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100th Spring Festival
Winter Gardens, Blackpool
7 May, 2022

Comments: Iwan Fox; Chris Thomas & Steve Jack
Images: Craig Chapman

  • Grand ShieldSaturday 7, 19:20:59

    That's a wrap...

    So that's the end of a great day in Blackpool at the 100th anniversary Spring Festival. Congratulations to Karyn & Martin Mortimer and Frank Hodges plus an army of volunteers for putting on a slick and polished event.

    Congratulations also to Rothwell Temperance and Northop Silver who can now look forward to Birmingham and the British Open in September, whilst City of Bradford and Unite the Union will surely enjoy a great night of celebration after their Senior Cup and Senior Trophy successes, on what was a clean sweep of the titles for Yorkshire banding.

    Goodnight from Blackpool. We hope you've enjoyed our coverage.

  • Grand ShieldSaturday 7, 18:55:06

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    Grand Shield:

    Test Piece: Dynasty (Peter Graham)
    Adjudicators: Dr Stephen Cobb & Prof Roger Webster.

    1. Rothwell Temperance (David Roberts)*
    2. Northop Silver (Gareth Brindle)*
    3. Wantage Silver (Jonathan Pippen)
    4. Oldham Band (Lees) (John Collins)
    5. Friary Brass (Chris King)
    6. Whitburn (Prof Nicholas Childs)
    7. City of Hull (Stig Maersk)
    8. Milnrow (John Doyle)
    9. The GUS Band (Chris Jeans)
    10. Camborne Town (Kevin Mackenzie)
    11. Hepworth (Ryan Watkins)
    12. Reg Vardy (Russell Gray)
    13. Pemberton Old Wigan DW (Ben Dixon)
    14. Ratby Co-operative (David Purkiss)
    15. Rainford (Chris Houlding)
    16. Wingates (Paul Andrews)
    17. Redbridge (Chris Bearman)**
    18. Llwydcoed (Chris Turner)**
    19. St Dennis (Darren Hawken)**

    Withdrawn: Woodfalls (David Hamilton)**

    Best Instrumentalist: Alice Newbould (solo cornet) — Northop Silver

    *Qualify for British Open
    ** Relegated to Senior Cup — bands to be confirmed

  • Senior CupSaturday 7, 18:54:06

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    Senior Cup:

    Test Piece: Freedom (Hubert Bath)
    Adjudicators: Prof Garry Cutt & Steve Sykes

    1. City of Bradford (Jonathan Bates)*
    2. Skelmanthorpe (Martin Heartfield)*
    3. Ashton-under-Lyne (Martyn Evans)*
    4. Dalmellington (Gary J Williams)*
    5. Aveley & Newham (Alan Duguid)
    6. Jaguar Land Rover (Howard Evans)
    7. Acceler8 Band (Jef Sparkes)
    8. Verwood Concert Brass (Kevin Smith)
    9. Newtongrange Silver (Anne Crookston)
    10. City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) (Christopher Bond)
    11. Roche Brass (David Hirst)
    12. Shepherd Group (Richard Wilton)
    13. Derwent Brass (Jack Captstaff)
    14. Kingdom Brass (Ian Porthouse)
    15. Elland Silver (Daniel Brooks)
    16. Kirkintilloch (Steven Mead)
    17. Blackburn & Darwen (Daniel Thomas)**
    18. Thoresby Colliery (Michael Howley)**
    19. Vernon Building Society Poynton**
    20. Filton Concert Brass (Erik Van de Kolk)**

    Best Instrumentalist: Alan Hibbins (solo cornet) — City of Bradford

    *Qualify for British Open
    ** Relegated to Senior Trophy

  • Senior TrophySaturday 7, 18:53:00

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    Senior Trophy

    Test Piece: Life Divine (Cryril Jenkins)
    Adjudicators: Sandy Smith & Simon Gresswell

    1. Unite the Union (Jonathan Beatty)*
    2. Boarshurst Silver (Jamie Prophet)*
    3. Fishburn (Duncan Beckley)*
    4. East London Brass (Jayne Murrill)*
    5. Tylorstown (Gary Davies)
    6. Enderby (Stephen Phillips)
    7. Pontardulais (Paul Jenkins)
    8. Unison Kinneil (Raymond Tennant)
    9. Hatfield & Askern Colliery (Stan Lippeatt)
    10. Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel (Garry Hallas)
    11. Eccles Borough (Mareika Gray)
    12. Easington Colliery (Stephen Malcolm)
    13. Thundersley Brass (Melvin White)
    14. Amersham (Paul Fisher)
    15. Marsden Silver (Andrew Lofthouse)
    16. Sovereign Brass (Stephen Roberts)
    17. Bo'ness & Carriden (Andrew Duncan)
    18. Lydbrook (Stephen Sykes)
    19. Crofton Silver (Dean Jones)
    20. Roberts Bakery (Paul Lovatt-Cooper)
    21. Staffordshire (Craig Williams)
    22. Jackfield (Ryan Richards)

    Best Instrumentalist: Sarah Curtis (trombone) Unite the Union

    *Qualify for Senior Cup

  • Grand ShieldSaturday 7, 17:46:08

    Grand Shield:

    Final Prediction...

