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Report & Results: 2013 West of England Regional Championships

Flowers end champions curse in Torquay as Filton, Swindown Pegasus, Wotton under Edge and Camborne Juniors claim Area titles.

Riviera International Centre, Torquay
 

There will be no more talk of the dreaded ‘Champions Curse’ in the West of England as Flowers finally consigned the longest period of unsuccessful title defences to the dustbin of history with their victory at the Riviera Centre.

Maturity

With a performance of ‘Harmony Music’, etched with technical clarity and musical maturity, they retained their grip on the Regional Trophy by repelling the inspired challenge of rivals Woodfalls and the boldly presented intentions of third placed Aldbourne.

They now return to the Albert Hall under MD Paul Holland boosted they hope, by an equally successful qualification challenge at the Grand Shield in May.

Delighted

Paul told 4BR: "I’m delighted with the win, but the manner in which we were able to deliver it with such consistency and quality was even more pleasing. It’s come as a result of a great deal of hard work and commitment from the players."

That was certainly shown with artistic individual contributions backed by rock solid ensemble accompaniment.

He added: "We want to be able to compete successfully at the highest level, so to retain the title after so many have failed in the last 16 years shows we are heading in the right direction. We will have a little bit of a celebration, but the hard work starts straight away on our Grand Shield challenge."

Classy playing

Adjudicators Brett Baker and David Thornton described Flowers winning rendition as containing, ‘some fantastic & classy playing’ in their written remarks; and they were as equally generous in their oral appraisal too.

"It was a very fine performance that had just about everything we wanted to hear," David said, with Brett adding; "It had that extra touch of clarity and detail today when others took things a little too quick and lost balance."

Exciting

That perhaps explained why the duo opted for the reigning champion, after Woodfalls had delivered an exciting account off the number 1 draw under Dr Robert Childs.

Aided by a superb contribution from David Childs on euphonium and backed by inspired soloists and vibrant ensemble backing, they set a high class marker that was only beaten by a reigning champion in top class form.

With the top two bands some distance ahead of the rest of the 11 band field, Aldbourne led home the remaining rivals with a bold, but error strewn account full of verve and confidence under David Johnson.

It was errors that also put paid to a coherently constructed interpretation by Steve Sykes leading Camborne into fourth, with a more lyrical rendition from Mount Charles in fifth and a battling Bournemouth in sixth.

Behind these, there were more noticeable struggles to meet the technical demands of the fearsome set work, although there was much to enjoy in the intelligently laid out approaches from each of the remaining contenders.

First Section:

Filton Concert Brass delivered an appropriately triumphant performance under the direction of MD Tom Davoren to send a delighted band back to the National Finals for the first time since 2010.

And with a host of equally impressive performances of Gareth Wood’s set work to beat, led by eventual qualifiers Lanner & District conducted by Stuart Chappell, no wonder Filton’s players were enjoying their celebrations in some style on the stage of the Rivera Centre.

Impressive

"It was an impressive performance," Tom Davoren proudly told 4BR.

"I really enjoy being associated with Filton as they don’t work like other bands. Due to work commitments they really concentrate their efforts on the projects and contests they wish to be part of. It makes for refreshing and rewarding music making."

The adjudicators thought the same, with Nick Grace stating that ‘Brass Triumphant’ had also been ‘within the scope of all the bands’ and so the ‘margin of error between the prize winners was so small’. It had been ‘an excellent standard’ he said.

Best bands

Speaking to 4BR he added: "The key was that the best bands had that extra control and quality in the main solo lines – something the winners certainly had."

David Thornton agreed: "We were looking, texture and balance, but also that extra edge that comes when bands are in complete control of what they are playing. The overall standard was very good, but the best bands were excellent."

Quality

The contest itself grew in quality, with Michelmersh Sliver providing a fine marker off the number 1 draw to eventually end sixth, followed by Helston Town in fifth and a vibrant St Austell in forth.

