fanfares are announced superbly against a sublimely hushed veil of sound that is perfectly judged in its dynamic. Soloists are uniformly exceptional and every nuance is so beautifully shaped that one can only sit back and admire the artistry.

    There are the most tiny little clips here and there in the final movement but the sheer force of its descent through the earth's atmosphere is so stunningly captured, the detail, the pacing and the sense of momentum captured with brilliance. What an ending!

    Overall: A performance of quintessential Cory brilliance, stunning in its detail and clarity. But boy is it close…it's one of those days when this could go one of a few ways.

    Chris Thomas

  • Saturday 2, 16:06:37

    Carlton Main Frickley issue National Championship statement

    As we reported earlier in the day, Carlton Main Frickley Band faced potential disqualification from the contest if they performed with a player in the ranks who was not registered by the deadline date for the contest.

    They did this and have now issued the following statement.

    "In preparation for the National Finals representing Yorkshire, as a band we found ourselves in a very difficult situation a week before the contest.

    One of our players received a positive covid result in the run up to the contest. Fortunately we found a player to replace them that could sign for us and commit to rehearsals, however during the contest preparation we were made aware there could be a discrepancy to the registration due to the timing.

    We therefore knew there was a risk that the band would be penalised, however due to the band not playing in public competitively for 18 months, and the time and effort already committed to preparation, we collectively made a decision that we wanted to play as a full band and give the audience the best possible rendition of a great test piece in one of the most prestigious competitions.

    We respect all the other bands that managed to meet these rules and acknowledge that covid has likely impacted all bands in one way or another. We also would like to thank the registry for communicating with us promptly over the past week on this matter.

    We fully expect to appeal the decision and will keep the exact details private until it is appropriate.

    Whilst we feel the contest organisers were exceptional in setting up rules for the safety of everyone with regards to Covid, we hope this situation provides an opportunity to constructively discuss the registration rules for future contests, in what now is a pandemic society.

    More importantly, we thoroughly enjoyed being back playing today and we hope the audience and every one involved enjoyed the day as a whole.

    With best wishes to all involved."


  • Saturday 2, 16:01:20


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    If you were unable to make to the Royal Albert Hall this weekend then you can hear all the performances on the www.wobplay platform after the contest

    It's a fantastic way to listen at leisure to each performance of 'Heroes' — and you can also enjoy the special Besson Friday at Home National Championship preview too

  • Saturday 2, 15:54:21

    15. Bon Accord (David Roberts)

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    Technical accuracy: 16
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 16
    Control of full dynamic range: 17
    Ensemble precision: 16
    Tuning/intonation: 15
    Band sound quality: 17
    Balance/clarity of textures: 16
    Quality of soloists: 18
    Overall understanding: 17
    Total musicality from the band: 18

    Total: 166

    Steven Mead

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    David Roberts is going for a bold, bracing approach in the opening movement. It's a touch ragged at times and it's also a touch loud at times but it can't be denied that it is also exciting.

    Bon Accord's 'Tranquility' has to be admired for the commitment of the soloists who give their all despite being up against such tough competition. There are moments when tuning raises its head and the final descent back to earth simply can't live with the detail and technical execution levels of the best bands here today. But one sensed that this was a band delivering to the best of its ability.

    Overall: Brave playing from Bon Accord with all of the band's soloists deserving credit for delivering solo lines that

    Chris Thomas

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.

Nigel Seaman

Conductor, band trainer, teacher and adjudicator


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