    Well, it has been a mightily interesting day in the Opera House — as well as a frustrating one at times.

    Peter Graham's wonderfully glowing tribute to the Mortimer family has posed so many problems for the competing bands, and it is fair to say that not one has emerged unscathed by its many challenges, both technical and musical.

    The two qualifiers that will take to the Symphony Hall stage in September will have done so by succeeding in minimising the error count, but perhaps more so by finding the rich seam of emotion in the score whilst at the same time finding the thread of the music's symphonic poem storyline.

    It's not going to be an easy task for Roger Webster and Stephen Cobb we suspect!


    1. Rothwell Temperance
    2. Wantage
    3. GUS
    4. Whitburn
    5. Northop
    6. Hepworth

    Dark Horses: Milnrow, Reg Vardy, Friary Brass

    Chris Thomas

  • Senior TrophySaturday 7, 17:45:09

    Senior Trophy:

    The final two bands saw a Welsh contender and winning Grand Shield conductor take on 'Life Divine'.

    The cat is well and truly amongst the pigeons as Pontardulais Town pull out a little cracker, one to tempt the judges with.

    A very enjoyable take this; colourful and radiant. MD Paul Jenkins' reading had all the character of a best selling novel. Just the final few moments led to some untunefulness and weariness also crept in.

    A top six is a possibility?

    Finally, the Gray family was out in force to support Marieka and Eccles Borough. And what a great way to finish off the day with such a gorgeous reading. You just sat back and listened to music-making of high, persuasive quality.

    Superbly judged tempos coupled with a tender nobilemente and all the colours you could have wished for, this was a 'Life Divine' for the ages from 1921 to 2022. Glorious.

    Round-up and prediction:

    A thoroughly engaging and hugely enjoyable contest. 'Life Divine' has proved that even after 100 years of playing it still catches bands out, especially those that think they can waltz through it unscathed.

    The best saved enough to last the whole way through with tempos that weren't too ambitious, coupled with a balanced ensemble

    A big shout-out to all baritone and solo cornet soloists who performed their treacherous parts admirably.

    It is a toss up between Kinneil and Eccles for us with Crofton and Lydbrook taking the other qualification placves on offer.

    1. Unison Kinneil
    2. Eccles Borough
    3. Crofton
    4. Lydbrook
    5. Yorkshire Imperial
    6. Enderby

    Dark Horse: Fishburn

    Steve Jack

  • Senior CupSaturday 7, 17:43:55

    Senior Cup:

    This is going to be such a hard one to call. The differences between the interpretations and approaches today has been so wide — but all have given the judges something to ponder.

    There are performances that raised eyebrows, smiles, hopes and ambitions. It was hugely engaging, entertaining and absorbing.

    We will stick our neck out and say that for sheer 'Freedom' loving vibrancy we go for City of Bradford from Skelmanthorpe, Elland, Dalmellington, Aveley & Newham and Jaquar Land Rover with dark horses of Acceler8 and Verwood Concert.

    We could be miles out too — but these tickled our fancy


    1. City of Bradford
    2. Elland Silver
    3. Skelmanthorpe
    4. Dalmellington
    5. Aveley & Newham
    6. Jaguar Land Rover

    Dark Horses: City of Cardiff, Accelera8 Band and Verwood Concert

    Iwan Fox

  • Grand ShieldSaturday 7, 17:27:57

    Grand Shield:

    19. Wantage (Jonathan Pippen)

    What a glorious solo cornet from Lode Violet to open ahead of those ravishing Ravelian colours creating an impressionist atmosphere. This has abundant colour and nuance. Fabulous cornet again as we march into ‘War’. This has been a high quality opening.

    ‘War’ has darkness and menace in equal measure…impressive stuff and the transition into ‘Theatre’ is deftly handled. Dovetailing of the running figures is generally neat and tidy and the sense of motion, of relentless peril is maintained throughout.

    The quartet of ‘Together’ is so well done and solo cornet is exceptional once again. Effortless in fact. ‘Farewell’ exposes just a couple of little slips but they are minor and solo baritone is exceptional. Well done to you! There is a touching sentimentality about this….not cloying but moving in its simplicity of expression.