A composed rendition from Verwood Concert Brass under Kevin Smith just fell short of a finely worked account from Lanner & District that set a title winning marker that was only beaten by that triumphant flourish of Filton.

Second Section:

As perhaps expected, 16 bands gave of their all against the forces of Edward Gregson’s ‘The Plantagenets’ in the Second Section, with Swindon Pegasus eventually claiming the title thanks to a performance under MD Graeme Lewis of immense musical endeavour and commitment.

They were virtues that were not lost on the judges, with both Nick Grace and David Thornton giving thoughtful, sympathetic analyses before the announcement of the results, which saw Pendennis Brass Falmouth conducted by Steve Thomas join them at Cheltenham.

Not easy

"It was not an easy piece," Nick said, before adding; "Some bands achieved some things very well, whilst others struggled a little more."

David agreed: "It’s a very difficult work for this level. We were concerned about the technical aspects, but we also took into account the musical approaches too – especially the way in which the Scherzino and Maestoso elements were portrayed."

Rich in colour

In the end the duo found the band that commanded the difficulties best was Swindon Pegasus, thanks to a rendition rich in colour, texture and plenty of solid solo contributions.

Winning MD Graeme Lewis was now looking forward rather than back for his band’s next challenge.

"I really enjoyed it," the former Sun Life cornet and soprano star said as he clutched the Area trophy.

"I came back to banding after a six year break, really to support my son Jack who wanted play in a brass band. With the Swindon bandroom literally on my doorstep it seemed ideal. Ever since I’ve had a brilliant time, with wonderful people – and the banding bug has returned. Now comes Cheltenham!"

Reciprocal

It seems the feeling is reciprocal too, with one player adding; "Graeme has revitalised us. It’s now a brilliant place to come and enjoy playing – even on such a hard test piece!"

With Pendennis providing a solid marker off the number 2 draw to join them at Cheltenham, there was also a performance of great character and merit from third placed Bugle conducted by Jeremy Willcock.

Credit

Although other bands did struggle, all emerged with a great deal of credit, especially the top six finishers of St Keverne, St Pinnock and AW Parker Drybrook – all of whom featured a number of young solo players who showed little fear in tackling the immensely difficult solo passages and fanfare cadenzas littered throughout the score.

Third Section:

There was also a great deal of high quality playing to enjoy in the Third Section, where Wotton under Edge conducted by Ian Dickinson produced a colourful snapshot of Hollywood glitz to claim the title.

They will now head to the slightly less glamorous surroundings of Cheltenham Racecourse in September, where they will be joined by Bodmin Town.

Over 20 years

And despite the winning conductor missing the post results celebrations by having to fly off on holiday, the remaining Wotton members certainly enjoyed their first Area title success for over 20 years.

Chairman Bruce Davies told 4BR: "It’s a great result for the band – and our first Area win since 1991. Ian has really revitalised us, and this win is down to his hard work and inspiration. We really believe in ourselves now, and I think that was shown today."

Sparkling

Despite taking to the stage minus a bass trombone, Wooton delivered a sparkling account of ‘Hollywood’ that featured stylish solo contributions notably from the solo trombone and flugel horn as well as detailed, ensemble backing.

The judges were suitably impressed, with Nick Grace telling 4BR: "There were a host of fine performances to enjoy. It was interesting to hear the different takes on interpretation, style and some of the choices of tempo markings."

He added: "The winners were excellent – and produced a performance rich in character and so secure in its technical execution."

Careful consideration

Fellow judge Stephen Roberts agreed: "We gave careful consideration to all the bands. We looked for the music and who produced it best. The winners were excellent, but so too were a number of bands. It was a very enjoyable contest and a very good standard overall."

The best of the rest came from a revitalised Bodmin Town conducted by Garry Lannie, who produced a boldly portrayed portrait of ‘Tinsel Town’ backed by excellent solo lines and secure ensemble.

