Results: 2011 Midlands Regional Championships

Wins for Virtuosi GUS, Phoenix West Midlands, Leicestershire Co-op, Daventry and Burbage (Buxton) at Bedworth this weekend.

civic hall

A stunning performance of ‘Paganini Variations’ saw Virtuosi GUS under the direction of John Berryman win the Midlands Regional title in Bedworth on Sunday evening.


It’s the first time since the Midlands Area was reorganised in 1994 that the band has retained the regional title – something Band Manager Shawn Pagington was extremely proud about when he spoke to 4BR.

"To win the title is always great, but to retain it makes it special. It was a top class performance from everyone associated with Virtuosi GUS, and by common consent I think it was seen as being fully deserved."

Good from

The win confirmed the good form the band has shown at the start of the 2011 season – a year in which they hope to make further significant impact at major events after securing a top six finish at the National Finals last October.

"We hope to build on the success of last year," Shawn added. "We’ve a number of goals, with the Masters our next target. There is a great mix of youth and experience at Virtuosi GUS now, with three teenagers on the top end and a few older heads to guide them in important lead positions such as Gary Wyatt on flugel.

We are a confident band – and things are really looking good at present."

Considerable time

Adjudicator Philip Harper took considerable time to explain the decision process to the audience at the Civic Hall (even gaining a mid paragraph round of applause), after Peter Bassano had given his usual concise and pertinent response before the announcement of the results.

Didn't agree

Surprisingly he revealed that whilst both men agreed on the top two qualifiers, they didn’t agree on the winner, so a compromise was reached before Virtuosi GUS was declared the 2011 champion ahead of Thoresby Colliery under the direction of Ian Porthouse.


They had earlier set a marker from the number 1 draw that proved good enough to secure the band their first London appearance since 2001.

Ian told 4BR that he was delighted by his band’s qualification. "I couldn’t have asked for more. The draw didn’t faze the players one bit and they delivered just what I wanted from them."

It was a top class performance from everyone associated with Virtuosi GUS, and by common consent I think it was seen as being fully deservedVirtuosi GUS Band Manager, Shawn Pagington

Missing out

That meant that for the first time since 2006, Desford failed to make it to London after their rendition under the baton of Steve Sykes couldn’t quite dislodge the top two.

The remaining top six places on what was an uneven contest in terms of overall quality went to the consistent Newstead Welfare in 4th, ahead of the newly named Jaguar Land Rover and Derwent Brass.

First Section:

Berlioz was ‘brought to life’ in the winning performance of Phoenix West Midlands under Trevor Jones on Saturday, according to the adjudicator’s Peter Bassano and Major Paul Norley.

Odd years

It enabled the band to lift the Area title for the second time in three years, and to maintain a remarkable odd year sequence of success that has seen them lift winner’s trophies from Fourth to First in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and now 2011.


Band spokesperson Lisa Jenks told 4BR: "This was one of our favourite contest performances. The band really enjoyed the piece and Trevor’s interpretation was fantastic – something the judges thought too!"

In fact the written remarks stated: ‘This has been an orchestrally conceived reading – a performance that brought Berlioz’s music to life’


That then was the key – although there was also special mention for two of the band’s soloists – euphonium Vicki Southall and soprano Jo Todd. "Both girls were brilliant," Lisa added. "But overall it was a team effort all topped by Trevor’s direction."

The win gives the band from just outside Dudley,a huge boost following their brief stay in the top section last year, as Lisa added.

"We have a great mix of players, with our youngest aged just 13. It’s given us a boost of confidence now for the finals. We’ve cancelled practice this week to go out for a celebration night out!"


In a contest that saw ‘Le Carnival Romain’ inflict its fair share of causalities, the adjudicator’s were diplomatic in their appraisal of the overall standard, praising the leading soloists, but ensuring that the audience were left in no doubt that many struggled to overcome the technical and musical hurdles the 45-year-old test piece still posed.

Clear leaders

The duo congratulated the ‘two clear leaders’, with Hathern directed by Dave Newman taking second place, whilst they also praised third placed qualifier Ratby Co-operative conducted by Michael Fowles.

Second Section:

There was a dividend of delight for Leicester Co-operative (Snibston) under Graham Jacklin, as they added the Area title to their recent North East Midlands BBA contest success.


