Co-operative Funeralcare retained the Land O’ Burns title in Troon, to give themselves a timely boost of confidence and cash ahead of their trip to the British Open in Birmingham on September 7th.
Under the baton of Allan Ramsay, and playing last of the 13 contenders on an enjoyable day of entertainment, their single point victory over Scottish champion Whitburn secured the Knoweview Nursing Home Trophy plus the hefty £3,000 first prize.
Adjudicator Bryan Allen was certainly impressed by the overall standard of playing on show, and in particular the heavyweight rivals, who he felt were closely matched.
Their quality was shown by them ending four points clear of third placed Newmilns & Galston, conducrted by Alan Cameron.
Co-operative Funeralcare opened with the lively ‘Spain’ by Chick Corea, in what was a compact and varied 20 minute programme.
They quickly segued into the cornet feature, ‘Zigeunerweisen’, with the entire section standing behind the band, Roy Newsome’s arrangement of ‘Deep Harmony’ and the entertaining ‘My Sister Kate’, complete with 1920’s gramophone opening. They closed with Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s, ‘Fire in the Blood’.
Bryan Allen’s remarks praised Co-op for its ability to deliver excellent contrasts and control, with a special mention to the quality of the cornet section feature, led on this occasion by 24 year old Alex Ramsay.
With usual principal cornet Jimmy Hayes on holiday, the young repiano player stepped into the hot seat and took away the prize as the ‘Best Principal Cornet’, whilst the Co-op’s sterling tuba quartet retained its ‘Best Basses’ award.
MD Allan Ramsay told 4BR that he was delighted that his band was in decent shape ahead of a busy second half of the contest season.
"I very happy with the victory – and the treasurer is very happy with the prize money!" he said.
"We certainly have our eye on the British Open in a couple of weeks time, but it shows the quality of the band that we are able at a difficult time of the year to produce such a high class winning performance."
Allan reserved special praise for his stand-in principal cornet, Alex Ramsay.
"With Jim on holiday it was a fantastic personal performance from a very talented young player to step in and play so well. We picked a demanding programme, but Alex gave us a brilliant lead from the opening ‘Spain’ right through to ‘Fire in the Blood’."
Band Manager Martin Stack echoed the MDs delight. "It’s a great boost ahead of Symphony Hall and the Dr Martin Entertainment Contest and a busy concert period," he said.
"Our link with Geneva Instruments certainly paid dividends with the cornet section feature – with the adjudicator really impressed by the sound they made. Now we have to build on this in the next two weeks as we look to gain another good result at the British Open."
No seventh title
Whitburn could not add to their existing haul of six Troon titles and make it a hat-trick of domestic titles for the season.
Under the direction of Anne Crookston, they had to be content with the £1,200 on offer as runner — up, despite taking individual awards for horn and percussion, and Caroline Farren claiming both the ‘Best Instrumentalist’ and ‘Best Flugel’ honours.
They reprised much of their recent winning West Lothian programme, with the opening ‘Bustout Brigade’ heralding Caroline Farren’s superb solo feature on the ‘Lament’ from Peter Meechan’s ‘Macbeth’.
The ensemble showcase ‘La Fiesta’ led into the final items of ‘Gee Officer Krupke!’ and the Eric Crees arrangement of the Suite from ‘West Side Story’.
There was delight for First Section Newmilns & Galston as they upset the form book to claim a prize package worth £1,050, after capturing the final podium slot as well as the trophies for being the highest placed First Section and Ayrshire based band.
Soloist, Scott Kerr took the ‘Best Euphonium’ award in a well worked programme that saw them beat off the challenge of Cheltenham bound domestic rivals Newtongrange and Johnstone Silver and English Championship Section contenders Fishburn.
Northern Ireland visitors Downshire Brass also returned home happy after coming fourth, pocketing £450 for their fine efforts. Their excellent soprano and trombone duo of Jackie McLarnon and Brendan Coyle took deserved ‘Best Soprano’ and ‘Best Trombone’ awards.
Meanwhile, there could not have been a happier band one of Scotland’s emerging lower section contesting forces, Tullis Russell Mills.
They bagged a total of £800 after taking both the ‘Most Entertaining' prize and being the highest placed Second Section band on the day.
1. Co-operative Funeralcare (Allan Ramsay) — 95
2. Whitburn (Anne Crookston) — 94
3. Newmilns & Galston (Alan Cameron)- 90
4. Downshire Brass (Michael Alcorn) — 89
5. Tullis Russell Mills (Paul Drury) — 88
6. Johnstone Silver (Paul Kiernan) — 87
7. Coalburn Silver (Gareth Bowman) — 86
8. Newtongrange Silver (David Mcleod)- 85
9. Fishburn (Huw Thomas) — 84
10. Clackmannan District Brass (Paul McKelvie OBE) — 83
11. Shotts St. Patrick's Brass (Michael Marzella)- 82
12. Irvine & Dreghorn Brass (John Boax) — 81
13. Kilmarnock Concert Brass (Raymond Tennant) — 80
Most Entertaining Band: Tullis Russell Mills
Highest Placed First Section Band: Newmilns & Galston
Highest Placed Second Section Band: Tullis Russell Mills
Highest Placed Ayrshire Band: Newmilns & Galston
Best Instrumentalist: Caroline Farren (flugel) — Whitburn
Best Principal Cornet: Alex Ramsay — Co-operative Funeralcare
Best Soprano Cornet: Jackie McLarnon — Downshire Brass
Best Flugel Horn: Caroline Farren — Whitburn
Best Horn: Michael Fleming — Whitburn
Best Trombone: Brendan Coyle — Downshire Brass
Best Euphonium: Scott Kerr — Newmilns & Galston
Best Bass Section: Co-operative Funeralcare
Best Percussion Section: Whitburn