    ‘Amen’ is a fugue of Elgarian solidity. Robust and garnering weight and momentum as the music drives onward. Soprano just about gets there!

    A majestic Nobilmente and the ending has something in reserve. This has been a mightily impressive account from Wantage.

    Christopher Thomas

  • Grand ShieldSaturday 7, 17:25:58

    Grand Shield:

    18. The GUS Band (Chris Jeans)

    The opening is not without its minor slips although the overall atmosphere created is an effective one.

    ‘War’ is conveyed with an impressive sense of drama, allied with excellent dynamic control and aided by rigid ensemble.

    Likewise, ‘Theatre’ flies along with a real sense of peril and the running figures dovetail effectively.

    Good euphonium lead into ‘Together’, in which the quartet transition finely into ‘Farewell’ with excellent work from solo cornet and euphonium.

    ‘Farewell’ itself is tenderly done and quality solo baritone and trombones contribute to what is a lyrically informed and deeply felt approach. This really does make its emotional mark.

    ‘Amen’ has a solidity that impresses and although soprano is a little scrambled, this really motors along. Big sounds into the Nobilmente and the final bars are imbued with a majestic breadth and dignity.

    A fine performance from GUS but as with so many today, not without frustrating little errors.

    Christopher Thomas

  • Senior CupSaturday 7, 17:20:00

    Senior Cup:

    The long walk to 'Freedom' for judges Garry Cutt and Steve Sykes is fast approaching, but not before they sit back and enjoy a trio of hugely different takes on the Hubert Bath score to round things off.

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    The first came from Newtongrange; all Scottish good sense and artisan values under the baton of Anne Crookston.

    A little rough and ready in places, but the shaping and pacing was lifted literally from the page. It was good to hear that today — as the score allows just enough malleability and rubato to ensure the music retains interest without forcing the issue.

    Moments of insecurity and balance issues rubbed the varnish, but by its close the playing was confident, controlled and considered. Lots to like there.

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    Lots to smile about with Derwent Brass to follow, with Jack Capstaff bringing a modernist twist to the sheen of colourings and textures, rubatos and pull backs.

    Not everything came off, but he didn't do anything by halves for certain.

    The players certainly bought into the approach and played with verve and tenacity in the opening, a flowing certainty in the 'Interlude' and a sense of joyfulness that sounded like Brian Blessed laughing at one of his own jokes.

    Assured and uber-confident, wayward and slightly ever so bonkers. A very different take on 'Freedom' that — and one to enjoy in a very different way too.

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    The contest was closed by Elland Silver with the type of performance that had a great sense of style and control. MD, Daniel Brooks took some considered risks, but for the most part let the music find its way helped by some very good solo leads.

    The warm ensemble sounds were admirably balanced and precisely calibrated — nothing over done.

    The 'Interlude' occasionally lost flow, but was touchingly romantic, whilst the 'Scherzo' was some of the best playing of the day. Great tubas, neat filigree lines and a joyful playfulness all the way to the end to round off a fine show to potentially put themselves right in the qualification frame.

    Iwan Fox

Grimethorpe Colliery Band - Royal Hall Harrogate

Friday 7 October • Ripon Rd, Harrogate HG1 2SY

Regent Hall Concerts - The Countess of Wessex's String Orchestra

Friday 7 October • Regent Hall (The Salvation Army). 275 Oxford Street. London WC1 2 DJ

Watford Band - Watford Band - Last Night of the Proms

Saturday 8 October • St Lawrence Church, High Street, Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire WD5 0AS

Grimethorpe Colliery Band - Hull Minster

Saturday 8 October • South Church Side Hull HU1 1RR

Boarshurst Silver Band - Hebden Bridge Band

Sunday 9 October • Boarshurst Band Club. Greenbridge Lane. Greenfield. Saddleworth OL3 7EW

Shrewsbury Brass Band

October 6 • Shrewsbury Brass Band is a hardworking, enthusiastic, friendly, non-contesting band. We are looking for a competent 3rd cornet player to start with immediate effect.

Lydney Band

October 6 • We have a vacancy for a Bb BASS. We are a 3rd section band (West of England), based in the Forest of Dean, Glos. Rehearsal - Friday evenings. Good travel links from Gloucester, South Wales and South Gloucester.

Harlow Brass Band

October 6 • We have vacancies for CORNETS and TROMBONES. We rehearse on a Thursday, 8-10pm.. If you would like to join a friendly, non-contesting band please contact us.

Howard J Evans

MA (Dist), Mus.B (hons), ARCM (hons), LRAM, LTCL, PGCE
Conductor, composer, arranger, tutor and pianist


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