And that early season run out in Derby on the test piece, ‘Resurgam’ proved invaluable to the band, according to their MD, when he spoke to 4BR:

"We decided to try out the piece at Derby as I felt it would be of real benefit," Graham said. "It paid off too, and with David Thornton coming to give us some expert help recently, the band’s confidence was really boosted ahead of Bedworth."

Impressive standard

With the adjudicator’s congratulating the 11 bands on what was an impressive overall standard, it was the combination of technical security and musical lyricism that won the day, ahead of a fine account from fellow qualifier Bilton Silver (Rugby) under the baton of David Stowell.

They claimed their best ever result since the Midlands area was reorganised to pip the impressive Raunds Temperance in third and Shirebrook Miners Welfare in fourth.


For the winners, it was a victory for a community band that is now enjoying their success, as Graham proudly pointed out.

"We have struggled at times over the last few years, but we have an amazing spirit and one that is based on a real community ethos with many of the players putting in decades of service to the organisation.

Getting back the finals is great, and with the Weston contest and now the finals to look forward to this has given everyone a huge lift."

Third Section:

Daventry Brass enjoyed a celebration of beer and curry on Saturday night back in their historic home town after claiming their first regional title since 2003 under the baton of Nigel Howard.

Long term

And the win on Philip Wilby’s ‘A Little Light Music’ was a product of some long term planning by the MD, as Nigel told 4BR.

"We’ve been looking to try and play to our potential in the last few months, so we opted to perform a great piece by Gavin Higgins called ‘Fanfares and Love Songs’ at the Leicester Contest last year.

It really stretched us both musically and technically, and although we didn’t win, the benefit was immense."

Paid off

That extra hard work was certainly shown to great effect on Saturday, as with a performance described by the adjudicator’s Alan Hope and David Horsfield as ‘excellent music making’, they took the Third Section title – repeating their 2003 triumph and sending the band to Cheltenham.

New bandroom

The win couldn’t have come at a better time either.

"We are moving into a new bandroom in the next couple of months so we have a shiny winner’s cup to put in the trophy cabinet," Nigel said proudly.

"We are also raising the profile of the band locally too, with three major concerts planned in the next few months – including the opening of a new small theatre, a Cultural Olympiad and a major concert that celebrates Daventry’s rich history.

We are going to busy and now we have the finals to look forward to as well."

Joining them

Joining them there will be Amington Brass, directed by Wesley Kendrick, who built on their recent promising form at Butlins to claim their first Third Section finals appearance, whilst there was disappointment for Avonbank (Evesham) who just missed out for a second successive year in 3rd.

Fourth Section:

The 150th anniversary celebrations of Burbage (Buxton) Band were given a great boost at Bedworth, as the band formed in 1861 notched up their first regional title success for many a year under the direction of MD, Steve Critchlow.

Long term planning

And it’s a success that has been a long time coming – although it has been as a result of some excellent long term planning according to the MD.

"We place an emphasis on youth development with the organisation, with players brought through our learner and junior ensembles," Steve said.

"I would say that 95% of the players who took to the stage on the weekend have come through to the senior band in that way – and it’s something we are very proud of."

Hard to find

Steve has been conducting the band he started with as a player back in 1985 for a decade, but despite a well earned reputation as one of the most successful concert bands in the Midlands with over 30 events per year, contest success has been a bit harder to find – until now.

"The last win I think was about five years ago, so this is well overdue," Steve added.

"We have bounced back after our relegation last year in the best way possible and this win has given everyone a huge lift, especially as we are going to be so busy with our 150th celebrations."


Those celebrations include a CD recording and an open air concert in the town, whilst Steve revealed that they will also be fund raising for Cheltenham too. "We thoroughly enjoyed the test piece by John Golland. I thought it was an excellent choice for bands at this level – and it really has improved us working on it. Now we can build on that for the finals."

Final places

Joining Burbage will be the strong pairing of Ireland Colliery Chesterfield under Ian Knpaton, who also bounced back to form to claim their first finals place, whilst Rushden Town will return to the finals for a second successive year after claiming 3rd place under Martin Dawson.

