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2022 Nationals: Sections 1-4
The Centaur, Cheltenham
17-18 September

Live comments by Iwan Fox. Photos by Craig Chapman.

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  • Section 2Sunday 18, 21:38:02

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    2022 Champion: Campbeltown

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    The winning MD

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    Runner up: Pemberton Old Wigan B

    Result: Second Section:

    Adjudicators: Brett Baker, Gary Davies, Chris King
    Set work: Ghosts, Goblins, Witches & Wizards (Darrol Barry)

    1. Campbeltown Brass (Stephanie Kennedy)
    2. Pemberton Old Wigan DW B (Jay Hall)
    3. Beaumaris (Bari Gwilliam)
    4. Meltham & Meltham Mills (Tom Haslam)
    5. Helston Town (John Berryman)
    6. Harborough (Brad Turnbull)
    7. BD1 Brass (Jonathan Bates)
    8. City of Norwich (Mark Ager)
    9. Tyldesley (Robert Taylor)
    10. Mid Rhondda (Alan Gibbs)
    11. Wantage Concert Brass (Neil Brownless)
    12. Poulton le Fylde (Alexander Webb)
    13. Gosport Solent Brass (Phillip Littlemore)
    14. Tewit Silver (Martin Hall)
    15. Tilbury (Melvin White)
    16. Stamford Brass (Julian Bright)
    17. Tullis Russell Mills (Ray Maundy)
    18. Bearpark & Esh Colliery (Philip Tait)

    Best Instrumentalist: Rick Brigg, (Cornet) BD1 Brass

  • Section 2Sunday 18, 21:21:17

    Section 2: Prediction

    What a fun packed contest that was. Not a great test piece, but one that in its odd way brought the best out of just about every band.

    The very best for us were excellent — led by the Scots of Campbeltown who were simply sensational. Close behind for us was a superb show from BD1 off the number 2 draw, with Pemberton's magnificent effort just a short head behind. Beaumaris should be well worth a top-six finish for their fine efforts, and so to Tewit and City of Norwich.

    Our dark horse is Poulton.

    4BR Prediction:

    1. Campbeltown
    2. BD1 Brass
    3. Pemberton Old Wigan B
    4. Beaumaris
    5. Tewit Silver
    6. City of Norwich

    Dark Horse: Poulton

  • Section 2Sunday 18, 20:50:47

    Section 2:

    As has become the norm here this weekend there is a late runner that has come up on the rails to perhaps claim the title — and that could well be Campbeltown. What a trip home it would be if they do win, but you have to say they delivered a quite superb performance in trying their best to do so.

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    Huge plaudits to the MD who gave each movement such a defined individuality of character without ever becoming cartoonish. It was serious musical portraiture — and painted by players (so many of them youngsters) with amazing maturity — from the opening horn to cornet, troms and perc. A few older heads added their experience (sop and bari) but this was infused with youthful excellence.

    All the Scottish ghosts, goblins, witches and wizards will stand proud tonight from Banquo and Macbeth's coven to a few broonies and Guthrie Lochrin.

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    It was followed by a hard working, well laid out account from Harborough — nothing overstated or overplayed, but relying on solid ensemble and solo contributions in each movement.

    Just lost focus and coherent balance at times, but there was a dark menace and quite a bit of musical mischief on show.

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    Helston were almost forgotten about, but they came to the stage and delivered a powerful and persuasive musical rendition — one built on the MDs finely attuned musicality and a fab bass end that provided such a robust and pitch tar dark foundation.

    It just a little heavy places and lost some of the waspish wit as the ensemble balance lost cohesion, but the wizardly close hit you like a dementor with a sledgehammer bass drum in his mitt.

  • Section 2Sunday 18, 20:06:21

    Section 2:

    Before we had the short break in the contest we could compare two well constructed accounts from Pemberton Old Wigan DW B and Gosport Solent, whilst straight after we had Mid Rhondda.

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    So much to enjoy with Pemberton after a slightly hesitant start when the ghost just needed a little time to find its wraith-like feet. After that it was super stuff.

    The style of the playing was excellent — polished and precise but still with a dark edge of character that had you on shifting uncomfortably. The spiteful Goblin led into a coven of free spirited witches and a final turn of menace and dark forces of wizardly evil — led by a great tuba team — to close. It will certainly have put them in the title mix you feel.

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    Gosport followed with a well tempered take on the score that paid attention both its character and technical requirements. Not quite at ease in more exposed areas at times, but the ensemble playing was first rate — detailed and balanced.

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    A performance of well worked out intentions and virtues by Alan Gibbs and Mid Rhondda — all four little episodes like characters out of Brothers Grimm tale. Some lovely work from both the solo cornet and the soprano was a feature and there was a confidence about the playing all the way to the end despite some intonation tiredness.

  • Section 2Sunday 18, 19:57:42

    Section 2:

    The contest has been temporarily halted to link in with the national minute's silence to honour Her Majesty The Queen at 8.00pm.

    Band 15 will take to the stage after this.

  • Section 2Sunday 18, 19:14:22

    Section 2:

    There have been some varied approaches to the score of Darrol Barry's work today — from those who have looked for the serious darkness in the writing to others who have opted for his lighter characterisation. Almost from Fuseli's 'The Nightmare' to Oddbod from 'Carry on Screaming'.

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    Tyldesley opted for something between them both — and it proved to be a well managed choice with four sections of contrast, not perfect but very well marked and executed. Not the most exciting but not the least either. It may pay off today.

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    Stamford certainly went for excitement — red raw in places and somewhat frenetic with the tempos. It was full of drama and darkness of tonality but it just cried out for a little reserve too. If they judges likes the approach it could pay off — but if not...