Enjoyable

With Denmead Brass pushing the top two all the way to the finishing line, there was also much to enjoy from all the contenders who found sparkle and verve in their approaches to the enjoyable score, despite some nervousness in some solo features.

The remaining top six places went to well worked accounts from Andover Town, Heyl Town and New Forest Brass.

Fourth Section:

It is not often you hear judges wax so authentically lyrical in their praise of the playing in a Fourth Section contest, but that was certainly the case here, where all 21 competitors delivered a host of wonderful renditions of ‘A Devon Fantasy’ for Stephen Roberts and Brett Baker to enjoy.

The experienced duo were not wrong either, as band after band captured the light, simple beauty of the music thanks to excellent direction from MDs and players who seemed to revel in the opportunity to play music that they obviously enjoyed.

Headache

And as Brett told a packed Forum auditorium before the results, it gave the duo something of an enjoyable headache!

"It was a really high standard today," the local lad said, before craftily plying the crowd for a partisan cheer with, ".... and so much better than Yorkshire!"

Music

And although he did point out that there was a need for bands not to be over enthusiastic with dynamics and tempos, he also pleased the audience with his observation that, in his opinion, ‘musicality will always win out over technicality’.

Stephen Roberts agreed: "We were looking for the music to be communicated today — and we certainly got that. The standard was superb."

Deserved winner

There was little doubt that there was a deserved winner, as the latest batch of amazing young talent to drop off the seemingly inexhaustible Camborne musical factory line claimed the title in splendid fashion under the direction of the inspirational Alan Pope.

He told 4BR that the decision to concentrate on the next generation in the Camborne Junior Contesting Band after so many of his older players had left for university was one he felt was the right thing to so.

Waiting in the wings

"We have another 50 players waiting in the wings," he proudly said as his young charges prepared for a long night of lemonade inspired celebration around him.

"We have so many young players ready to play their part that it’s difficult to try and make sure we can do the things we want to do. It won’t stop us trying though – and the next stop is the National Youth Championships, where we can field a bigger band."

Rivals there will already be shaking in their boots, although on this particular day there were outstanding performances from fellow qualifiers Wilton & District and Swindon Brass, as well as the top six finishers of South Molton Town, Corsham and Gosport Solent Brass and a whole contest full of wonderfully inspired rivals.

Iwan Fox

I’m delighted with the win, but the manner in which we were able to deliver it with such consistency and quality was even more pleasingPaul Holland

Results:

Championship Section:
Test Piece: 'Harmony Music' — Philip Sparke
Sunday 10th March
Adjudicators: Brett Baker and David Thornton

1. Flowers (Paul Holland), 6*
2. Woodfalls (Dr. Robert Childs), 1*
3. Aldbourne (David Johnson), 3
4. Camborne Town (Steve Sykes), 9
5. Mount Charles (Simon Dobson), 10
6. Bournemouth Concert Brass (Major David Barringer), 7
7. Lydbrook (Jonathan Corry), 10
8. St. Dennis (Darren Hawken), 5
9. Sherborne Town (Paul Cosh), 8
10. Brunel Brass (John Winterflood), 4
11. Chalford (Steve Tubb), 2

*Top 2 bands qualify for Finals


First Section:
Test Piece: 'Brass Triumphant' — Gareth Wood
Saturday 9th March
Adjudicators: Nick Grace and David Thornton

1. Filton Concert Brass (Tom Davoren), 9*
2. Lanner and District Silver (Stuart Chappell), 6*
3. Verwood Concert Brass (Kevin Smith), 7
4. St. Austell Town (Richard Evans), 4
5. Helston Town (John Hitchens), 2
6. Michelmersh Silver (Melvin White), 1
7. Hyde (Helen Kinder), 13
8. Yeovil Town (Ian McElligott), 5
9. Forest of Dean Brass (Chris Howley), 3
10. Shrewton Silver (Michael Dunford), 10
11. Lympstone South West Telecoms (Charles Fleming), 8
12. Otterbourne Brass (Gareth Pritchard), 11
13. Poole Borough (David Evans), 12

