There was a fine turn out of bands for the first leg of the 2012 Welsh League series held at Ebbw Vale Sports Centre in South Wales recently.
A full day’s competition climaxed with a highly competitive Championship Section where Burry Port Town warmed up for their forthcoming appearance at the Senior Trophy contest in Blackpool by claiming the RTB Trophy with victory on their own choice selection of ‘Chivalry’.
Conducted by Michael Thorne, the current First Section Welsh Area champion repelled the challenge of Winter Gardens bound rival in Tylorstown, who also gave Martin Ellerby’s work an early run out.
Third place went to Pontardulais who performed Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s new work, ‘Equilibrium’.
Rising euphonium star Chris Smith claimed yet another ‘Best Instrumentalist’ award for his contribution to Burry Port’s success, whilst Denis Baker of Pontardulais took the HH Cook Award as ‘Best Horn’.
There was another Blackpool bound winner in the First Section, where top section graded City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) showed their qualities by claiming a two point winning margin over Cheltenham finalists Lewis Merthyr. There was an encouraging third place finish for the improving RAF St Athan.
Cardiff’s ‘Chivalry’ was enhanced by the contribution of prize winning duo of euphonium Frances Wilson and soprano Tim Hughes to give Gareth Ritter’s band a timely boost ahead of their travels north.
It proved enough to pip their rivals well structured performance of ‘A London Overture’ and RAF St Athan’s colourful ‘Elegy No2 – Jealousy’. RAF’s MD Alan Bourne was a very proud man on the day, and not just because his band had claimed a podium finish, as his 7 year old son Oliver picked up the ‘Youngest Player’ award.
Treherbert carried on their resurgent return to contesting form under the direction of John Burns. They turned the tables on Welsh Area champion Goodwick by snatching the Hayden Evans Memorial Trophy by a single point in an exciting eight band strong Second Section contest.
A well worked ensemble performance of ‘Brass Metamorphosis’ by James Curnow gave the Rhondda band victory ahead of their rival’s engaging rendition of ‘Laudate Dominum’, which saw cornet player Luke Jenkins pick up the Will Wood ‘Best Instrumentalist’ trophy.
Third place went to the welcome visitors from across the River Severn, as City of Bristol, led by Welshman Ceri Thomas, beat off the challenge of Cheltenham finalists Llwydcoed with both bands reprising the Area set work, ‘Cross Patonce’.
There was an excellent turn out of competitors in the Third Section, where Melingriffith 2 returned to form under the baton of Dewi Griffiths after failing to qualify for the National Finals at Swansea in March.
Their three point victory came courtesy of an exciting performance of Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’.
Ammanford also put behind them the disappointment of their Welsh Area result as they claimed second place under Glyn Davies with a solid rendition of ‘Dimensions’, enhanced by the prize winning contribution of Jeff Thomas on euphonium.
Meanwhile, Josh Ruck and his newly crowned Welsh Fourth Section champion Severn Tunnel showed that they could make the step up in class by claiming third with their rendition of ‘Music for Kantara’.
There were a host of encouraging performances from the other competing bands, with Abertillery taking fourth thanks in no small part to the excellent prize winning playing of solo cornet Nanette Jones.
The contest day opened with the Fourth Section, where the emerging Ebbw Valley Brass claimed their first ever competitive title under the direction of Gareth Ritter.
Their performance of ‘Dimensions’, featuring the fine solo cornet work of prize winner Peter Thomas gave them a clear two point winning margin.
Oakdale’s growing confidence under conductor Adrian Browning saw them claim second place thanks to their rendition of ‘Four Cities Symphony’, whilst third place went to the youngsters of Cwmtawe Youth directed by Wayne Pedrick who performed ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’.
The continued encouragement of youth banding ensembles in the area saw fourth young bands take to the stage with Gold Awards being presented to BTM New Generation led by Mark Hutchinson and Cwmtawe Juniors directed by Wayne Pedrick for their 15 minute concert programmes.
A Silver Award went to Blaenavon Town with a Bronze to Blaenavon Concert.
Rising euphonium star Lloyd Barnaby and BTM’s percussion team of Omri Tau, Nathan Phillips and Bilie Gapper took the individual awards, with 7 year old Joseph Hassle claiming the prize as the youngest player.
With thanks to Dave Evans
the current First Section Welsh Area champion repelled the challenge of Winter Gardens bound rival in Tylorstown, who also gave Martin Ellerby’s work an early run out4BR
1. Burry Port (Mike Thorne) — 186pts
2. Tylorstown (Gary Davies) — 184pts
3. Pontardulais (Paul Jenkins) — 183pts
4. Markham (Adrian Morton) — 181pts
5. Rogerstone (Jamie Jones) — 179pts
Best Instrumentalist: Chris Smith — Euphonium (Burry Port)
Best Horn: Denise Baker (Pontardulais)
1. City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) (Gareth Ritter) — 187pts
2. Lewis Merthyr (Gareth Pritchard) — 185pts
3. RAF St Athan (Alan Bourne) — 183pts
4. Ynyshir (Dean Evans) — 178pts
Best Instrumentalist: Frances Wilson — Euphonium (City of Cardiff)
Best Soprano: Tim Hughes (City of Cardiff)
1. Treherbert (John Burns) — 186pts
2. Goodwick (Matthew Jenkins) —
3. City of Bristol (Ceri Thomas) — 183pts
4. Llwydcoed (Gary Davies) — 182pts
5. Gwaun Cae Gurwen (Colin Hogg) — 179pts
6. Briton Ferry (Rhodri Griffiths) — 176pts
7. Crwbin (Andrew Jones) — 175pts
8. Crosskeys (Keri Bowden) — 174pts
Best Instrumentalist: Luke Jenkins — Cornet (Goodwick)
1. Mellingriffith 2 (Dewi Griffiths) — 189pts
2. Ammanford (Glyn Davies — 186pts
3. Severn Tunnel (Joshua Ruck) — 185pts
4. Abertillery & District (Dean Evans) — 183pts
5. Upper Rhondda (Gareth Robinson) — 182pts
6. Mid Rhondda (Alan Gibbs) — 179pts
7. Ogmore Valley (Alice Jones) — 178pts
Best Instrumentalist: Nanette Jones — Cornet (Abertillery & District)
Best Euphonium: Jeff Thomas — Ammanford
1. Ebbw Valley (Gareth Ritter) — 185pts
2. Oakdale (Adrian Browning) — 183pts
3. Cwmtawe Youth (Wayne Pedrick) — 180pts
4. Goodwick Community (Steve Thomas) — 176pts
Best Instrumentalist: Peter Thomas — Cornet (Ebbw Valley)
Gold Award: BTM New Generation (Mark Hutcherson)
Gold Award: Cwmtawe Juniors (Wayne Pedrick)
Silver Award: Blaenavon Town (Evan Smith)
Bronze Award: Blaenafon Concert (Jonathan Waite)
Best Instrumentalist: Lloyd Barnaby — Euphonium (BTM)
Best Percussion Section: Omri Tau, Nathan Phillips and Billie Gapper (BTM)
Youngest Player in main contest: Oliver Bourne (RAF St Athan) — age 7
Youngest player in junior section: Jozef Hassle (Blaenavon Town) — age 7
All prizes: £200: £150: £100