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    Meltham & Meltham started with one foot alongside Tyldesley and then strayed into Stamford's shadow by its close. It was well played though — testing the ghostly waters first but by the end plunging head first into the torrents with the wizards.

  • Section 2Sunday 18, 18:17:04

    Section 2:

    We are taken up to the break by a trio of well led and thoroughly engaing performances in their different ways.

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    It's certainly led by Beaumaris with a trip to the mytical side that was Bible black at heart and as menacing as Alistair Crowley with knowing smirk on his face and an axe in his hand. A sad ghost, led into a malevolent Goblin, fleet footed witches and wizards who wouldn't have been out of place in a satanic eisteddfod.

    Bob on that — just a few nasty little clips but right up there in the mix.

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    A more sensitive approach from Poulton le Fylde — but no less engaging with its rich characterization and solid execution. Some great little touches by the MD that just caught the ear and the final section was rampant. Another good one.

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    The trio was rounded off by Melvin White casting a spell of solidity and good sense with Tilbury — nothing overdone, but always with an eye on the little markers that catch the ear in the box. A lesson in making the most of resources and knowing the score inside out. The band responded so well too.

  • Section 2Sunday 18, 17:45:21

    Section 2:

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    The more you hear this test piece the more your minds wanders into strange places....

    The melancholic wraith really has come out of the 1970s BBC children's series 'Rentaghost' — (above) suffering from a form of positional amnesia so often does he go back to his starting point, whilst the Goblin seems to be afflicted by badly fitted wooden leg — whilst on holiday in Cleopatra's Egypt. The witches fly about not quite as satanically as Samantha from 'Bewitched' and the Wizards are dressed like Rick Wakeman in best 70's prog rock clobber.

    And still ...... it's a musical hoot with some serious intent if you get that characterisation right — which the bands you have to say are really striving to do.

    It has made for a strangely absorbing contest....

  • Section 2Sunday 18, 17:07:47

    Section 2:

    This really is a curious piece — so pastiched that it could be had for copyright infringement in places. There are bits in it when it is hard to take it seriously — like a malevolent Goblin who seems to have come out of a sketch as a mummy from a Wilson, Kepple and Betty, King Tut sand dance.

    Then there are the witches who are getting a few bob from being extras for a Harry Potter film. The wizards are more 'Carry on Saruman' than dark lords of satan and the ghost seems to be inflicted by a form of spectral OCD so often does he repeat himself.

    All that though and it is still great fun and thoroughly engaging for the players — asking them to play with almost but not quite cartoonish stereotype musicality. That is harder than it may first seem.

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    Tewit Silver overcame a slightly nervous opening ghost to produce a cracking account — full of darkly edged character, mischief, malevolence and mayhem. A super show that laid its tarot cards out on the table.

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    A slightly uneven account from Bearpark & Esh but one that always kept you interested on the edge of your seat, whilst City of Norwich (who know a few things about witches on those parts in years gone by) also brought out the dark elements of the characters. Theirs was like delving into a little black book of local spells...

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    If this standard continues the judges could have a hard task separating the bands out.

  • Section 2Sunday 18, 16:14:14

    Section 2:

    And so to the final contest of the weekend and the hotch-potch of eye of newt, toe of frog and all things pastiche from the world of wizards and witches, ghosts and goblins.

    Darrol Barry's fun work is really a concert piece to enjoy — although it only really comes to spectral life if the stereotype characterisation is played with a darkly serious intent.

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    Wantage got it in the end after a somewhat nervous start when the melancholic ghost bumped into a few things on his repetitive travels. After that there was a grumpy Goblin, some fly away witches and standing wizards of serious intent. One that got better the longer it went on.

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    A darkly hued delight followed from BD1 Brass — richly characterised and delivered with an edge of mischief and mayhem. Plenty of high class playing from all around the stands and a reading from the MD that was part Edgar Allan Poe part J.K. Rowling. Proper stuff that.

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    Tullis Russell also delve into the darker recesses for their performance — not without a few snags and problems, but another that grew in character and intensity the longer it went on. The wizards at the end had a real touch of menace about them.

Luton Brass Band - Masterclass with David Daws

Wednesday 27 September • St Augustine's Church, Luton LU3 2JR

South Yorkshire Police -

Saturday 30 September • Sheffield Catherdral. Church Street. Sheffield. S1 1HA

Epping Forest Band - Thundersley Brass Band

Saturday 30 September • Salvation Army Hall, Hadleigh, Essex SS7 20F

Friary Brass Band - guest soloist Tom Smith

Saturday 30 September • Trinity Methodist Church. Brewery Road. Woking GU21 4LH

Contest: Bolsover Festival of Brass

Saturday 30 September • Shirebrook Academy, Common Lane, Shirebrook. Derbyshire NG20 8QF

Ringwood and Burley Band

September 29 • Musical Director required for a friendly, non-contesting band. We take part at various local events and also present two concerts annually. Rehearsals are held weekly in Ringwood, Hampshire. There are vacancies for players to join us.

Harlow Brass Band

September 29 • Seeking a MUSICAL DIRECTOR - We are a friendly, non-contesting band who play to a good standard. We hold our own Spring and Christmas concerts and provide entertainment at various local events throughout the year.

East of England Co-op Band

September 27 • We are looking for an Eb or Bb bass player to fill a vacancy due to a player's relocation. We are a friendly and ambitious Championship section band who rehearse in Ipswich, Suffolk on a Monday evening. We have a healthy concert and contest diary.

Alex McGee

Conductor & Composer


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