Woodfalls continued their bright start to the 2011 season by winning the Yeovil Entertainment Contest for the first time in their history on the weekend.
Following on from their second place in the entertainment leg of the recent Butlins Mineworkers Contest, they went one better under the baton of Gareth Pritchard to claim the Chris Palmer Shield and the £2,000 top prize.
Speaking to 4BR, adjudicator Colin Hardy was impressed by Woodfall’s innovative approach and quality playing. “They stood out for me. It was a very good programme and I was particularly impressed by the innovation shown as well as the playing. The overall standard on the day was very good, and the prize winners certainly made an impression.”
Colin was also encouraged by a number of bands taking the opportunity to use the output of young composers. “It was good to hear new music from talented young composers. It certainly made for interesting programmes that sounded fresh and inventive.”
Two point margin
Woodfalls topped the 12-band field by a two point margin ahead of Welsh contenders BTM, with a reprise of their innovative Scandinavian themed Skegness programme.
With the West of England Area contest just over a month away, the result also saw them beat Torquay rivals Mount Charles and reigning Butlins Mineworkers Champion Flowers, who came third and fourth respectively.
Speaking to 4BR before he flew to Norway to prepare Radoy Band for the Norwegian National Championships in Bergen, the winning MD was understandably still bubbling with delight. “It’s a great win and gives everyone a huge boost of confidence ahead of the Areas and the Grand Shield in May,” Gareth Pritchard said.
It’s a great win and gives everyone a huge boost of confidence ahead of the Areas and the Grand Shield in MayMD, Gareth Pritchard
The new champion was also grateful to Black Dyke principal trombonist Brett Baker, who drove through the night from the North West following the late withdrawal of trombonist Scott Stewart with a serious back problem.
“We are really grateful to Brett,” Gareth added. “To leave at 2.30am to make it to rehearsal by 7.30am on Saturday morning shows just what a brilliant bloke as well as player he is. We can’t thank him enough.”
An understandable exhausted Brett was delighted that his nocturnal efforts came in handy. “I got the call and couldn’t say no. I’ve great memories of the contest and the welcome I got from the band made the long hours of driving worthwhile. It was a pleasure to help out – and they also played brilliantly too, although I had to make sure I stayed out of the way a little with the choreography!”
Woodfalls laid down the early marker off the number 2 draw for adjudicator Colin Hardy – and it proved to be one that could not be beaten, despite the efforts of the group of fancied contenders, Flowers, BTM, Camborne and Tongwynlais rounding off the contest.
The Butlins reprise saw the choreographed ‘Arctic Funk’, complete with snow topped mountains and campfire to open, followed by Kevin Darby thrilling the packed Octagon Theatre with the cornet solo ‘Scandinavian Folks Songs’.
Frode Alnaes’s ‘Vitae Lux’ proved to be a showcase for ‘Best Soprano’ winner Mark Pye, before a neat touch of humour in the ‘Alla Marcia’ from the Karelia Suite’ led into the storming climax of ‘Circius’ by Tortsein Aagard-Nilsen.
The winning MD was pleased that the decision to opt for an innovative approach has paid dividends – although he did reveal that the initial opening idea does hark back almost 20 years.
“I first saw Eikanger on Norwegian television choreograph ‘Arctic Funk,’ back in 1992 I think, and it stayed with me as a great idea ever since. The rest of the programme led on from that, with a nice balance between light and serious items, good visual effects and some cracking playing.”
The victory also sets Gareth up for a busy few months ahead too – starting with his trip back to Norway to take Radoy in Bergen, before flying back for further rehearsals with St Austell (who he also took on the day) and Lewis Merthyr bands in time for the Areas.
”It’s a busy time for me,” he added. “I’m looking forward to meeting up with old friends once again at Radoy before starting work with St Austell and Lewis Merthyr for the Areas and returning back to Woodfalls to take them on ‘Titan’s Progress’ at the Grand Shield.”
Despite missing on their first Yeovil win BTM’s MD Tom Davoren was also happy with the early season form shown by his band in taking the £1,000 runners-up prize.
“I left the stage with a real buzz,” he said. “I couldn’t have really asked for anything more – the two soloists were brilliant and the band sound was great. It would have been great to have won, but I’m more than happy as it gives us a real foundation to work on ahead of the Welsh Area.”
With a programme that owed much to the MDs arranging and compositional skills — from the upbeat opener ‘The Heat is On’, to the solo ‘Diversions on Gwahoddiad’ which saw tenor horn player David Cornelius win the ‘Best Soloist’ prize, BTM pushed the eventual winners all the way to the finishing line – with a rousing finale of Tom Davoren’s own, ‘I Bob Un’ to close.
There was an encouraging start to the season for Mount Charles – following a number of recent changes in personnel, winning £700 in third place as well as the ‘Best Section’ award to their sterling bass end Their programme included a sparkling turned percussion solo ‘Czardas’ from Dan Tamblin before finishing with a tribute to composer John Barry with his stirring music to the film ‘Zulu’.
Band Manger Derek Thomas told 4BR: “We are very happy with the result. We’ve had a dozen or player changes in the past year, but with a settled line up and with John Maines leading us so well, we couldn’t have asked for much more on the day.”
No Flowers repeat
There was to be no repeat of their Butlins success for Flowers, after they tweaked their Skegness programme under MD Paul Holland, whilst British Open contenders Tongwynlais Temperance and former champion, Aveley & Newham filled the remaining top six places.
Adjudicator: Colin Hardy
1. Woodfalls (Gareth Pritchard) – 196
2. BTM (Tom Davoren) – 194
3. Mount Charles (John Maines) – 193
4. Flowers (Paul Holland) –192
5. Tongwynlais Temperance (Philip Harper) – 191
6. Aveley & Newham (Nigel Taken) – 190
7. Camborne (Kevin Mackenzie) – 189
8. Friary Guildford (Chris King) – 188
9. Sherborne (Paul Cosh) – 186
10. St Austell (Gareth Pritchard) – 185
11. St Dennis (Darren Hawken) – 183
12. Wantage Silver A (Philip Bailey) — 182.
Best Soloist: David Cornelius (Horn) — BTM Best Soprano: Mark Pye – Woodfalls
Best Section: Bass Section — Mount Charles