Additional comments and thoughts on our twitter site:

Championship Section:
Sunday 13th March

The Civic Hall
Test Piece: Paganini Variations (Philip Wilby)
Adjudicators: Peter Bassano & Philip Harper

1. Virtuosi GUS (John Berryman)*
2. Thoresby Colliery (Ian Porthouse)*
3. Desford Colliery Steve Sykes)
4. Newstead Welfare (Duncan Beckley)
5. Jaguar Land Rover (Dave Lea)
6. Derwent Brass (Keith Leonard)
7. Sovereign Brass (Graham O'Connor)
8. Staffordshire (Huw Thomas)
9. Gresley Colliery (Wesley Kendrick)
10. Kibworth (Jeremy Wise)
11. Glossop Old (Philip Pavey)
12. City of Coventry Brass (Stephen Cooper)

*Two bands qualify for finals

First Section:
Saturday 12th March

The Civic Hall
Test Piece: Le Carnival Romain (Hector Berlioz arr. Frank Wright)
Adjudicators: Peter Bassano & Major Paul Norley

1. Phoenix West Midlands (Trevor Jones)*
2. Hathern (Dave Newman)*
3. Ratby Co-operative (Michael Fowles)*
4. Oddfellows Brass (Robert Boulter)
5. Carlton Brass (Stan Lippeatt)
6. Jackfield (Elcock Reisen) (Simon Platford)
7. Shirley (David Bishop-Rowe)
8. Enderby (Jonathan Mott)
9. Forester's Brass 2000 (Pete Collins)
10. Harborough (Chris Groom)
11. Wigston (Gary Sleath)
12. Langley (Cliff Parker)
13. Foss Dyke (Paul Murrell)
14. Brackley and District (Jason Glynn)
15. Bedworth Brass (Guy Bennett)
16. Shirland Welfare (Andrew Dennis)
17. Tintwistle (Sarah Groake)
18. Wellington (Telford) (Mark Phillips)

*Three bands qualify for finals

Second Section:
Sunday 13th March

The Civic Hall
Test Piece: Resurgam (Eric Ball)
Adjudicators: David Horsfield & Major Paul Norley

1. Leicestershire Co-op (Graham Jacklin)*
2. Bilton Silver (Rugby) (David Stowell)*
3. Raunds Temperance (Robin Norman)
4. Shirebrook Miners Welfare (Unison) (Mark Wilcockson)
5. Matlock (David Clark)
6. Blidworth Welfare (Martin Heartfield)
7. Wem Jubilee (Roger Thorne)
8. Towcester (David Jones)
9. Porthywaen Silver (Mark Parry)
10. Bakewell Silver (Mark Wilcockson)
11. Ibstock Brick Brass (Huw Thomas)

*Two bands qualify for finals

Third Section:
Saturday 12th March

Nicholas Chamberlaine Technology College
Test Piece: A Little Light Music (Philip Wilby)
Adjudicators: Alan Hope & David Horsfield

1. Daventry (Nigel Howard)*
2. Amington (Wesley Kendrick)*
3. Avonbank (Evesham) (N. Smith)
4. University of Warwick (Simon Hogg)
5. Rushden Windmill (John Fletcher)
6. Arrow Valley (P. White)
7. Stamford (Robert Prew)
8. Long Eaton Silver Prize (Sharon Stansfield)
9. Hucknall and Linby M.C. (Paul Whyley)
10. Shipston Town (Howard Gibbs)
11. Rolls Royce (Derby) (Graham Cardwell)
12. West Mercia Police (D. Thomas)
13. Cubbingham Silver (A. Webb)
14. Croft Silver (Ian Needham)

*Two bands qualify for finals

Fourth Section:
Sunday 13th March

Nicholas Chamberlaine Technology College
Test Piece: Prelude, Song and Dance (John Golland)
Adjudicators: Alan Hope & Steve Pritchard-Jones

1. Burbage (Buxton) (Steve Critchlow)*
2. Ireland Colliery Chesterfield (Ian Knapton)*
3. Rushden Town (Martin Dawson)*
4. Newhall (Kevin Holgate)
5. Trentham Brass (Mike Caveney)
6. Pleasely Colliery Welfare (Keith Buxton)
7. Fairfield (Buxton) (Charles Kitchen)
8. Malvern Hills District Brass (J. Swindells)
9. Skegness Silver (Steve Walker)
10. Bestwood Welfare Black Diamonds (Brian Draper)
11. Kirkby Colliery Welfare (Steve Berrill)
12. Ratby Co-operative (Geoffrey Newman)
13. Melton (Graham Sutton)
14. Moulton 77 (Bob Stradling)
15. Ifton Colliery (M. Robinson)
16. Ilkeston Brass (D. Jones)
17. Market Rasen RPC (Alan Needham)
18. Whitwell (Lyndon Cooper)
19. Corby Silver (Nigel Hall)
20. Ceramic Brass (Stewart Thompson)

*Three bands qualify for finals

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