* Top 2 Qualify for National Finals


Second Section:
Test Piece: 'The Plantagenets' — Edward Gregson
Saturday 9th March
Adjudicators: Nick Grace and David Thornton

1. Swindon Pegasus (Graeme Lewis), 13*
2. Pendennis Brass Falmouth (Steve Thomas), 2*
3. Bugle Silver (Jeremy Willcock), 8
4. St. Keverne (Gareth Churcher), 3
5. St. Pinnock (Chris Spreadbury), 5
6. A.W. Parker (Drybrook) (Joshua Ruck), 9
7. City of Bristol Brass (Ceri Thomas), 12
8. Sidmouth Town (Adrian Harvey), 1
9. Weston Brass (Tony Osborne), 14
10. Bream Silver (Bryn James), 7
11. Ocean Brass (Jonathon Lush-Camps), 16
12. Soundhouse Brass (David Shead), 15
13. Downton (Roland Wright), 10
14. Cinderford (Kevin White), 6
15. Bath Spa (Dave Walker), 11
16. Phoenix Brass (Crewkerne) (David Hatton), 4

* Top 2 Qualify for National Finals


Third Section:
Test Piece: 'Hollywood' — Goff Richards

Sunday 10th March
The Forum
Draw: 8:45am
Commence: 10:00am
Adjudicators: Nick Grace and Stephen Roberts

1. Wotton-under-Edge and District (Ian Dickinson), 14*
2. Bodmin Town (Garry Lannie), 7*
3. Denmead Brass (Linda Cole), 4
4. Andover Town (Steve Large), 9
5. Heyl Town (Jeremy Meddows-Taylor), 10
6. New Forest Brass (Ian Luxford), 15
7. Midsomer Norton & Radstock Silver (Joanne Sykes), 3
8. Gillingham Imperial Silver (Paul Williams), 12
9. St. Stythians (James Burns), 11
10. Test Valley Brass (Keith Thomasson), 5
11. Bratton Silver (Simon Carr), 2
12. Bristol East and Kingswood (Martin Rogers), 8
13. Launceston Town (Dave Shead), 6
14. Hatherleigh Silver (Robin Wonnacott), 13
15. Pillowell Silver (Ian Whitburn), 1

* Top 2 Qualify for National Finals


Fourth Section:
Test Piece: 'A Devon Fantasy' — Eric Ball
Saturday 9th March
Adjudicators: Brett Baker and Stephen Roberts

1. Camborne Junior Contesting (Alan Pope), 19*
2. Wilton and District (Colin Herbert), 18*
3. Swindon Brass (Francis Cowley), 12*
4. South Molton Town (Gil Taylor), 14
5. Corsham (Colin Hogg), 6
6. Gosport Solent Brass (Steve Dunster), 17
7. Chalford Academy (Steve Tubb), 10
8. Weymouth Concert Brass (Adam Glynn), 1
9. Spinnaker Brass (Mike Pennicote-Henrie), 21
10. Nailsworth Silver (Paul McLaughlin), 16
11. Shanklin Town Brass (Malcolm Lewis), 4
12. Tiverton Town (David Boorer), 7
13. Saltash Town (Marcus Leeverson Alleyne), 11
14. Wincanton Silver (David Bertie), 2
15. Okehampton Excelsior Silver (Richard Beardon), 9
16. Torbay Brass (Lorna Wrycraft), 5
17. Wellington Silver (Gordon Francis), 15
18. Totnes (Mike Faro), 20
19. Pendeen Silver (Darren Jenkin), 13
20. Verwood ‘B’ (Barry Harkcom), 8
21. Lydney Town (Kevin Ford), 3

*Top 3 Qualify for National Finals

Follow the action live at:
www.4barsrest.com/live/2013RegionalChampionships


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