The Co-operative Funeralcare Band continued on its vein of rich and rewarding contesting form on the weekend by taking the Wainstone’s Cup back across the border thanks to a trio of high class performances under the baton of MD Allan Ramsay.
As the last band of an enjoyable contesting day, a reprise of the British Open set work, ‘Arabian Nights’, coupled with a superb solo rendition of ‘Neath Dublin Skies’ by euphonium star Glenn Van Looy and the purposeful march, ‘Keighley Moor’ saw them pocket the £4,000 first prize.
With their recent victory at the Land O’ Burns Contest and their podium finish at Symphony Hall, the Scots have won close to £9,000 in prize money in the last few weeks, whilst they have also propelled themselves back into the top 10 of the 4BR world rankings.
Co-op were certainly in top form once more as their Belgian euph star headed home with an additional £250 to his name after winning the ‘Best Soloist’ prize, whilst the band also benefitted from the assistance of Tredegar’s solo trombone player Stephen Sykes and Whitburn’s solo horn Iain Fleming.
Band Manager Martin Stack told 4BR that the win has rounded off a very satisfying couple of weeks for the band.
"It’s been a great few weekends of high profile contesting," he said.
"The band is really playing well at present and that has been shown in the success we have enjoyed and the responses we have gained from adjudicators for our performances."
He added: "There was a real buzz about our playing at the contest with adjudicator John Doyle once again noting the quality of the direction from the middle and the style and sound the band made."
Remarks such as ‘fabulous reading of the score’ and ‘superb band sounds’ littered the written remarks, although as Martin revealed, the only downside was that the band will now have to wait until it defends its Scottish Open title in Perth in November before it takes to the contest stage again.
"Unfortunately we didn’t qualify for the Nationals or gain an invite to Brass in Concert. That’s a pity as on this form I think we would have been real challengers for the top prizes.
The good news though is that we have a wonderful CD to look forward too with Clarence Addoo as well as the prospect of working for the first time with Garry Cutt for the Scottish Open."
Now in its fourth year, the temptingly large prize fund on offer thanks to the generous bequest made by the late Dr Ian Martin, and named after the picturesque craggy outcrop in the Cleveland hills where he lived, attracted an impressive line up of contenders.
The contest certainly grew in excitement and quality for the audience and adjudicator John Doyle, with the destination of the podium prizes not decided until the final trio of bands took to the stage at Middlesbrough Town Hall.
It was the local favourites and defending champion Reg Vardy, conducted by Dr Nicholas Childs, who put behind them their recent British Open relegation to push the Scots all the way to the finishing line.
They also reprised the Open set work in a performance that would surely have seen them end higher up the prize list at Symphony Hall.
Euphonium player Paul Robinson also gave a masterly rendition of ‘Be My Love’ to add to the prize winning rendition of the march ‘Knight Templar’ as the band returned to their home base boosted by a hefty £2,250 prize package.
The quality of the two recent British Open challengers was seen in the results table as they were separated by a single point, but ended some distance ahead of third placed Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel.
However, their fine account of ‘Contest Music’ to add to their march ‘Mephistopheles’ and the excellent performance of the cornet solo ‘Pandora’ saw them just push out Rothwell Temperance to claim the £1,000 third prize under David Nesbitt (not Dale as in the programme!).
It meant that Rothwell’s solid rendition of ‘St Magnus’ directed by David Roberts added to the march ‘The Wizard’ and fine soprano solo ‘Flowerdale’ ended fourth to claim £500, ahead of fifth placed Thoresby.
The Midlanders featured euphonium soloist Ian McCormick was one of a number of outstanding individual performers on show throughout the day, with his superb rendition of ‘Devils Duel’ battling for the hard fought solo prize right until his Belgian counterpart took to the stage.
Directed by Brian Grant, Thoresby rounded of their performance set with Phillip Sparke’s, ‘A Tale as Yet Untold’ to go with the march, ‘Mephistopheles’.
The final top six place went to the hard working Fishburn, who performed a trio of ‘Contest Music’, the horn solo ‘Aria’ and the march ‘Knight Templar’ under Huw Thomas.
With the generous prize pot now attracting more top flight bands to the North East each year, it is hoped that the event will continue to go from strength to strength, especially s it benefits from some wonderful organisation from the members of the Cockerton Band who were warm and welcoming hosts to all competitors and listeners alike.
The band is really playing well at present and that has been shown in the success we have enjoyed and the responses we have gained from adjudicators for our performancesBand Manager, Martin Stack
Adjudicator: John Doyle
March/Solo/Test Piece = Total
1. Co-operative Funeralcare (Allan Ramsey): 46+49+198 = 293
2. Reg Vardy (Dr. Nicholas Childs): 48+46+197 = 291
3. Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart (David Nesbitt): 42+46+196 = 284
4. Rothwell (David Roberts): 44+45+194 = 283
5. Thoresby Colliery (Brian Grant): 39+48+192 = 279
6. Fishburn (Huw Thomas): 45+41+191 = 277
7. UNITE the Union (City of Sheffield)(Derek Renshaw): 41+42+193 = 276
8. Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths): 43+43+189 = 275
9. Blackburn & Darwen (Nick Sheppard): 38+44+187 = 269
10. GT Group Peterlee (Joe Cook): 36+37+185 = 258
11. Easington Colliery (Chris Bentham): 35+38+184 = 257
Best Soloist: Glenn Van Looy (euphonium) — Co-operative Funeralcare
Best March: Reg Vardy